Glorification of the All-Sustaining Lord


سَبِّحِ اسْمَ رَبِّكَ الْأَعْلَى

“Extol the holiness of the name of your Lord, the Most High!”

To glorify the holiness of the Name of All-Sustaining, immensely Great and Exalted Lord is an irrevocable Command, which issues from the Presence of the Majesty (87:1).. This is a Divine Command from the One Who is glorious (87:2-5), and demands from us to confess, Yes we bear witness (بَلَىٰ  شَهِدْنَا) to it and acknowledge it that You are our Lord (7:172). This is the confession to His original call to His creation at the time of its creation: أَلَسْتُ بِرَبِّكُمْ Am I not your Lord Who sustains you? (7:172). This very confession, with all His attributive Names is the Glorification (tasbîh) of the Lord. He says:

تُسَبِّحُ لَهُ السَّمَاوَاتُ السَّبْعُ وَالْأَرْضُ وَمَن فِيهِنَّ ۚ وَإِن مِّن شَيْءٍ إِلَّا يُسَبِّحُ بِحَمْدِهِ وَلَـٰكِن لَّا تَفْقَهُونَ تَسْبِيحَهُمْ

“The seven heavens, the earth and all those inhabiting them (the heavens and the earth), extol His Glory. In fact, there is not even a single thing but glorifies Him with his true and perfect praise, but you do not understand their glorification.” (17:44)

All animate and inanimate objects in cosmos are making this confession and glorifying the Lord Who sustains them. Glorification (tasbîh) by inanimate objects has been mentioned in many verses of the Holy Qur’ân – glorification by the mountains (21:79), glorification by the thunder (13:13), glorification by the angels (2:30), and glorification by all created things (17:44). Some may wonder and object that glorification by a non-human, let alone an inanimate object is contrary to reason. What is it that they glorify, and what words can they use in their glorification? The answer to this is that you cannot subdivide your Lords creation into the “rational living beings,” who can glorify with the Names and Attributes of the Lord, and the inanimate objects, which cannot. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) said about Mount Uhud near Madînah: “This mountain loves us, and we love it” (Bukhârî in I’tisâm 16). This does not mean, however, that the mountain is a feeling, thinking being like you. Allâh is al-Muh, the Life Giver of His cosmos. Allâh’s cosmos is alive in its totality, and is under the process of continuous change. Is it not so that Allâh gives life to the earth after its death (16:65) and inspires the bees to collect honey (16:68)? So why should they not glorify their Sustainer? When it is said, “Whatever is in the heavens and the earth declares the glory of Allâh” (57:1), it means that everything in the universe is alive and glorifies Him, but we do not admit this fact because we do not understand their glorification” (17:44). The manifestation of the cosmos is the unfolding of the signs of Allâh (âyât Allâh), and these âyât are made up of kalimât (Words).

قُل لَّوْ كَانَ الْبَحْرُ مِدَادًا لِّكَلِمَاتِ رَبِّي لَنَفِدَ الْبَحْرُ قَبْلَ أَن تَنفَدَ كَلِمَاتُ رَبِّي وَلَوْ جِئْنَا بِمِثْلِهِ مَدَدًا

“Say, If every ocean became ink for (recording) the words and creation of my Lord, surely, the oceans would be spent up before the words and creation of my Lord came to an end, even if we brought to add (therewith) as many more (oceans)” (18:109)

The glorification by the “seven heavens, the earth and all those inhabiting them (17:44) is in the words that are derived from Allâh’s sea of words (لِّكَلِمَاتِ), from the words of the Most High, and they are inexhaustible. The objects of the universe, including the non-living ones, exchange among themselves the secrets of the cosmos in words that have their own letters and sounds that have no limits and no boundaries. Then we are told: وَلِلَّهِ يَسْجُدُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ مِن دَابَّةٍ وَالْمَلَائِكَةُ وَهُمْ لَا يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ “All that is in the heavens and on the earth of the crawling and moving creatures and the angels (too), make obeisance to Allâh and they do not disdain (to worship Him).” يَخَافُونَ رَبَّهُم مِّن فَوْقِهِمْ وَيَفْعَلُونَ مَا يُؤْمَرُونَ “They fear (disobedience to) their Lord above them, and do whatever they are commanded” (16:49–50). Then He says: أَوَلَمْ يَرَوْا إِلَىٰ مَا خَلَقَ اللَّهُ مِن شَيْءٍ يَتَفَيَّأُ ظِلَالُهُ عَنِ الْيَمِينِ وَالشَّمَائِلِ سُجَّدًا لِّلَّهِ وَهُمْ دَاخِرُونَ “Have they not considered that the shadow of everything which Allâh has created shift from the right and from the left, prostrating themselves to Allâh (in obedience) in humble supplication?” (16:48). The words for glorification (see 2:32) as used by the Engels are the right words for us to glorify the Lord. They are:

سُبْحَانَكَ ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْعَلِيمُ الْحَكِيمُ

Glory be to You, You only is the one Who All-Knowing and All- Wise (“Subhânaka innaka anta al-‘Alîm al-Hakîm”)

When you extol and glorify our Lord, the Most High, with His Names you are praising and confessing the holiness of His exalted Name Allâh that is His essence and His high state. He reminds you to glorify Him with His great Attributes –. the Attribute of His Might (الْعَزِيزُ) and that of His Knowledge (الْحَكِيم) when He says:

سَبَّحَ لِلَّهِ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ

“Whatever is in the heavens and the earth declares the glory of Allâh. And He is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise” (57:1).  

You can also glorify Him with any combination of His Attributes. You can say أَنتَ الْعَزِيزِ الرَّحِيمِ إِنَّكَ سُبْحَانَكَ  (Glory be to You, You only is the one Who is Mighty and Ever Merciful), or you can say, “Subhâna Rabbî” رَبِّي سُبْحَانَ  followed by His Attributes of immense Greatness and Exaltation, like al-‘Azîm الْعَظِيم or al-‘lâ الْأَعْلَى. These words of Glorification are to be said with bent head and bodies (rakû‘) or with the face touching the earth (sajadah). When in the state of prostration (sajadah) you should say الْأَعْلَى رَبِّي سُبْحَانَ “Subhâna Rabbî al-A‘lâ” (Glorified is my Sustaining Lord of immense Greatness and Exaltation). This is how the Holy Prophet has taught to his community to glorify the Lord. Prostration before your Lord is for His glorification, and the true glorification comes from worship in the state of obeisance and prostration. This is also what the Command, سَبِّحِ اسْمَ رَبِّكَ الْأَعْلَى (“Extol the holiness of the name of your Lord, the Most High!”; 87:1) demands from us to confess. He says:

الَّذِينَ عِندَ رَبِّكَ لَا يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ عَنْ عِبَادَتِهِ وَيُسَبِّحُونَهُ وَلَهُ يَسْجُدُونَ إِنَّ

“Verily, those who are near to your Lord (and feel His presence with them) do not wax too proud to worship Him but they glorify Him and prostrate themselves in obedience to Him” (7:206).

If you glorify your Lord, your glorifications will not exalt Him nor add to His Glury; He is already exalted and glorified, rather shall bestow purification and radiance to your own soul. Allâh’s glorification shall save your soul from the agonies of the Day of Judgment (see 88:1–8).  “[Glorified] and Holy is your Lord, the Lord of all honour and power” سُبْحَانَ رَبِّكَ رَبِّ الْعِزَّةِ (37:180).