Some people who haven’t really grasped the essence of it claim one must be in a state of silence and seclusion to do dhikr. This is absolutely incorrect.
Obviously, dhikr done in seclusion in a contemplative state is very beneficial, this can’t be denied. However, this does not mean that one who has no means to attain this state should not do dhikr at all. Dhikr can be silently performed everywhere at all times. Whether we take the verse that says dhikr should be done while ‘standing, sitting or lying down’ or the hadith that says the dhikr, “la ilaha ila Allah wahdahu la sharika lah, lahu al-mulk wa lahu al-hamdu yuhyi wa yumitu, wa Huwa hayyun la yamutu, bi yadihil-khairu kulluhu, wa Huwa ala kulli shay’in Qadir” brings invaluable benefit even when done in public places, it is evident that dhikr can and should be done in all circumstances.
This is actually a very important topic.
Is it a must to contemplate while doing dhikr?
Will salat, which is another form of prayer and dhikr, be ruined if one’s mind drifts off to other thoughts while praying, thus rendering the recited prayers and dhikr ineffective?
Let me say with certainty that thoughts that pop into one’s mind while praying or doing dhikr do not cause any harm.
The brain continually fulfills innumerous tasks simultaneously.
It is quite possible to hold a prayer bead and do dhikr while taking a walk and thinking about something and watching the scenery all at the same time. Each of these activities is rendered by different compartments of the brain. You can be reading a book, doing dhikr and hear what people are saying around you while also watching TV all at the same time. This has to do with the brain’s ability to multi-task. Those with advanced spirituality may also conduct spiritual connections in addition to all of this.
What matters is the activity that occurs in the brain and the automatic upload of its result to the spirit. Whether you realize this or not, it doesn’t change! As I mentioned earlier, someone who started doing dhikr for the first time, and most of the time while in a bar, ended up going on pilgrimage (hajj) only eight months later! Therefore, seclusion is not a requisite to do dhikr.