The meaning of the Takbeer

Bear in mind that this life is a test for our Takbeer (magnification, glorification) of Allaah.

We have to live in this life all the while glorifying and magnifying Allaah.

Allaah (Ta’ala) commands in Surat al-Muddaththir (74: 3) saying:

وَرَبَّكَ فَكَبِّرۡ

“And Glorify your Lord (Allaah)!”

And in Surat al-Isra’ (17: 111), Allaah (Ta’ala) also commands saying,

وَكَبِّرۡهُ تَكۡبِيرَۢا 

“…And magnify Him with all the magnificence, [Allaahu-Akbar (Allaah is the Most Great)].”

When one says Allaahu-Akbar, the following beliefs should be established in one’s heart:

Allaah is Al-Kabeer, Whose Attributes are great and no one is able to encompass or imagine this with his mind. Allaah is Great in His Mercy, in His Forgiveness, in His Benevolence, in His Generosity, in His Ability, etc.

لَّا تُدۡرِڪُهُ ٱلۡأَبۡصَـٰرُ وَهُوَ يُدۡرِكُ ٱلۡأَبۡصَـٰرَ وهو اللطيف الخبير 

“No vision can grasp Him, but He grasps all vision. He is Al-Lateef (the Most Subtle and Courteous), Well-Acquainted with all things.” [Al-An’aam 6: 103]

Allaah is Al-Kabeer, Whose Essence is most Great. We know this through the news that comes to us from our Lord in His Book and from the statements of His Messenger, Muhammad (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). Of Allaah’s Greatness is that the seven heavens and the seven earths in Allaah’s Hand are like a mustard seed in the hand of one of us, as was narrated by Ibn ‘Abbaas (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhuma). [Ibn Taymiyyah in Majmoo’ al-Fatawa]

Allaah (Ta’ala) says in Surat az-Zumar (39: 67):

وَمَا قَدَرُواْ ٱللَّهَ حَقَّ قَدۡرِهِۦ وَٱلۡأَرۡضُ جَمِيعً۬ا قَبۡضَتُهُ ۥ يَوۡمَ ٱلۡقِيَـٰمَةِ وَٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتُ مَطۡوِيَّـٰتُۢ بِيَمِينِهِۦ‌ۚ سُبۡحَـٰنَهُ ۥ وَتَعَـٰلَىٰ عَمَّا يُشۡرِكُونَ

“They made not a just estimate of Allaah such as is due to Him. And on the Day of Resurrection the whole of the earth will be grasped by His Hand and the heavens will be rolled up in His Right Hand. Glorified is He, and High is He above all that they associate as partners with Him!”

Look what happened when Musa (‘alayhis-salaam) asked to see Allaah.

وَلَمَّا جَآءَ مُوسَىٰ لِمِيقَـٰتِنَا وَكَلَّمَهُ ۥ رَبُّهُ ۥ قَالَ رَبِّ أَرِنِىٓ أَنظُرۡ إِلَيۡكَ قال لن تَرَٮٰنِى وَلَـٰكِنِ ٱنظُرۡ إِلَى ٱلۡجَبَلِ فَإِنِ ٱسۡتَقَرَّ مَڪَانَهُ ۥ فَسَوۡفَ تَرَٮٰنِى فلما تجلى ربه ۥ لِلۡجَبَلِ جَعَلَهُ ۥ دَڪًّ۬ا وَخَرَّ مُوسَىٰ صَعِقً۬ا فلما أفاق قال سبحانك تبت إليك وأنا أَوَّلُ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ

“And when Musa (Moses) came at the time and place appointed by Us, and his Lord (Allaah) spoke to him, he said: “O my Lord! Show me (Yourself), that I may look upon You.” Allaah said: “You cannot see Me (during the life of this world because Allaah has created the creation that is unable to see Him, nor can they (creation) stay firm when they see their Lord), but look upon the mountain; if it stands still in its place then you shall see Me.” So when his Lord appeared to the mountain, He made it collapse to dust, and Musa (Moses) fell down unconscious. Then when he recovered his senses he said: “Glory be to You, I turn to You in repentance (for any bad manners) and I am the first of the believers.” [Al-A’raaf 7: 143] 

If the mountain which is made of stones could not remain firm, then assuredly, Musa (‘alayhis-salaam) could not remain firm.

