On the excellence of circles of dhikr, and the recommendation to join them

Riyad as-Salihin (The Meadows of the Righteous)

by Imam Nawawi

247. Chapter: on the excellence of circles of dhikr, and the recommendation to join them and the prohibition against parting from them without excuse

Allah says, "Restrain yourself patiently with those who call on their Lord morning and evening, desiring His Face. Do not turn your eyes from them." (18:28)

1447. Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Allah Almighty has angels who travel the highways and by-ways seeking out the people of dhikr. When they find people remembering Allah, the Mighty and Majestic, they call out to one another, 'Come to what you hunger for!' and they enfold them with their wings stretching up to the lowest heaven. Their Lord - who knows best - asks them, 'What are My slaves saying?' They say, 'They are glorifying You, proclaiming Your greatness, praising You and magnifying You.' He says, 'Have they seen Me?' They say, 'No, by Allah, they have not seen You.' He says, 'How would it be if they were to see Me?' [extra 'He said's deleted] They say, 'If they were to see You, they would worship You even more intensely and magnify You even more intensely and glorify You even more intensely.' He says, 'What are they asking for?' They say, 'They are asking You for the Garden.' He says, 'Have they seen it?' They say, 'No, by Allah, O Lord, they have not seen it.'" He says, 'How would it be if they were to see it?' They say, 'If they were to see it, they would yearn for it even more strongly and seek it even more assiduously and would have an even greater desire for it.' He says, 'What are they seeking refuge from?' 'They are seeking refuge from the Fire.' He says, 'Have they seen it?' He says, 'How would it be if they were to see it?' They say, 'If they were to see it, they would flee from it even harder and have an even greater fear of it.' He says, 'I testify to you that I have forgiven them.' One of angels says, 'Among them is so-and-so who is not one of them. He came to get something he needed.' He says, 'They are sitting and the one sitting with them will not be disappointed.'" [Agreed upon]

In the variant of Muslim from Abu Hurayra is that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Allah also has angels who travel about seeking out gatherings of dhikr. When they find a gathering in which there is dhikr, they sit with them and cover one another with their wings until they fill up the space between them and the lowest heaven. When they separate, they rise and ascend to the heaven. Allah, the Mighty and Majestic - and He knows best - asks them, 'Where did you come from?' They say, 'We came from some of Your slaves in the earth who were glorifying You, proclaiming Your greatness, saying, 'There is no god but Allah,' praising You and supplicating You.' He said, 'What are they asking Me for?' They say, 'They are asking You for Your Garden.' He said, 'Have they seen My Garden?' They say, 'No, O Lord.' He says, 'How would it be if they were to see My Garden?' They say, 'They are seeking Your protection.' They say, 'From Your Fire, O Lord.' He says, 'Have they seen My Fire?' They say, 'No.' He says, 'How would it be if they were to see My Fire?' They say, 'And they are asking Your forgiveness.' He says, 'I have forgiven them and given them what they ask and I have granted them protection from what they seek protection from.' They say, 'O Lord, a certain slave is among them who just happened to be passing and sat down with them.' He says, 'I have forgiven him. They are such people that the one who sits with them will not be disappointed.'"

1448. Abu Hurayra and Abu Sa'id reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "No people sit remembering Allah, the Mighty and Exalted, without the angels surrounding them and mercy covering them and tranquillity descending on them and Allah mentioning them to those who are with Him." [Muslim]

1449. Abu Waqid al-Harith ibn 'Awf reported that once when the Messenger of Allah may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was sitting in the mosque with some people, three people arrived. Two of them came up to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and the other left. The two stood before the Messenger of Allah. One of them saw a place in the gathering and sat in it. Another sat behind the assembly. The third turned around and left. When the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, finished, he said, "Shall I tell you about those three people? One of them betook himself to Allah and so Allah took him in His mercy. The second was shy about causing overcrowding and so Allah was shy with him [so He would not punish him]. The other turned away, so Allah turned away [His mercy] from him." [Agreed upon]

1450. Abu Sa'id al-Khudri said, "Mu'awiya went out to a circle in the mosque and said, 'What is it that has caused you to sit here?' They said, 'We have sat down to remember Allah.' He said, 'By Allah, is that the only thing that has made you sit together?' They said, 'We have sat down for that reason alone.' He said, 'I did not make you swear out of any suspicion of you. No one who had a similar position to mine in respect of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, has related less hadith than I have. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, went out to a circle of his Companions and said, "What is it that has caused you to sit together?" They said, "We have sat down to remember Allah and praise Him for He has guided us to Islam and been gracious to us." He said, "By Allah, is that the only thing that has made you sit together?" They said, "By Allah, we have sat for that reason alone." He said, "I did not make you swear out of any suspicion of you, but Jibril came to me and reported to me that the angels are boasting about you."'" [Muslim]