Is the Hadith About the Sahaba Move during Dhikr Authentic and Is It Permissible to Move (Sit) during Dhikr?

Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch

Question

if the hadith where the sahaba move during dhikr is authentic. Is this proof that it is permissible to move (sit) during dhikr?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate

I am not sure of the grading of the narration which you mentioned. However, the validity of the Hadra is not dependent on that specific narration. The following proofs have been mentioned by great scholars in support of the permissibility of the Hadra:

The Hadra

The term Hadra refers to the heart’s presence (hudur) with Allah Most High.

As it pertains to the spiritual path (tasawwuf) it is a gathering of remembrance of Allah Most High organized by a spiritual mentor (shaykh) or his appointee. It contains (generally speaking) recitation of the Quran and reading of Prophetic narrations, sayings, or poems of the scholars; thereafter, everyone engages in remembrance of Allah. [Khatar Muhammad, al-Mawsu’a al-Yusufiyya fi Bayan Adilla al-Sufiyya]

Afterward, there is generally a closing talk and recitation of some portion of the Quran. [Ibid.]

The History of the Hadra

The Hadra has been established and transmitted by the elite of scholars and knowers of Allah. It is recorded in their books and has become a manifest symbol of the spiritual path. [Ibid.]

Among these scholars were Ahmad al-Rifa’i, Junaid al-Baghdadi, ‘Abdul Qadir al-Jaylani; Abu Hasan al-Shadhili, Imam al-Sh’arani; Imam al-Hatimi; Imam al-Qushayri, and many others. [Ibid.]

Allah is pleased with them all and allows us to benefit from them. [Ibid.]

Evidence for the Hadra

Allah Most High says, “…those who remember Allah standing, sitting, and on their sides…” [Qur’an; 3:191]

Remembering Allah in Congregation

This above verse and other (some mentioned below) are evident in establishing the permissibility of remembering Allah Most High collectively.

All the verses of the Qur’an that command or encourage remembering Allah Most High, and grammatically are in the plural, are sufficient proof to collectively remember Allah Most High.

For example, if three people are listening to the recitation of the Qur’an and hear this verse:

“O believers, remember Allah much and glorify Him day and night.” [Quran, 33:41]

… then they all, in obedience to this command, begin remembering Allah by saying subhanAllah (glory be to Allah). No sound-minded believer would object to that.

As for the Prophetic narrations, they are many:

Proof From Prophetic Narrations

The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “When you (all) pass by the gardens of Paradise, graze.” They said, “O Messenger of Allah, what are the gardens of Paradise?” He said, “The circles of knowledge.” [Ahmad]

He also said, “Indeed Allah has angels that travel the lands seeking out remembrance gatherings. If they find one, they sit with those gathered and crowd around one another with their wings until all that is between the heavens and Earth is filled. When the people disperse, they ascend to the heavens. Allah Exalted and Majestic then ask them, although He knows best, “From where have you come?” They reply, “We have come from being with Your servants on the Earth; they are declaring Your glory (i.e., saying subhanAllah), You’re being the only one worthy of worship (i.e., saying la ilaha ill Allah), and Your praise (i.e., saying alhamdulillah)” [Bukhari; Muslim: the specific wording here being from Muslim]

It is clear from this narration, found in both Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim, that remembering Allah is not limited to reciting the Qur’an or circles of knowledge, as some wrongly professed.

Reciting Quran and seeking knowledge is part of remembering Allah, just as repeating praises and glorifications of Allah.

Opinions of the Scholars

Imam Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti (Allah have mercy on him) was asked regarding the validity of remembering Allah collectively, aloud, in the mosques; he said the following:

“There is no dislike in doing so. ‘Izz ibn ‘Abd al-Salaam, Balqini, and many others have deemed it permissible.” [Khatar Muhammad, al-Mawsu’a al-Yusufiyya fi Bayan Adilla al-Sufiyya]

The Term Hadra

The term Hadra as explained briefly above, means for the heart to be present with Allah Most High. It is a term coined by scholars of the spiritual path (tasawwuf). The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) referred to parallel realities in other terms, such as the following:

  • Circles of remembrance (Hilaq al-Dhikr) [Tirmidhi]
  • Gatherings of remembrance (Majalis al-Dhikr) [Bukhari]

No Arguing Over Terms

Others may call it by other names. However, the name does not matter as much as what is being discussed; this is in line with the axiom: There is no argumentation concerning terms.

Allah Most High says, “Remember Allah abundantly…” [Ibid.]

General Commands and Encouragements

In the various verses mentioned above, and others, in which we are commanded or encouraged to remember Allah, Allah Most High does not specify any method. He has left it general, and the address is plural in the verses. [Khatar Muhammad, al-Mawsu’a al-Yusufiyya]

Imam, Doctor Muhammad Sa’id Ramadan al-Buti (Allah have mercy on him, and allow us to continue to benefit from him) said, “Those who come together to attend the gatherings of remembrance (such as the Hadra), do so based upon the general meanings of Allah’s statement: “And those who remember Allah standing, sitting, and on their sides…” [Khatar Muhammad, al-Mawsu’a al-Yusufiyya]

This is a clear, general statement that should not be taken from its original basis unless another text comes as an exception or specification. [Khatar Muhammad, al-Mawsu’a al-Yusufiyya]

Likewise, no text has been transmitted limiting the remembrance of Allah to any specific method or time, and no text has been transmitted commanding to abstain from any particular method or time.” [Ibid.]

Closing: Respecting Differing Opinions

The Hadra is permissible in the Sacred law, as explained above. However, each Muslim is not obligated to do or even agree with. What is required of each Muslim is to respect the difference of opinions of the Scholars.

If one does not wish to partake in a Hadra, that is their right; however, they are not permitted to object to others who wish to. This is based on the axiom: There is no objection to a valid difference of opinion. Furthermore, matters of differing opinions are not for ordinary Muslims to argue about; these matters are for scholars to discuss.

Hope this helps
Allah knows best

[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a teacher of Arabic, Islamic law, and spirituality. After accepting Islam in 2008, he then completed four years at the Darul Uloom seminary in New York where he studied Arabic and the traditional sciences. He then traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he stayed for three years studying in Dar Al-Mustafa under some of the greatest scholars of our time, including Habib Umar Bin Hafiz, Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf, and Shaykh Umar al-Khatib. In Tarim, Shaykh Yusuf completed the memorization of the Qur’an and studied beliefs, legal methodology, hadith methodology, Qur’anic exegesis, Islamic history, and a number of texts on spirituality. He joined the SeekersGuidance faculty in the summer of 2019.