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In the Name of God بسم الله

The Enigma of Hamd and Subhan

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Al-Salaam Alaikum,

Alhamdulilah! Subhan Allah!! These are like two of the best known expressions of Islam. They are like the Mecca and Medina of the Islamic lingo. Along with la ilaha ilallah and Allahu Akbar (perhaps equivalent of Karbala and Qum), they are champions indeed. But what do they mean? What does the word 'hamd' and 'subhan' mean? Most of us will just say that they mean praise and something related to glorify. I just touched on this subject from my perspective on a previous topic that I posted today, and I thought that this subjects warrants an entire topic by itself. 

So the word subhan Allah, comes from the root word s-b-h .. س ب ح, and it is related to the word floating and swimming. When the path of the sun and moon is described, they are described as floating or swimming on their course, with the same word sabaha. 

So when we say Sobhan Allah, how can that be applicable and understood if the word sobhan is related to swimming or floating? This is also a question that I asked God many times, and asked for His guidance for several years. Currently I believe it this way: All creations come out of water. Anything that exists other than Allah, comes from water, and moves through time-and-space. Every object and creature exists and somehow its existence is a constant action of being. Even rocks are said to be worshipping God, and Prophet Mohamed used to talk to rocks, and at one point a rock even hid him inside of him, according to a hadith I read. The quran confirms that ..

تُسَبِّحُ لَهُ السَّمَاوَاتُ السَّبْعُ وَالْأَرْضُ وَمَن فِيهِنَّ ۚ وَإِن مِّن شَيْءٍ إِلَّا يُسَبِّحُ بِحَمْدِهِ وَلَٰكِن لَّا تَفْقَهُونَ تَسْبِيحَهُمْ ۗ إِنَّهُ كَانَ حَلِيمًا غَفُورًا - 17:44

surat Noah:44 - The seven heavens and the earth and whatever is in them exalt (sabh - س ب ح) Him. And there is not a thing except that it exalts (sabh - س ب ح) by His praise? ( hamd - ح م د ), but you do not understand their exalting (sabh - س ب ح). Indeed, He is ever Forbearing and Forgiving. 

Does that mean that even the enemies of Allah are actually doing tasbeeh without knowing it? It seems so. One explanation for this would be that each person is made out of trillions of animal cells, which are faithfully doing their job in total submission to God. And even the bad people are part of God's will/plan, but this can be a different topic altogether. 

Anyway, subhan Allah, back to the idea that everything that is created, is created out of water. This means that anything that gets created, has to somehow float, as everything is originating from water. It has to swim. We can be seen as swimming through space, just as fish swim through the water, and the birds swim through the sky like a Manta Ray floats through the oceans with its wings flapping. Even in our wombs we are created inside a bag of water, and all living creatures start in water. Anyway, how can the word float, or swim be related to the word subhan Allah? If we take the mainstream English translation of the word, it would mean glory to God. What is the purpose of saying glory to God? That we glorify Him, and that he is great, amazing, honorable, victorious etc. It's not that this isn't true, but it's simply that it's very far fetched from the actual meaning of the word. We have words that are directly related to such expressions as glory, or at least much closer than that. For instance, 'izz, or 'azm, or jabr are more directly related to the word glory. We have other words that can also be used, but the word sobhan isn't really used in this context, which is the reason why we don't have al Sabih as one of the Names of God - as far as I know. So the word sobhan, I believe, has to do with creation and with movement and emergence, as well as manifestation. To create, God always creates from water, and then that creature floats. So His manifestation, His proof, His help is manifested through creation that is originated from water, and just as the sun floats, His blessings float.

وَهُوَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ اللَّيْلَ وَالنَّهَارَ وَالشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ ۖ كُلٌّ فِي فَلَكٍ يَسْبَحُونَ - 21:33

And it is He who created the night and the day and the sun and the moon; all [heavenly bodies] in an orbit (my interpretation is vessel) are swimming.

(the word فَلَكٍ  means vessel in my opinion, and reminds of ancient religions that also talk about the sun being in a chariot. I could find no evidence of it meaning "orbit", and I suspect it is just to appease modern western science worshippers, to try to show them that the Quran is in line with their idea of Astronomy, while perhaps being embarrassed of what might look as archaic descriptions - This "vessel" could be interpreted as their physical manifested body, like our bodies, or actually a real heavenly vessel or transportation means.)

back to the meaning of sa-ba-ha being related to travel, which is movement, which is manifestation along the space-time line.

Allah's commands also travel though time and space, as they are described as coming down from the heavens. Also our prayers are raised. So, I believe that when we say sobhan Allah, we are summoning Allah, attracting Allah. 

