CONTENT: WHAT IS HAMD – PRAISING ONESELF – WHAT DOES THE [ال] ATTACHED TO HAMD INDICATE? – LIL [ل ] – THE MEANING OF ALLAH – WHY HAS THE NAME ALLAH BEEN SINGLED OUT? – WHY ALHAMDULILAH – HAMD BELONGS TO ALLAH IN GOOD TIMES AND BAD – HAMD AND ITS CONDITION’S -THE VIRTUES OF THE HAMDALAH
In the 1st part of this verse we will look at the HAMDALAH. The HAMDALAH is an abbreviation for the statement الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ ALHAMDULILAH.
WHAT IS HAMD
HAMD in Arabic means two things. Praise and Thanks. Now the Arabic language has a specific word for praise which is MADH and the Arabic language also has a specific word for gratitude/thanks which is SHUKR but when you want to combine them together in one word you use the word HAMD.
So Why did Allah specifically choose the word HAMD in the HAMDALAH and not just say AL-MADHU LIL-LAAH (All Praise belongs to Allah) & ASH-SHURKRU LIL-LAAH (All Thanks belongs to Allah)? Let us 1st look at what these words mean.
MADH is used when 1) When you praise a person/thing for the good qualities they posses. 2) This praise does not necessitate thanking the one being praised 3) This praise does not necessitate that the one praising necessarily likes/loves the one being praised.
1) A table that has one leg shorter than the other (so it wobbles) deserves no praise. A table that is ‘perfect’ in its design you may praise by saying ‘Wow that’s an awesome table’ because it deserves praise where as the imperfect one you will not.
2) If you see a nice car you may say ‘Wow, that’s a nice car’ you are praising the car for its beauty. But will you thank the car? Of course not! Here you are only praising. So the word MADH is most suitable word.
3) You may praise a person but may not even like/love them or even respect them. Like those slaves who praise a king, the only reason they praise him is because they hope they will get a bag of gold/ freedom etc. They are praising him but its not a sincere praise. All of these examples of when HADH is used.
SHUKR means gratitude i.e giving thanks or showing gratitude. You thank a person for the good they have shown towards you but this thanks does not necessitate that you are praising the one you are thanking.
So you can (MADH) praise someone but not (SHUKR) thank them and you can thank someone but not praise them. The two are separate things and each have there time and place.
HAMD When you want to combine MADH praise and SHUKR thanks at the same time you use this magnificent word HAMD. But HAMD carries an addition meaning. HAMD is praise but it is a sincere praise, a praise due to one’s MAHABBAH love and TA’DHEEM veneration for the one being praised. You appreciate those good qualities and you love that being and you love those qualities within that being.
So we now inshaaAllah we can slowly begin to see why Allah chose the word HAMD because it is a praise associated with love and admiration and feelings of appreciation towards Allah, recognizing He possesses SEFAAT UL-KAMAAL the Qualities and Attributes of Perfection and along with this praise is gratitude and thanks for ALL that he has done for us.
So the question arises, if Allah could have said Al-MADHU WA SHUKRU LIL-LAAH instead ALHAMDULILAH (in surah Al-Faatiha) why did He choose the latter.
Possibly, we say 1st) the best kind of speech is that which is little/shorter but gets the point across. ALHAMDULILAH gets the point across immediately.
Another possible reason, when you put a وَ WOW (and) in-between two words your saying these are two different things. If you say praise separately and give thanks separately to Allah it could give the impression that sometimes Allah deserves praise and other times He deserves thanks, it does not necessitate that any given moment Allah deserves both. But what word makes sure that both of them are always together? HAMD. You cannot cannot praise Him except you are also thanking Him. You cannot thank Him except that you praise Him. Alhamdulilah.
