Advice For New Muslims – What Is Dhikr & Athkar?

In Islam, we are often aware of the obvious forms of worship such as prayer, fasting, and giving charity. But there are also many other means of performing various acts of worship throughout the day, which, if done correctly and sincerely, can carry with them a heavy weight in reward. One of these is referred to as remembrance of Allah, known in Arabic as dhikr, or its plural, athkar.

One of the main purposes of dhikr is to ensure Allah’s name is something that you mention frequently throughout each day. The more you get into the habit of reciting words of dhikr as part of a planned ritual, the more you will subsequently recite Allah’s name out of habit or second nature.

An easy way to get into the habit of reciting dhikr frequently, is to add it to your salah ritual. At the completion of each of your five daily prayers, remain seated on your prayer mat, and recite the following:

Subhan’Allah (repeat 33 times)

Alhamdulillah (repeat 33 times)

Allahu Akbar (repeat 34 times)

RELATED POST: Common Islamic Words & Phrases

It is also sunnah to perform the above dhikr each night before you sleep.

When learning about dhikr, the above three phrases are often the first or most commonly mentioned, but as many other Islamic books and advisors will tell you, literally any positive remembrance of Allah counts as dhikr, such as reading Qur’an, or praising Allah in your speech.

Upon becoming a Muslim, you will have stated the shahadah – “Ash-hadu anla elaha illa-Allah, wa ash-hadu anna Mohammadan abduhu wa Rasuluhu”.This sentence is a powerful form of dhikr, and can be repeated quietly to yourself at any time. It is interesting to note that the shorter version of this shahadah (simply saying “la elaha illa-Allah”) can be said without even moving your lips. You could walk round a supermarket and complete your entire shop while continuously repeating “la elaha illa-Allah” without anyone knowing!

RELATED POST: How To Take Your Shahadah

I have spoken in a previous post about the virtues of saying “Bismillah”, which is another excellent form of dhikr. Get into the habit of saying this particularly before eating and drinking, when entering your home, and when getting undressed, as each of these are not only pleasing to Allah, but are also a means of protecting yourself against Shaytaan.

There are many books available containing powerful du’as and supplications, a popular favourite being ‘Fortress of the Muslim’, which is perfectly pocket-sized, and contains so many variations of dhikr for you to repeat throughout your day.

I will conclude this post with one favourite sentence of mine: La hawla wa la quwwata illa billah, which roughly translates as ‘there is no power and no strength except by Allah’. If I am worried or apprehensive about anything, or if I am happy and excited about anything, I feel that repeating this phrase enables me to remain grounded and effectively reduces feelings of anxiety. It is a powerful reminder that absolutely nothing touches us without the permission of Allah, and He provides the best of protection and sustenance.

la hawla

This is absolutely not an extensive list of dhikr, as the types and means of remembering Allah are endless, but this hopefully provides some inspiration on how to incorporate more opportunity for keeping Allah frequently at the forefront of your thoughts. It is often taught that we must be in the regular habit of remembering and praising Allah, as the more we turn to Allah in times of ease, the more likely He will help us in times of hardship, inshaa Allah.

“So remember Me; I will remember you. Be thankful to Me, and never ungrateful.” (Qur’an 2: 152)

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