Two Words


He had never prayed two rak`ah (units of prayer) in his adult life. Born and raised in Egypt, he had continuously heard the athan (call to prayer) and the iqama (second call to prayer) rolling through the streets, calling the believers to prayer, but he had never voluntarily accepted the call. This included refusing to pray at the masjid (mosque) on the first floor of the apartment building in which he lived; He passed by it day and night, on his way to work, on his way to spend hours at the local Hookah Café with his friends, and on his way home to his wife and children, only to start the routine of neglecting his prayers again the following day.

On one Friday, he was suddenly hit by a novel idea. “Why don’t I just try Friday prayer today? Just to see what it’s like? I’ll just try it,” the man thought. He came in late to the masjid; The Khatib (speaker) was already speaking. As the man was looking for a place to sit, he heard the words of the Khatib, “The Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) has told us:

كلمتان خفيفتان على اللسان ، ثقيلتان في الميزان، حبيبتان إلى الرحمن: سبحان الله وبحمده، سبحان الله العظيم

“Two words are light on the tongue, heavy in the balance, beloved to the Merciful: ‘Glory be to Allah and by His praise. Glory be to Allah, the Immense.’” (Bukhari)

The man, preoccupied with having just entered and finding a place to sit, only heard a few of the Khatib’s words. He sat, perplexed, turning the fragmented words over and over in his mind, “Kalimatan (two words)… habibatan (both beloved)… ila-Rahman (to The Merciful)… Subhan Allahi wa bihamdi (Glory be to Allah and by His praise)… Subhan Allah il-`atheem (Glory be to Allah, the Immense).” He had lost complete focus on the rest of the khutbah (sermon), overtaken by these words he had heard in passing, working hard to make sense of what the words could possibly mean.

After the prayer, he approached the Khatib directly. “Is all what you’ve said in the khutbah today true?” he questioned. Surprised, the Khatib responded, “I’ve said quite a bit in the khutbah today. To what specifically are you referring?” The man replied, “You said some words… Kalimatanhabibatanila-RahmanSubhan Allahi wa bi hamdih, subhan Allah il-`atheem.”

The Khatib smiled in recognition. “Yes, those are in fact from a blessed hadith (narration) from The Truthful himself ﷺ. He told us:

 كلمتان خفيفتان على اللسان ، ثقيلتان في الميزان، حبيبتان إلى الرحمن: سبحان الله وبحمده، سبحان الله العظيم

“Two words are light on the tongue, heavy in the balance, beloved to the Merciful: ‘Glory be to Allah and by His praise. Glory be to Allah, the Immense.’” (Bukhari)

The man stood, overwhelmed, awestruck, in a daze. The words had penetrated through his heart and embraced his soul. Captivated, he continued to repeat the hadith of the Prophet ﷺ over and over to himself:

كلمتان خفيفتان على اللسان ، ثقيلتان في الميزان، حبيبتان إلى الرحمن: سبحان الله وبحمده، سبحان الله العظيم

“Two words are light on the tongue, heavy in the balance, beloved to the Merciful: ‘Glory be to Allah and by His praise. Glory be to Allah, the Immense.’”

He walked out of the masjid in a trance and left for his home. Upon entering, he gathered his wife and children. “Have you heard,” he began to tell them, “the words of the Prophet ﷺ? He has told us:

كلمتان خفيفتان على اللسان ، ثقيلتان في الميزان، حبيبتان إلى الرحمن: سبحان الله وبحمده، سبحان الله العظيم

“Two words are light on the tongue, heavy in the balance, beloved to the Merciful: ‘Glory be to Allah and by His praise. Glory be to Allah, the Immense.’”

From that moment, the man transformed. From his home, he would leave to work, from his work, he would go straight to the Masjid, and from the Masjid, he would immediately go back home to his wife and children. All the while, two words kept his lips moving and his tongue wet with remembrance, “Subhan Allahi wa bihamdi, Subhan Allah il-`atheem.”