Allah began this Quran with the الحمد لله i.e He started it With Him praising Himself, where as it is not permissible for a humans being to praise themselves like this. Allah says
فَلَا تُزَكُّوا أَنْفُسَكُمْ ۖ هُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِمَنِ اتَّقَىٰ
So ascribe not purity to yourselves. He knows best him who fears Allah and keep his duty to Him. [NAJM;32]
Self-praise is despised among humans because they have many more defects and deficiencies than points of praise. Consequently Allah praises Himself to remind His creatures that ALL praise belongs to Him alone (because Only He has the Names and attributes of of Perfection). (We only praise the one/that which Allah, The Quran And His messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم have told us to praise). Also Allah began with praise of Himself because He loves praise of Himself and He loves it when His servants praise Him. So we respond by saying الحمد لله.
WHAT DOES THE [ال] ATTACHED TO HAMD INDICATE?
Attached to this HAMD we have this [ال] AL. This is the ALIF-LAM that encompasses everything within that word (that it is connected to). So the statement الحمد لله includes All types of HAMD praises and thanks is for Allah. There are many ways of praising Allah with many different words that can be used, at different times and places. There are also many different ways of thanking/ showing gratitude.
So understand that الحمد لله does not mean ‘Thee’ praise is for Allah, -i.e. the main praise is for Allah or the best of praises is for Allah, rather what we mean is All types of praises and thanks is for Allah. The small ones and the big ones, the ones we know of and the ones we don’t. The ones that have been revealed and these ones that have not etc.
A very important point, why does Allah deserve this ‘AL’- ALL?
When you see a beautiful flower, a strong animal, a smart child, a caring spouse, a cold drink etc All these things deserve praise for the good quality they posses BUT who gave them all these good attributes? Allah, so in turn it is Allah who is deserving All praise.
when someone helps you, aids you, gives you some of his wealth etc. this individual deserved thanks for their actions BUT who is is the One who willed for this person to help you in the 1st place? Who is the One who used this person only as a means to help you? Allah, so in turn it is Allah who is deserving All thanks.
LIL [ل ]
Some translate this Laam as belonging to. This LAAM in Arabic indicates possession e.g ALKETAABU LEE Mumammed ‘the book belongs to Muahmmed. But this is not what we are saying, this LAAM is the LAAM of ISTIHQAAQ entitlement meaning Allah deserves this Hamd. Or the LAAM of IKHTESAAS, LAAM that is particular to Allah i.e. it is for Allah and nobody else.
Amazingly in the Hamdalah we find all 3 types of tawheed. 1) Tauhid ar-Rububiyyah; HAMD because of His Perfect Qualities. 2) Tawheed al-Uluhiyyahlil; ‘Laam’ this praise is particular to Allah, He is the only 1 who deserves it. 3) Tauhid al-Asma wa Sifat; the name of Allah, Allah.
THE MEANING OF ALLAH
The understand the meaning of the Name Allah click HERE
WHY HAS THE NAME ALLAH BEEN SINGLED OUT?
Notice we don’t say ALHAMDULIL-MALIK or ALHAMDULIL-KHALIQ or ALHAMDULIL-HAKEEM. Why? Indeed there is a profound wisdom in this.
When we say ALHAMDULIL-KHAALIQ then we are Praising Him for is His Perfect Name and attribute Al-KHAALIQ The Creator and thanking Him for creating, or if we say ALHAMDULIL-ALEEM the quality you are appreciating is His wisdom, Knowledge etc. ALHAMDULIL-QAWEE the only thing I praised Him for is His power, strength, ability etc.
But if we want to Praise & Thank Allah for ALL of His Names and Attributes and Actions, the Names He revealed and the Names He didn’t reveal, The names we know and the names we don’t, if we want to capture ALL of them, all together, all at the same time without missing anything, the only word that captures everything about Allah is the name, Allah. Look how easy Allah made it to Praise Him and Thank him Alhamdulilah
It is impossible to do justice in trying to explain why He deserves All praise and Thanks.We will only mention 1 or 2 points. He deserve all praise because He possesses SEFAAT UL-KAMAAL the Qualities and Attributes of Perfection. There is NOTHING like Him. He is One. He has no Beginning and no end. All his creation have attributes (some more than others) of imperfection. But Allah, ALL His Names and Attributes are perfect. No evil or deficiencies are attributed to Him, He is High above that they (musrikoon) associate (partners, evil, deficiencies) with Him.
