Alan Godlas

Mediation in Islam and Sufism is dhikr, namely remembering–with all our senses and bringing into our full awareness–what really is and who we really are.

Hence we are already doing dhikr (meditative remembrance) at each moment, but we are consciously aware of only a very scaled down and stunted version of what is possible. The ordinary human dhikr is “ilah,” (deity, god, pseudo-god) which is a very partial version of “la ilaha ill Allah” (No deity or god but God, the all-encompassing, immanent, and transcendent Reality).

Our unconscious remembrance is as if we are saying “ilah, ilah, ilah….”, namely “Me, my perceptions, my feelings, and my thoughts about those perceptions and feelings are all there is and is what will fulfill me.”

When we move from our unconscious remembrance to Islamic-Sufi dhikr (in which we consciously say la ilaha ill Allah in our journey toward Allah), we say “No” (la), this “deity or god” (ilah, which I have just defined above) is not truly god (“la ilaha”); it is not an infinite, all fulfilling reality. It is not completely false, however. It is not simply the whole picture.

Rather, what is ultimately true and real is Allah (the all-inclusive, immanent, and transcendent Reality) (ill Allah), which includes, pervades, and transcends all possible ilahs.

Hence dhikr starts with and includes what we are aware of right now but goes beyond it at each moment, inshallah.