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Reflecting on the Greatness of Allah while repeating Dhikr during days of Dhul H

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#1 [Permalink] Posted on 6th July 2022 18:32
Allahu Akbar: A Magnificent Phrase

Throughout the days of Dhul Ḥijjah, we repeat ‘Allāhu Akbar’ (takbīr) in abundance. Allāhu Akbar is one of the most magnificent phrases a human being can ever utter. Allāhu Akbar is a declaration of Allah’s grandeur, and an affirmation of our submission to His majesty. We remind ourselves through Allāhu Akbar that Allah is the greatest over everything: in His essence, in His power, in His honour, and in His majesty. Allah is the King of kings unto whom everything is subservient.

Internalising اَللّٰهُ أَكْبَرُ

On uttering the phrase Allāhu Akbar, we are saying that Allah is greater than everything in our hearts. It is not sufficient to simply say this phrase. We must also believe it. To be sincere in our utterance, we cannot give greater importance to something or someone other than Allah in our hearts. He has to be the One.

Each time we utter the phrase Allāhu Akbar, let us remind ourselves of the greatness of Allah and say: Allah is Greater… He is greater than us, greater than our desires, greater than our loved ones, greater than our hobbies, greater than the most powerful armies and empires, greater than everything. Each time we utter the phrase Allāhu Akbar, let us renew our īmān in Him, and let us strengthen our bond with Him.

As our knowledge of Allāhu Akbar deepens, our awe and fear of Allah should increase. Subsequently, this should lead us to venerating Allah, loving Him, obeying Him, worshipping Him in the best manner, turning towards Him with full dedication and trusting in Him alone.

A firm belief in the greatness of Allah should lead us to constantly remember, thank and praise Him with our tongues. It should shake the body into humbling itself, feeling its own insignificance, and rushing to worship Him.

Saying Allāhu Akbar with conviction should make us appreciate the greatness of our Creator. When we remind ourselves of His greatness, our self-importance should disappear as we remember how weak and insignificant we are. Saying Allāhu Akbar should safeguard us from pride as we will no longer think of ourselves or what we possess as great.

One of the Best Forms of Dhikr

Allāhu Akbar is one of the best forms of remembering our Creator. It is a great act of worship. One of the earliest commandments of Allah to His beloved ﷺ was: وَرَبَّكَ فَكَبِّرْ Proclaim the greatness of your Lord! (74:3).

Elsewhere, Allah (ʿazza wa jall) says, وَكَبِّرْهُ تَكْبِىْرًا Proclaim His limitless greatness! (17:111).

ʿUmar b. al-Khaṭṭāb (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) said, “The slave’s utterance of Allāhu Akbar is better than the world and all that it contains.”

Allāhu Akbar is a phrase that has brought about wonders throughout the history of Islam. Allāhu Akbar is the echo of the battlefield. By repeating it, the warriors in the path of Allah feel the honour, power and closeness of Allah to them. They derive from Allāhu Akbar strength, steadfastness and sincerity. Allāhu Akbar enables them to overcome their enemies, wipe out corruption, and bring arrogant tyrants to their knees.

Allāhu Akbar is a tremendous phrase and a powerful source of protection. When shayṭān hears it, he feels small and insignificant, and hastily retreats. Allāhu Akbar solves problems, removes stress and eases worries. Allāhu Akbar cures illnesses and calms our fears. Whenever we feel overwhelmed or utterly lost and confused, Allāhu Akbar reminds us: There is someone far greater and more powerful than what we are experiencing. If we cling on to Allāhu Akbar, Allah will never abandon us.

A Phrase Repeated

Uttered in the ears of the newborn, Allāhu Akbar are the first words we hear as we enter this world. Throughout our lives, we hear this phrase repeated. Two of the five pillars of our dīn centre around this statement: ṣalāh and ḥajj. We are summoned to the masjid through the adhān, which begins with Allāhu Akbar. The iqāmah begins with Allāhu Akbar. The ṣalāh is commenced with Allāhu Akbar. Throughout ṣalāh, we move from one pillar to the next by uttering Allāhu Akbar. There is no phrase we are obligated to utter more times in a day than Allāhu Akbar.

