Is it true that Tidjani disciples should visualize the Sheikh when performing their litanies, and why?
This is one of the two conditions required to perfect the accomplishment of the litanies in order to reap as many of the lights that descends during the performance of the litanies.
On this subject, Sidi Arbi ibn Sa-ih (may ALLAH be pleased with him), eminent scholar of Morocco who was aquainted with the companions of Seyyidina Ahmed Tidjani (may ALLAH sanctify his precious secret) and who was affiliated to the Tariqa by their intermediary said:
The requisite conditions for the perfection of the litanies include being conscious of the presence of the guide, and that we are sitting before him drawing his irrigation. This should be put into practice from the beginning of the zikr until the end. He who is not able to visualize perfectly should try his best from the beginning and then return to the visualization according to his capacities and possibilities. This presence should be practiced by visualizing his physical aspect, for he who has seen him. Otherwise, he should visualize the image of his perfection cloaked in fear and reverence. This visualization should be accompanied by utmost decency.
The other condition is to be as aware as possible of the meaning of our recitation, if we are able to understand it. If not, we should listen carefully to our diction while reciting the zikr. The perfection of this condition is reciting distinctly (tartil).
Text of Zawiya Tidjaniya El Kubra of Europe, in Lyon, France