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Dhikr and Meditation

When thoughts are racing, and a storm is raging within, it can feel like there’s no escape. Dhikr (remembrance of Allah) and meditation are powerful tools for finding peace in our most turbulent times, and maintaining serenity when times are good.

Meditation helps us to connect with ourselves. 

Dhikr helps us to connect with Allah.

Dhikr and meditation can be, but are not necessarily separate and distinct. For centuries, Muslims have experienced these practices together as seamlessly combined. Because without Allah there is no self, and without the existence of the self how can we experience Allah? 

A man said, “O Messenger of Allah, the laws of Islam are too many for me, so tell me something I can hold onto.” The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, “Keep your tongue moist with the remembrance of Allah.”

Medicine for the soul   

“In remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.” — Qur’an 13:28 

If you’re hoping to heal a broken heart, shake off a depressive state, or make a change in your life, dhikr and meditation can help you get there. 

“Meditation is like a cave, sheltering from the raging storm outside. Dhikr is like a cool mountain spring, quenching the thirst of my weary soul.” 

But like all matters of heart and soul, the only way to truly understand how these practices can benefit you, is by trying them out for yourself. Your experiences may feel different each time. And it might take a few tries to find which approach works best for you. So explore without any pressure, or comparing yourself harshly to others.

“Allah says, “I treat My servant as he hopes that I would treat him. I am with him whenever he remembers Me. If he thinks of Me, I think of him. If he mentions Me in company, I mention him in an even better company. If he draws near to Me a hand’s span, I draw near to him an arm’s length. And if he draws near to Me an arm’s length, I draw closer to him by a distance of two outstretched arms. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him running.” – Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) 

Potential benefits 

Meditation can:

  • lower your heart rate
  • change your brainwaves
  • reduce tension and stress in the body 
  • Improve sleep quality 
  • Improve immunity 

Emotional and mental benefits can include: 

  • Lower stress and anxiety levels 
  • Increased empathy 
  • Increased feelings of self-love 
  • Increased self-awareness 
  • Increased hope, optimism and ability to cope
  • New perspective and understanding of life, or your situation 
  • Peacefulness, tranquillity, contentment  

But remember, you’re highly unlikely to experience all of these immediately, or all at once. Progress happens gradually, so be gentle with yourself. Remove any pressure, so that you can enjoy the process.

Take all the time you need, there’s no rush. 

Learning to meditate 

“It is God who has created the night, the day, the sun, and moon and (all heavenly bodies) swimming in a certain orbit… Man was created of haste. I will show you My signs, so do not impatiently urge Me.”  — Qur’an 21:33&37

Sometimes we need to slow down our racing thoughts and find a way to accept the situation we find ourselves in at the present moment – so that we can handle things one small step at a time. 

Meditation is about shifting your state of awareness and re-focusing your attention. It can be as simple as finding a quiet moment and focusing on your breathing for a few minutes until you feel calm. 

At first meditation can feel uncomfortable and it’s common for people to believe they’re ‘doing it wrong’ because of the myth that meditation is about emptying your mind entirely. 

Remember, meditation is a way to process difficult emotions, not a method for avoiding them. 

Where do I start? 

Breath is life.

How we breathe can change our mental and emotional state. So, let’s start here. Try this: 

  1. Find a quiet moment when you have 10-20 mins all to yourself. 
  2. Sit, or lie, comfortably. 
  3. Take a few deep slow breaths and try to relax. 
  4. Keep breathing, nice and slow. In through the nose, out through the mouth. 
  5. Start to notice how your body feels. Are you tense anywhere?
  6. Keep breathing, nice and slow. In through the nose, out through the mouth. 
  7. Relax your muscles. Release any tension you’re holding in your face, neck, shoulders and keep going, all the way down to your feet. 
  8. Keep breathing nice and slow. In through the nose, out through the mouth. 
  9. When you’re ready, start to notice your feelings. How are you feeling? It’s normal to be feeling different emotions at the same time. However you feel, tell yourself it’s ok to have these feelings – don’t judge yourself. Feeling is part of being human. 
  10. Just sit with your feelings for a moment and let yourself really feel them. If you need to cry, that’s ok, cry as much as you need to.  
  11. If your mind starts to wander, that’s ok, just gently call your attention back to your breathing. Nice and slow, in through the nose, out through the mouth. 
  12. You might start to notice your feelings feel strongest in different parts of your body. That’s normal. Listen to your body by being still, and just paying attention to any physical sensations like tingling, twinges, heaviness, lightness, pain, tightness and tension. Try to keep relaxing your muscles as much as you can.  
  13. When you’re ready, open your eyes. 

