Content Updated: 04/07/2012
An interesting point!
What does the ALIF-LAM attached to Hamd indicate?
Lillah [ل ]
Hamd and its condidtions
Summery of the Hamdalah
The virtues of the Hamdalah
Summary of this verse
Why did Allah specificly chose the word hamd and not Ash-shurkr or Al-Madh? In Arabic there are many words that can be used for praise such as Hamd, Madh and Shukr.
Hamd is a type of praise due to the qualities that the one being praised, possesses. It is a praise due to one’s own desire and from love and veneration for the praised. It also include the meaning of Shukr.
Shukr means gratitude – giving thanks or showing thanks. You thank a person for the good they have and shown towards you.
Now you wouldn’t thank someone who hasn’t given you anything? So hamd [in relation to Allah] is a type of praise simply due to the perfect qualities that Allah has, but that include Shukr, thanking Allah for the good that He has shown you.
In this respect that Ibn Abbas (ra) said ‘Alhamdulillah 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’i said, ‘prayer is gratitude, fasting is gratitude, any good we do is gratitude, the most superior form of the gratitude is to say Alhamdulillah’
Madh is when you praise a person for their good qualities but you may not necessarily like that person.
As for hamd, you appreciate those good qualities and you love that person and you love those qualities within that person. So we can see that Allah chose Hamd because it is a praise associated with love and admiration and feelings appreciation towards Allah, recognizing His perfect qualities and includes Shukr i.thanking Him.
Some Ulamaa have said hamd is more encompassing then Shukr because with hamd your praising someone because of their good qualities and the good that they have shown you whereas Shukr is more limited from the perspective that you are only grateful to someone if they have shown you goodness. So from this perspective hamd is more encompassing.
However some Ulamaa have said that Shukr is more encompassing then hamd because praise is expressed by the tongue whereas Shukr can be expressed by
1) Shukr by heart; the internal recognition that that blessing is from Allah and knowing that it has been given by the grace of Allah and not by the servants own merit.
2) Shukr by the tongue; praising the Bestower of blessings, Allah.
3) Shukr by the limbs; by using that blessing in a way that is pleasing to the one that has bestowed you with that good.
Both opinions are correct in their own place. Hamd is more general with respect to when it is done and Shukr is more general with respect to how it is done.
Interestingly when we look at the verses of Allah we can clearly see praise is associated with associated with the tongue. Thus we find in the Qur’an the Prophets showing gratitude by expressing hamd
And say, “Praise to Allah , who has not taken a son and has had no partner in [His] dominion and has no [need of a] protector out of weakness; and glorify Him with [great] glorification.” Isra 111
This praise is associated with the tongue. But Shukur is associated with A’maal i.e actions.
Allah said to David, “Work, O family of David, in gratitude.” And few of My servants are grateful. Saba 13
Allah didn’t say to David ‘Say words of thanks’ but rather ‘Work ‘actions’ of thanks.’
Why is Allah entitled to all and complete praise and thanks? Because Allah has given much to his creation. He has provided for us those things from the dunya which are a source of nutriment for us, to have a pleasurable life.
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 or deserve this. He even gives to those who sin and ascribe partners to him and disobey Him. Alhamdulillah because Allah has alerted mankind to that which would benefit them in this life and the hereafter. Alhamdulillah to the One who invited and shown us the way to Dar-as-Salaam.
For these reasons and for so many more which are enumerable, which we cannot count, we say Alhamdulillah.
It is for this reason a believer never becomes bored with this statement of Alhamdulillah. 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 Alhamdulillah should be a statement that he servant of Allah desires to say until he dies, even though we are required to say all the times, in salah and out, after eating, putting on cloths, transport e.t.c
Now this statement of Alhamdulillah is indirectly telling us to praise Allah. That why many Ulamaa have said the hamdalah (the statment Alhamdulilah) in Surah al-Faatiha means Qul Alhamdulillah Say: Alhamdulillah. So according to many Ulamaa this statement is Allah telling creation to say Alhamdulillah. And so we respond by saying Alhamdulillah.
An interesting point
Allah began his Qur’an with the statement Alhamdulillah i.e He started it With Him praising Himself, where as it is not permissible for a human being to praise themselves like this. Allah says
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. 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 Alhamdulilah.
What does the [ال] ALIF-LAM attached to Hamd indicate?
Attached to this ‘Hamd’ we have this ‘AL’. This is the Alif-Lam that encompasses everything within that word (that it is connected to). So the statement Alhamdulillah includes all types of praises for Allah. There are many ways of praising Allah with many different words that can be used, at different times and places. So understand that Alhamdulillah doesn’t 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.
Lillah [ل ]
Many translations translate this Laam as; due, entitled, and belonging to. This Laam in Arabic indicates possession e.g alketab leeMumammed ‘the book belongs to Muahmmed. But this is not what we are saying, we are not saying all praise belongs to Allah because praise is not something that someone owns.
