Using hizbs and wirds in invocation
What is the ruling on invoking God through hizbs (litanies) and wirds (regimens) that have been compiled, and what is the ruling for a Muslim selecting a set invocation to invoke on a daily basis?
Daily wirds (the recital of a set portion of the Qur`an or invocations on a daily or regular basis) and hizbs (litanies) are collections of various sunna invocations or others which a person commits himself to recite periodically as a way to draw closer to God. This is a voluntary act of worship and not something God has prescribed. Sheikh Zakariyyah al-Ansari said, “Voluntary acts are those which have no specific corresponding textual evidence; rather a person initiates them himself by choosing a daily invocation.”
Ibn Hajar al-Haytami said that vigilance in keeping a daily wird—be it prayer, a portion of the Qur`an, certain invocations, supplications made during the day and night or otherwise—is a sunna of the Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) and the pious from amongst God’s servants from past and present. That which has been sanctioned by the Sunna to be performed in groups should be executed in the prescribed manner and that which has been sanctioned by the Sunna to be made individually should likewise be executed in the prescribed manner. The Companions would sometimes gather and ask one of them to recite and the others would listen. Umar ibn al-Khattab used to say, “O Abu Musa! Remind us of God” and the latter would recite [from the Qur`an] and the rest would listen.
Scholars discussed wirds and hizbs as consensual issues. They mentioned them in passing without pointing out the ruling or any scholarly contentions on them. An example of this is the statement of Ibn Najim who said, “Al-Halwani mentioned that there is nothing wrong with reciting daily wirds between canonical and supererogatory prayers.”
Scholars have mentioned the benefit of committing oneself to these daily wirds and the necessity of preserving this commitment. Imam al-Nawawi said, “Anyone who misses a daily wird to which he has committed himself, whether during the day or night, after prayer, or in any circumstances, should make it up and be vigilant in saying it. If one has made it a habit, one should not omit it; if one is lax in making it up, then one will become lax in reciting it at its proper time. Al-Shawkani used to say that that the Companions of the Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) would make up what they missed from their daily wirds. Ibn ‘Allan said [regarding conditional versus non-conditional invocations], “What is meant from conditions are those related to certain times, not those related to certain causes such as the invocations made upon seeing the crescent, hearing thunder, and the like. These do not have to be made up when their causes pass. It is reprehensible to neglect a daily wird after making it a habit.”
Ibn al-Hajj wrote that an aspirant must make good use of time. Every moment should be filled with an action that is related to a specific wird. Wirds should not only be associated with prayers and fasting; rather, all the actions of an aspirant are a kind of wird.
The pious ancestors would tell a person who wanted to meet another who was sleeping, “He is engaged in his daily regimen of sleep.” Sleep, therefore, and other similar actions are daily regimens an aspirant uses to draw nearer to his Lord. If this is so, then one’s time of sleep is known just as the time of his nightly invocation is known, the time when he meets his friends is known, the time he spends with his family and close relatives is known. All of these are daily regimens similar to an aspirant’s time spent in obedience to his Lord. He does not engage in anything permissible or recommended except with the intention of drawing nearer to God. This is the real meaning of wird, i.e. to draw nearer to God. This comes from either being engaged in a struggle to overcome any obstacles that hinder us from drawing close to God or from reaching a spiritual state that serves as a cause for abandoning the actions which become obstacles in our quest to develop a close contact with God.
Considering the above, we find that committing oneself to reciting hizbs and wirds is the only means that aids in invoking God constantly. This was the way of the pious ancestors and is therefore a recommended act since means take the same rulings of their desired goals. And God is most high most knowledgeable.