There are many different types of meditation that can help you meet different goals – letting go, moving on, self-confidence, coping with grief, re-energising, sleeping well… Meditation does not have to take a long time. You can even meditate in five minutes. And you can also incorporate movement into your meditation through gentle stretches and yoga.

Helpful meditation resources: 

There are loads of amazing meditation resources out there – it can feel overwhelming. The Headspace app or the Calm app are a great intro to meditation and mindfulness. You can also find loads of great guided meditation podcasts – maybe start by looking at The Yoga Bunny and Meditation Mountain Spotify podcasts and see if any episode titles speak to you. 

“If I have thoughts racing through my head, I don’t fight them, I just say ‘hello thought, thank you for being here, you’re welcome,’ and it takes the pressure away.”   

“I like to find guided meditations on Spotify or YouTube. I had to try a few to find ones that feel good for me – there are loads I just can’t get into – but I’ve found some gems. I’d say don’t be put off right away if the first couple of tries don’t do it for you.”  

“I can’t do guided meditations. I have to be self-guided. I need to go at my own pace. I find listening to someone else distracting too. But I have listened to a few podcasts to learn some techniques. And I find that a meditation music soundtrack can help.” 

“Meditation helps me concentrate in salah. It’s also helped me get to know myself better.” 

Inner-child meditation

Many people find the ‘inner-child’ visualisation technique particularly helpful for healing emotional wounds that started when they were little. This could be times when we felt like our needs were not being met by the people around us, or we weren’t treated with the level of love and compassion we needed.

Being able to ‘talk to’ your inner-child can increase feelings of self-love, safety and empowerment.  

Read more about healing from childhood trauma

“The most powerful meditation I ever did was where I visualised myself at an age where I experienced something awful. I had a conversation with my younger self and told myself everything I wish someone had told me at that time. In my imagination I gave myself hug and took them away from the thing that was hurting them and told them it was not ok, and that it was not their fault. I cried a lot, it triggered so many emotions, but I felt like a huge weight had shifted afterwards.” 

A quick intro to talking to your inner child

Light ‘nur’ meditation

Try playing the below video – watch it once to understand the meaning of this du’a. Then play it on repeat (for as long as you prefer) while you close your eyes, breathe deeply, and visualise yourself slowly being surrounded by the most beautiful, healing, loving, gentle light. Imagine the light filling your heart, your smile, the palms of your hands… feel the tingling sensations in your body as the light travels through every cell in your body, restoring you, nourishing you and filling you with peace.

Prayer for light

Dhikr – remembrance of Allah – is to the soul what breath is to the body.  

“The likeness of someone who remembers his Lord and someone who does not is like that of the living and the dead.” – Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) 

Allah is the source of all love, mercy, compassion, beauty and peace. As such, dhikr can be an incredibly powerful tool in your mental health toolkit, so it’s definitely worth making a conscious effort to explore its different forms and impact. 

“The Messenger of Allah said: “Shall I not inform you of the best of your actions, the purest in the sight of your Lord, which raises your rank to the highest, which is better for you than spending gold and silver, better than meeting your enemy [in battle] ” They replied: “Yes, indeed,” and he said: “It is the remembrance of Allah.”” 

Dhikr is simply remembering. It doesn’t take any special skills, just belief, sincere intentions and an open-heart. 

