By Aslam Bulbulia
In the Name of Allāh, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful. Peace and Blessings upon our beloved Prophet Muḥammad, his family and his Companions.
A short introduction to Dhikr in the form of Gadat:
On Saturday the MSA will be hosting a Dhikr (remembrance) of Allah at the Auckland Park Masjid from 14:30-15:30.
The Prophet (SAW) said in a Ḥadīth: “Allāh the Exalted and Transcendent stated: ‘‘I am near to the thoughts of my bondsman (servant) as he thinks about Me. And if he remembers Me in his heart, I also Remember him in My Heart; and if he remembers Me in an assembly, I Remember him in a better Assembly; and if he draws near to Me by the span of a palm, I draw near to him by a cubit; and if he draws near to Me by a cubit, I draw near to him by the space of two hands; and if he walks towards Me, I will rush (run) towards him”” recorded in the books of Bukhārī, Muslim, Tirmidhī and Ibn Māja
The dhikr on Saturday is commonly known as a Gadat. Growing up as a Muslim in Johannesburg, the first time I attended a Gadat was at the 21st birthday of one of my friends who had grown up in Cape Town. It was a beautiful experience and although I was familiar with the words being recited, the style of recitation was new to me and I have been curious about it ever since - trying to attend them at every opportunity.
I recently had the opportunity to experience dhikrs in Morocco and Toronto and was amazed at the similarities between the Gadat and other dhikrs practiced. The wording of the dhikr originates from the Ratib al-‘Haddad by Imam 'Abdullah ibn 'Alawi al-Haddad from Tarim in the Valley of Hadramaut, Yemen.
What is recited is a collection of verses from the Glorious Quran, the beautiful names of Allah, praise for the Prophet Muhammed (SAW) and common prayers to Allah.
He was an eminent scholar that placed a lot of emphasis on Islamic spirituality (sufism) but this can sometimes seem a very mystic thing. In simple terms, the way I understand it, he focused on trying to cure some of the illnesses of the heart which would include pride, greed and arrogance through the remembrance of Allah. The more we remember the power of the Almighty, the significance of Him in relation to our own lives, the purer we will be in our intentions and actions leading to more whole individuals and a better world. This is in addition to the direct reward that would be received for the recitation of the dhikr.
In many ways the Gadat has become a very South African expression of Islamic identity. The Gadat style is more particular to South Africa because the style of recitation is called the tokang and jawap system - the only style of dhikr in the world that uses a 'statement' and 'answer' system. For those who have heard it, it would be as follows: the leader, or Galiefa, would recite the opening verses of a Surah and the congregation would 'Jawap' or respond with the following verses.
To hear a more standard recitation of the Ratib:
To hear the South African Gadat:
More on Imam ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Alawi al-Haddad:
Translation of the Ratib al-Haddad:
About the author
Aslam is an MSA Alumni, having served on MSA Wits and MSA Union committees in the past. Aslam is currently completing his Masters degree in Development Planning at Wits University in Johannesburg.