Would you be so kind as to explain what Zikr is, the meaning of the word as well as the process of the practice?
In Sufism, Zikr is the central spiritual practice. The word itself is Arabic (sometimes spelled dhikr) and is most often translated as ‘remembrance’.
In doing this practice we are restating our intention to remember God.
There are many versions of Zikr, employing different sacred phrases and mudras (a mudra is a static or dynamic body posture).
One of the most frequently used, often called ‘Classic Zikr’, uses the words: ‘ La illaha illa ‘Llah’ which is rendered as ‘There is no God but God’.
It is best to learn the practice from a teacher because the posture, the pronunciation and the meaning all have nuances of interpretations. Yet the key factor, more important that any aspect of form, is intention. The will to return to God – consciousness is more than anything else in life.
Zikr can be seen as a power-tool to accelerate the journey home. We come from God and are certain to return to God; the journey home is our life experience. Many people, most people, live their lives as though it were a treadmill of repetitive obstacles and inescapable suffering. This strange behaviour indicates a lack of understanding and a lack of faith.
Zikr works within the practitioner to develop magnetism so that life events are attracted that move them on. Life speeds up and, at first, a lot of emotional clearing occurs, until the mind has become free of its confusion an doubts. This is not a practice for the faint-hearted, casual student. It requires dedication and discipline; one hour each day is not at all uncommon and, on retreat, even 18 hours a day is normal. Yet, equally, to repeat the sacred words 3 times every day is also potentially transformative as long as intention is clear and strong.
When the student has become deeply familiar with Zikr it can be used to help focus the will, to attract specific outcomes and as a protection against intrusive forces. These are related. When we lack certainty of will then our unconscious aspect attracts darker elements that disturb our sense of well-being. These elements can range from minor inconveniences to full-blown murderous attacks. The best response, whatever the problem, is to focus the will more clearly and passionately upon our love of God. This is what Zikr does.