“He has given you of all that you wanted of Him (by your natural demand). And if you try to count Allâh’s bounties you will not be able to number them. Surely, a human being is very unjust, very ungrateful” (14:34).
Such gracious favour, which is not in return for any service rendered by any creature, should draw the hearts to praise, glorification, and thanksgiving to the One Who bestowed such favour. The human heart eulogizes his Benefactor, offering praise with true intent
الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ
“All type of perfect and true praise belongs to Allâh alone, the Lord of the worlds” (1:2)
With these words you, the servant, offer Him your thanks, with true praise in appreciation of His commendable action, action worthy of praise, and you laud Him for the favours being done by Him.
In the very opening chapter (al-Fâtihah) of the Holy Qur’ân, two beautiful Attributes of Allâh, al-Rahmân, الرَّحْمَـٰنِ, and al-Rahîm, الرَّحِيم, are mentioned. If you understand the excellences hidden in them (see page 62, commentary verse 1:3), your heart yearns for Him Who possesses these Attributes with fervent devotion, and you feel an urge to love and worship Him with all your humbleness. You want to be drawn closer to that peerless and unique Being with the words of praise الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ. Al-Rahmân, who is the Bestower of all bounties without any claim, is apt to become the object of adoration and praise. He becomes Praiseworthy of all those who are conscious of His favours. Rûmî once said, “Countless are His favours. A hundred thousand tongues cannot deliver the thanks that are due to Him. Favors upon favours He has showered on the handful of dust. All of life, under His universal care, is indebted to Him. ” (Rûmî). If you try to count His excellences, His Graces, and His favours, you would not be able to number them, even with tireless exertion (31:27).
Many people praise created things or beings as their lords, believing them to be sources of favours and bounties. Mourning widows vie with one another in boastful enumeration of the valorous deeds of their dead in battlefields. At banquets, humans are praised in a manner in which Allâh, the real Bestower, should be praised. With the words “Al-Hamd-u-li(l)-Allâh Rabb al-‘Âlamîn رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ Allâh reproaches all those who associate partners with Him in their praise, as if He were saying, “Why do you glorify your associate gods and why do you magnify your ancestors? Why are you so boastful of the dead? Are they your lords, who sustain you and your children? Are they the compassionate ones, who treat you mercifully, ward off calamities, avert evil and affliction, safeguard the good that has been your lot, wash off the dirt of your sins, and cure you of your diseases? Are they the lords of the Day of Judgment? No, Allâh alone sustains and shows Mercy by granting happiness in full measure, by granting guidance, by answering prayers, and by delivering you from your enemies. He shall certainly reward your works.”
True and perfect Praise (al-Hamdالْحَمْد )—whether relating to external aspects or to internal realities, whether relating to inherent excellence or to what is manifested in natural phenomena—is due only to the One with Overflowing Generosity (al-Rahmân الرَّحْمَـٰنِ), the One with immense Loving Powers (al-Rahîm الرَّحِيم). No other shares in it. When He says He is al-Rahmân الرَّحْمَـٰنِ, it is, as if He said, “If all intelligent beings, visible and invisible, gathered together and demanded their most sublime wishes from Me and I granted every one of them, this would in no way diminish the treasures that are with Me any more than the needle dipped in an ocean would decrease the ocean” (Hadîth-i-Qudsî, narrated by Abû Dharr). There is no excellence that the wisdom of the wise can imagine or that the mind of a thinker can contemplate but belongs to the Supreme Being, Who is the source of all bounties, the source of all Grace, and the source of the Light of guidance. Allâh alone is the One Who exercises Beneficences deliberately, not under compulsion. If the suspension of His Rahmânîyyat for a single moment were to be imagined, the entire cosmos would perish instantly. The words “Al-Hamd-u-li(l)-Allâh Rabb al-‘Âlamîn, رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ (“All type of perfect and true praise belongs to Allâh alone, the Lord of the worlds” (1:2) tell us that all true praises revert to Him. In every instance of true praise, the one who is praised his praise goes back to Allâh, Who is the origin and the cause of that praise, and the one who praises, also in reality praises Allâh, though unknowingly.
