The quadruple equation of success – the four words that are most loved by Allah
The tasbih, tahmeed, tahleel and takbir
We are familiar with the phrases Subhanallah, Alhamdulillah, Allahu akbar, wa la illaha illallah. We recite them in our Salah and after the Salah and before we sleep. It does not matter which order you say them.
There are many narrations which show how much the Prophet (peace be upon him) emphasised repeating them. He confirmed that the four phrases – the tasbih, tahmeed, tahleel, and takbir – are the most beloved words to Allah after the Quran.
Why are they significant?
The reason is that these four phrases carry a lot of meaning. They are related to the majesty of Allah. The tasbih (subhanallah) glorifies Allah, and confirms that Allah is free from any imperfection, the tahmeed, (alhamdulillah) shows that Allah Almighty deserves all praise. The takbir declares that God is Great and whoever has understood this will know that there is nothing greater than Him.
Samura bin Jundub (may Allah be pleased with him) reported God’s Messenger (peace be on him) as saying,
عَنْ سَمُرَةَ بْنِ جُنْدُبٍ قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: ” أَفْضَلُ الْكَلَامِ أَرْبَعٌ: سُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ، وَالْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ، وَلَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ، وَاللَّهُ أَكْبَرُ “.
وَفِي رِوَايَةٍ: ” أَحَبُّ الْكَلَامِ إِلَى اللَّهِ أَرْبَعٌ: سُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ، وَالْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ، وَلَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ، وَاللَّهُ أَكْبَرُ. لَا يَضُرُّكَ بِأَيِّهِنَّ بَدَأْتَ “. رَوَاهُ مُسلم
The most excellent words are four Subhanallah, Alhamdulillah, Allahu akbar, wa la illaha illallah:
“Glory be to God; Praise be to God; there is no god but God; and God is most great.”
Another version has, “The most beloved words to Allah 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.” [Muslim]
A thousand blessings
Sa’d bin Abu Waqqas (may Allah be pleased with him) said:
Once when we were with God’s Messenger (peace be upon him) 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’ a hundred times, a thousand blessings will be recorded for him or a thousand sins will be removed from him.” [Muslim]
Light on the tongue yet heavy on the scales
Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:
There are two statements that are light for the tongue to remember, heavy in the Scales and are dear to the Merciful: ‘Subhan-Allahi wa bihamdihi, Subhan-Allahil-Azim [Glory be to Allah and His is the praise, (and) Allah, the Greatest is free from imperfection]’. [Muslim]
Fill the scales and all that is between heaven and earth
Abu Malik Al-Ash’ari (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “Purity is half of imaan (faith). ‘Alhamdulillah (all praise and gratitude belong to Allah)’ fills the scales, and ‘subhanallah (how far is Allah from every imperfection) and ‘Alhamdulillah (all praise and gratitude belong to Allah)’ fill that which is between heaven and earth.” [Muslim]
Planting your own date palms in Jannah
Jabir (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
“Whoever says: ‘Glory is to Allah, the Magnificent, and with His Praise (Subḥān Allāhil-Aẓīm, wa biḥamdih)’ a date-palm tree is planted for him in Paradise.” [Tirmidhi]
Better than a servant
Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said that when Fatima went to the Prophet and asked him for a servant, he said, “Let me guide you to something which is better than a servant. You should say ‘Glory be to God thirty-three times, ‘Praise be to God” thirty-three times, and ‘God is most great’ thirty-four times at each time of prayer and when you go to bed.” [Muslim]
No praise is sufficient to praise as Allah as He deserves
That is why the Prophet (peace be upon him) said he could not praise Him as He deserved to be praised.
عن عائشة رضي الله عنها ، قالت: افْتَقَدْتُ النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم ذات ليلة، فَتَحَسَّسْتُ، فإذا هو راكع -أو ساجد- يقول: «سُبْحَانَك وبِحَمْدِكَ، لا إله إلا أنت» وفي رواية: فَوَقَعَتْ يَدِي على بَطن قدميه، وهو في المسجد وهما مَنْصُوبَتَانِ، وهو يقول: «اللَّهُمَّ إني أَعُوذ بِرِضَاك من سَخَطِك، وبِمُعَافَاتِكَ من عُقُوبَتِكَ، وأعُوذ بِك مِنْك، لا أُحْصِي ثَناءً عليك أنت كما أَثْنَيْتَ على نفسك».
