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What is Tasbeeh?

September 11, 2008


Alhamdulillah, we now know what hamd is, let’s move on to tasbeeh!

SubhanAllah, He is Absolutely Flawless. The utter beauty, completeness, total negation, absolute perfection and exaltation that is contained in saying those two words completely boggles my mind and I know I cannot do any justice to it. My intention is to give a tiny drop from the ocean of what tasbeeh really contains, so we do not continue to repeat this phrase (especially in salah) without knowing its true meaning.

The word ‘tasbeeh’ means the act of saying subhanAllah just as tahmeed means the act of saying alhamdulillah.

Tasbeeh is comprised of two words: Subhan and Allah: سبحان الله

Subhan is from seen-ba-ha (س-ب-ح) and it means to glorify, praise, magnify, extol Allah, by tongue or by heart. It includes:

1. To say He has no flaw in His Perfection, that He is Far above any imperfection.

2. He is far above and beyond any similarity to His Creation.

3. He is free from and above all kinds of association (shirk) and any un-divine attributes.

When one does tasbeeh, they negate any flaw and affirm all perfection in Allah azza wa jal.

Translations such as “glory be to Allah” do not contain the full meaning of tasbeeh, rather it is an impartial translation. A more appropriate translation is, SubhanAllah: How Perfect is Allah and Far Above any flaw and association.

Another meaning of the root seen-ba-ha is the act of swimming, floating, and being quick and swift as well as being remote. How does this connect with glorifying Allah? It denotes the ‘quickness’ in betaking oneself to Allah, in agility in serving and obeying Him. When doing tasbeeh, you affirm (i.e., keep afloat) the Perfection of Allah ta’ala and His disassociation to His creation. It is used for prompt obedience that comes out immediately, like an immediate reaction. (Imagine when you see something amazing, right away, you say: “subhanAllah!”)

A name of Allah that coincides with this root is As-Subooh, which means The Exalted One who is praised and glorified extensively. We learn from a hadeeth in Saheeh Muslim from A’ishah radi Allahu anha, that the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam used to say in ruku’ and sajdah: Suboohun, Qudoosun, Rabb al Malaa’ikati war Rooh. Suboohun: the One who is Exalted a lot, Quddoos : the One who is very Pure, Rabb ul Malaa’ikati war Rooh : Rabb of the angels and of Jibreel. Why do we say this in ruku and sajdah? It is out of humility, reminding ourselves how small we are, and we acknowledge Allah’s Purity and that He is the Rabb.

As stated in the previous post on hamd, the dwellers of Jannah’s last call will be: “Alhamdulillah!”, but what do they say when they enter Jannah?

دَعْوَاهُمْ فِيهَا سُبْحَانَكَ اللَّهُمَّ

“Their call therein will be “Subhanaka Allahumma!”, How Exalted are You, O Allah, a Far from imperfection!” (Surah Yunus, verse 10) (It is very interesting to see the speech of the dwellers of Jannah, here’s an assignment for the readers: look throughout the Qur’an and see how the dwellers of Jannah speak when they reach Jannah, what is it that you find? To make this easier to find the verses, search in the Qur’an using this site:

So when we say “SubhanAllah” the complete meaning is (but not limited too): I declare (or celebrate, extol) the remoteness, or freedom, of Allah from any imperfection or impurity or from anything derogatory from His glory. From the attribution of there being an equal to Him, or any companion, or anything like unto Him, or anything contrary to Him, from everything that should not be attributed to Him.


14 Comments leave one →
  1. fulaan permalink
    September 12, 2008 10:37 am

    Assalaamu alaykum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh,

    I always wanted to know what the real meaning of subhaan Allaah is.

    Jazaaki Allaahu khayr for sharing your knowledge with us.

    Assalaamu alaykum

  2. September 13, 2008 10:36 pm

    wa alaykum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,

    wa iyyakum! Alhamdulillah, for giving me the opportunity to share it.

    These adkhaar that we say throughout the day hold so much meaning, it’s amazing to learn the real meanings behind them. May Allah ta’ala grant us success, Ameen.

