The Meaning of Al-Hamd

The praise entitled to Him fills up this worldly life and the Hereafter as does the heavens and earth and all that is in between them and contained within them. The entire universe utters His Praise. The creation, its affairs, existence and non existence as well as its sustainability owe themselves to His Praiseworthiness. Truly, everything exists just to praise Him for it is the objective and purpose of every creature. Every object in existence attests to the praise that he is entitled to; the Messengers He sent and the Books He sent down entail that He be praised; the creation of Paradise and Hell calls for praising Him. Paradise inhabited with its people and hell inhabited with its people testify to the praise He is entitled for.

The obedience and disobedience of mankind have not transpired except to testify to the praise Allah is worthy of. The leaves of trees would not fall more would atoms move, had it not been for His praise. Exalted be He, is praised for His Essence even if none of His slaves had ever praised Him, just as He is the One and Only Ilah worthy of worship even if none of His slaves had believed in Him. He praised Himself through the tongue of His Prophet; the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him said, “Allah said on the tongue of His Prophet: “Allah Hears the one who praises Him.” (Recorded in Muslim)

Keeping this in perspective it is evident that it is actually He who praises Himself on the tongue of His slaves, because when a person praises Him it is only due to His permission that such praise is uttered by their tongues, and is established in their heart through His permission. Truly, to Him is all the praise and to Him belongs everything; in His Hand lies all goodness; He is the absolute controller of everything, all that is apparent or hidden.

This is only a brief glimpse of the countless aspects of servitude to Allah included in this statement al-hamd, it is only a drop of water out of the ocean of knowledge of what servitude to Allah comprises and entails.

From among the implications of being a true salve to Allah is to realise that the act of praising Him for a bounty that He bestowed upon you is itself worthy of praising Him again for it necessitates praising Him (again) for facilitating His praise on the tongue of His slave perpetually. In reality, is a person were to devote every single one of his breathes towards praising his Lord for even a single bounty of His numerous blessings that he bestowed upon him, it would not be enough – this is because no one is capable of praising Him enough. And even if he does not praise Him for any of his graces upon him, he should praise Him for preventing harm from him. Furthermore, he should praise Him for guiding him to praise Him.

Al-Awzai said: I heard someone say: “All praise is due to Allah; if not for a grace He bestowed, it is for a harm He prevented.”

Another aspect of servitude to Allah in ‘al-hamd’ is that it connotes an acknowledgement that were it not for Allah’s guidance that inspired and enabled the slave of Allah to praise Him, he would be incapable of praising Him. He is therefore praised for it because He inspired his tongue and heart to praise Him; indeed no one would be guided if Allah did not permit it.

From the other aspects of servitude to Allah found in ‘al-hamd’ is that it encompasses even the minutiae of the circumstances and state of affairs of the slave of Allah; hidden and the known, the loved and the despised. It even covers the details of the circumstances and conditions of mankind in its entirety; the righteous and the evilness, the dignified ones and the based ones. In reality He is to be praised for all of that, even if His slaves are unable to comprehend the wisdom behind it or realise the magnitude of praise He deserves for all of that. To praise Allah is a manifestation of guidance that Allah inspires in His slaves; some indulge in praising Him abundantly whereas there are others whose share is minimal, dependent on the level of knowledge one has about his Lord. The Prophet, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, said, “And then He will inspire me to praise Him with such praises as I do not know (now), I will praise Him with those praises and will fall down, prostrating before Him.” (Recorded in Bukhari and Muslim)

Inner Dimensions of the Prayer Pages 35-37