What is the ruling for invoking using litanies (hizbs) and daily regimens of invocation?
What is the ruling for invoking using litanies (hizbs) and daily regimens of invocation (wirds) that have been compiled, and what is the ruling for a Muslim selecting a set invocation to invoke with daily?
Daily regimens of invocation and litanies are collections of various sunna invocations or others which a person commits to invoking periodically as a way to draw nearer to God. This is a voluntary act that a Muslim volunteers to engage in and is not something that God has prescribed on one. Sheikh Zakariyyah al-Ansari has stated that “voluntary acts are those acts which have no corresponding specific textual evidence; rather a person initiates it themselves by choosing a daily invocation.”
Ibn Hajar al-Haytami has stated that:
[a] person being vigilant in keeping a daily regimen whether it be prayer, a portion of the Qur’an, certain invocations, supplication during the day and night and otherwise is a sunna of the Messenger of God and the pious from amongst God’s servants of the past and present. That which has been sanctioned by the sunna in groups should be done and that which has been sanctioned by the sunna individually should be done just as the companions sometimes would gather and one would be asked to read and the others would listen. Umar ibn al-Khattab used to say, “O Abu Musa, remind us of God” and he would recite [from the Qur’an] and the rest would listen.
The scholars used to discuss regimens of invocation and litanies as if it were an issue that was agreed upon. They would mention it in passing without pointing out its ruling or any scholarly dispute concerning it. An example of this is the statement of Ibn Najim who said, “al-Halwani mentioned that there is nothing wrong with one reciting daily regimens of invocation between canonical and supererogatory prayers.”
The scholars have indicated the benefit in one committing to these daily regimens and the necessity of keeping this commitment. Imam al-Nawawi has stated:
Anyone who misses a daily regimen of invocation to which they have committed themselves whether it be during the night or day, after prayer, or during any condition should make it up and should be vigilant in saying it. If one has made it a habit they should not let it pass; if one is lax in making it up, then one will become lax in reciting it during its proper time.
Al-Shawkani used to say that that the companions of the Messenger of God would make up that which they missed from their daily regimens of invocation. Ibn ‘Allan said [regarding conditional versus non-conditional invocations] “what is meant from conditions are conditions related to certain timings, not related to certain causes as with invocations made when seeing the new crescent moon, upon hearing thunder, and the like. These do not have to be made up when their causes pass. It is reprehensible to leave a daily regimen of invocation after making it a habit.”
Ibn al-Hajj has written:
An aspirant must be vigilant and accurate in his times. Every moment should be filled with an action that is related to a specific regimen. Regimens should not be resigned to prayer and fasting, rather all the actions of an aspirant are a type of regimen.
The pious ancestors used to respond to one who wanted to meet another who was sleeping, “he is engaged in his daily regimen of sleep.” Sleep, therefore, and other actions similar are daily regimens an aspirant uses to draw nearer to his Lord. If this is so, then one’s time of sleep is known as is the time of his nightly invocation is known, as is the time when he meets with his friends is known, as is the time he spends with his family and close relatives is known. All of these are daily regimens as all an aspirant’s time is spent drenched in obedience to his Lord.
He does not engage in anything from that which is permissible to engage in or recommended except with the intention of drawing nearer to God. This is the reality of regimens, i.e. drawing nearer to God, which come from either being engaged in serious struggle to rid one’s health and soundness from barriers and oppositions, or this is attained from a spiritual state that comes to one which serves as a cause for leaving these actions.
Considering the above, we find that being committed to litanies and daily regimens of invocation is the only means that aids the Muslim in being constant in invoking God. This is the action of the pious ancestors and is therefore a recommended act as means take the rulings of their desired goals and God is most high most knowledgeable.