To Allaah the Exalted belongs the Grandeur and (Supremacy) Majesty. None can give due estimate to these two Attributes nor can one know their reality.

سُبحان ذِي الجَبَروتِ والمَلَكُوت والكِبْرِياءِ والْعَظَمَة

 “How perfect is He Who has all power, kingdom, magnificence and supremacy.”

[The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) used to say this invocation in the night prayer in his Rukoo’ and Sujood.]

Allaah is Al-Kabeer in His Actions.

Contemplate His creation of the heavens and the earth and all that exists in them (of mountains, oceans, sun, moon, stars, etc.); look at the eclipse of the sun and the moon, the earthquakes, etc.

No one deserves to be magnified and venerated except Him. None of the people own anything, not even an atom in the heavens or on the earth.

Bring the richest person on the earth; you will find him in need of food to satisfy his hunger, in need of drink to quench his thirst, in need of sleep to repel his tiredness, in need of helpers/supporters to increase in power, and on top of all that he is unable to repel death from himself.

يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلنَّاسُ أَنتُمُ ٱلۡفُقَرَآءُ إِلَى ٱللَّهِۖ وَٱللَّهُ هُوَ ٱلۡغَنِىُّ ٱلۡحَمِيدُ

“O mankind! It is you who stand in need of Allaah, but Allaah is Rich (Free of all needs), Worthy of all praise.” [Fatir 35:15]

Don’t let your heart be attached to anyone except Him.

Magnificence of Allaah should be established in the heart, uttered with the tongue and shown in actions.

Look at the attitude of the angels when they hear Allaah’s voice:

Allaah’s Messenger (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: When Allaah, the Most High, wants to reveal a matter, He Speaks with revelation that causes the heavens to shake, or he said: severe thundering due to fear of Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic. So when the inhabitants of the heavens hear that, they are stunned and fall down in prostration to Allaah. Then, the first to raise his head is Jibreel, and Allaah tells him what He wants of His revelation. Then Jibreel passes among the angels, and every time he passes through one of the heavens the angels ask him, ‘What has our Lord said, O Jibreel?’ Jibreel replies, ‘He said the Truth, and He is the Most High, the Most Great.’ Then, all of them say what Jibreel said. So Jibreel takes the revelation to whom Allaah has commanded him. [Reported by Ibn Abi Haatim and Ibn Katheer in his Tafseer]

All the slaves should magnify and glorify Allaah with their hearts, tongues and actions and that is by:

  • Exerting their utmost to know about Him and love Him.
  • Showing humility to Him and fearing Him.
  • Obeying Him.
  • Remembering Him and never forgetting Him.
  • Thanking Him and not showing ungratefulness to Him.
  • Submitting to His Law, and not opposing or objecting to anything that He has created or legislated.
  • Magnifying and honoring all what He has magnified of times, places, people, deeds, etc.

Due to the importance of Takbeer, Allaah (Ta’ala) prescribed it in many acts of worship such as the Salaat. One says the Takbeer in its beginning and when moving from one pillar to another in order for him to remember Allaah’s Greatness in this act of worship, which is one of the greatest acts.

In fact, the Takbeer accompanies the Muslim in many acts of worship. He glorifies Allaah (says the Takbeer) when he finishes fasting, as Allaah (Ta’ala) says in Surat al-Baqarah (2: 185):

وَلِتُڪۡمِلُواْ ٱلۡعِدَّةَ وَلِتُڪَبِّرُواْ ٱللَّهَ عَلَىٰ مَا هَدَٮٰكُمۡ وَلَعَلَّڪُمۡ تَشۡكُرُونَ

“… and that you must magnify Allaah [i.e. to say Takbeer (Allaahu-Akbar; Allaah is the Most Great) for having guided you so that you may be grateful to Him.”

