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Saying ‘Allah Hoo’ repeatedly to remember God and grow spiritually

I want to know something about dhikr. A relative of mine who is no doubt a good person, is doing this for a long time. The procedure for that is as follows:
The person has to sit for 10 to 15 min daily and without saying anything from his mouth he will say Allah, while breathing in, and ‘hoo’ while breathing out. You don’t say anything just imagine that it is going straight to your heart. He assurred us that this way is very useful and once your “Kalab” starts this then all the time you will remember God. Sir, he also said that you can know about many things which are not possible for normal human beings, like you can see the background of a person. He also said that its not to prove that I am a very great person but just to say, how much useful this method is.
I wanted to know whether this way of remembering god is good or not. He mentioned a lot of verses from the Quran as well in support. Please guide me.

Answer

What your friend says is a practice which many people who claim to be Sufis go through. Their understanding is that the Quran has required us to remember Allah all the time. They achieve that goal by ways they believe are effective and have been discovered through experience. They also claim to get exceptional spiritual abilities through the practices they go through.
For instance, the hitherto unseen world becomes somehow seen for them. All these practices are to be done under the supervision of someone who should be a competent ‘Murshid’. You have to surrender yourself to this spiritual mentor of yours to be able to do the ‘suluk’ (travelling the path) that would lead you to achieve the ultimate success i.e. the unseen world would no more remain unseen and ultimately you would not remain disassociated with God any more.
The Sufistic interpretation of Islam does make an attempt to interpret the Quran and the sunnah of the prophet, Allah’s mercy be on him, to justify its claims. However, their main argument is their experience which they claim is the ultimate evidence of they being on the right path.
There are several problems in accepting this point of view as Islamically correct.
In Islam anything that has to do with religious rituals has to come to us through the sanction of the prophet. Sufis claim that the prophetic sanction for their ways of remembering Allah Almighty was communicated to their elders secretly. Whatever religious traditions they follow are all from the prophet, may Allah’s mercy be on him, who communicated them to only a few companions, without letting others come to learn about them. This understanding is clearly against the message of the following Quranic verse:
“O Messenger! Make known that which has been revealed unto you from your Lord, for if you do it not, you will not have conveyed His message. Allah will protect you from mankind. Lo! Allah guides not the disbelieving folk.” (5:67)
Since the kind of repetition of the expression ‘Allahu’ your relative is suggesting has no religious sanction whatsoever, it cannot be acceptable to a careful Muslim, irrespective of the ‘spirituality’ it helps in experiencing.
There can be atleast two possibilities of what could be the truth about an individual’s experiences of the unseen world: The experiences could either be from God or from Satan. Satan can lead humans astray in a number of different ways. An important part of Satan’s strategy to mislead human’s is to look at the individual’s weaknesses (areas of interests) before laying the trap. It should not come as a surprise if on observing imbalanced spiritual leanings in an individual, Satan lays a seemingly ‘religious’ trap for some people. In fact if you read the explanation offered by that big criminal at the time of Musa Alaihisalaam called Samiri for his crime, you would find that it is essentially a ‘spiritual’ experience he has mentioned for the purpose. When Musa asked him:
“What then is your case O Samiri?”
He replied:
“I saw what they saw not: so I took a handful (of dust) from the footprint of the Apostle and threw it (into the calf): thus did my soul suggest to me.” (20:95-6)
Another problem with this approach towards religion is that the kind of methods these people adopt in coming close to Allah Almighty and the kind of experiences they narrate are very similar to what mystics belonging to other faiths also mention. You will find Hindu yogis, Budhist monks, Jewish rabbis, and Christian ascetics doing very similar things. For instance, see how close is the following description given by the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Jewish Kabbalah to the ways of our Sufis:
“(Kabbalah are) Jewish religious teachings transmitted orally, predominantly mystic in nature, and ostensibly consisting of secret doctrines. It developed along two lines – the ‘practical’ centring on prayer, meditation, and acts of piety; and the ‘speculative’ or ‘theoretical’ centring on the discovery of mysteries hidden in the Jewish scriptures by special methods of interpretation.”
I would therefore urge your relative to concentrate on learning and following Islam the way it is found in the clear and unchallengeable teachings of the Quran and Sunnah instead of taking the huge risk of getting involved in an activity for the sake of religion which is at best extremely doubtful and at worst it may turn out to be a Satanic trap laid out for the religiously inclined people.