Assalam alaikoum wa Rahmatullaah wa Barakaatuh,
[Transcribed from “A commentary on Ibn Taymiyyah’s Essy on the Heart” translated by Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips]
Which type of remembrance is a true nourishment for the heart? People often think of dhikr (remembrance of Allah) in the very narrow sense: repeating certain prescribed statements of remembrance.
However, dhikr is in fact the heart’s remembrance and consciousness of Allaah which should accompany every believer’s actions and statements. Sa’eed ibn Jubayr said, “Dhikr is obedience to Allaah Whoever obeys Allaah has in fact remembered Him. Whoever does not obey Him is not one who remembers Him, even if He says tasbeeh, and recites the Book a lot.” (Sharh as-Sunnah, al-Baghawee, vol.5, p.10)
Ibn Taymiyyah also stated in his Majmoo’ al-n, “Every statement made by the tongue and conceived by the heart which takes one closer to Allaah, including learning knowledge, teaching it, commanding good and forbidding evil, is a form of dhikr of Allaah.” (vol. 10, p.661)
This mindfulness of Allaah is the nourishment of the heart, while the formal form of dhikr – wherein a person remembers Allaah with specific words at specific times, as defind by the sunnah – aids and develops the true remembrance of the heart.
Furthermore, since dhikr is the heart’s nourishment, a heart which lacks it is a dead heart. Hence, the Prophet sallallahu alayhi salam said, “The similitude of the one who remembers his Lord and the one who does not remember his lord is like the similitude of death and life.” (Bukhari and Muslim)