Soon, his friends from the Hookah Café noticed his continued absence. They came to his apartment one day. “Where have you been?” they asked. “We haven’t seen you smokin’ hookah with us for a while.”

A beautiful, wistful look came over the man’s face. “Haven’t you heard?” He replied to his old crew from the café, “The Prophet ﷺ has told us:

كلمتان خفيفتان على اللسان ، ثقيلتان في الميزان، حبيبتان إلى الرحمن: سبحان الله وبحمده، سبحان الله العظيم

“Two words are light on the tongue, heavy in the balance, beloved to the Merciful: ‘Glory be to Allah and by His praise. Glory be to Allah, the Immense.’”

And this is how he spent his days; reminding his family, his friends, those in the masjid and those who passed by in the streets, about the beloved words to Allah, those heavy words on the scale, those words light on the tongue, “Subhan Allahi wa bihamdi, subhan Allah il-`atheem.” The man had gone from a person who never prayed, spent little time with family and frequented the house of hookah instead of the House of Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He), to a person who longed for Allah (swt), whose eyes were filled with tears, whose tongue, heart, and soul burned with the inscription:

كلمتان خفيفتان على اللسان ، ثقيلتان في الميزان، حبيبتان إلى الرحمن: سبحان الله وبحمده، سبحان الله العظيم

“Two words are light on the tongue, heavy in the balance, beloved to the Merciful: ‘Glory be to Allah and by His praise. Glory be to Allah, the Immense.’”

Soon, he fell ill. It had only been a few months since he had gone to the masjid, since he had first heard the beloved words of the Prophet ﷺ by the Khatib in a Jumu`ah (Friday) khutbah. He told his son to go and to ask the Masjid administration to call upon that very Khatib to come visit him in his illness.

When he was informed, the Khatib remembered the man immediately and rushed to his apartment. Upon being let in, he saw the man, sleeping in his bed, the doctor sitting at his side. The Khatib sat at the foot of the bed and waited for the man to awaken. Finally, the man stirred and he noticed, at the foot of his bed, the very Khatib who had related the beloved, noble words of the Prophet ﷺ.

The man looked at the Khatib. He then asked him, “Have you heard? The Prophet ﷺ has told us:

كلمتان خفيفتان على اللسان ، ثقيلتان في الميزان، حبيبتان إلى الرحمن: سبحان الله وبحمده، سبحان الله العظيم

“Two words are light on the tongue, heavy in the balance, beloved to the Merciful: ‘Glory be to Allah and by His praise. Glory be to Allah, the Immense.’”

With that, the man passed away.

The Khatib in this story is the teacher of my Arabic teacher. My Arabic teacher related this incident to me and continued to stress that it wasn’t a story from books of the past, it wasn’t a story coined to tug hearts, it was the true story of a man who was completely disconnected from Allah (swt), but to whom Allah (swt) gave a passing thought to enter the masjid, and who Allah (swt) blessed with hearing the words of the Prophet ﷺ at a time and in a way which truly impacted his soul and final actions in life.

My teacher then told me, “The Prophet ﷺ has said: ‘Convey from me, even if it’s just one ayah [verse]…’” (Bukhari).

We never know what word or action, done with a sincere intention, will truly be a means of impacting another person’s life to come back to Allah (swt).

Let’s stop judging people; let’s stop driving people out of mosques because “we” deem their dress, their swagger, their accessories, or language as something “unsuitable” to the House of God. Let’s stop assuming they’ll never be guided to “our righteous path” (since we’re so righteous, we guided our own selves, right?) and thus resolve to harsh words or disapproving stares. Perhaps those who “we” think are far from Allah (swt) will pass in a more honorable, beloved state to the One Who guides.

Let us be the first to cling to the beloved words to Allah (swt), “Subhan Allahi wa bihamdih, subhan Allah il-`atheem,” and let us warmly, sincerely and smile-fully be a means of helping ourselves and others come back to Allah (swt)—with His Power and Mercy—through relating the beautiful words of Allah (swt) and His Prophet ﷺ, through action and speech. We never know what small, miniscule act, may be a means of guidance for ourselves and another, and a means of possibly entering jannatul firdose al `alaa bi ghayri hisaab—The Highest Paradise, without any reckoning.

