Reflections from Imam Ibn al-Qayyim and Imam al-‘Ayni
Ibn al-Qayyim commented on this, “Meaning: Constant remembrance is a means of God’s constant love. Remembering Him is to the heart, what water is to a seed. Nay; what water is to a fish, there is no life without it.”
The Scope of Remembrance
“There are 3 types of remembrance:
- Remembering God’s names, attributes and praising Him with them.
- Honoring Him, praising Him, glorifying Him, singling Him out for worship and magnifying Him. The word “remembrance,” when used by later scholars, carries one of these meanings.
- Remembering Him by mentioning what He ordered and prohibited. This is [also] the remembrance of scholars. Actually, all three are related to a scholar’s remembrance of their Lord.”
Imam al-‘Ayni wrote:
“The virtues of remembrance are not restricted to glorifying God, acknowledging His oneness, praising Him and magnifying Him. Nay, every act of obedience to Him is a form of His remembrance. This was the opinion of Sa`id bin Jubair and other scholars.
‘Ata said, “Gatherings of God’s remembrance are gatherings for the study of the lawful and prohibited, the rules related to purchases and sales, prayer and fasting, marriage and divorce, and Hajj.”
Every type of remembrance is allowed for the one who has a minor impurity, is sexually defiled, a woman on her menses, or suffering from postpartum bleeding, except reciting the Qur’an, because that is not allowed for a ritually impure person.”
—Al-`Ilm al-Hayyib fi Sharh al-Kalim al-Tayyib, pgs. 102-103
The Greatest Way to Remember God
Ibn al-Qayyim wrote:
“One of the greatest ways to remember God is with His words.
God says, “Whoever turns away from my remembrance, then he will, without any doubt, live a suffocating existence and we will gather him on the day of rising (the day of judgment) blind.” [Qur’an, 20:124]
His remembrance in this verse is the Qur’an that He sent to His messenger ﷺ (God’s peace and blessings be upon him).
God says, “Those who believe and their hearts are tranquil because of God’s remembrance. There is no doubt, that with God’s remembrance the hearts are tranquil.” [Qur’an, 13:28]
Other forms of His remembrance include supplicating to Him, seeking His forgiveness and approaching Him with absolute humility. And these, including reciting His Book, are five types of remembrances.”
—Jalal al-Afham fi al-Salah wa al-Salam ‘ala khari al-‘Anam, pgs. 365-366
For Every Situation There Is a Perfect Word
Imam al-‘Ayni was asked, “Which is better, remembering God by observing certain invocations, or reading the Qur’an?” He responded, “Reciting the Qur’an is more virtuous than that [see #2 under The Scope of Remembrance above], and remembrance is more virtuous than supplication. However, there are times where the opposite holds true. For example, it is better to say the invocations taught by the Prophet ﷺ for bowing and prostration in prayer, than reading the Qur’an.
In fact, at that time, reading the Qur’an is forbidden (according to some scholars) or disliked (according to others). The same applies to the statement, “Allah heard the one who praised him [sami Allahu liman hamida],” when standing up from bowing during prayers; sending prayers upon the Prophet ﷺ (at the closing of prayers); observing the invocations said after the prayer; saying there is no god but Allah; glorifying Him, magnifying Him, praising Him and replying to the call of the one who calls the prayer. All of these (if observed at their perspective times), are more virtuous than ignoring them, because a person was busy with the Qur’an.
It is true that the superiority of the Qur’an over other forms of speech is like the superiority of God to His creation but, for every situation there is a word that fits, and when that situation changes, the right word or phrase loses its wisdom, and its benefit is no longer sought.”
—Al-`Ilm al-Hayyib fi Sharh al-Kalim al-Tayyib, pgs. 99-100