Sufi Practices

Dhikr – Zikir (Zikr):

    Dhikr is the essential form of prayer in Sufism (tasawwuf). In its essence, ‘Dhikr’ is the remembrance of Allah. However, the word “remember” is too pale a word for dhikr, which has now acquired a large number of associations in Sufi literature. In its verbal signification, this term implies: to remember; to praise by frequently mentioning; to rehearse; to celebrate or commemorate; to make much of; to cherish the memory of as a precious possession.

    In Sufism, Dhikr represents both a profound ritual and a spiritual state of the mind and the heart, in which the devotee seeks to realize the presence of Allah. Thus, there is the Dhikr of the mind and the Dhikr of the heart. For beginners, one may lead to the other, but in many cases the two are simultaneous. There is a subtler distinction between the Dhikr that is vocal, and the Dhikr that is silent, corresponding to the two doors of the heart, the physical and the spiritual.

    In Dhikr, there is the affirmation of the presence of Allah and the negation of anything else. As a human being matures on his spiritual path, the experience and the meaning of dhikr continuously evolves and matures along with his level of consciousness.

    Followers of Sufism often engage in ritualized Dhikr ceremonies, the details of which may vary between different Sufi orders (tariqahs). Each order, or lineage within an order, has one or more ritualized forms for group Dhikr, the collection of which may include recitation, singing, music, sama (whirling) and tafakkur (contemplation).

    On the journey to the Divine Presence, the seed of remembrance is planted in the heart and is nourished with devotional praise and glorification, until the tree of Dhikr becomes deeply rooted and bears its fruit in the heart. Dhikr is the power behind the whole journey and the foundation of the whole development. It is the reviving force from the sleep of heedlessness, the ever-present bridge to the Divine Presence.

Sohbet: (Discourses)

    The literal meaning of the word ‘Sohbet’ is conversation. In Sufism (tasawwuf), Sohbet is an essential spiritual practice. It is a spiritual transaction between the murshid and the murid, which relies on ancient oral storytelling traditions and practices. Mystical knowledge and devotional love is transmitted during Sohbet in such a way that it attempts to go beyond the knots of the rational mind and connect the hearts of the seekers. Sohbet is a spiritual transmission, a cleansing of the soul and a meeting of the hearts. It is held in total sincerity, respect and trust. Sohbet with the murshid heals, educates and matures the murid. Through Sohbet, the murshid works on his murid like a gardener tending to his garden with utmost care and compassion. From the metaphysical to the very physical, Sohbet helps us reflect on our daily lives and our inner states, to guide us in our search for a sense of unity with Allah.


The Sufis recognize the harmony of the universe as a unifying sound related through music and they recreate it through their chants and ritual songs. This devotional ritual has traditionally been named Meshk, and the devotional songs collectively performed in the Meshk are called Ilahis. The lyrics of the Ilahis are accounts of experiences expressed by sheikhs, sayyids (descendants of Prophet (saws)), seekers and poets such as Hz. Mevlana (Rumi), Yunus Emre and other great figures of Sufism. Each Ilahi is composed in a particular makam (Turkish musical scale), each makam transmitting a unique spiritual station and mood. In Sufism, Meshk is a transmission of love, devotion, spiritual experience and expression.