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Meaning and Application of the Prayer:
Allahu Akbar, Subhan Allah, Al-hamdu Lillah, La ilaha illa-llah

The Holy Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu 'alayhi wa-sallam) gave guidance to Muslims and the humanity for material, spiritual and intellectual upliftment. The rewards of glorifying, praising, declaring Allah's unity and His greatness are among the fundamental concepts of Islam. In the following hadith, practical guidance is given to Muslims to incorporate these concepts in their lifestyles:

Samura b. Jundub reported God's messenger as saying, "The most excellent words are four: Glory be to God (Subhan Allah); Praise be to God (Al-Hamdu Lillah); there is no god but God (La ilaha illa-llah); and God is most great (Allahu Akbar)." A version has, "The words dearest to God are four: Glory be to God; Praise be to God; there is no god but God; and God is most great. It does not matter which you say first."1

The significance of the phrase 'Subhan Allah' has been explained in the following hadith:

Sa'd b. Abu Waqqas said: " Once when we were with God's messenger he asked whether any of us was incapable of acquiring a thousand blessings daily, and when one of those who were sitting with him asked how any of them could acquire a thousand blessings he replied, "If he says 'Glory be to God' (Subhan Allah) a hundred times, a thousand blessings will be recorded for him or a thousand sins will be removed from him."2

The significance of the phrase 'Al-Hamdu Lillah' has been explained in the following hadith:

'Abdallah b. Amr reported God's messenger saying that "Praise be to God" (Al-Hamdu Lillah) is the beginning of thanksgiving, for the man who does not praise God has not thanked Him." 3

The significance of the phrase 'La ilaha illa-llah' has been explained in the following hadith:

Abu Sa'id al-Khudri reported God's messenger saying that Moses asked his Lord to teach him something with which to make mention of Him or to supplicate Him, and was told to say, "There is no god but God " (La ilaha illa-llah). He replied to his Lord that all His servants said this, but he wanted something particularly for himself, and He said, "Moses, were the seven heavens and their inhabitants apart from me and the seven earths put in one side of balance and 'There is no god but God' in the other, 'There is no god but God' would outweigh them." 4 It is transmitted in Sharh as-sunna.

The significance of the phrase 'Allahu Akbar' has been explained in the following hadith:

Abu Musa al-Ash'ari said: Once when we accompanied God's messenger on a journey and the people began to say aloud, "God is most great" (Allahu Akbar), he said, "Restrain yourselves, people; you are not supplicating one who is deaf or absent, but are supplicating One who hears, sees and is with you. He whom you are supplicating is nearer to each of you than the neck of his riding-beast." 5

The significance of the four phrases mentioned in this article are explained in the following hadith:

Ibn Mas'ud reported God's messenger as saying he met Abraham on the night he was taken up to heaven, and he said, "Convey my greeting to your people, Muhammad, and tell them that paradise has good soil and sweet water, that it consists of level, treeless plains, and that its plants are 'Glory be to God' (Subhan Allah); 'Praise be to God' (Al-Hamdu Lillah); 'There is no god but God' (La ilaha illa-llah); and 'God is most great' (Allahu Akbar)'." 6 Tirmidhi transmitted it, saying that is a hasan tradition whose isnad is gharib.

In the following Khutba, Hazrat Ali (a.s.) provides an insight about praise of God and gives advice to human beings:

"All praises are due to Him only, of Whose favours nobody is deprived, of Whose blessing nobody is left destitute, and Whose bounties nobody needs despair. One who prays to Him need feel no disgrace or ignominy. His Munificence is everlasting and His Blessings will never end. This world in its nature is destructible and its inhabitants will have to desert it. To vicious minded people the perishable pleasures of this life are pleasing, but in actuality life quickly passes away though one may however love it dearly and madly. My advice to you is to pass through life in such a way as to carry good results with you to the next world; to take from life only such things as would be helpful to you in the next." 7

Let us now recite this prayer with humility, courage and conviction:

A'uzu billahi minashaitanir rajim
I seek refuge in Allah from the outcast Satan.

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim
In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.

