The Wayfarer

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Home Practices Wird Awrad-Brill


Awrad - Extract from the Brill Encyclopaedia of Islam

Wird (plural AWRAD), The technical term wird (etymologically "to go down to a watering place"; not to be vocalised ward) means the definite time (wake) of day or night which the pious believer devotes daily to God in private prayer (in addition to the five prescribed prayers). It also means the formula of prayer recited on this occasion, called properly hizb (plural ahsab; cf. Makki, Kut al-Kulub, i. 81-84 and i. 4-22). The simplest wird consists of 4 raka's, with the recitation of a seventh of the Kur'an; but very early, in private devotional prayer (du'a; Sunni as well as Shi'i, cf. Kulaini, Kafi, at the end - and Kharidji, cf. Djaitali, Kanafir al-Khairat, iii. 397-416) there were added litanies, either isolated phrases (basal, tahlil, taker, tasliya, istighfar, isti'adha) or isolated words (Arabic name of God: Allah, hula, and invented or cabalistic names) because they were found to be "efficacious".

When in the xiith century, Islamic congregations were formed which took up the Shi'a idea of the initiatory bai'a, they decided to teach the novice on the day of his admittance (talkin = akhdh al-wird) a special wird (cf. for the first appearance of this term L.Massignon, Receuil, 1929, p. 107,6) which became the distinctive dhikr of each congregation.

In practice the wird is divided into two: wird 'amm (dhikr djahri), an exoteric formula often of some length (several hundred istighfar, etc. several times a day: after the fadjr and maghrib among the 'Alawiya) and wird khass (dhikr sirri), "secret" name of  God (e.g. ya Latif, among the Sanusiya), which the Shaikh only communicates to the initiate as a great mystery (cf. Hasan Kadiri, Irshad al Raghibin, p. 27-28; publ. at the end of the Kawl Makbul of Ibn 'Aliwa of Mostaganem, Tunis, Nahda, 1339). The term his or dhikr is used by preference for the assemblies of the brethren for common recitation (old term sama; now wasifa).

Since the xivth century special collections have been put together, in the style of the muhaddithun, containing the wird of the principal Sunni tarok's with the isnad of the transmission of the initiation. The oldest, the Risala of the hafiz kubrawi Ahmed b. Abi 'l-Futuh Tawusi of Abarkuh, compiled shortly after 822 (1419) (cf. Kushashi, Simt, p.75, 109 and Kattani, Fihris, i. 337; ii. 274-275, 306-311), remodelled and brought up to date successively by the Shattari Ghawth Hindi (d. 970=1562; in Djawahir and Daradjat), Abu 'l-Mawahib Shinnawi (d. at Medina in 1028=1619; in Sharh 'ala 'l-Djawahir), Ahmed Kushashi (d. 1070=1661; cf. his Simt madjid, lith. Haiderabad 1327) and Hasan 'Udjaimi (Risala; cf. 'Aiyashi, Rihla, lith. Fas n. d., ii. 214-222; and Kattani, loc. cit., i. 336-337; ii 150, 193-195, 396), culminated in the famous manual, still unpublished of Sanusi, called al-Salsabil al-mu'in (cf. the article TARIKA and L. Massignon, Recueil, 1921, p. 169-171) where everything is found down to the "wird of the Hindu Yogis". These collections of award, brought from Mecca by pilgrims with idjaza, have spread them throughout the Muslim world.

Bibliography: The essential work is 'Adb al-Haiy Kattani, Fihris al-Faharis, Fas 1346, 2 vols (Louis Massignon)


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