Al-ʿIzz b. ʿAbd al-Salām (raḥimahullāh) explained that ṣalāh begins with the takbīr, indicating the grandeur of Allah, so that the slave knows who he is standing, sitting, bowing and prostrating in front of. It reminds him to humble himself to the greatness of Allah.

Once the slave becomes mindful of the grandeur of Allah, he will uphold the internal and external etiquettes of ṣalāh and purification, and he will become preoccupied with Allah alone. He will worship Allah ‘as though he can see Him’. He writes, “Whoever worships Allah in such a way has exited from the realms of the universe.” Subsequently, repeating Allāhu Akbar at each stage of ṣalāh helps us to renew our awareness of His greatness. It reminds us to embody the humility and lowliness that each posture requires.

Likewise, throughout the various rites of ḥajj and ʿumrah, Allāhu Akbar is constantly repeated. Similarly, we have been instructed to say Allāhu Akbar when the new moon is seen, as part of the takbīrāt of the two Eids, when starting a journey, when ascending (e.g. going up a hill, stairs, lifts), when slaughtering an animal, upon receiving good news, and even when seeing something burning.

It is also an established practice to say Allāhu Akbar in large gatherings, during battles, on military expeditions and upon achieving victory. This is to instil a sense of greatness of the action being undertaken and evoke feelings of power and strength in those situations.

About the takbīr, Ibn Ḥajar (raḥimahullāh) writes, “It is a form of remembrance which has been transmitted to us to say in every difficult and happy situation. It is said to thank Allah and disassociate oneself from all that His enemies attribute to Him.”

Ibn Taymiyyah (raḥimahullāh) explained, “Takbīr has been legislated to be uttered on major occasions – either due to the large crowds; or situations which consist of actions that are great in and of themselves; or are situations that require strength etc. This is to highlight the fact that Allah is the Greatest. And no matter how big and grand these occasions may be, the greatness of Allah overpowers the hearts of the believers. The outcome of this is that the entire dīn is dedicated to Allah, and the slaves are constantly glorifying Allah.”

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “No one ever utters لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا اللّٰهُ nor اَللهُ أَكْبَرُ except that he is given glad tidings.” It was asked, “O Messenger of Allah, glad tidings of Paradise?” He ﷺ replied, “Yes” (Ṭabarānī).

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#2 [Permalink] Posted on 6th July 2022 18:34
Al-Kabir (The Most Great) & Al-Azim (The Magnificent)

Dhul Ḥijjah is a perfect opportunity to re-connect with the Names of Allah (ʿazza wa jall) which denote His majesty and greatness.

Amongst these Names are: al-Kabīr, The Most Great, and al-Aẓīm, The Magnificent. Both of these Names denote the greatness, majesty and grandeur of Allah (subḥānahū wa taʿālā). Allah is Greater than anything we can imagine, and His greatness encompasses all things: He is Great in His Essence, His Names, His Attributes and His Actions. Allah is Supreme and Perfect: free from every limitation and deficiency that is inherent in created beings.

Allah is Great in His power, wisdom, knowledge and authority. There was nothing before Him, and there is nothing after Him. Everyone will perish except Him. None can overpower or defeat Him.
How to Appreciate Allah’s Greatness

Our limited minds are unable to fully comprehend the greatness of Allah. However, we can attempt to appreciate His Greatness by pondering over: (1) His creation, (2) and His words (the Qur’ān).

Allah (ʿazza wa jall) reminds us:
مَا لَكُمْ لَا تَرْجُوْنَ لِلّٰهِ وَقَارًا

“What is the matter with you that you are not in awe of the Majesty of Allah?” (71:13).

In the subsequent verses, He says,

“When He truly created you in stages (of development). Do you not see how Allah created seven heavens, one above the other, placing the moon within them as a light, and the sun as a lamp?” (71:14-16).

