Assalamualaikum ustaz, what is the ruling if a person recites his dhikr only in his heart and will he be rewarded for it?
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
Dhikr is a worship of remembering Allah SWT, whether it is verbal or in his heart. Verbal dhikr includes istighfar, supplication, praise and salutation to the Prophet PBUH, tasbih, tahmid, takbir, tahlil, recitation of the Quran and many others.
Reciting the Quran is included under the category of zikrullah. For that, we found the tafsir scholars commented on the word dhikr in the Quran as the recitation of the Quran. Among the verses that mention this is a saying of Allah SWT:
وَمَنْ أَعْرَضَ عَن ذِكْرِي فَإِنَّ لَهُ مَعِيشَةً ضَنكًا وَنَحْشُرُهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ أَعْمَىٰ
And whoever turns away from My remembrance - indeed, he will have a depressed life, and We will gather him on the Day of Resurrection blind."
Surah Ta Ha (124)
Imam al-Qurthubi in his commentary on the above verse explains the meaning of the phrase وَمَنْ أَعْرَضَ عَنْ ذِكْرِي , saying:
أَيْ دِينِي، وَتِلَاوَةِ كِتَابِي، وَالْعَمَلِ بِمَا فِيهِ
“Whoever (turns from) My religion, reciting My book (Al-Quran) and (turns) from practising what is in it.”
Refer Al-Jami’ li Ahkam Al-Quran, Al-Qurthubi (11/258)
Whereas, dhikr in one’s heart is an encouraged deed. This in terms that a person remembers Allah SWT in his heart. We have discussed this matter in Al-Kafi #1410: The Ruling of Thinking About Allah and it can be accessed through the link https://muftiwp.gov.my/en/artikel/al-kafi-li-al-fatawi/3766-al-kafi-1410-the-ruling-of-thinking-about-allah
Coming back to the question presented, the following we share the statement of Allah SWT:
وَاذْكُر رَّبَّكَ فِي نَفْسِكَ تَضَرُّعًا وَخِيفَةً
“And remember your Lord within yourself in humility and in fear without being apparent in speech.”
Surah al-A’araf (205)
Imam al-Thabari in his commentary on the above verse cited the opinion of Mujahid bin Jabr who said:
أمروا أن يذكروه في الصدور تضرعًا وخيفة
“They are commanded to remember Him (Allah) in their hearts with humility and fear.”
Refer Tafsir Al-Thabari (13/354)
This means that humility and fear coexist with remembrance of Allah SWT in one’s heart. This is in accordance with the statement of Allah SWT:
وَلِمَنْ خَافَ مَقَامَ رَبِّهِ جَنَّتَانِ
“But for he who has feared the position of his Lord are two gardens.”
Surah al-Rahman (46)
Imam Ibn Abi al-Dunya cited the commentary of Mujahid Ibn Jabr on this verse which states:
هُوَ الرَّجُلُ يُرِيدُ أَنْ يُذْنِبَ الذَّنْبَ، فَيَذْكُرُ مَقَامَ رَبِّهِ، فَيَدَعُ الذَّنْبَ
“He is a man who intends to commit a sin then he remembers the position of his Lord. So, he left the sin.”
Refer Al-Taubah, Ibn Abi Al-Dunya (pg. 67)
Thus, it is clear from the above statement that dhikr in one’s heart refers to the remembrance of Allah SWT and feeling the honour and greatness of Allah SWT’s position in his heart which leads to humility and fear towards Allah SWT.
Imam Maimun Ibn Mihran said:
الذِّكْرُ ذِكْرَانِ ذِكْرُ اللهِ بِاللِّسَانِ، وَأَفْضَلُ مِنْ ذَلِكَ أَنْ تَذْكُرَهُ عِنْدَ الْمَعْصِيَةِ إِذَا أَشْرَفْتَ عَلَيْهَا
“There are two types of dhikr. Verbal dhikr (recitation with one’s tongue) and the prioritized is you remember when you are about to commit a sin.”
Refer Hilyah Al-Awliya’, Abu Nu’aim (4/87)
To conclude, after we have analysed the above arguments and evidences, we would like to state that dhikr in one’s heart means the remembrance of Allah SWT, contemplating His honour and greatness which is sunnah and encouraged according to syarak where the doer will be greatly rewarded. Hopefully, all of us are from among the people who always increases their dhikr both by verbal and in our hearts.
Lastly, we pray to Allah SWT for us all to be given the accurate understanding in practising religion. Amin.