By: Wael Abdelgawad
There are many hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) about the power of this phrase, “SubhanAllah wa bihamdihi”, which means, “Glory to Allah and praise him.”
1) “Whoever says “SubhanAllah wa bihamdihi” a hundred times during the day, his sins are wiped away, even if they are like the foam of the sea.” [Sahih al-Bukhari; #7:168, Sahih Muslim; #4:2071]
2) Abu Dharr reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Shall I tell you the words that Allah loves the most??” I said: “Yess, tell me, O Messenger of Allah.” He said: “The words dearest to Allah are: subhanAllah wa bihamdihi.”
3) “A palm tree is planted for the reciter ‘SubhanAllah wa bihamdihi’ in Paradise.” [at-Tirmidhi; 5:511, al-Hakim]
4) The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Two Words (subhanAllah wa bihamdihi) are light on the tongue, weigh heavily in the balance, and are loved by the Most Merciful One.”
Allah is so forgiving and gives us countless avenues to earn our forgiveness. Today, let’s have this phrase – subhanAllah wa bihamdihi – on our tongues, and let’s earn our forgiveness, and have entire groves of palm trees planted for us in Jannah, Insha’Allah.
Praise going up, blessings coming down
Of course there are many types of dhikr. Dhikr means praising Allah, remembering Allah. SubhanAllah wa bihamdihi is a good one, but even something as simple as saying, “Thank you, Allah” when you finish a meal is a type of dhikr.
When we have dhikr always on our tongues, we have this constant connection with God, even as we go about our daily routines. When things are going well, or when things are hard, we have this lifeline to Allah, this constant stream of praise going up, and blessings coming down. Our spirits are lighter, our hearts happier. We are grateful for everything we have, because we remember that every single little blessing – good health, the comfortable beds we sleep in, the orange juice we had for breakfast, even our beating hearts and the breath in our lungs – comes from Allah.
Dhikr is a guide to excellent character, and a light that keeps us on the path to Paradise.
We covet what we think about
Here’s another important point. I am the editor of IslamicAnswers.com, which is a common-sense advice website for marriage and family issues. One type of common question I get is from a young person who is madly in love with someone who is unavailable. Maybe the unavailable person is already married, or is not interested, or the parents do not approve, but it’s clear that the match is impossible.
One thing I tell such a young person is, stop thinking about the object of your desire. When the thoughts come, push them away. Absolutely do not spend your time gazing at photographs of him/her, reading old emails, dwelling on what-ifs, and fantasizing, because that will only reinforce your obsession, and keep the unavailable person in your mind.
What we think about, we come to desire.
With dhikr, we are using this principle for good. By constantly praising Allah, we keep Him in our minds and hearts. The more we do so, the more we come to desire His love, His forgiveness, and His presence. The more we think about Allah, the more we want to please him. It becomes a beautiful cycle of remembrance and blessings, reinforcing each other.
That’s why Allah described the believers as:
“Who remember Allaah while standing or sitting or [lying] on their sides.” [3:191]
“…and the men who remember Allaah often and the women who do so – for them Allaah has prepared forgiveness and a great reward.” [33:35]
“O you who have believed, remember Allaah with much remembrance. And exalt Him morning and afternoon.” [33:41-42]
The living and the dead
There is a very powerful hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in which he said, “The example of the one who remembers his Lord (God) in comparison with the one who does not remember his Lord is that of the living and the dead.” [Sahih al-Bukhari; 11:208, Muslim; 1:539]
I could write an entire essay about that one hadith, but I’ll just say that the essence of life is our need for Allah. Without Him, our hearts would not beat, the rain would not fall, there would be no food on our tables, and no joy in our hearts. When we remember Allah we prove that we are spiritually alive. We acknowledge our need for the One God, and we acknowledge His favors upon us.
Conversely, if we do not remember Him, it’s as if we are spiritually dead. That’s why the famous classical scholar Shaykhul Islam ibn Taymiyyah said, “The example of dhikr to the heart is that of fish to water.”