You can remember Allah anywhere, any time, and in many different ways, for example: 

  • In the form of du’a (personal prayer and supplication
  • During meditation 
  • Sitting in nature / witnessing the beauty of creation  
  • with music and song 
  • Through writing and poetry 
  • By listening to the Qur’an 
  • By reciting the Qur’an (read about Qur’an and mental health
  • Through studying Islamic sources 
  • in group settings (dhikr circles, study groups, listening to a khutbah (Friday sermon)
  • Practising daily salah 
  • Through creating art
  • Through intentional good deeds and charity 

“And to Allah belong the best names, so call Him by them.” — Qur’an 7:180

Often when people refer to dhikr they’re talking about meditating on Allah/God, Allah’s names/attributes, and Allah’s message.

If you’re not sure where to start, try this:

  1. Find a quiet moment when you have 10 mins where you’re unlikely to be disturbed. Perhaps before bed, or first thing when you wake up. 
  2. Take a moment to think about how you’re feeling. What’s on your mind?
  3. Scroll through the list of Allah’s 99 Beautiful Names (at the end of the page) and choose the one that speaks to you. Don’t overthink it – go with your gut feeling. 
  4. Start with Bismillah-irahman-irahim (in the name of God the Most Compassionate the Most Merciful), (and Surah Al-Fatiha if you know it). 
  5. Close your eyes if you want to and take some nice slow, deep breaths. 
  6. Focus on the name you picked and repeat it softly out loud, or in your head if you prefer. 
  7. As you keep repeating this name, focus on the meaning of the name and how it makes you feel. 
  8. Focus on connecting with this name/attribute of Allah. You might want to focus on how you would like this attribute to manifest in your life? It might feel natural to make a du’a. Or perhaps you’ll recall experiences you had where you felt this particular attribute of Allah surrounding you. 
  9. Don’t try to force your thoughts and feelings, just let them come naturally. There is no right or wrong way to feel. And it’s ok if you don’t feel anything much this time. 
  10. If your thoughts start to wander, just bring your focus back to Allah’s Name. 
  11. Try to stay in this state of remembrance for at least 5-10 mins. 

You can do the above exercise with a favourite verse, or surah, from the Qur’an too.

Soothing dhikr videos:

“There is no God but You, Glorified be You! Truly, I have been of the wrongdoers.”
Verses about tranquillity from the Qur’an
God is sufficient for me dhikr
Hypnotic shahada for 30mins
Allah’s name repeated for 40mins – powerful clarity
Verses of healing from the Qur’an

Eight lessons to meditate on, from Al Ghazali’s famous Letter To A Disciple

Pick one of these and use it as the focus of your mediation for 10-20 minutes: 

  1. For perspective:  Nothing you love will accompany you in your grave except your good deeds. 
  1. To help restraining the ego’s obsessive desires: And as for him who fears to stand in the presence of his Lord and forbids the soul from low desires, Then surely Paradise shall be his home”Qur’an 79:39-40
  1. For perspective on money and desiring worldly things: “Whatever you possess is transient and whatever is with God is everlasting.” — Qur’an 16:96
  1. On comparing yourself with others: “O mankind… Surely the noblest among you in the sight of God is the most god-conscious of you.” — Qur’an 49:13  
  1. On envy and gossip: “Is it they who would distribute the Mercy of your Lord? It is We Who distribute between them their livelihood in this world, and We raised some of them above others in ranks, so that some may employ others. But the mercy of your Lord is better than that which they amass.”Qur’an 43:32
  1. On the root of hostility and arguments: “Surely Satan is an enemy to you, so take him as an enemy.”Qur’an 35:6
  1. For low self-esteem, money worries, and lowering your standards: “And there is no creature on earth but that its provision rests on Allah, and He knows its place of dwelling and place of storage. All is in a clear Record.” — Qur’an 11:6
  1. For anxiety and worry: “And [Allah] will provide for him from where he does not expect. And whosoever relies on God – He suffices him. Surely, God brings His command to pass.”Qur’an 65:3