He deserves All praise (because of who He is) and He deserves All Thanks for what He does (His Actions, His decree). Tell me a situation a circumstance where ALLAH has decreed something and it (His decree) does not deserve thanks for? The hadith mentioned (below) if a child dies and the slave says ALHAMDULILAH meaning ALL Praise and THANKS belongs to Allah (His decree) Allah builds for Him a house in Jannah called Bait Al-Hamd (The house of praise). If this is the situation for the one whose child dies then what about the one who hears the news that one of his beloved passed away, or if we get the news that we have cancer and only have weeks to live, or we lose our job etc do we say as the foolish say… Why did Allah do this (decree this, forgetting that Allah’s Names dictates mercy & wisdom)? Or do we reach a high status (INSHAALLAH) with Allah and say Alhamdulilah?
Also We thank Allah for He has given so much to His creation. He has provided in such a way that we can have a pleasurable life. How ‘Merciful’ He is. We need food to survive but did Allah only create one type of food for the human race? Rather he created many different types of food that differ in their shapes and sizes and tastes. He has given us all this even though we are not entitled to or deserve this. etc
الحمد لله who bought us out of non-existence, when we was not even worth mentioning, so that we can be His slave. الحمد لله who guided us and beautified EMAAN for us in our hearts and for giving us the opportunity that if we pass (this test) we will from the select few that will be in Jannah seeing the WAJH face of our RABB. For these reasons and for so many more which are enumerable we say الحمد لله.
It is for this reason a believer never becomes bored with this statement الحمد لله. How can he be when he can never enumerate/ count the amount of blessings that Allah has given to him and because he can never truly appreciate the perfection of Allah nor His greatness. So this statement الحمد لله should be a statement that he slave of Allah desires to say until he dies.
Ibn Abbas (ra) said ‘الحمد لله is the statement of gratitude.’ Ali (ra) said ‘It is a statement that Allah chose for himself to be directed to Himself and something that He loves.’ Abdur Rahman al-Jabaa said, ‘Prayer is gratitude, fasting is gratitude, any good we do is gratitude, the most superior form of the gratitude is to say الحمد لله’
HAMD BELONGS TO ALLAH IN GOOD TIMES AND BAD
إذا رأى ما يحب قال الحمد لله الذي بنعمته تتم الصالحات وإذا رأى ما يكره قال الحمد لله على كل حال
Narrated from A’ishah (RA), “When the Prophetصلى الله عليه وسلم saw something that pleased him, he would say: Alhamdulillahil lathee bi ni’matihi tatimmus saalihaat, All praise and thanks are only for Allah, the One who, by His blessing and favor, perfected goodness/good works are accomplished. And when he saw something that displeased him, he would say: Alhamdulillah ‘alaa kuli haal. All praise and thanks are only for Allah in all circumstances.
(Narrated in Sunan Ibn Maajah, classified as Saheeh according to Shaykh Albaani rahimahullah in Silsilatus Saheehah hadeeth 265)
HAMD AND ITS CONDITION’S
Imam al-Qutubi mentioned that when a person says الحمد لله there are certain conditions which must be fulfilled in order for this HAMD (here we are speaking about thanking Him) to be truly meaningful. He said, Shaqeeq ibn Ibraheem mentioned 3 conditions
- If Allah has given you something you know Who is the One who gave you that particular thing.