Magnifying Allaah in Hajj

Allaah (Ta’ala) says in Surat al-Hajj (22: 37):

لَن يَنَالَ ٱللَّهَ لُحُومُهَا وَلَا دِمَآؤُهَا وَلَـٰكِن يَنَالُهُ ٱلتَّقۡوَىٰ مِنكُمۡ كذلك سخرها لَكُمۡ لِتُكَبِّرُواْ ٱللَّهَ عَلَىٰ مَا هَدَٮٰكُم وبشر المحسنينۡ

“It is neither their meat nor their blood that reaches Allaah, but it is piety from you that reaches Him. Thus have We made them subject to you that you may magnify Allaah for His Guidance to you. And give glad tidings (O Muhammad Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam ) to the Muhsinoon (doers of good).”

Similarly, the Takbeer is prescribed on the two Eids, in the first days of Dhul-Hijjah, when pronouncing the Adhaan, etc. All the great acts of worship comprise the Takbeer, because Allaah prescribes the acts of worship to establish His Remembrance and Glorification.

Therefore, the Takbeer has great and high status in the religion of Islam.

To the slave, the Takbeer means that Allaah is the Most Great; He is Greater than everyone and everything.

When you say Allaahu-Akbar, you should establish in your heart that Allaah is the Most Great and everything other than Him is insignificant with you.

If you are a monotheist, you will give everything its due measurement. You will organize your life according to the priorities in your life.

E.g. If Salaat has great value in your life, how will you magnify it?

You will organize your daily schedule according to the Salaat. Your outings and returning home will be such that you offer the Salaat on time. (This is called Ta’dheem)

When you arrange your priorities by taking care of Allaah’s commands, this indicates that you glorify/magnify Allaah (Ta’ala) in your acts of worship.

  • Do not let anything become a greater priority than Allaah. Beware of magnifying anything other than Him and do not transgress any limits.
  • Magnify/venerate what Allaah (Ta’ala) has magnified. Arrange your life in accordance to what Allaah has magnified and venerated.

E.g. magnify the remembrance of Allaah all the time, not according to your free time, such that if you have time you remember Him and if you don’t have time you don’t remember Him.

E.g. Allaah magnified the morning (after Fajr) and evening (after Asr) in His Book in many verses. He (Ta’ala) magnified them by commanding His Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and the believers to recite Dhikr at these times.

In Surat Ta-Ha (20: 130):

فَٱصۡبِرۡ عَلَىٰ مَا يَقُولُونَ وَسَبِّحۡ بِحَمۡدِ رَبِّكَ قَبۡلَ طُلُوعِ ٱلشَّمۡسِ وَقَبۡلَ غُرُوبِہَا‌ۖ

“So bear patiently [O Muhammad (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam)] what they say, and glorify the praises of your Lord before the rising of the sun, and before its setting…”

In Surat Ghafir (40: 55):

وَسَبِّحۡ بِحَمۡدِ رَبِّكَ بِٱلۡعَشِىِّ وَٱلۡإِبۡڪَـٰرِ

“…and glorify the praises of your Lord in the evening and in the morning.”

Also in Surat Aal-Imran (3: 41):

وَٱذۡكُر رَّبَّكَ ڪَثِيرً۬ا وَسَبِّحۡ بِٱلۡعَشِىِّ وَٱلۡإِبۡڪَـٰرِ

“And remember your Lord much (by praising Him again and again), and glorify (Him) in the afternoon and in the morning.”

Also in Surat al-An’aam (6: 52):

وَلَا تَطۡرُدِ ٱلَّذِينَ يَدۡعُونَ رَبَّهُم بِٱلۡغَدَوٰةِ وَٱلۡعَشِىِّ يُرِيدُونَ وَجۡهَهُ

“And turn not away those who invoke their Lord, morning and afternoon, seeking His Face.”