  3. fulaan permalink
    September 16, 2008 1:20 pm

    Assalaamu alaykum wa rahmatullaah,

    I agree. The real joy comes from the meanings.

    If you don’t mind me asking, what sources are you using to explain the meanings?

  4. September 16, 2008 1:30 pm

    wa alaykum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,

    a few sources. I don’t mind at all, it’s very important to know what sources people use, as Muhammad ibn Sireen rahimahullah said: this knowledge is a matter of deen, so be careful who you take your deen from. So i’m very picky myself as to what I post, and where this information is gathered from.

    Firstly, based on a women’s class at Al-Huda Institute known as Ta’leem al Qur’an where we cover word for word translation, tafseer and analysis of the whole Qur’an. Most of what I post on is from this course alhamdulillah. I also have a list of resources that my teacher uses (in English, Arabic and also Urdu which is her first language, but not mine!) if you would like those resources, please email me: and inshaAllah I will send it to you.

    Also I used an awesome Arabic-English lexicon known as “Lane’s Lexicon”, which you can find in the Tayyib Media section at the “Project Root List” website under Qur’anic/Hadeeth Search Engines.

    Surprisingly, this explanation is very general and basic. InshaAllah I hope to, in the future, use more resources from the scholars to work on in depth analysis of these athkaar (remembrances).

    Allahu ta’ala alam. Jazakum Allahu khayran for commenting!

  5. Brother Farhad permalink
    September 17, 2008 10:52 pm

    So why do people say it means Glory be to Allah? What you explained is so much better…especially when you say it 40+ times a day. Other months you say it countless times.

  6. September 17, 2008 11:10 pm

    mashaAllah very good point you bring up brother! The translation “glory be to Allah” is not sufficient, and it does not contain the meanings that were discussed above. It is an impartial translation.

    Why do people say that? Allahu alam! Maybe it’s easier or that’s what they were told the meaning is?

    Alhamdulillah, personally the above explanation is a SPEC compared to what a true analysis of tasbeeh can contain. InshaAllah I hope to work on it in the future, it is one of my goals.

  7. Hijaab permalink
    November 4, 2008 5:18 pm

    MashAllah, excellent, excellent web site

    May Allah reward you. you can check out this link, it is in its early stages but has added some PDFs on the Qur’aan and deep meanings

  8. November 4, 2008 5:45 pm

    Jazaki Allahu khayran Hijaab! Alhamdulillah.

    It says I need to log in to view those pages…do I need to make an account on the website?

  9. Nidaa permalink
    November 20, 2008 11:45 am

    You know, I’m so dazed right after reading all this that I feel I can fly, heh. It’s like staring at the screen even after I’ve completed the reading, and going like, “wwwwaaaaaoooowwww…”
    Really, I was wondering about the sources. I asked that question on the explanation of Tamheed. Because it really IS important where we take our Deen from.
    Like a brother said, I always wanted to know the meaning of “Subhaanallaah”. I would try to break down the words but wouldn’t arrive on anything, and finally had to accept defeat.
    Jazaakillaahu Katheeran, yaa Amatullaah!

  10. November 20, 2008 11:53 am

    wa iyyaki ukhti, walhamdulillah 🙂 I felt the same way too after learning it.

    Again there are multiple sources. Alhamdulillah, I am also very careful as to where I take knowledge from, as Muhammad ibn Sireen said: “This is a matter or this knowledge is a matter of deen, so be careful who you take your deen from.”

    Any lexicon, both in Arabic (like Lisaan al Arab) and English (Lane’s Lexicon) have this explanation. Furthermore, tafaseer such as the tafseer of shaykh ibn Uthaymeen contains these meanings too. These posts are based on multiple sources, and I’ve posted the resources of my teacher here:

    Allahu ta’ala a’lam. I appreciate you asking me for the sources 🙂 Barak Allahu feeki.

  11. Nidaa permalink
    November 20, 2008 1:15 pm

    Baarakallaahu Feeki Aidan. 🙂

  12. Nidaa permalink
    November 20, 2008 1:16 pm

    Oops, didn’t mean to post that smiley face. Astaghfirullaah.


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