99 Names of Allah 

99 Names of Allah
  1. الرَّحْمَنُ Ar-Rahman    The Beneficent
  2. الرَّحِيمُ Ar-Raheem    The Merciful
  3. الْمَلِكُ  Al-Malik          The King
  4. الْقُدُّوسُ   Al-Quddus     The Most Sacred
  5. السَّلاَمُ As-Salam        The Source of Peace, The Flawless
  6. الْمُؤْمِنُ Al-Mu’min      The Infuser of Faith
  7. الْمُهَيْمِنُ   Al-Muhaymin The Preserver of Safety
  8. الْعَزِيزُ  Al-Aziz            All Mighty
  9. الْجَبَّارُ  Al-Jabbar        The Compeller, The Restorer
  10. ُالْمُتَكَبِّر  Al-Mutakabbir The Supreme, The Majestic
  11. الْخَالِقُ Al-Khaaliq      The Creator, The Maker
  12. الْبَارِئُ  Al-Baari           The Evolver
  13. الْمُصَوِّرُ Al-Musawwir The Fashioner
  14. الْغَفَّارُ  Al-Ghaffir       The Great Forgiver
  15. الْقَهَّارُ  Al-Qahhar      The All-Prevailing One
  16. الْوَهَّابُ Al-Wahhaab  The Supreme Bestower
  17. الرَّزَّاقُ  Ar-Razzaq The Provider
  18. الْفَتَّاحُ  Al-Fattaah      The Supreme Solver
  19. اَلْعَلِيْمُ  Al-‘Aleem       The All-Knowing
  20. الْقَابِضُ Al-Qaabid       The Withholder
  21. الْبَاسِطُ Al-Baasit         The Extender
  22. الْخَافِضُ   Al-Khaafidh    The Reducer
  23. الرَّافِعُ   Ar-Raafi’         The Exalter, The Elevator
  24. الْمُعِزُّ   Al-Mu’izz        The Honourer, The Bestower
  25. ٱلْمُذِلُّ  Al-Muzil          The Dishonourer, The Humiliator
  26. السَّمِيعُ As-Samee’      The All-Hearing
  27. الْبَصِيرُ Al-Baseer       The All-Seeing
  28. الْحَكَمُ  Al-Hakam       The Impartial Judge
  29. الْعَدْلُ  Al-‘Adl   The Utterly Just
  30. اللَّطِيفُ   Al-Lateef         The Subtle One, The Most Gentle
  31. الْخَبِيرُ  Al-Khabeer     The All-Aware
  32. الْحَلِيمُ Al-Haleem      The Most Forbearing
  33. الْعَظِيمُ Al-‘Azeem       The Magnificent, The Supreme
  34. الْغَفُور Al-Ghafoor     The Great Forgiver
  35. الشَّكُورُ Ash-Shakoor  The Most Appreciative
  36. الْعَلِيُّ   Al-‘Alee           The Most High, The Exalted
  37. الْكَبِيرُ   Al-Kabeer       The Most Great
  38. الْحَفِيظُ   Al-Hafeedh     The Preserver
  39. المُقيِت Al-Muqeet     The Sustainer
  40. اﻟْﺣَسِيبُ  Al-Haseeb      The Reckoner
  41. الْجَلِيلُ Al-Jaleel          The Majestic
  42. الْكَرِيمُ  Al-Kareem      The Most Generous, The Most Esteemed
  43. الرَّقِيبُ Ar-Raqeeb      The Watchful
  44. ٱلْمُجِيبُ   Al-Mujeeb      The Responsive One
  45. الْوَاسِعُ Al-Waasi’        The All-Encompassing, the Boundless
  46. الْحَكِيمُ Al-Hakeem     The All-Wise
  47. الْوَدُودُ Al-Wadud       The Most Loving
  48. الْمَجِيدُ Al-Majeed      The Glorious, The Most Honorable
  49. الْبَاعِثُ Al-Ba’ith         The Infuser of New Life
  50. الشَّهِيدُ Ash-Shaheed The All Observing Witnessing
  51. الْحَقُ   Al-Haqq           The Absolute Truth