Also in Surat al-Kahf (18: 28):

وَٱصۡبِرۡ نَفۡسَكَ مَعَ ٱلَّذِينَ يَدۡعُونَ رَبَّہُم بِٱلۡغَدَوٰةِ وَٱلۡعَشِىِّ يُرِيدُونَ وَجۡهَهُ

“And keep yourself [O Muhammad (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam)] patiently with those who call on their Lord (i.e. your companions who remember their Lord with glorification, praising in prayers, and other righteous deeds) morning and afternoon, seeking His Face…”

Even the mountains glorify Allaah in the morning and evening. In Surat Saad (38: 18), Allaah (Ta’ala) says:

إِنَّا سَخَّرۡنَا ٱلۡجِبَالَ مَعَهُ ۥ يُسَبِّحۡنَ بِٱلۡعَشِىِّ وَٱلۡإِشۡرَاقِ

“Verily, We made the mountains to glorify Our Praises with him [Dawoud (David)] in the ‘Ashi (i.e. after the mid-day till sunset) and Ishraq (i.e. after the sunrise till mid-day).”

Allaah (Ta’ala) says in Surat ar-Ra’d (13: 15) about the prostration of all the creation at these two times.

وَلِلَّهِ يَسۡجُدُ مَن فِى ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضِ طَوۡعً۬ا وَكَرۡهً۬ا وَظِلَـٰلُهُم بِٱلۡغُدُوِّ وَٱلۡأَصَالِ

“And unto Allaah (Alone) falls in prostration whoever is in the heavens and the earth, willingly or unwillingly, and so do their shadows in the mornings and in the afternoons.”

Takbeer signifies that Allaah (Ta’ala) is Greater than anything in the life of the slave.

The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) told A’diy ibn Haatim (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu): What prevents you from saying ‘La ilaaha illa-Allaah’, do you know a deity (deserves to be worshipped) other than Him?”. A’diy replied: “No.” Then the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) talked for some time and then he (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: Do you flee from saying ‘Allaahu-Akbar’ (Allaah is the Most Great), do you know anything Greater than Allaah?” A’diy said: “No.” He (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:The Jews are those whom Allaah is angry with and the Christians are misguided. A’diy said: “I am Haneef (monotheist) Muslim.” [Saheeh at-Tirmidhi, authenticated by al-Albaani]

This belief should be established in the heart of every believer. Whenever a great matter occurs, he should say ‘Allaahu Akbar.’

Whenever a thing which he cannot perceive (e.g. to contact someone on the other side of the world in minutes or when he sees things which his mind cannot comprehend) he should say ‘Allaahu Akbar.’

Anything great that he sees, Allaah is Greater than it and everything is minute compared to Allaah’s Kingdom/Dominion; small before Allaah’s Ability and Greatness.

Anything he sees strong – Allaah is Stronger than it.

The Name Al-Kabeer implies the Attribute of Kibriyaa’ (supremacy) and it is not a synonym for the word ‘Adheem which implies the Attribute of greatness and grandeur.

In fact Kibriyaa’ (supremacy) is more perfect than greatness because supremacy comprises the meaning of greatness and even more.

Therefore, Ibn Taymiyyah (Rahimahullaah) said: “The statement ‘Allaahu-Akbar’ affirms Allaah’s Greatness. Kibriyaa’ (supremacy) comprises the greatness but the supremacy is more perfect. Therefore, the legal words that are prescribed in the Salaat and Adhaan relate to the statement ‘Allaahu-Akbar’ rather than ‘Allaahu-Adham’ because it is more perfect as is reported in the authentic narration that the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: Allaah (Ta’ala) says: ‘The Kibriyaa’  (Supremacy) is My Cloak (upper garment) and ‘Adhamah (greatness) is My Izaar (lower garment), whoever competes with Me regarding one of them shall be tormented.’” [Muslim]

[This similitude particularizes Allaah with these two Attributes]. Allaah (Ta’ala) made Greatness as an Izaar (lower garment) and the Supremacy as a Ridaa’ (upper garment), and it is known that Ridaa’ is more noble. Therefore, Takbeer is more eloquent than Ta’dheem, and accordingly, it is declared by saying Allaahu-Akbar because it includes the Ta’dheem.” [Majmoo’ al-Fatawa]

The belief in the Name Al-Kabeer requires one to show humility to Allaah (Ta’ala), and direct all his acts of worship to Him Alone without associates.