Thus, to be in awe of His greatness, we should reflect on our own creation, and the creation of the universe.

Reflecting on the beauty, harmony and the vastness of the earth, solar system and the heavens will help us appreciate Allah’s greatness. Our awe of Him will further increase when we reflect on the fact that on the Day of Judgement, the whole earth will be in a single grip of Allah’s Hand, and the heavens will be rolled up in His Right Hand. Ibn ʿAbbās (radiy Allāhu ʿanhumā) said, “The seven skies and earths are not in the Hand of The Most Merciful, except like a mustard seed in one of your hands.”

While I was on my way to ḥajj, we were worried that the desert Bedouins might attack us. We therefore took the route through Khaybar, upon which I saw huge mountains and natural pathways that blew my mind, and increased my appreciation of Allah’s greatness in my heart. I sensed Allah’s greatness here more than any other place.

So, I rebuked myself: ‘Woe to you! (If this amazes you then) go to the sea and contemplate its greatness. You will see greater wonders than this. Then go out and contemplate on the universe, and you will realise that the universe, the skies and the planets are just like a tiny particle in a desert.

Then roam around the higher regions, and walk around the Throne and behold what is in the heavens and hell. Then detach yourself from everything and direct your attention to Him! You will see that all of that is within the grasp of the Almighty whose ability has no limits.’ – Ibn al-Jawzī (raḥimahullāh)

The Greatest Creation

When we ponder on the greatness of Allah’s creation, such as the heavens, the earth, His Kursī and His Majestic Throne, and then realise our own inability to comprehend them due to their greatness, we should arrive at the most important realisation: how Great must their Creator be!

To understand His greatness, it helps to reflect on His greatest creation: His Throne (the ʿArsh of Allah). The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “The seven heavens in comparison to the Kursī is nothing but like a ring thrown in a desert; and the excellence of the Throne of Allāh over the Kursī is like the excellence of that desert over that ring.” (Bayhaqī)

Imagine the Sahara Desert. The entire desert is the Kursī of Allah (ʿazza wa jall), while the size of the heavens and the earth in proportion is equivalent to a ring thrown in this desert.

Now close your eyes, and let your mind ascend. Wander around this desert, which is now the Throne of Allah (ʿazza wa jall), and remember that the Kursī in proportion is the size of a ring. Can you even imagine the size of the Throne of Allah? It is mind-boggling.

If we cannot comprehend this, how can we then comprehend the greatness of Allah?

Mighty Angels

From amongst the creation of Allah that recognise His greatness, and revere Him as He deserves to be revered, are His angels. Despite being given immense strength and being huge in size, angels constantly praise Allah (ʿazza wa jall) and worship Him, and they never disobey Him. Yet, on the Day of Judgement, they will look at Allah and say, “How Perfect are You! We did not worship You as You deserved to be worshipped.”

Reflecting on how great the angels are will help us appreciate how great Allah, their Creator, is. Our beloved Prophet ﷺ informed us about an angel who is so great that his feet are in the lowest earth and his neck is under the Throne of Allah. Realising the greatness of Allah, he constantly repeats, “How Perfect are You! How Magnificent are You, Our Lord!” (Ṭabarānī). Similarly, the best of angels, Jibrīl (ʿalayhis-salām) was tasked with the most prestigious responsibility of transmitting the word of Allah (ʿazza wa jall). He has 600 wings. If he was to unroll a pair of them, it would fill the space between the sky and the earth. Despite his physical and spiritual greatness, the Prophet ﷺ saw him on the Night of Miʿrāj (ascension) looking like “a worn-out piece of cloth due to the fear of Allah” (Ṭabarānī). Jibrīl’s knowledge of Allah’s majesty and greatness reduced him to this state.