Another proof for the active manifestation and bringing into existence of God's manifestation of the word subhan, is the use as the famous سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ  - subhanahu wata'ala .. which some people put an abbreviation of in brackets when mentioning the Name of God as (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى). The word subhanahu (the little floating inverted 9 on top of the h makes it 'u') makes its subhan and then the 'hu', which directs the word to 'Him', or God, and then the ta'ala basically means along the lines of being "raised", although it is also used with "come here", and can be seen as a call to meet at a higher place, symbolically. The word ta'ala has the same root as the word 'Ali. So it is as if us saying subhanahu wataala brings Allah into higher heights among our world, just as the word Allahu Akbar can increase God's powerful presence in pretty much any situation (higher, and 'come here'). If using such expressions would have no effect, then nobody would use them. They have very practical and environmental effects, and saying sobhan Allah is not in itself glorifying, but it is bringing His execution and presence into movement and making Him not only manifest, but also tunes us into becoming one with the path of God as well, which is the sunnah of Allah. A path is a movement in time and space that one takes in a direction. In Islam that direction is symbolized with the Qibla. My thoughts on this issue are still evolving after years of contemplation and duas to learn the meaning of s-b-h, so forgive me if you are confused by my complicated thoughts. According to my own personal research on the matter, I believe a better translation of the word subhan, would be 'manifest', but I am still in the process of thinking how to find a better translation as well as explanation for it, with evidence, in sha Allah.


When it comes to the word h-m-d,  ح م د in alhamdulilah, I feel that the word means love, more than praise. I posted this idea previously already in my previous thread, but I'll repeat the idea here, which was first brought to my attention after someone shared with me the meaning of the same word in almost all other semitic languages:


This translation according to other semitic languages uses terms like desired, precious, pleasant, etc. At the same time I remember the translation of the Torah - Song of Solomon - where the word Mohamed occurs, and the name is described (translated) as "all-together lovely". So it gave me an idea of the original root of this word, that could possibly have been lost with time. The first thing I did is plug "desirable" into each of the times that word 'hamd' occurs in the Quran, and I found no reason why it could not be used. Then, of course I started imagining its new use when saying the words alhamdulilah, which I do many times a day. When I said "my desire" to Allah, it opened up a whole new dimension of understanding. I used to think that 'hamd' is just praise, which is another word for thanks. The problem is that we already have the word thanks in form of the Arabic word 'shukr'. So I was always confused and felt there was a gap of understanding there. Also, when I'd ask my Arab acquaintances to describe to me the meaning of the word 'hamd', they were surprisingly stupefied. It reminded me a bit like when I'd ask university physics professors what energy is. They gave me that same look! At least the english speakers could give me that standard translation of "praise", but when asking Arabs in Arabic, I could not get an answer. If you have any evidence or materials of anyone talking about the meaning of the word 'hamd', then let me know please. Because I could not find any kind of answer from people, I felt obliged to go on this path of discovery alone. Could it be that the most famous word in Islam, other than Allah, nobody knows what it means? Could it really be that nobody has an explanation or proof for it? The name Mohamed itself, or Ahmed, nobody knows what it means? The Quran tells us that the name Ahmed is in the Torah, which means that the name Ahmed first occurs in a non-Arab setting, where the interpretation of this word is defined by the cross-semitic dictionary above. When the word Ahmed occurred in the Torah, it truly must have been related to desire. Isn't the Quranic reference to the word in the Torah, a proof that we must consider its Hebrew use? It's Hebrew definition? Mustn't it mean the same in booth books? It should!  In my opinion, I think that the word 'love' would be better suited (making Muhamad meaning "loved one", rather than "praised one"). Anyway, to go back to todays use of alhamdulilah and Muhamed: When people say alhamdulilah, they mean 'shukr lilah'. When you ask them what is the difference of 'hamd' and 'shukr', they don't know. Again, if you or anyone can prove me wrong, I'd be more than thankful. I am just talking from years of experience and hunting for meanings online and offline in the Arab Muslim world. But if you use the other semitic definitions of the word, like the one in Hebrew and Aramaic, then it is basically "desire/love to God". So we tune our desires to God. I want a car, a house, money, airplane, but no! When I say alhamdulilah, all my wants go to God. 'li'-'lah' .. is to-God.  Hamdu li-lah - desire/love to-God. So all my greed, worldly ambitions and objectives in my mind melt into this energy that get sent straight to God, and this energy of desire is saved and delivered to God alone. In this way we are not doing 'shirq' in our desires, and not worshipping our desires, which are also called 'hawa' in the Quran. It was an experiment I did some years ago, and it worked for me. Personally I go around thinking of the word 'hamd' as totally different from everybody else. The word Al Hameed is a name of God, here is a website that says the following:


Recitation of Al-Hameed

Al-Hameed (The Praiseworthy) One who recites this name will be loved and praised


This above equation is not balanced. With the logic of balance it should be written 

Al-Hameed (The Loveworthy and Praiseworthy) One who recites this name will be loved and praised.