Bear in mind that not every Mushrik (polytheist) has magnified Allaah in the manner that He deserves to be magnified. If he had magnified Allaah in the manner that He deserves to be magnified, he would not have worshipped others besides Him.

Allaah (Ta’ala) says in Surat az-Zumar (39: 67):

وَمَا قَدَرُواْ ٱللَّهَ حَقَّ قَدۡرِهِۦ وَٱلۡأَرۡضُ جَمِيعً۬ا قَبۡضَتُهُ ۥ يَوۡمَ ٱلۡقِيَـٰمَةِ وَٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتُ مطويات بيمينه

‌ۚ سُبۡحَـٰنَهُ ۥ وَتَعَـٰلَىٰ عَمَّا يُشۡرِكُونَ

“They made not a just estimate of Allaah such as is due to Him. And on the Day of Resurrection the whole of the earth will be grasped by His Hand and the heavens will be rolled up in His Right Hand. Glorified is He, and High is He above all that they associate as partners with Him!”

Allaah (Ta’ala) says in Surat al-Isra’ (17: 111):

وَقُلِ ٱلۡحَمۡدُ لِلَّهِ ٱلَّذِى لَمۡ يَتَّخِذۡ وَلَدً۬ا وَلَمۡ يَكُن لَّهُ ۥ شَرِيكٌ۬ فِى ٱلۡمُلۡكِ وَلَمۡ يَكُن لَّهُ ۥولي من الذُلِّ  ‌ۖ وَكَبِّرۡهُ تَكۡبِيرَۢا

“And say: “All the praises and thanks are to Allaah, Who has not begotten a son (nor any offspring), and Who has no partner in (His) Dominion, nor He is low to have a Wali (helper, protector or supporter). And magnify Him with all the magnificence, [Allaahu-Akbar (Allaah is the Most Great)].”

Allaah (Ta’ala) says in Surat Nuh (71: 13-20):

مَّا لَكُمۡ لَا تَرۡجُونَ لِلَّهِ وَقَارً۬ا (١٣) وَقَدۡ خَلَقَكُمۡ أَطۡوَارًا (١٤) أَلَمۡ تَرَوۡاْ كَيۡفَ خَلَقَ ٱللَّهُ سَبۡعَ سَمَـٰوَٲتٍ۬ طِبَاقً۬ا (١٥) وَجَعَلَ ٱلۡقَمَرَ فِيہِنَّ نُورً۬ا وَجَعَلَ ٱلشَّمۡسَ سِرَاجً۬ا (١٦) وَٱللَّهُ أَنۢبَتَكُم مِّنَ ٱلۡأَرۡضِ نَبَاتً۬ا (١٧) ثُمَّ يُعِيدُكُمۡ فِيہَا وَيُخۡرِجُڪُمۡ إِخۡرَاجً۬ا (١٨) وَٱللَّهُ جَعَلَ لَكُمُ ٱلۡأَرۡضَ بِسَاطً۬ا (١٩) لِّتَسۡلُكُواْ مِنۡہَا سُبُلاً۬ فِجَاجً۬ا (٢٠)


“What is the matter with you, that [you fear not Allaah (His punishment), and] you hope not for reward (from Allaah or you believe not in His Oneness). (13) While He has created you in (different) stages [i.e. first Nutfah, then ‘Alaqah and then Mudghah, (see verse 23:13-14)]. (14) See you not how Allaah has created the seven heavens one above another. (15) And has made the moon a light therein, and made the sun a lamp? (16) And Allaah has brought you forth from the (dust of) earth. (Tafseer at-Tabari) (17) Afterwards He will return you into it (the earth), and bring you forth (again on the Day of Resurrection)? (18) And Allaah has made for you the earth a wide expanse. (19) That you may go about therein in broad roads.” (20)