‘Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) reported: One night I did not find the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him). As I groped in search of him, I found him bowing – or prostrating – and saying: “Glory and praise be to You. There is no god but You).” In another narration: “My hand fell over his feet while he was in prostration, with his feet erect. He was supplicating: ‘O Allah, I seek refuge in Your pleasure from Your wrath and in Your pardon from Your punishment, and I seek refuge in You from You. I am not capable of enumerating praise of You. You are as You have praised Yourself.'” [Muslim]
Why are these words significant?
Subhanallah connects us to Allah and reminds us of His magnificence and perfection.
Alhamdulillah reminds us that we owe everything to Him, as well as to be positive, optimistic and grateful – to see the cup as half full, not half empty.
Allahu Akbar affirms the greatness and supremacy of Allah.
La illaha illallah is the basis of our faith and belief that everything depends on Allah, while He depends on no one and all matters will ultimately be referred back to Him.
Deleter of minor sins
In another famous hadith, Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that reciting these words would delete a magnitude of (minor) sins:
عن أبي هريرة رضي الله تعالى عنه عن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: ”من سبح الله في دبر كل صلاة ثلاثًا وثلاثين، وحمد الله ثلاثًا وثلاثين، وكبر الله ثلاثًا وثلاثين، وقال تمام المئة: لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له، له الملك وله الحمد، وهو على كل شيء قدير، غُفِرت خطاياه وإن كانت مثل زبد البحر” ((رواه مسلم)).
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “He who recites after every prayer: Subhanallah (Allah is free from imperfection) thirty-three times; Alhamdulillah (praise be to Allah) thirty-three times; Allahu Akbar (Allah is Greatest) thirty-three times; and completes the hundred with: La ilaha illallahu, wahdahu la sharika lahu, lahul-mulku wa lahul-hamdu, wa Huwa ‘ala kulli shai’in Qadir (there is no true god except Allah. He is One and He has no partner with Him. His is the sovereignty and His is the praise, and He is Omnipotent), will have all his sins pardoned even if they may be as large as the foam on the surface of the sea.” [Muslim]
How to erase major sins
Major sins require tawbah (repentance) which comprises four things: ceasing the sin, intending to refrain from the sin in future, asking Allah for forgiveness, and rectifying the matter by apologising anyone you hurt. If you were to die as a martyr or go for Hajj or Umrah, you are not forgiven for harm you caused to others unless they forgive you. If you are sincere enough, Allah Almighty will soften their hearts and put forgiveness for you in their hearts. It is not enough to recite tasbih and tahmeed and tahleel to attain forgiveness, as Allah will not forgive you if your sin is related to people and they have not forgiven you. So you need to beg them for forgiveness.
These are four forms of dhikr which the Prophet (peace be upon him) taught his daughter Fatima (may Allah be pleased with her) to recite before she went to sleep every night.
This dhikr is the formula for success and requires an attentive heart.
Tasbih in the Quran
The concept of tasbih is mentioned in the Quran in numerous verses, Allah encourages believers to engage in dhikr and tasbih as a means of drawing closer to Him and seeking His guidance and blessings. For example, in Surah Al-Ahzab, Allah Almighty says,
“O you who have believed, remember Allah with much remembrance and exalt Him morning and afternoon. It is He who confers blessing upon you, and His angels [ask Him to do so] that He may bring you out from darknesses into the light.” (33:41-42)
Tasbih of creatures
The tasbih of creatures refers to the idea that all of creation, including the natural world and living beings, constantly glorify and praise Allah through their existence and obedience to His divine laws. This concept is mentioned in the Quran in various verses, such as in Surah Al-Isra where it is stated,
تُسَبِّحُ لَهُ السَّمَاوَاتُ السَّبْعُ وَالْأَرْضُ وَمَن فِيهِنَّ ۚ وَإِن مِّن شَيْءٍ إِلَّا يُسَبِّحُ بِحَمْدِهِ وَلَٰكِن لَّا تَفْقَهُونَ تَسْبِيحَهُمْ ۗ إِنَّهُ كَانَ حَلِيمًا غَفُورًا
“The seven heavens and the earth and whatever is in them exalt Him. And there is not a thing except that it exalts [Allah] by His praise, but you do not understand their [way of] exalting. Indeed, He is ever Forbearing and Forgiving.” (17:44)
The belief in the tasbih of creatures serves as a reminder of the harmony and order within the universe and the recognition that all creation ultimately submits to the will of Allah.
Repeat these phrases frequently, they remind us to glorify Allah and believe in His oneness, reject anything that doesn’t suit His greatness such as deny anything that does not befit His majesty, and affirm all praises are due to Him alone. They form the quadruple equation for success.
We ask Allah to make us people of repentance and gratitude. Ameen
Shaykh Haytham Tamim Khutbah 14th July 2023
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