Islamic Traditions and the Relaxation Response
Islam was founded by Muhammad, the Arab prophet who lived in the sixth century A.D. A system of Moslem mysticism called Sufism has four elements that together may bring about transcendent experiences.
Al-Ghazali has been described as the greatest Muslim since Muhammad. Although he remained an orthodox Moslem, he also practised Sufism. Dhikr is a special method of worship in Sufism. It is explained that is quoted in the book A Moslem Seeker After God as follows:
Let the worshipper reduce his heart to a state in which the existence of anything and its nonexistence are the same to him. Then let him sit alone in some corner, limiting his religious duties to what is absolutely necessary, and not occupying himself either with reciting the Koran or considering its meaning or with books of religious traditions or with anything of the sort. And let him see to it that nothing save God most High enters his mind. Then, as he sits in solitude, let him not cease saying continuously with his tongue, “Allah, Allah,” keeping his thought on it. At last he will reach a state when the motion of his tongue will cease, and it will seem as though the word flowed from it. Let him persevere in this until all trace of motion is removed from his tongue, and he finds his heart persevering in the thought. Let him still persevere until the form of the word, its letters and shape, is removed from his heart, and there remains the idea alone, as though clinging to his heart, inseparable from it. So far, all is dependent on his will and choice; but to bring the mercy of God does not stand in his will or choice. He has now laid himself bare to the breathings of that mercy, and nothing remains but to wait for what God will open to him, as God has done after this manner to prophets and saints. If he follows the above course, he may be sure that the light of the Real will shine out in his heart.