So if Allah gives you something (a home to live in) you should know and recognize (in your heart 1st and foremost) that it is Allah who gave you that thing. So we may be saying Alhamdulilah in our day to day lives but do we truly recognize/ remind ourselves that these blessings are from Allah. If we don’t 1st and foremost internally (in our hearts) recognize that these blessing for which we are thanking Allah for is from Him, then this is not true HAMD rather we are only paying lip service to this HAMD. May Allah protect us from such a thing! This can happen all to often when we say الحمد لله due to habit. Every time we say it must be from the heart (1st and foremost).
That’s why we say the true slave of Allah never becomes board by saying الحمد لله. Tell me how many blessings did Allah give you? WALLAHI It is not humanly possible to numerate the blessings of Allah for even a single second of our life, let alone our entire existence. So how can one think that he has thanked Allah enough? This leads us to another very important point. A true slave of Allah should feel deficient when we say الحمد لله because you should realize deep down inside you can never do justice in thanking Him.
2. You should be content with that which Allah has given you (decreed).
Sometimes a person may give you something and you thank that person but deep down in your heart you’re not pleased, then this is not true gratitude. Again this is just lip service. This gratitude is deficient and therefor we must be careful for there are many things Allah has given us (decreed for us) but we choose not to like it because that is the nature of human beings, he always wants more. So if Allah chooses something for us we say الحمد لله, regardless and be happy with His choice for us. (I’m not saying we do not aspire for a better situation, life, etc You ask Allah, Make effort, the result you get say HAMD, still want better repeat. Ask, effort, HAMD etc I hope this point is clear)
3. As long as you are alive you do not use these blessings to disobey Allah.
This is similar to if someone gave you something, took care of you and then you go around backbiting that person or you harm that person, would this not be considered to be a show of one’s ingratitude? (And to Allah belongs the Highest similitude) How can you say الحمد لله and then you turn your back to Allah and disobey Him? Worse still Allah blessed you with eyes and you use these eyes to look at HARAM, yet your eyes remain (Allah did not snatch your eyesight away from you), Allah’s mercy upon us cannot be be counted.
So this HAMDALAH is a mighty statement that really should make a person feel humbled in front of Allah because he can never praise Allah as He deserves.
The virtues of the Hamdalah
Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal recorded that Al-Aswad bin Sari` said, “I said, `O Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم ! Should I recite to you words of praise for My Lord, the Exalted, that I have collected’ He said,
أَمَا إِنَّ رَبَّكَ يُحِبُّ الْحَمْدَ
Verily, your Lord likes Al-Hamd
The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said: “When a person’s child dies, Allah the Most High asks His angels, ‘Have you taken out the life of the child of My slave?’ They reply in the affirmative. He then asks, ‘Have you taken the fruit of his heart?’ They reply in the affirmative. Thereupon he asks, ‘What has My slave said?’ They say: ‘He has praised You and said: Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji’un (We belong to Allah and to Him we shall be returned).’ Allah says: ‘Build a house for My slave in Jannah and name it Bait-ul-Hamd (the House of Praise & gratitude).’” [Tirmidhi]
One of the greatest worldly calamities for a person is to lose his or her child. None but those who have gone through it know what it is like. This hadith highlights the great merit of exhibiting patience at this time of calamity. Rather than wailing and complaining, one should submit to the Will of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) and try to remember His promised reward. Children who die before reaching the age of puberty cause their parents to be brought to Jannah through them. An attitude of patience brings great reward from Allah (subhana wa ta’ala).
Muslim records on the authority of Anas bin Maalik that the Messenger of Allah said, ‘Indeed Allah is pleased at His servant when he eats some food and praises Him for it or when he drinks a drink and praises Him for it.’
Ibn Maajah records on the authority of Anas bin Maalik that the Messenger of Allah said,
مَا أَنْعَمَ اللهُ عَلَى عَبْدٍنِعْمَةً فَقَالَ: الْحَمْدُ للهِ، إِلَّا كَانَ الَّذِي أَعْطَى أَفْضَلَ مِمَّا أَخَذَ
‘Allah does not grant a slave a favor for which he says الحمد لله except that what he offered [of praising] is better than that he took.’
