وَاذْكُرِ اسْمَ رَبِّكَ وَتَبَتَّلْ اِلَيْهِ تَبْتِيْلًا
(And remember the name of your Lord, and devote yourself to Him with exclusive devotion… 73:8). The word tabattul, literally, means 'to cut off oneself from entire creation to focus attention solely on the Creator to detach oneself from worldly things and devote oneself exclusively and sincerely to the service of Allah' The sentence: وَاذْكُرِ اسْمَ (And remember the name of your Lord...73:8) is grammatically conjoined to the sentence: 1 (Stand at night [ for prayer ].... 73:2) which enjoins upon the Holy Prophet to perform the night-prayer, and incidentally his attention is drawn in the following verse to special devotional activities in the course of the day: اِنَّ لَكَ فِي النَّهَارِ سَبْحًا طَوِيْلًا
'Surely, in daytime, you have a lengthy work to do. [ 73:7] ' But the verse 8 enjoins a devotional activity (remembering Allah) that can be performed at any time of day or night. In fact, it can be performed at all times and under all circumstances. Since it is inconceivable that the Holy Prophet would never remember Allah, the purport of enjoining Dhikr (Remembrance of Allah) is to emphasise ' keeping to it consistently' in the sense that there should be no laxity in it. [ MazharI ]. This is possible only if 'remembering Allah' is taken in its widest possible sense to include 'Reciting His name with tongue', 'Remembrance by heart' and also 'keeping one's body engaged in complying with the commands of Allah'. A narration of Sayyidah ` A'ishah Siddiqah reports the following: کان یذکر اللہ علی کل حین
"The Holy Prophet used to remember Allah at all times."
This Hadith is correct in terms of the wider concept of 'rememberance of Allah' just explained above. Obviously, the Holy Prophet did not make dhikr by his tongue when answering the call of nature as Ahadith distinctly confirm this, but Dhikr by heart is possible at all times. There are, however, two types of Dhikr by heart: [ 1] It may be done through 'imagined words'; [ 2] by reflecting and pondering on the Divine attributes of perfection. [ Shaikh Thanawi ].
The next injunction in this verse is: تَبَتَّلْ اِلَيْهِ تَبْتِيْلًا
..and devote yourself to Him with exclusive devotion. [ 73:8] '.
In other words, the Holy Prophet is to detach himself from worldly things and devote himself exclusively and sincerely to Allah. The general import of the verse imparts the injunction that when worshipping Allah, no partners should be associated with Him and the total worship and devotion should be solely for Him. In all his actions and movements, he should single out Allah for reliance. He should not take any creature as possessing the power of benefit and harm or as possessing the power of granting wishes and solving problems. Sayyidna Ibn Zaid , said that tabattul signifies 'to abandon the world and what is in it and focus attention on what is with Allah'. [ Mazhari ]. The tabattul which this verse enjoins is completely different from the concept and practice of monasticism which the Qur'an denounces elsewhere, thus:
'...As for monasticism, it was invented by them [ 57:271' and a Hadith denounces it thus: لارھبانیۃ فی الاسلام
"There is no monasticism in Islam."
Rahbaniyyah or 'monasticism', in the technical language of Shari` ah, signifies 'to abandon the world and sever all ties which involves the giving up of all pleasures and all lawful and pure things, believing that doing so is 'worship' and thinking that without avoiding them one would not be able to attain the good pleasure of Allah. It also means to sever human relationships in such a manner that human rights are not taken care of or they are violated. This verse enjoins a different type of tabattul or severance of relationship. It means that one's relationship with human beings should not overpower his relationship with Allah - whether in terms of belief or in terms of practice. Such a detachment is not contradictory to any business relations, or social contracts and transactions, like marriage and family ties. In fact, they can be combined. Tabattul, in this sense, is the characteristic of all Prophets especially that of the Holy Prophet Muhammad. Their lives bear ample testimony to this type of tabattul which the pious elders alternatively term as Ikhlas (sincerity). [ Mazhari ]
An Important Note
In the matter of 'Allah's Remembrance' and 'detachment from the world', the venerable Sufis, whether belonging to the earlier generation or later generation, have always been forward. They said that there are only two steps with which they are exerting their effort to cover the distance and conquer the path day and night. The first step is to detach themselves from the creation and the second step is to reach Allah [ i.e. Their destination ]. The two steps are inseparable, in that where one is operational the other must operate; and if one does not operate, the other will not operate either. The two steps have been stated as two conjoined sentences, thus: وَاذْكُرِ اسْمَ رَبِّكَ وَتَبَتَّلْ اِلَيْهِ تَبْتِيْلًا 'And remember the name of your Lord, and devote yourself to Him with exclusive devotion. [ 73:81'. In this context, dhikr Allah refers to constant Remembrance of Allah where there should be no failing, and at no time there should be forgetfulness. This maqam 'station' in Sufi terminology is referred to as wusul ila-Allah 'reaching out to Allah. The first statement states the second step and the second statement states the first step. Thus the statements state the order in reverse probably because in practice tabattul, in the sense given above, is prior to wusul ila-Allah which is achieved after the operation of the former. The main object of a salik (the spiritual traveller) is to achieve the second step, therefore the naturally occurring order has been changed and remembrance of Allah has been mentioned first. This also is meant to show the importance and virtue of remembrance of Allah. How well Shaikh Sa` di (رح) تعالیٰ has versified the two steps:
Worldly relationship is a barrier and brings no (eternal) benefit.
When you abandon these relations, you will be the one who reaches out to Allah.
Remembrance of Allah through Repetition of His Personal Name
The verse under comment whilst enjoining dhikrullah (remembrance of Allah) has referred to it as 'remembrance of the name of Allah by saying: And remember the name of your Lord - وَاذْكُرِ اسْمَ رَبِّكَ [ 73:8] ' and
not 'd remember your Lord'.
This indicates that the repetition of Allah's personal name 'Allah, Allah' is also desired and required form of dhikr and worship. [ Mazhari ]. Some scholars say that such repetition of His personal name is an 'innovation' (bid'ah), but this opinion is not correct. And Allah knows best!