Aqeedah (Belief) Reflections

God’s Remembrance

Reflections from Imam Ibn al-Qayyim and Imam al-‘Ayni

Mu`adh bin Jabal once said, “No action saves a person from God’s punishment like remembering Him.”

Ibn al-Qayyim commented on this, “Meaning: Constant remembrance is a means of God’s constant love. Remembering Him is to the heart, what water is to a seed. Nay; what water is to a fish, there is no life without it.”

The Scope of Remembrance

“There are 3 types of remembrance:

  1. Remembering God’s names, attributes and praising Him with them.
  2. Honoring Him, praising Him, glorifying Him, singling Him out for worship and magnifying Him. The word “remembrance,” when used by later scholars, carries one of these meanings.
  3. Remembering Him by mentioning what He ordered and prohibited. This is [also] the remembrance of scholars. Actually, all three are related to a scholar’s remembrance of their Lord.”

Imam al-‘Ayni wrote:

“The virtues of remembrance are not restricted to glorifying God, acknowledging His oneness, praising Him and magnifying Him. Nay, every act of obedience to Him is a form of His remembrance. This was the opinion of Sa`id bin Jubair and other scholars.

‘Ata said, “Gatherings of God’s remembrance are gatherings for the study of the lawful and prohibited, the rules related to purchases and sales, prayer and fasting, marriage and divorce, and Hajj.”

Every type of remembrance is allowed for the one who has a minor impurity, is sexually defiled, a woman on her menses, or suffering from postpartum bleeding, except reciting the Qur’an, because that is not allowed for a ritually impure person.”

—Al-`Ilm al-Hayyib fi Sharh al-Kalim al-Tayyib, pgs. 102-103

The Greatest Way to Remember God

Ibn al-Qayyim wrote:

“One of the greatest ways to remember God is with His words.

God says, “Whoever turns away from my remembrance, then he will, without any doubt, live a suffocating existence and we will gather him on the day of rising (the day of judgment) blind.” [Qur’an, 20:124]

His remembrance in this verse is the Qur’an that He sent to His messenger ﷺ (God’s peace and blessings be upon him).

God says, “Those who believe and their hearts are tranquil because of God’s remembrance. There is no doubt, that with God’s remembrance the hearts are tranquil.” [Qur’an, 13:28]

Other forms of His remembrance include supplicating to Him, seeking His forgiveness and approaching Him with absolute humility. And these, including reciting His Book, are five types of remembrances.”

—Jalal al-Afham fi al-Salah wa al-Salam ‘ala khari al-‘Anam, pgs. 365-366

For Every Situation There Is a Perfect Word

Imam al-‘Ayni was asked, “Which is better, remembering God by observing certain invocations, or reading the Qur’an?” He responded, “Reciting the Qur’an is more virtuous than that [see #2 under The Scope of Remembrance above], and remembrance is more virtuous than supplication. However, there are times where the opposite holds true. For example, it is better to say the invocations taught by the Prophet ﷺ for bowing and prostration in prayer, than reading the Qur’an.

In fact, at that time, reading the Qur’an is forbidden (according to some scholars) or disliked (according to others). The same applies to the statement, “Allah heard the one who praised him [sami Allahu liman hamida],” when standing up from bowing during prayers; sending prayers upon the Prophet ﷺ (at the closing of prayers); observing the invocations said after the prayer; saying there is no god but Allah; glorifying Him, magnifying Him, praising Him and replying to the call of the one who calls the prayer. All of these (if observed at their perspective times), are more virtuous than ignoring them, because a person was busy with the Qur’an.

It is true that the superiority of the Qur’an over other forms of speech is like the superiority of God to His creation but, for every situation there is a word that fits, and when that situation changes, the right word or phrase loses its wisdom, and its benefit is no longer sought.”

Al-`Ilm al-Hayyib fi Sharh al-Kalim al-Tayyib, pgs. 99-100

About the author

Suhaib Webb

Suhaib Webb

Suhaib Webb is a contemporary American-Muslim educator, activist, and lecturer. His work bridges classical and contemporary Islamic thought, addressing issues of cultural, social and political relevance to Muslims in the West. After converting to Islam in 1992, Webb left his career in the music industry to pursue his passion in education. He earned a Bachelor’s in Education from the University of Central Oklahoma and received intensive private training in the Islamic Sciences under a renowned Muslim Scholar of Senegalese descent. Webb was hired as the Imam at the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, where he gave khutbas (sermons), taught religious classes, and provided counselling to families and young people; he also served as an Imam and resident scholar in communities across the U.S.

From 2004-2010, Suhaib Webb studied at the world’s preeminent Islamic institution of learning, Al-Azhar University, in the College of Shari`ah. During this time, after several years of studying the Arabic Language and the Islamic legal tradition, he also served as the head of the English Translation Department at Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyyah.

Outside of his studies at Al-Azhar, Suhaib Webb completed the memorization of the Quran in the city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia. He has been granted numerous traditional teaching licenses (ijazat), adhering to centuries-old Islamic scholarly practice of ensuring the highest standards of scholarship. Webb was named one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in 2010.

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  • Wonderful article Imam Webb. If I may ask: can we supplicate IN ENGLISH while in sujood? I have read that we cannot, only Arabic is to be said. The reason I am bringing this up is because since the article is talking about remembrance. Lol, thank you Imam, have a bless day, lol. Salaams to the ummah.

  • salam

    so are you saying zikar is allowed? some people these days are saying “don’t gather and do zikar” zikar is remembrance of Allah, which I have never thought was wrong and about which are hadeeth and hadeeth qudsi, any chance of a reply to my email address?



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