If you reflect upon your Lord, the Mighty, the Most Wise, you will see that He has the Attributes of Magnificence. He is above His Throne, commanding and prohibiting everything in His vast dominion, in which the earth is like nothing. He pours down His mercy and His favor upon whomever He wills, and He averts trials (calamities) from whomever He wills. He is the Giver of favor and bounty. Consider the actions of Allaah in the heavens, and you can see the servitude of the angels in the heavens; how they are turning to this Almighty Lord. Then look at the fact that Allaah, this Magnificent, Great One, Who has this Attribute of tremendous Sovereignty, turns to You, O lowly, meek slave, and commands you with His worship. This worship is an honor for you if you only knew. And He commands you to have fear of Him, which is an honor for you if you only knew. For verily, if you know the right of Allaah, and you know His Attributes, and what He has of absolute loftiness regarding Himself and His Attributes, you will find that you will not be able to do anything except humble yourself to Him with willful humility, and submissiveness. You will only be able to turn to His obedience and draw near to Him with what He loves. If you recite His speech, then you have recited the speech of the One Who addressed you with it, and commanded you and prohibited you with it. Then you would have reverence beyond reverence and honor beyond honor. For this reason, from the causes of deepness in faith in the heart and magnification of our Lord, is that the slave contemplates and thinks about the dominion of the heavens and the earth as Allaah has commanded.

Whoever ascribes a partner or deity to Allaah, even if it is his desire, then he did not magnify Allaah as He deserves to be magnified.

أَفَرَءَيۡتَ مَنِ ٱتَّخَذَ إِلَـٰهَهُ ۥ هَوَٮٰهُ

“Have you seen him who takes his own lust (vain desires) as his ilaah (god)?” [Al-Jathiyah 45:23]

أَرَءَيۡتَ مَنِ ٱتَّخَذَ إِلَـٰهَهُ ۥ هَوَٮٰهُ أَفَأَنتَ تَكُونُ عَلَيۡهِ وَڪِيلاً

“Have you (O Muhammad Salla-Allaahualayhi wa sallam) seen him who has taken as his ilaah (god) his own vain desire? Would you then be a Wakeel (a disposer of his affairs or a watcher) over him?” [Al-Furqan 25:43]

Meaning of “Laa Ilaaha Illa-Allaah

No One deserves to be loved and magnified more than Allaah, because to Him belong the Most Perfect Attributes and Noble Attributes.

يَوۡمَ يَفِرُّ ٱلۡمَرۡءُ مِنۡ أَخِيهِ (٣٤) وَأُمِّهِۦ وَأَبِيهِ (٣٥) وَصَـٰحِبَتِهِۦ وَبَنِيهِ (٣٦) لِكُلِّ ٱمۡرِىٍٕ۬ مِّنۡہُمۡ يَوۡمَٮِٕذٍ۬ شَأۡنٌ۬ يُغۡنِيه

“That Day shall a man flee from his brother, (34) and from his mother and his father, (35) and from his wife and his children. (36) Everyman, that Day, will have enough to make him careless of others. 37 (He will be concerned only with himself thus forgetting all others.).” [Abasa 80:34-37]

Accordingly, when you deify Allaah you will run to Him and resort to Him in all your affairs (minor and major matters) even if the strip of your slipper is cut off and you need that, you will ask Him.

Believe that He is As-Samad, Who is Great and turn to Him for all your needs.

These feelings attach you to Him and not others; this is the meaning of Laa Ilaaha Illa-Allaah.

Meaning of “Lillaah al-Hamd

Hamd means all praise is to Allaah, because He is perfect in His Attributes.

Everyone who praises Allaah establishes in his heart the belief in Allaah’s Perfect Attributes.

You say, “All praises are due to Allaah, He Who grants.” Though He is the Rich, His gift is according to His Wisdom and Mercy. You should be sure that nothing can prevent Allaah from granting your request as He is Able to do everything. Know that all of Allaah’s Attributes are Perfect.

When you praise Allaah, you should expect good from Him. Praising Allaah is a means of attaining His pleasure, and if Allaah becomes pleased with His slave, then all the slave’s affairs in this life and the Hereafter will be reformed.

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