Connect to Al-Kabir & Al-Azim

The following are some ways in which we can call upon and worship Allah with His Names al-Kabīr (The Most Great) and al-Aẓīm (The Magnificent):

1. Humble yourself to His greatness, by affirming His Oneness, obeying Him, and fearing Him.

Let us fill our hearts with utmost respect and reverence for Allah. Let us feel awe in our hearts for Him, and feel shy of disobeying Him. Let us humble our hearts to the truth and submit to the commands of Allah and His Messenger ﷺ, even if they appear ‘irrational’ to us.

2. Glorify Him by constantly reflecting on His creation.

Every day we repeat ‘اَللّٰهُ أَكْبَرُ’(Allah is greater…!) and ‘سُبْحَانَ رَبِّـيَ الْعَظِيْمِ (How perfect is my Lord, The Magnificent!) over a hundred times in ṣalāh. Due to the repetition, we may say it mindlessly. Let us constantly think of how great He is, and magnify Him with our tongues and our hearts simultaneously.

Go outside in nature and praise Allah with your tongue and heart. It will help you marvel at His greatness. [Tip: Perform your morning and evening adhkār outside, especially on days when the skies are clear and you can appreciate the beauty of Allah’s creation.]

3. Deem great what Allah has deemed ‘great’.

Let us magnify and revere Allah by honouring what He has honoured: occasions (e.g. Dhul Ḥijjah, Ramaḍān), places (e.g. al-Masjid al-Ḥarām), actions (e.g. ṣalāh, qurbānī/uḍḥiyah) & speech (e.g. recitation of the Qur’ān).

Instead of allowing society and our social media feeds to dictate to us how we should live and what we should aspire to be, let us live by the standards that Allah has set for us. This will save us from misery, anxiety and depression, as the only standards that can guarantee us success and peace are the ones Allah, our Creator, has set for us. The ones set by humans are more often than not unrealistic, egotistic, flawed, harmful, and constantly changing.

4. Humble yourself in your dealings with people.

There are some qualities of Allah that we should try to emulate in our dealings with others (e.g. love, kindness, forgiveness). But there are others which are exclusive to Him such as majesty, pride and grandeur. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Allah – Exalted and Mighty is He- said, ‘Grandeur (kibriyā) is My cloak and Magnificence (ʿaẓamah) is My lower garment. Whoever competes with Me in regards to either of them, I shall cast him into the Hell-fire’” (Abū Dāwūd).

Internalising that Allah is the Greatest, not us, should make us humble. When we make a mistake or hurt someone, we should acknowledge it, apologise and make amends. Arrogance is thinking we are better than others because of something we possess. When we think like this, we begin competing with Allah’s grandeur, not realising that the blessings we possess are from Allah alone.

5. Ask Allah through His Names and be comforted.

Our beloved Prophet ﷺ would recite the following duʿā’ when he encountered a difficulty:
لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا اللّٰهُ الْعَظِيْمُ الْحَلِيْمُ ، لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا اللّٰهُ رَبُّ الْعَرْشِ الْعَظِيْمِ ، لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا اللّٰهُ رَبُّ السَّمٰـوٰتِ وَرَبُّ الْأَرْضِ وَرَبُّ الْعَرْشِ الْكَرِيْمِ

There is no god worthy of worship but Allah, the Magnificent, The Forbearing. There is no god worthy of worship but Allah, Lord of the Magnificent Throne. There is no god worthy of worship but Allah, Lord of the heavens, Lord of the earth, Lord of the Noble Throne. (Bukhārī)

Let us calm and soothe our hearts by reminding ourselves of how great Allah is, and by asking Him through His Oneness in this beautiful duʿā’. Relying on Al-Aẓīm (The Magnificent) means any ‘big’ problem or enemy we encounter can be overcome, and feel ‘small’.

We ask Allah, The Magnificent, The Great, to allow us to appreciate and glorify Him as He deserves to be appreciated and glorified. We ask Allah, The Supreme to cause our awe of Him to enable us to live by His commands.

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#3 [Permalink] Posted on 6th July 2022 18:36
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