I.e. when the slave says الحمد لله for a blessing Allah has given Him, Allah considers that this praise from His servant better than the actual blessing that the slave has received. So if Allah blesses you with wealth and you say الحمد لله, what is better for you? This wealth or the statement الحمد لله? الحمد لله ? The HAMDALAH is better for you then the wealth itself because if you praise Allah and thank Him this is a way of retaining and increase that blessing as well as pleasing Him and your HAMD of Allah will last forever whereas your blessing i.e wealth will come to an end.
If the slave of Allah is blessed with the whole world and what it contains and then says “Alḥamdulillāh” for that, the fact that Allah blessed him with the ability to say “Alḥamdulillāh” is actually a greater blessing than being given the whole world. That’s because the delights of this world will vanish, but the rewards of praising Allah will always remain.” Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah
Ibn Majah recorded that Jabir bin `Abdullah said that the Messenger of Allah said, The best Dhikr (remembering Allah) is La ilaha illallah and the best supplication is alhamdulilah’
al-Hasan used to say ‘Hold on to the blessings of Allah by being grateful to Allah’. Also he said said, ‘There is no blessing except that saying الحمد للهis better and more virtuous that it.’
Ibn Maajah records on the authority of Ibn Umar that the Messenger of Allah said, ‘A slave from amongst the slaves of Allah said
يَا رَبِّ لَكَ الْحَمْدُ كَمَا يَنْبَغِي لِجَلَالِ وَجْهِكَ وَعَظِيمِ سُلْطَانِكَ
‘O My Lord! To You belongs all HAMD as is required by the magnificence of Your Face and due to the greatness of Your Authority.’ The two angels were confused as to how to write these words. They ascended to Allah and said, `O our Lord! A slave has just uttered a statement and we are unsure how to record it for him.’ Allah said while having more knowledge in what His slave has said, ‘What did My slave say’ They said, `He said, `O Allah! Yours is the Hamd that is suitable for the grace of Your Face and the greatness of Your Supreme Authority.’ Allah said to them, `Write it as My servant has said it, until he meets Me and then I shall reward him for it.’
Abû Mâlik al-Hârith b. Asim al-Asharî relates that Allah’s Messenger said, Purification is half of faith. The praise of Allah fills the scales. Saying ‘Glorified be Allah and HAMD be to Allah’ fills what is between the heavens and the Earth.
When the Prophet said, “The praise of Allah fills the balance,” he was describing to us the immensity of the blessings that we receive when we praise Allah. The balance is the balance that weighs our deeds. Allah Almighty says:
وَنَضَعُ الْمَوَازِينَ الْقِسْطَ لِيَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ فَلَا تُظْلَمُ نَفْسٌ شَيْئًا وَإِن كَانَ
مِثْقَالَ حَبَّةٍ مِّنْ خَرْدَلٍ أَتَيْنَا بِهَا وَكَفَىٰ بِنَا حَاسِبِينَ
We shall set up the scales of justice for the Day of Judgment. Not a soul will be dealt with unjustly in the least. And if there be no more than the weight of a mustard seed, We will bring it forth. And sufficient are We to take account. [Sûrah al-Anbiyâ 21:47]
A beautiful DUA says…
اللَّهُمَّ لَكَ الْحَمْدُ كُلُّهُ، وَلَكَ الْمُلْكُ كُلُّهُ، وَبِيَدِكَ الْخَيْرُ كُلُّهُ، وَإِلَيْكَ يُرْجَعُ الْأَمْرُ كُلُّهُ
O Allah! All HAMD is due to You, You own all the ownership, all types of good are in Your Hand and all affairs belong to You.
This concludes the section on the HAMDALAH. The rest of this disscussion continues in the Faatiha, 1st verse.
Click HERE to return to the Tafseer of the 1st verse of Surah Al-Faatiha