Someone had written to Moulana Thanwi (Rahmatullah Alayhi) I make zikr silently. I do this for two reasons: (1) I fear that if I make zikr audibly I will disturb those who are asleep. (2) People will begin to think of me as a buzurg and this will create pride within me.
Hadhrat Thanwi (Rahmatullah Alayhi) replied: Continue making zikr aloud. The solution to the first problem is that you should make zikr in a place where there isn’t anybody sleeping e.g. the Musjid. However, do not make zikr so loudly that the people of the area will be disturbed.
As far as the second problem, then ponder over the fact that when you will begin to sway your head whilst making zikr people will not think you to be a buzurg but an insane person. Your nafs has advised you that people should not think you to be a buzurg.
However, it has in fact devised a plan whereby people would begin to think of you as a buzurg. The reason for this is that when you will lower your head and engage in zikr-e-Sirri people will think that you have now reached the level of the angels. The nuktah (subtle point) in this is that it is difficult to remain punctual and constant on a devotional practice. If you will make zikr-e-jahri a few people will come to know that you wake up in the latter portion of the night to make zikr, such as the muazzin of the musjid. At times you will be overcome by sleep and laziness and perhaps miss out making zikr on that day. The muazzin will come to know that today Mr so and so did not wake up. However, if you make zikr-e-Sirri nobody will know whether you got up or not and in this way your laziness and weakness will remain
Extracted from Malfoozaat of Mufti Mahmood Hasan Gangohi (rahmatullah alayhi)