Sacred Refrains


introduction to dhikr and the use of music in Bahá’í spiritual practices; 74 recordings from 58 sacred texts, including original Arabic and Persian languages with English translation, music transcription, and historical context.

Sacred Refrains:
Arabic and Persian Dhikrs in the Bahá’í Community

by Margaret Caton


1. Introduction

Dhikr is an Arabic word meaning an act of remembering, a reminder, or a practice that engenders remembering or reminding. Dhikr could refer to a spiritual service, an invocation, the Qur’an, or even a religious prophet, all acting as reminders of the divine. Dhikr is also the term used for a type of repeated invocation found in the Islamic and Bahá’í sacred traditions. Although the term refers particularly to Islamic practices, dhikr practices are similar to spiritual practices in other cultures, such as chanting mantras in Hindu traditions. The use of repeated phrases and invocations that includes chanting or singing of sacred phrases has been considered as a form of concentrative meditation.

The purpose of this present work is not as a scholarly treatise per se or analysis of dhikr, but rather to make available and accessible a selection of recordings of dhikrs using Bahá’í sacred texts in Arabic and Persian languages. These particular dhikrs can be sung individually or in groups, as they are rhythmically measured and melodically composed. In this work, the presented recordings, texts, and musical transcriptions are included primarily for purposes of learning the dhikrs themselves, as well as for learning something about them and their historical contexts.

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