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46Re: [zen_photography] please explain zikr

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  • isa
    Sep 6, 2004
      > Louis Dallara wrote:
      > Hi Isa;
      > Could you please explain zikr, which is Islamic meditation.

      there are many kind of zikr, just as there are many kinds of meditation.

      the word means "to remember."

      the most common form of zikr is the repetition of one or more of God's names

      it is done privately, publicly, silently, out loud, with movement,
      sitting, standing, with words, and without words

      the Sema, which is the turning called whirling, is not whirling at all

      it is a carefully performed turning in a very specific formal position
      while repeating the name of God, often done together in a group

      the Sema ceremony is far too involved to describe in detail

      each of its parts is prescribed and formulated

      there are various editions of the Sema

      The sema is best known from the Mevlevi Order founded by Mevlana
      Jellaludin Rumi, the famous persian poet who lived in Konya. His father
      was a famous "mystic" and when Rumi was a child he met Ibn Arabi in
      Baghdad when the sheikh was visited by Mevlana's father. Sheikh Ibn
      Arabi said that Rumi (the son) was like an ocean following a puddle (the

      When you turn, you maintain visual sight of your left thumb which is
      held out straight without bending from your shoulders. Your right hand
      is held straight out palm up. Left hand palm down. With each turn, the
      name of God repeats itself in your heart. If you try make it happen it
      doesn't. Turning is accomplished with the foot of your left leg flat on
      the floor, while your right hip rotates on your left leg like a column.
      With each turn your right foot returns to its place alongside the left
      foot. While turning, everything finds its place. There is an one
      director who patrols and guides all the turners so no one loses
      consciousness and drifts away. The sheikh sits and does what he does,
      and the musicians play, and the chanters chant.

      It takes about two to five years of practice and training before one can
      actually join the sema ceremony since it requires a great deal of
      physical strength and stamina and perfected technique. During training,
      one generally meets with the trainers about two or three times a week.
      the ceremony itself is about two hours long.

      That is one form of zikr. Some forms are far more strenuous and only a
      few are allowed even to attempt to train for it, and others are done by
      virtually all Muslims virtually every day.

      There are 99 names of God in the Quran, and there are any number of praises.

      The five times a day prayer is also a form of zikr, if one chooses to do
      it as practice.

      It requires standing, bowing, prostration and sitting, and repetition of
      God's name. One can do it in one's head, but people who study zikr do it
      as a zikr. I have seen it done by zen monks during sesshin in the
      morning and in Orthodox monasteries by Orthodox monks, but not exactly
      the same of course.

      I asked my teacher about zazen specifically once and he said it was
      zikr, one form of it, and he had been taught it by his teacher. He was
      aware of the different forms of zazen as I knew them, which of course is
      very limited knowledge.

      Another form of zikr is exactly the form that "prayer of the heart" in
      the Orthodox Monastic tradition and Hasidic communal prayer is very
      much like certain forms of Central Asian and Turkish and Bosnian zikr.
      The most "Hasidic" zikr though is probably the Burhaniyye of Sudan. In
      Pakistan, singing is the best known form that zikr takes. Famous from
      Nushret Ali Khan. My sheikh wrote many (about a 500 page book of) songs
      to sing during zikr. I used to be part of the singers before I moved to
      Turkey and started to study sema. My son is a semazen (someone who does
      sema) and he toured all of Europe as a member of a troop lead by our
      current sheikh.

      All Muslims do some form of zikr.

      This does not explain zikr. It cannot be explained.

      A friend once asked my sheikh what he should be doing while doing zikr,
      like how should he repeat the name and such, and the sheikh told him if
      he were doing it, it wouldn't be zikr. However when you see a whole
      bunch of men holding each other running around the room as fast in a
      circle as they can all yelling together with their whole hearts hooray
      for God and no one is bumping into each other and everyone smells sweet
      no matter how much they sweat, then you get an idea of what it looks like.

      One of the great experiences of my life was one night I sat on my knees
      in front of a sheikh in a small room with about 200 other people from 7
      PM to 7 AM chanting the name of God and the sheikh would not let me
      drift away for a second the whole time. It was on December 19, the day
      of the death of Hz. Mevlana Rumi in Konya, in a hotel room. The sheikh
      was a tailor with a small shop in the corner of an old house is
      Istanbul. He made women's clothes by hand.

      He was Rufai, and his father was one of the most famous Rufai sheikhs.

      > Thanks
      > Lou
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