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TITLEDhikr: in the Bábí and Bahá'í Religions
AUTHOR 1Moojan Momen
VOLUMEVolume 7
TITLE_PARENTEncyclopaedia Iranica
PUB_THISColumbia University
ABSTRACTVery brief article, short enough to qualify as "fair use."
NOTES Mirrored from
TAGSAllah-u-Abha; Dhikr (Remembrance); Greatest Name; Remembrance; Repetition
CONTENT In Babi and Bahai usage ḏekr refers to both a person (see Lawson) and an activity (see Scholl). In such phrases as ḏekr Allāh al-aʿẓam (the mightiest remembrance of God or the remembrance of God the Mightiest) it refers to the manifestation, or prophet, of God (maẓhar-e elāhī). In the writings of the Bāb it is a reference to himself (Lawson). In the writings of Bahāʾ-Allāh it may refer either to himself or to the Bāb (1984, pp. 190, 194; 1967, p. 7). This usage reflects the Shiʿite interpretation of certain koranic passages (e.g., 3:58 and 20:124) as references to the imams. Ḏekr, the “mention” or “remembrance” of God, also denotes prayer and the recital and reading of the scripture, as well as sharing the Sufi meaning of repetitive, ritual chanting (see i, above).

In the histories of the Babi period several practices resembling the Sufi ḏekr are recorded. For example, in the Tārīḵ-e jadīd of Mīrzā Ḥosayn (p. 157; cf. Mīrzā Jānī, p. 231) it is recorded on the authority of Ḥaydar Beg that the Babis of Zanjān used to chant “Allāh abhā” (God is Most Glorious) ninety-two times (equal to the numerical value of the name Moḥammad) from their barricades during the upheaval in 1266-67/1850-51 (see BABISM ii); Moḥammad-Nabīl Zarandī (p. 552-53) listed the invocations used. Babi prisoners in Tehran in 1268-69/1852 are reported to have chanted invocations (Moḥammad-Nabīl, p. 632). Other instances are also recorded.

Bahāʾ-Allāh provided formulas to be chanted and also set aside a special day for this activity (ʿAbd-al-Bahāʾ, tr., p. 38), but, apart from the ritual invocation of the words “Allāh abhā” as part of personal daily devotions, there is not at present much in Bahai practice that corresponds to the Sufi practice of ḏekr. The phrase mašreq al-aḏkār refers both to the practice of reciting prayers and scripture at dawn and to the place in which such recitations are carried out (see BAHAI FAITH ix).

Bibliography: ʿAbd-al-Bahāʾ, Taḏkerat al-wafāʾ, Haifa, 1924; tr. M. Gail as Memorials of the Faithful, Wilmette, Ill., 1971. Bahāʾ-Allāh, Alwāḥ-e nāzela ḵeṭāb be molūk wa roʾasā-ye arż, Tehran, 1347 Š./1968; partial tr. Shoghi Effendi as Proclamation of Bahá’u’lláh to the Kings and Leaders of the World, Haifa, 1967. Idem, Montaḵabātī az āṯār-e Ḥażrat Bahāʾ-Allāh, ed. Shoghi Effendi, Hofheim-Langenhain, Germany, 1984. B. T. Lawson, “The Terms ‘Remembrance’ (dhikr) and ‘Gate’ (báb) in the Báb’s Commentary on the Súra of Joseph,” in M. Momen, ed., Studies in Honor of the Late Hasan M. Balyuzi, Los Angeles, 1988. Mīrzā Ḥosayn Hamadānī, Tārīḵ-e jadīd, tr. E. G. Browne as Táríkh-i-Jadíd, or New History of Mírzá ‘Alí Muḥammad the Báb, Cambridge, 1893. Ḥājī Mīrzā Jānī Kāšānī, Ketāb al-noqṭat al-kāf, ed. E. G. Browne, Leiden and London, 1910. Moḥammad-Nabīl Zarandī, tr. Shoghi Effendi as The Dawn-Breakers. Nabíl’s Narrative, Wilmette, Ill., 1962. S. Scholl, “The Remembrance of God. An Invocation Technique in Sufism and the Writings of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh,” Bahá’í Studies Bulletin 2/3, 1983, pp. 73-98.

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