  52. الْوَكِيلُ Al-Wakeel       The Trustee, The Disposer of Affairs
  53. الْقَوِيُ  Al-Qawiyy       The All-Strong
  54. الْمَتِينُ  Al-Mateen      The Firm, The Steadfast
  55. الْوَلِيُّ    Al-Waliyy        The Protecting Associate
  56. الْحَمِيدُ Al-Hameed    The Praiseworthy
  57. الْمُحْصِي  Al-Muhsee     The All-Enumerating, The Counter
  58. الْمُبْدِئُ Al-Mubdi        The Originator, The Initiator
  59. ٱلْمُعِيدُ Al-Mueed       The Restorer, The Reinstater
  60. الْمُحْيِي Al-Muhyi        The Giver of Life
  61. اَلْمُمِيتُ Al-Mumeet    The Creator of Death
  62. الْحَيُّ    Al-Hayy           The Ever-Living
  63. الْقَيُّومُ  Al-Qayyoom  The Sustainer, The Self-Subsisting
  64. الْوَاجِدُ Al-Waajid       The Perceiver
  65. الْمَاجِدُ Al-Maajid       The Illustrious, the Magnificent
  66. الْواحِدُ Al-Waahid      The One
  67. اَلاَحَدُ   Al-Ahad           The Unique, The Only One
  68. الصَّمَدُ As-Samad       The Eternal, Satisfier of Needs
  69. الْقَادِرُ  Al-Qadeer      The Omnipotent One
  70. الْمُقْتَدِرُ Al-Muqtadir   The Powerful
  71. الْمُقَدِّمُ Al-Muqaddim The Expediter, The Promoter
  72. الْمُؤَخِّرُ Al-Mu’akhkhir   The Delayer
  73. الأوَّلُ   Al-Awwal        The First
  74. الآخِرُ   Al-Aakhir        The Last
  75. الظَّاهِرُ Az-Zaahir        The Manifest
  76. الْبَاطِنُ Al-Baatin        The Hidden One, Knower of the Hidden
  77. الْوَالِي   Al-Waali          The Sole Governor
  78. الْمُتَعَالِي   Al-Muta’ali     The Self Exalted
  79. الْبَرُّ      Al-Barr            The Source of All Goodness
  80. التَّوَابُ At-Tawwab     The Ever-Pardoning, The Relenting
  81. الْمُنْتَقِمُ Al-Muntaqim The Avenger
  82. العَفُوُ   Al-‘Afuww   The Pardoner
  83. الرَّؤُوفُ Ar-Ra’oof        The Most Kind
  84. َمَالِكُ ٱلْمُلْكُ  Maalik-ul-Mulk           Master of the Kingdom, Owner of the Dominion
  85. ذُوالْجَلاَلِ وَالإكْرَامِ Dhul-Jalaali Wal-Ikraam Lord of Glory and Honour, Lord of Majesty and Generosity
  86. الْمُقْسِطُ  Al-Muqsit       The Just One
  87. الْجَامِعُ Al-Jaami’        The Gatherer, the Uniter
  88. ٱلْغَنيُّ   Al-Ghaniyy     The Self-Sufficient, The Wealthy
  89. ٱلْمُغْنِيُّ Al-Mughni      The Enricher
  90. اَلْمَانِعُ  Al-Mani’         The Withholder
  91. الضَّارَ  Ad-Dharr        The Distresser
  92. النَّافِعُ   An-Nafi’          The Propitious, the Benefactor
  93. النُّورُ    An-Nur           The Light, The Illuminator
  94. الْهَادِي Al-Haadi         The Guide
  95. الْبَدِيعُ  Al-Badee’       The Incomparable Originator
  96. اَلْبَاقِي    Al-Baaqi          The Everlasting
  97. الْوَارِثُ Al-Waarith     The Inheritor, The Heir
  98. الرَّشِيدُ Ar-Rasheed    The Guide, Infallible Teacher
  99. الصَّبُورُ As-Saboor      The Forbearing, The Patient

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