Alhamdulillah – The Perfect Praise


Bismillah.

As Muslims, the phrase “alhamdulillah” اَلحَمْدُ لِله is an integral part of our deen; we are taught to say it from both the Qur’an and Sunnah and most of us have this phrase in our everyday vocabulary, not to mention we read it every day in Suratul Faatihah. ‘Alhamdulillah’ is an amazingly deep word, which would take pages upon pages to explain properly in English (which has been done by the scholars) but the explanation that follows is very brief so that we can convey the core of what this phrase really contains.

Linguistically, Hamd is from ha-meem-daal ( حمد or ح م د) and hamd to mention the good attribute of a person, such an attribute that is the at the level of perfection. Hamd is based on mahabbah (love) and ta’dheem (honor). Hamd is not a ‘fake’ praise, meaning it is not done to please the person or without significance, rather Hamd is always true. Hamd implies admiration, love and magnifying the praise of the mahmood (one who is praised). Hamd can only be done for a living being who has an intellect. Hamd is a sincere and true praise, a praise that the mahmood (one who is praised) deserves. The one doing hamd is doing submission to the one being praised out of humility. Hamd also includes sincere gratitude and mentioning the kamaal (best) traits of someone.

When we say ‘alhamdulillah’, it implies exclusivity and entirety, meaning that praise is entirely and only for Allah. How do we know this? The ‘al’ (ال) before ‘hamd’ is called “istighraaq” in Arabic, and when “al” comes before this phrase its means that the entire praise, all kinds of praise and at all times, is due to Allah. The “li” ( لِ in lillah, meaning, for Allah) implies limitation which is known as “ikhtisaas” in Arabic and it means that Allah is the only One who deserves the hamd.

Now with this concrete definition in mind, what does ‘Alhamdulillah’ really mean? A more suitable definition would be: The perfect, most beautiful praise is only for Allah. We say ‘alhamdulillah’ out of love, honor, with humility, complete submission and sincere gratitude to Allah azza wa jal. In the Qur’an we learn that ‘alhamdulillah’ will be the last call of the believers in Jannah, Allah tells us:

وَآخِرُ دَعْوَاهُمْ أَنِ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

“and the last of their call will be Alhamdulillah, Rabb of all that exists!” (Surah Yunus, verse 10)

‘Alhamdulillah’ appears 38 times in the Qur’an. (Trivia for the readers: mention in the comments how many surahs begin with ‘alhamdulillah’ and which surahs they are!)

When a surah begins with hamd, it implies three interpretations:

  • Firstly, to tell and to make it known that: alhamdulillah. As if to announce it.
  • Secondly, it teaches us that when we open something, we begin with hamd. (like a khutbah)
  • Thirdly, it teaches us how to praise Allah (by saying alhamdulillah) and we also learn that we must praise Him.

A Name of Allah that coincides with Hamd is Al-Hameed. Allah ta’ala is Al-Hameed, The Most Praiseworthy. How is Al-Hameed different from mahmood (one who is praised)? Mahmood is one who is praised only when they are praised by someone. Hameed is One who is ALWAYS deserving of praise, NO MATTER if He is praised or not. So Allah ta’ala is THE Most Praiseworthy, if we do hamd of Him or not.

Alhamdulillah.

Such a short phrase, such a deep meaning.

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17 Comments

  1. Moaz says:

    assalaamu’alaikum,
    The five surahs that start with this word:
    Al Fatiha
    Al Kahf
    As Saba
    Al Fatir
    At Taghabun

    Also Alhamdullilah is so powerful that it once converted a man. When the people of Mecca spread rumors Muhammed (S) was a liar, sorcerer, or possessed by a jinn. A healer came to the prophet and said that he had heard that he was possessed and that he is willing to offer his service. Muhammed (S) started with the phrase alhamdulillah and went on with the sentence that we use for beginning speeches, then the healer asked him to say the beginning phrase again and then he said that he had never heard of such and that it was the best thing he ever heard. The healer then turned Muslim.

    See the power of Alhamdulillah?

    • KT says:

      Salaams

      I wanted to know if you have a hoody with “Alhamdullilah” on it. Is it disrespectful? I.e should that not be worn in public?

      Thankyou

  2. hamayoun says:

    Salam

    And also Surah Al Anam.

