The Definition and Purpose of the Muslim Word 'Subhanallah'

The Phrase Comes from Ancient Times

Call to Prayer
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The term Subhanallah means both "God is perfect," "Glory to God." It is often used when praising God or exclaiming in awe at His attributes, bounties, or creation. It can also be used as a phrase of exclamation (ie. "Wow!").      

Typically, the term is used to marvel, not at ordinary good luck or achievement, but rather at the wonders of the natural world. For example, Subhanallah would be an appropriate term to use when viewing a magnificent sunset--but not to thank God for a good grade on an exam.

Origins and Uses of Subhanallah

Subhanallah is part of a set of phrases which, together, make up the tasbih of Fatimah. They are repeated 33 times after prayers. These phrases include: 

  • Subhanallah - God is perfect
  • Alhamdulillah - All praise is due to Allah
  • Allahu Akbar - Allah is greatest

The command to pray in this way comes from Abū Hurayrah ad-Dawsī Alzahrani, a companion of the prophet Mohammed:

Some poor people came to the Prophet and said, "The wealthy people will get higher grades and will have permanent enjoyment and they pray like us and fast as we do. They have more money by which they perform the Hajj, and `Umra; fight and struggle in Allah's Cause and give in charity." The Prophet said, "Shall I not tell you a thing upon which if you acted you would catch up with those who have surpassed you? Nobody would overtake you and you would be better than the people amongst whom you live except those who would do the same. Say "Subhanallah", "Alhamdulillah" and "Allahu Akbar" thirty-three times each after every (compulsory) prayer."

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Huda. "The Definition and Purpose of the Muslim Word 'Subhanallah'." ThoughtCo, Oct. 5, 2017, thoughtco.com/islamic-phrases-subhanallah-2004290. Huda. (2017, October 5). The Definition and Purpose of the Muslim Word 'Subhanallah'. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/islamic-phrases-subhanallah-2004290 Huda. "The Definition and Purpose of the Muslim Word 'Subhanallah'." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/islamic-phrases-subhanallah-2004290 (accessed January 23, 2018).