“Al-Hamd-u-li(l)-Allâh Rabb al-‘Âlamîn الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ, (- All type of perfect and true praise belongs to Allâh alone, the Lord of the worlds,) are the words of Allâh, spoken by Him. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) acknowledged, “I cannot enumerate your Praise, O Lord! You have praised yourself” (Tirmidhî, Da‘awâh 75). Such is the utmost degree of inability to count His favours. With His words “Al-Hamd-u-li(l)-Allâh Rabb al-‘Âlamîn الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ, Allâh is praising Himself as if He were saying, “O My servants! Know Me through My Rabûbîyyat [sustenance for you all], and recognize Me through My excellent Graceful Attribute of Rahmânîyyat. Neither My creation nor I suffer from any defect or shortcoming. My Praiseworthiness far exceeds the highest limits of praise rendered by those who praise Me. You will not find in the heavens or in the earth any praiseworthy feature that is not to be found in My Countenance. If you tried to count My Excellences, you would not be able to number them. And if all the trees on the earth were to be pens and the vast ocean is full of ink, and besides that many more such oceans to replenish it, to supply ink to write My works, even then My Words and works would not be finished [see 31:27]. Then search well to see if you can light upon a praiseworthy merit that you do not find in Me or can discover an excellence that is beyond My presence and Me. If you imagine that there is such, then you have no knowledge of Me and are bereft of vision. I am known through My Glories and excellences. The heavy clouds of rain and My Revelations saturated with My blessings indicate the plenitude of My bounties. Those who believe in Me and in what I say are indeed the people who are treading the paths that lead to My proximity. They have recognized and understood the Truth. They have sought earnestly for My Attributes, and My Glories reflect over them” (unknown Saint). Therefore, praised be He Who is distant and yet comes near, He Who is high (ta‘âla) and yet descends (nazala), He Whom the servant knows in accordance with what He allows them to know about Him.
Just as the Most Gracious (al-Rahmân الرَّحْمَـٰنِ) is Praiseworthy (Muhammad) by all those who are conscious of His favours, bestowed without having been asked, the Ever-Merciful (al-Rahîm الرَّحِيم) bestows his special Mercy upon those of His faithful servants who are His praisers (Ahmad) This Graciousness (Rahîmîyyat; 2:186) is in response to the praise (hamd) and thanks offered by His worshipper. He sends down His special Mercy upon you when He is pleased with your efforts of praise and when He determines that you have merited His all-embracing Grace of Rahîmîyyat. It is at this stage that a righteous worshipper, devout in duties of obedience, becomes a favourite in the Divine Presence (33:56).
Praise Allâh, Whom you call upon with your needs, and then He answers you, even though you heed little when He calls upon you to listen to His call. All praise is for Allâh, Whom you supplicate, and He grants you what you plead for, even though you are stingy when He asks a loan from you for the needy. Praise Allâh; on Him you entrust your secrets without an intercessor. Praise Allâh, to Whom you plead, for if you pleaded to others, they would not grant you anything. All praise is for Allâh, Who has dignified you by becoming the Disposer of your affairs instead of making you rely on others, who would then humiliate you. All praise is for Allâh, Who endeared you, even though He is not in need of you. All praise is for Allâh, Who treats you with clemency, just as if you had no sin. Therefore, your Lord is the most praised of all and the most worthy of praise. Seek your Sustainer diligently, and ponder every aspect of His perfection as you search for Him in His manifestation of this universe. When you begin to perceive His fragrance, it is then that you have found Him. This mystery is unveiled only to those who are earnest seekers. Praise therefore your Creator and Sustainer with all perfect praise in your joys and in your sorrows.