Most of us find it hard to achieve the right balance between Deen and Dunya. Often times we neglect our spiritual side in pursuit of worldly life.
However, we are spiritual beings and our nature demands that we fulfil that spiritual connection with our Lord.
Dhikr is one of the easiest to fulfil this connection, but on the day of judgement, it will be the heaviest on the scales. It is a direct, powerful and meditative form of worship that strengthens our relationship with Allah.
For me, the Mehfil, whether it is a Milad Mehfil or otherwise, fulfils that spiritual need. Last Thursday saw the first of many Milad celebrations that will take place over the next month.
The Mehfils always follow the same pattern:
All the sisters are expected and encouraged to join in. We sing, chant, glorify Allah, and praise the Prophet (pbuh). We listen and learn and perform the Dhikr. Most of us are completely immersed in the experience. For two or three hours that we are there, we can forget about any worries or stress.
In this article, I am going to consider the mental health benefits of these gatherings.
I believe that singing touches the soul if you let it. When we sing, endorphins, which are the feel-good hormones, are released in our brains. Cortisol, which is the hormone that causes stress, is actually suppressed. Singing is a natural anti-depressant that costs nothing and has no harmful side effects. We sing for the love of Allah and His Prophet (pbuh).
As Maulana Rumi says:
“I want to sing like the birds sing, not worrying about who hears or what they think.”
Many faiths consider singing to be a path to spiritual growth and studies have shown that singing together has the following benefits:
I am often moved to tears by what we sing and chant. The whole experience is deeply spiritual.
In those moments, especially during the dhikr, I feel so closely connected to Allah, encompassed in His protection, tranquil and calm. I feel so positive for the future and the hereafter that I never want that feeling to come to an end.
Dhikr is the remembrance of Allah, using short phrases including the names of Allah and/or supplications from the Qur’an or hadith, that glorify Allah, most high.
In the Mehfil, We will sit with our eyes closed and the lights dimmed. We will start by reciting Surah Fatiha, Surah Ihlas and Darood sharif once. Then one sister will lead us in the chanting and everyone else will follow. She will start with:
I seek refuge in Allah from the outcast Shaitan.
I begin with the name of Allah, the Kind, the Caring
Glory to Allah
And so on… praising, glorifying and acknowledging His power.
We will recite the same phrase 3 or 5 times, building up to the midpoint when we repeat the Sufi chant ‘Allah Hu’ (Allah, just He) many, many times. The key is that the heart is engaged as well as the tongue so that every word penetrates and is felt by the heart and soul.
Hadrat Abdul Qadir Jilani states:
“The way to free the heart, to purify it, is to remember Allah. At the beginning this remembrance can only be done outwardly, by repeating His divine Names, pronouncing them aloud so that you yourself and others can hear and remember. As the memory of Him becomes constant, remembrance sinks to the heart and becomes inward, silent.”
Dhikr in a group is absolutely magical but there is no reason why it can’t be performed alone. Set aside 10 or 15 minutes before or after salah and either find a youtube clip or a script, close your eyes and just sit and recite.
Furthermore, dhikr can be done anywhere and at any time. During a daily commute, when waiting for something and even when carrying out our chores. Even more so when feeling apprehensive about something.
In summary, dhikr:
I come away from the mehfil feeling refreshed and rejuvenated having purified my soul. This positive frame of mind can stay with me for days.
I urge you to punctuate your life with such spiritual gatherings and you will see the ripple effects of it spread to the rest of your life. It’s important to make an effort so that your tawqa is strengthened and you spend more time conscious of Allah than not.
May Allah accept our efforts and increase our Imaan, always. Ameen. Ya Rabbul Alameen