May Allah (swt) bless this man’s soul. Subhan Allah—if he had died like any other person who knows about the obligation of prayer and lazily defies praying, we would never know his story—he’d just be another person who passed away in another country, a person we may have never even known existed..

But perhaps because of his repentance and his sincere coming back to Allah (swt), Allah has blessed us with coming to know of him—so that his actions will continue to be rewarded even while he’s in his grave, every single time any one of us, because of his story, even across the world, remember to say, “Subhan Allahi wa bihamdi, subhan Allah il-`atheem.”

What will you do—so sincerely—that Allah (swt) will bless people with being transformed because of you, even after you’ve passed on?

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35 Comments

  1. z says:

    jzkheir for sharing such a beautiful story. May Allah swt reward you.

    As for your question. I hope to inshallah find an answer for myself.

    Good question manshallah.

  2. Engie Salama says:

    What a beautiful reminder masha’allah!!! :))) Jazak’allah khair Maryam for the amazing article, sincere actions are the root of our religion! May Allah (swt) guide us all and make us among the people who constantly remember our Lord <3

  3. Chiccarina says:

    Salaamualaikum,

    Jazakum Allah khairan for sharing. Don’t mind me spreading this to others, insyaAllah. :)

  4. Amatullah says:

    SubhanAllahi wa bi hamdihi subhanAllahil adheem!

    Amazing story, jazakillahu khayran for relating it to us.

  5. This story was not only beautiful but also very meaningful because we can learn quite a few lessons from this story. At first I thought this was just a fictional story but I was pleasantly surprised to read that this is in fact a true story. Now, thanks to this man’s story I will Inshallah start saying “Subhan Allahi wa bihamdi, subhan Allah il-`atheem” more often. Also, this story reminded me of the story of the second Khalifah Umar and how he was initially a staunch enemy of Islam but after hearing some verses of the holy Quran he became one of the most influential Muslims of his time. This story also proves the authors’ point that we should not immediatly judge the level of faith of another seemingly less religious individual because that person may eventually attain a much higher status with Allah (s.w.t) than our own.

  6. Hanzla Rahman says:

    Beautiful Mashallah..:))

  7. Hena says:

    SubhanAllah. *tears*

  8. Sakina says:

    Mashaallah…beautiful story… Alot of muslims should benefit from this

  9. Warda says:

    Subhanallah, what a beautiful story! May Allah grant him the highest place in Jannah along with his family!

  10. wb says:

    may Allah reward ustadh ayn ayn sheen :)

    this story made me cry instantaneously!

  11. habeebsiddique says:

    JazakAllah for sharing this beautiful incident with us.

  12. Smile says:

    Jazakallah khair katheer, mashallah this is a beautiful article.

  13. Abu Waleed says:

    SubhanAllah, very touching and full of lessons!!!

  14. Abdul Haseeb says:

    Asalamualikum..
    MashAllah beautiful story sister.
    Jazakallah hu khair for sharing..
    Ma salam
    Abdul Haseeb

  15. Heidi says:

    allahuakbar!! what a touching story to have brought tears to my eyes. let this be a reminder to us all.

  16. Asmaa says:

    Maryam, barakallahu feeki for sharing this beautiful story! so moving subhanallah.

  17. norni says:

    As-Salam, Thank you for sharing this lovely story. May Allah place him in jannah,and more and more people will learn from this story.

  18. Farah says:

    Thank you, Maryam for sharing these beautiful words of reminders. May we all be guided and excel to higher levels and be among those who are loved by our Creator. Ameen! Sobhan Allah wa Behamdeh, Sobhan Allah Al-Adheem.

  19. Muhammedh says:

    MashaALLAH Beautiful :)!! Exactly what I needed right now Alhamdulillah :)!!

