In this article, we intend to identify the role of thoughts in the remembrance of God. I think we need to understand that our connection with God also, like the Greater Struggle, lies within the realm of thoughts because the very sense of self and the relationships we form all come from our thoughts.
So how do we connect with God?
Well, we connect with God through focus and by paying attention to God.
The moment you pay attention to God, you get connected to Him. This may be the reason why we are supposed to make dua and are obligated to pray five times a day, because this is what focuses our attention to God and establishes this connection.
Think of it like this: there is a wifi station which is always open and active, but you can only connect to it if you know its password. The connection from God is always active, but from our side (the receiving side) it is very weak due to the distractions with which we occupy our lives. We only connect with God when we want to connect and when we know the password. The password is attention.
Thanks to technology and our modern-day lifestyles, we have diverted our attention to too many places, with little or no focus. Our attention span has also decreased because of this fragmentation of attention. However, when you are able to control your attention, you become conscious–and when you are able to hold this attention onto God, you become God–conscious.
أَلَا بِذِكْرِ اللَّهِ تَطْمَئِنُّ الْقُلُوبُ
“Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find tranquility.”
By doing dhikr, sometimes we assume that by repeating God’s Names, we are giving our full attention and remembering Him. But that is not necessarily the case, because the act of repeating God’s Names can become an automatic or habitual act, and therefore may not require a conscious effort. Now when it doesn’t require a conscious effort, we are, in a manner, disconnected from God.
So what really is the dhikr of God or the remembrance of God? Is it something that actually brings tranquility to our hearts, something that brings us the inner peace of which we all seek and strive for throughout our lives?
In my humble opinion, dhikr is a state through which we can consciously focus our attention and thoughts to God, and to occupy our ‘Selves’ with God.
When we are in this state, then with certainty, there is peace and tranquility within. All that we strive for in our lives, despite being distracted by material pleasures, is actually to be found within. The times we have been allotted, the lives we have been given, are often wasted in vain because of what the soul has been distracted with, whether it be in wealth, in power–in everywhere but God. Now read the above Ayah again. Now you know where to look.
To summarize, the realm of thoughts is where our sense of existence lies and it is the very place we make our decisions. It is also the very place with where we connect with God. When we are able to completely control our attention, we become conscious. With this consciousness, we can then bring God into the realm of thoughts, where we can get into the true state of dhikr–which, as the Holy Quran states, in turn, brings inner peace.