It's as if the author of that website feels it, but isn't aware of it. And the words love/desire/want are not that close to praise/thanks/gratitude

I understand that they are linked and closely related, but I think that anybody will agree with me that they are not really in the same family of words. They might be cousins in meaning, but if I love something, I don't necessarily have to praise it. That's how I see it anyway.

There is an verse from the Noble Quran that I would like to demonstrate as an example, to plug in that new/old definition of the word 'hamd', instead of praise. You make up your own mind, as to which one sounds more smooth and logical.


لَا تَحْسَبَنَّ الَّذِينَ يَفْرَحُونَ بِمَا أَتَوا وَّيُحِبُّونَ أَن يُحْمَدُوا بِمَا لَمْ يَفْعَلُوا فَلَا تَحْسَبَنَّهُم بِمَفَازَةٍ مِّنَ الْعَذَابِ ۖ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ - Aali Imran : 188

Option 1 -

And never think that those who rejoice in what they have perpetrated and like to be praised (yuhmadu) for what they did not do - never think them in safety from the punishment, and for them is a painful punishment.

Option 2-

And never think that those who rejoice in what they have perpetrated and like to be desired/loved (yuhmadu) for what they did not do - never think them in safety from the punishment, and for them is a painful punishment.


Here is possibly my favorite verse in the Quran, as it describes the final reward so well:

دَعْوَاهُمْ فِيهَا سُبْحَانَكَ اللَّهُمَّ وَتَحِيَّتُهُمْ فِيهَا سَلَامٌ ۚ وَآخِرُ دَعْوَاهُمْ أَنِ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ - 10:10

Their call therein will be, "Exalted are You, O Allah," and their greeting therein will be, "Peace." And the last of their call will be, "Praise to Allah, Lord of the worlds!"

Option 2-

Their call therein will be, "Manifest, O Allah," and their greeting therein will be, "Peace." And the last of their call will be, "Love to Allah, Lord of the worlds!"


When looking at this above verse, one can't help seeing a circular meaning to the two words sabih and hamd. It sounds like breath. Their call/request/dua is subhan Allah at first, and the final call is alhamduliah. It is a call, and a dua. Did you know that these words are classified as such? That they are in the realm of duas? I didn't. So the circular motion of these two are like a breath. Subhan Allah, the manifestation, the movement and floating of God's 'Face' to us, is in the subhan Allah. That is like inhaling, and taking in the information and knowledge. Then the result of it could be both praise and love, but I think that pure love is the highest feeling. So the result of having come face-to-face with the manifestations of God in the form of a great reward, is alhamdu lilah. That is the exhalation, and the effect of the cause. The cause is the manifestation (subhan Allah), then the effect is the resulting love (alhamdu lilah) that one sends to God - or lil-lah. Both are duas. Bringing the manifestation into being through our words, and then sending the praise/love, or whatever you would like to see it as. So saying "something to God", is actually a call. Like that song "I just called to say I love you". and sending your desires and love to God, makes it that all your requests are to God alone. Because all our requests are based on desires. Desires are the shackles of our spirits and minds, which almost all religions try to fight. So this logic would be in line with the concept of alhamdulilah being a dua. If our desires and what we want is all 'to God' - or 'lil-lah', then that will be a two-way interaction that includes all our desires and requests in one. Also wanting to send ones desires to Allah and action of doing so is in itself something that depends on God's will and permission. So it could therefore also be seen as a dua or call and request in this way. If you have further ideas, please let me know!

Anyway, if anyone managed to actually read and follow what I said in this jumbled post, let me know. I'll send you an imaginary badge of honor, because it's surely not easy to handle such raw and under-developed research findings. Hopefully with time, the truth will come out, and the true exact meanings of the words hamd and sbh will be revealed to all of us in mainstream media, along with clear proofs, in sha Allah. I tried to bring proofs that are kind of clear to me, but still need more of Allah's guidance to crystalize in sha Allah. It's a work in progress that's been years, and let me finish this post by wishing you all lots of vision of the "Face of God", and lots of divine eternal love.

thanks, labayka ya hussein

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