  20. Sharaf says:

    Subhanallah. A simple but meaningful story. May we all benefit from it.

  21. Fahima says:

    SubhanAllah, what a beautiful article. May Allah swt grant this man jannathu firdous.

    This article bought tears to my eyes, as those were the words I remember my father would say every time he would go for a walk and when he walked me to school when I was a kid. Today, I understand the value and mercy of those amazing words. May Allah swt also forgive him and grant him the highest place in jannah. Ameen

    JazakAllah khair for sharin!

  22. rahmah says:

    Salaam..

    MashaAllah.. I can’t help but to cry tears as read those lines. Jzkk for posting it in here..

  23. Asim says:

    I posted a facbook status with the words ‘Subhanllahi wa bihamdih, subhanallahil azeem’ and one brother mA commented by posting a link to this page. I couldn’t help but read. My eyes became teary; this true story is nothing short of beautiful.

  24. Nahiyan says:

    Sub han Allahi wa bihamdihi Sub han Allahil adheem!

    Jazaki Allah khairan sister!

    ameen

    Very inspiring indeed.

  25. Kirana says:

    thank you for these TRUE stories. it gives me hope for my husband, maybe not now for our life together (although God is generous and wise), but perhaps eventually for his sake, to make his mostly intact fitrah for God’s virtues the focus of his life, rather than people and culture.

    it also keeps me humble and helps me work on my flaws about viewing people and assuming such and such people are lost or irredeemable. i like being surprised with these stories as it makes me correct my assumptions and understand what is true in a better and better way, and cement the truth that i really have no idea how an individual person will turn out. i realise i shouldn’t need people to be other than they are. i just need me to be the best i can be. only then can i hope for the best for others without any desire to control them or make conclusions about their fate from their choices. of course the difficulty and pain all relates to the fact that we often *do* need people to be this and that, or think we do, to make up for a deficiency in ourselves.

  26. fatima hassan says:

    Jazaak Allah khayraan for sharing this with us. i cried while reading this . i was spritually very low for a long tome but after reading this story i have hope once again that i can come back to Allah not in distant future but now , this instant. Also i loved ypur other articles aswell. they are easy to understand and apply in my daily life. May Allah bless you with happiness and succes in this life and next AMIN

  27. anthony says:

    Weightless confession
    Remorse cries for counter balance
    The fulcrum of mercy, praise
    Immemorial, prelude to immense
    Pebble to water
    Rounded in prayer
    Ripple of rak’ah

  28. Adnan says:

    Jazakillah khair for the beautiful story -

    I had heard the translation of this hadith a few times before but had never grasped the poetry of the Messenger’s (saws) own words in Arabic:

    Kalimatān khafīfatān ‘ala l-lisān
    thaqīfatān fi l-mīzān
    habībatān ila r-Rahmān
    Subhānallāhi wabihamdih
    Subhānallāhi l-’adhīm

    Beautiful, jazakillah khair

  29. Aftab says:

    Can I share this story on my blog sister?, thank you.

  30. Abdul Rasyid says:

    Subhanallahi wabihamdihi
    Subhanallahi al-adhim

  31. Ifra Haq says:

    Assalamualaijum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh..
    maryam i’m a huge fan of ur inspirational articles…
    i also want to learn the quran… but i am a medical student and its a cliche that medical studies are so hard that you hardly have time for anything else….. what do you think? Personally i am so exhausted sonetimes that i need huge breaks and i think this beautiful way of worship is just tge thing that”ll serve the purpose…..
    please do write back…. lots of love and salam again :)

  32. Uzma says:

    Beautiful.thank u for sharing this again. May we take forward and repeat the words of our most beloved teacher (pbuh).

  33. Alkanawy says:

    Ma-sha-Allah La Quwwata illa BilLãh. I always love this hadith and this narration further compounded my love for it. SubhãnalLãhi wa Bihamdih, SubhãnalLãhil `adzeem

  34. hamidah says:

    a good reminder indeed.

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