Posted by: samandal | October 20, 2010

Zikr’u’lláh, II

Birth of the Báb

In the Bahá’í Faith, as in the Naqshbandí-Mujaddidí Súfí dynasty, the recitation of zikr is the central practice which is identical for all adherents. Bahá’u’lláh insisted that the spirit which animates the Bahá’í zikr, not the zikr itself, is the only true test of spiritual worth. In both the Bábí and the Naqshbandí-Mujaddidí traditions, the common zikr is to be enunciated silently, in the heart (qalb), with the tongue attached to the roof of the mouth, so that its recitation is inaudible and imperceptible; it is to be primarily an individual, interiorized, and continuous technique, rather than an excessive audible performance.

The recitation of the Bahá’í zikr is established in the latífat-i-qalb through the method of muráqaba, which entails concentration upon or, more properly, devotion toward the ism-i-a‘zam through the practice of rábita, a Súfí technique in which the visual form of Bahá’u’lláh in his circumscribed human nature is fixed in the imagination and operates as a contingent or subsistent channel for the transmission of divine energy, radiant with the effulgence of the Holy Maiden.

The remembrance of the Divine arises from the bond with the Beloved through the reflection mirrored in the Manifestation of God, a bond that was particularly prized by the Naqshbandí-Khalídí sub-order, who knew Bahá’u’lláh, at least initially, as Darvísh Muhammad-i Írání. The purification of the human heart precedes and correlates the purification of the self; the purpose of the path is a receptive and undistracted heart, continually turned to the source of divine energy or effulgence.

Silent recollection (zikr-i-khafí) is conflated with recollection of the heart (zikr-i-qalbí): the zikr drips inaudibly onto the tongue and pours silently into the heart; the reflection of the Manifestation mirrors the gaze of the Maiden. The zikr is an anchor of devotion to the Maiden (through the mirror of the Manifestation) in the harbor of the soul; it is not, however, meant to be an exercise in self-improvement. One simply stays faithful to the practice; whatever occurs, one neither congratulates nor condemns oneself. With continual practice, one’s neurotic patterns and perceptions intensify, because one’s neurosis and one’s wisdom are constructed from the same material.

Ironically, the desire to change oneself is fundamentally a form of aggression toward oneself. There is, however, no escape from oneself: “Man is clay, and clay involves impurity, and man cannot escape from impurity.” One cannot transcend oneself or one’s humanity.