[Sound Clips: 3 minutes |  15 minutes |  30 minutes |  60 minutes ]

Allahu Akbar, Subhan Allah, Al-hamdu Lillah, La ilaha illa-llah (1)
Allah is the Greatest, Glory be to Allah, Praise be to Allah, There is no god but Allah

Allahu Akbar, Subhan Allah, Al-hamdu Lillah, La ilaha illa-llah (2)
Allah is the Greatest, Glory be to Allah, Praise be to Allah, There is no god but Allah

Allahu Akbar, Subhan Allah, Al-hamdu Lillah, La ilaha illa-llah (3)
Allah is the Greatest, Glory be to Allah, Praise be to Allah, There is no god but Allah

Allahu Akbar, Subhan Allah, Al-hamdu Lillah, La ilaha illa-llah (4)
Allah is the Greatest, Glory be to Allah, Praise be to Allah, There is no god but Allah

Allahu Akbar, Subhan Allah, Al-hamdu Lillah, La ilaha illa-llah (5)
Allah is the Greatest, Glory be to Allah, Praise be to Allah, There is no god but Allah

Allahu Akbar, Subhan Allah, Al-hamdu Lillah, La ilaha illa-llah (6)
Allah is the Greatest, Glory be to Allah, Praise be to Allah, There is no god but Allah

Allahu Akbar, Subhan Allah, Al-hamdu Lillah, La ilaha illa-llah (7)
Allah is the Greatest, Glory be to Allah, Praise be to Allah, There is no god but Allah

Allahu Akbar, Subhan Allah, Al-hamdu Lillah, La ilaha illa-llah (8)
Allah is the Greatest, Glory be to Allah, Praise be to Allah, There is no god but Allah

Allahu Akbar, Subhan Allah, Al-hamdu Lillah, La ilaha illa-llah (9)
Allah is the Greatest, Glory be to Allah, Praise be to Allah, There is no god but Allah

Allahu Akbar, Subhan Allah, Al-hamdu Lillah, La ilaha illa-llah (10)
Allah is the Greatest, Glory be to Allah, Praise be to Allah, There is no god but Allah

Allahu Akbar, Subhan Allah, Al-hamdu Lillah, La ilaha illa-llah (11)
Allah is the Greatest, Glory be to Allah, Praise be to Allah, There is no god but Allah

Allahu Akbar, Subhan Allah, Al-hamdu Lillah, La ilaha illa-llah (12)
Allah is the Greatest, Glory be to Allah, Praise be to Allah, There is no god but Allah

Al-hamdu lillahi rabbil 'alamin
Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds!

End Notes

  1. Robson, J., Book X. God's Names. Chapter II. The reward for glorifying, praising, declaring God's unity and His greatness. In: Mishkat al Masabih Vol. I (English translation with explanatory notes), 486.
  2. Robson, J., Book X. God's Names. Chapter II. The reward for glorifying, praising, declaring God's unity and His greatness. In: Mishkat al Masabih Vol. I (English translation with explanatory notes), 486-487.
  3. Robson, J., Book X. God's Names. Chapter II. The reward for glorifying, praising, declaring God's unity and His greatness. In: Mishkat al Masabih Vol. I (English translation with explanatory notes), 488.
  4. Robson, J., Book X. God's Names. Chapter II. The reward for glorifying, praising, declaring God's unity and His greatness. In: Mishkat al Masabih Vol. I (English translation with explanatory notes), 488-489.
  5. Robson, J., Book X. God's Names. Chapter II. The reward for glorifying, praising, declaring God's unity and His greatness. In: Mishkat al Masabih Vol. I (English translation with explanatory notes), 487-488.
  6. Robson, J., Book X. God's Names. Chapter II. The reward for glorifying, praising, declaring God's unity and His greatness. In: Mishkat al Masabih Vol. I (English translation with explanatory notes), 490.
  7. Jafery, Syed Mohammed Askari. Nahjul Balagha: Sermons, letters and saying of Hazrat Ali, Khutba 50, 34-35.

References

  1. Jafery, Syed Mohammed Askari. Nahjul Balagha: Sermons, letters and saying of Hazrat Ali, Tahrike Tarsile Quran, New York, 1981.
  2. Robson, J. Mishkat al Masabih Vol. I (English translation with explanatory notes), Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, Lahore, r1990.

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