Book Review: The Remembrance of God

The Remembrance of God

Title: The Remembrance of God
Author: Imam Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti
Translator: Sajeda Maryam Poswal
Revised with Notes, Biography & Appendices: Shaykh Gibril Fouad Haddad
Publisher: Amal Press (2008)

This is a concise fatwa or legal opinion on the permissibility of loud dhikr. The actual title of the legal opinion is ‘The Outcome of Contemplation Over Loud Dhikr’. Imam Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti was considered a mujtahid mutlaq (a jurist capable of deriving independent jurisprudential rulings) and was of the Shafi school. Imam al-Suyuti has been attributed with 723 works, some of which do not exceed four pages, while others are large significant works. In the field of Quranic commentary, he wrote the second half of Tafsir al-Jalalayn. Imam al-Suyuti is reported to have said that he memorized two hundred thousand hadiths and said:

If there were more, I would have memorized them, and there might not be more than that on the face of the earth.

The book begins with a detailed biography of Imam al-Suyuti which expounds on his expertise in the various Islamic sciences. Shaykh Mostafa al-Badawi writes on the back cover:

Imam al-Suyuti is one of the towering landmarks of Islamic scholarship. This fatwa from a famous Qur’anic exegete, a leading authority in all the Qur’anic sciences, traditionist, jurisprudent, grammarian, and historian, given with his characteristic lucidity and authority, obviates the need to look for more on the same subject.

Shaykh Umar Faruq Abd-Allah also writes on the back cover:

An immense contribution. This timeless fatwa brings traditional scholarly authority of the highest degree and removes dangerous misconceptions about the centrality and universal benefit of the collective remembrance of God as a standing Sunna of worship in the Muslim community. Al-Suyuti’s pronouncement of this matter is essential for our community to grow and develop spiritually by removing the dross of ignorance in the name of Islam that blocks access to the divine. Any Muslim who may have doubts on this matter should hold firmly to the categorical authority of al-Suyuti’s fatwa and be clear about the primacy of these and related acts of elemental worship, proximity to God, and ultimate spiritual perfection.

Imam al-Suyuti starts his legal opinion with a summary of the question:

You have asked-may God honor you!-concerning the custom of the Sufi masters in setting up circles for the purpose of dhikr (remembrance) and reciting it aloud in the mosques raising the voice with tahlil [saying la ilaha illa Allah]. You ask whether this is disapproved (makruh) or not? There is nothing disapproved in any of the above at all.

Imam al-Suyuti then follows up his statement with twenty-five hadiths in support of its permissibility accompanied by selective commentary. That is followed by his conclusion, in which he addresses the evidences put forth by those who deny its permissibility, including the oft-mentioned hadith of Ibn Masud (may Allah be pleased with him).

Appendix II is titled ‘Hanafi Fatwas on Loud Dhikr in the Mosque’ in which Shaykh Gibril Haddad presents the answers of leading Hanafi authorities such as Imam Ibn Abidin, Imam al-Haskafi, Imam Shurunbulali, Imam al-Tahtawi and Maulana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi. Lastly Appendix III, Shaykh Gibril discusses the dhikr in the formulation of ‘Allah, Allah’, which contains supportive sayings from the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself.

May Allah enlighten our hearts and permit us to join the ranks of those who remember Allah abundantly. May Allah also bless those who participated in making this book available to us. Ameen.

Additional Resources:

-a few sample pages of the book may be found here:

http://www.lamppostproductions.com/files/samples/Suyuti_sample_pages.pdf

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