بِسْمِ اللّٰهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ
Allah Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala says in Surah Baqarah:
فَاذۡكُرُوۡنِىۡٓ اَذۡكُرۡكُمۡ وَاشۡکُرُوۡا لِىۡ وَلَا تَكۡفُرُوۡنِ
“Remember Me, then, and I will remember you. And be thankful to Me, and be not ungrateful to Me.” (2-152)
Is Dhikr a deed of the tongue or the heart?
Dhikr ذکر : or "Remembrance" essentially pertains to the heart, but in so far as the tongue being the interpreter of the heart, the oral recitation of a Divine Name or a verse of the Holy Qur'an is also described as Dhikr ذکر . In other words, oral Dhikr ذکر can be worth the name only when it is accompanied by the "remembrance" of the heart.
As the great Sufi poet Rumi points out, the recitation of a Divine Name can have no efficacy if one keeps thinking of cows and donkeys while repeating it mechanically with the tongue.
One must, however, bear in mind that even a mechanical Dhikr ذکر without the heart being engaged in it is not altogether futile. It is related that the great Sufi Abu ` Uthman, hearing a man complain of such a situation, remarked that one should be grateful to Allah even for this favour of having drawn at least one organ of the body, the tongue, into His service. (Qurtubi)
The greatest merit of 'Dhikr' ذکر (Rememberance)
The merits of Dhikr ذکر are, indeed, innumerable. What greater merit could one wish for than the assurance that when a man "remembers" Allah, He too "remembers" him. Abu ` Uthman once claimed that he knew the time when Allah remembered His servants. The listeners grew curious as to how he could determine this. He replied that, according to the promise made in the Holy Qur'an, when a Muslim remembers Allah, He too remembers him, and thus everyone can know for himself that as soon as he turns to Allah and remembers Him, Allah too remembers him.
Obedience is the essence of Dhikr
Let us add that Verse 152 means to say that if men "remember" Allah by obeying His commandments, He will "remember" them by granting His pardon and His rewards. The commentator Said ibn Jubayr has, in fact, interpreted the Dhikr ذکر or "Remembrance" of Allah as obedience and submission to Him. He says:
فمن لم یطعہ لم یذکرہ وان کثر صلاتہ وتسبیحہ
"He who has not obeyed Him has not remembered Him, even though he has kept himself externally busy in offering (nafl نفل : supererogatory) prayers and reciting His praises."
Do not be of those who have forgotten Allah Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala
This explanation is fully supported by a hadith cited by Al-Qurtubi on the authority of "Ahkam al-Qur'an احکام القرآن " by Ibn Khuwayz Mandadh. The Holy Prophet (صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم) has said that one who has been obeying Allah – that is, following the injunctions with regard to the lawful (Halal حلال ) and the unlawful (Haram حرام ) - has truly been remembering Allah, in spite of being deficient in (nafl نفل : supererogatory) prayers and fasting, while one who has been disobeying divine commandments has, in fact, forgotten Allah, in spite of devoting long hours to nafl نفل prayers, fasting and recitation of His praises.
The class of Dhikr of the True Believer
The great Sufi Master Dhu al-Nun al-Misri has said that the man who remembers Allah in the full sense of the term forgets everything else, and that, in reward of such a total absorption, Allah Himself takes care of all his concerns, and grants him something far more valuable for everything he loses. Similarly, the blessed Companion Mu` adh (Radiallahu Anhu) has remarked that in so far as winning absolution from divine wrath is concerned, no good deed on the part of man can compare with Dhikr ذکر . And in a hadith reported by the blessed Companion Abu Hurayrah (Radiallahu Anhu) Allah Himself says that so long as the servant keeps remembering Him and his lips keep moving in Dhikr ذکر ، Allah is with him.
[Maariful Quran 2:152]