  3. AbdelRahman says:

    This is really awesome mA, I like these posts of linguistically breaking things down and reconstructing them Islamically. It’s really going to help when I say it during tasbeeh or even in salah from now onward, jazak Allahu khayr!

  4. Amatullah says:

    wa alaykum assalam wa rahmatullah,

    Very nice br Moaz! Jazak Allahu khayran for sharing the story, very beautiful. However surah Taghabun begins with tasbeeh “yusabihu lillahi, it glorifies for Allah” and not hamd. Br Hamayoun stated the last one, which is suratul An’aam. So the 5 are: Faatihah, An’aam, Kahf, Saba and Faatir. Jazakum Allahu khayran!

    wa iyyakum, Alhamdulillah, my intention was to share these so we could really internalize what we are saying because when I learned their meanings it had a huge effect on me so I hope they are of benefit inshaAllah. InshaAllah br AbdelRahman, analysis of tasbeeh (subhanAllah) will be posted soon!
    Please make duaa for the suhaibwebb.com team, Jazahum Allahu khayran for allowing me to contribute. I ask Allah ta’ala to bless them with the best in this life and the next, Ameen.

    For a way nicer analysis on hamd, check out br Nouman Ali Khan’s article here: http://muslimmatters.org/2008/01/07/alhamdulillah-a-linguistic-miracle-of-the-quran/

    I forgot to mention in my post a favorite ayah of mine, really it brings one to tears.
    So we know that the dwellers of Jannah will say Alhamdulillah as their last call, but how will the dwellers of Jannah thank Allah for guiding them to Jannah? Imagine…you’re seeing the doors of Jannah, wide open for you, you enter it and see all its delight…in THAT emotional moment, what is it they say?

    الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي هَدَانَا لِهَذَا وَمَا كُنَّا لِنَهْتَدِيَ لَوْلا أَنْ هَدَانَا اللَّهُ

    Alhamdulillah, Who has guided us to this, never could we have found guidance, were it not that Allah had guided us! (7:43)

    Sincere gratitude. Total humility. True love. They don’t even ascribe one thing to themselves. Now we can see the translation of: the most perfect praise is only for Allah. Truly THE Perfect Praise. So perfect that it completely captures this moment.
    I ask Allah azza wa jal to make us among these believers who utter this statement, Ameen.

  5. erum says:

    MashaAllah sis. Amatullah ;)

    Way to spread the ilm! May Allah increase you in all goodness, ameen.

  6. Amatullah says:

    sis Erum ;) barak Allahu feeki. may Allah ta’ala grant you and your family success in this life and the next, Ameen.

  7. ALI says:

    Asalamu alikum I would like to clarify that surat al-taghabun does not start with (al hamdulilah)

    1.al fatiha
    2.al kahf
    3.saba
    4.fatir
    5. al anaam

  8. I really enjoyed this post. It proved to be Very helpful to me and I am sure to all the commentators here! Keep writing. Thanks….

  9. Ayesha says:

    Alhamdulillah! A very enlightening article indeed. We were taught from a young age to say ‘Alhamdulillah’ when asked ‘How are you?’. It disheartens me so when Muslims sometimes reply ‘Fine’. Even when I go to the doctor due to illness, I reply ‘Alhamdulillah’ when asked how I am, then I tell him about my symptoms, reason for this is, even illness is a form of blessing from Allah (it is a means of Allah forgiving our sins). Such a simple phrase, how sad that many do not see its incredible value. May Allah Ta’aala guide us. Aameen

  10. Assalamu Alaikum I am amazed of how well you are doing you are right the surahs are 1.Surah Al Fatihah 2. Surah Al Kahf 3. Surah Al Saba 4. Surah Al Fitir 5. Surah Al Anaam May Allah bless every single one of you brothers and sisters with the reward of being in Jannah tul fir-dowse. My brothers and sisters Assalamu Alaikum wa rah ma tul lihii waaa barakato.

  11. Saleem says:

    ‘Alhamdulillah’

  12. Akinbuja Oluwasola says:

    AL-HAMDU-LI-LLAH, Hamdan Katheeran~Toyyeeban~Mubaarakan feeh

  13. Jide Tijani says:

    Alhamdulilah is worth saying every time, a second interval is even too distant a time. Do I here why? For Allah making us human being alone is my reason.

  14. Aisha says:

    Alhamdulillah Rabbil Alamin

  15. Muhammad muawiz says:

    Alhamdulillah.

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