This Laam is the Laam of [Istihqaaq] entitlement meaning Allah deserves this praise. 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)Tauhid al-Uluhiyyahlil; this praise is particular to Allah, He is the only 1 how deserves it.
3) Tauhid al-Asma wa Sifat; the name of Allah, Allah.
All in this one statement
The Hamdalah is the way of the Prophets, it’s a quality you find among all the Messengers of Allah.
Even the believers when they enter Jannah
And they will say, “Praise to Allah , who has removed from us [all] sorrow. Indeed, our Lord is Forgiving and Appreciative. Fartir 34
And their final words
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!” Yonus 10
So the Hamdalah is a statement of the people of paradise.
Hamd and its condition’s
Imam al-qutobi mentioned that when a person says the Hamdalah there are certain conditions which must be fulfilled in order for this hamd to be truly meaning full. 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 you should know and recognize (in your heart) that Allah is the one who gave you that thing. So we may be saying Alhamdulillah in our day to day lives but do we truly recognize/ actualize that that blessing is from Allah? If not, then this is not true hamd.
That’s why we said the true believer never becomes board by saying Alhamdulillah because there is always a reason to say Alhamdulillah in fact as a believer we should feel deficient when we say Alhamdulillah because you should realize deep down inside you can never do justice to this Hamdalah.
2. You should be pleased with that which Allah has given you.
Sometimes a person may give you something and you thank that person but deep down you’re not pleased then this is not true praise. This praise is deficient and therefor we must be careful for there are many things Allah has given us but we chose not to like it because that is the nature of human beings, he always wants more. So if Allah choose something for us we say Alhamdulilah, regardless.
3. As long as your still alive do not 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? How can you say Alhamdulillah and then you turn your back to Allah and disobey Him?
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.
Summery of the Hamdalah
Therefore by saying alhamdulilah, the servant is praising and thanking Allah due to His Greatness, Unity, Perfection, His Beautiful Names and Attributes & His innumerable favors and blessings that none can encompass except Him. It is indeed an amazing statement that encompasses something that volumes would be unable to express. Alhamdulilah.
The virtues of the Hamdalah
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, ‘Allah does not grant a servant a favour for which he says Alhamdulillah except that what he offered [of praising] is better and more virtuous than that he took.’
I.e. when the servant says Alhamdulillah 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 Alhamdulillah, what is better for you? This wealth or the Hamdalah? 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.
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 Alhamdulillah is better and more virtuous that it.’
ibn maajah records on the authority of ibn Umar that the messager of Allah said, ‘A servant from amongst the servants of Allah said ‘[ya rabbi lakalhamdu kama yambagi lejalaali wajik wa-athmee sultaanik] O my Lord! To You belongs all praise as is required by the magnificence of Your face and due to the greatness of Your Authority.’ This confused the two [recording] angels and they did not know how to record it [they never heard such praise]. So they ascended to the heavens and they said ‘O our Lord! Your servant has said a statement and we don’t know how to record it.’ Allah swt asks, (despite the fact He already knows) ‘What did my slave say?’ they reply, ‘O Lord! He said: O my Lord! ‘O my Lord to You belongs all praise as is required by the magnificence of Your Noble Face and due to the greatness of Your Authority.’ Allah says to them both, ‘Record it for my servant has he said it. Then when he meets Me, I will reward him for it.’ [Da’if]
Muslim records on the authority of Abu musa al-ash’ari that the messenger of Allah said, ‘Purity is half of faith, the statement Alhamdulillah fills the scales’
So it’s a reward that fills the believer’s scales of good deeds
The name Ar-Rabb has been mentioned over 5oo times in the Qur’an.
The reason why Rabb has been mentioned here is because it is acting almost as an explanation of why Alhamdulillah belongs to Allah, why is He is untitled to this hamd? Because he is Rabbulalamin
The meaning of the name ar-Rabb
Aaalam is everything that exists excluding Allah. The salaf said there are 4 types of Aalam
The Jinn, human race, angels and the Shayateens.
And many Ulamaa said this part of the ayah proves He, Allah is not apart of His creation because if He is apart of his creation, how can he be the Lord of Himself. Of course He is completely separate from His creation.
Summary of this verse
When one says All praise is due to Allah he is affirming that Allah deserves to be praised simply because He is Allah, due to His perfection and beautiful Names and Attributes.
When one says, Lord of the worlds he is affirming that Allah also deserves to be praised for His nurturing and sustaining us, for the many blessings He has granted us, and His governance of our affair.
Furthermore the servant realizes that this religion of Islam is a universal religion and not restricted to one race or nation for Allah is the Lord of the worlds. Moreover we learn that He Alone is the Creator and that all affairs are under His disposition, just as are all blessings. He is completely Self-Sufficient and the creation is in total need of Him Alone for everything, this then prompts reverence and dread of Him, Glorious is He.