Beautiful Explanation of the Opening Supplication in Salah (Prayer)
After this, there occurs the opening supplication, which is optional, and states: “Subhaanak Allaahumma wa bia Hamdika. Wa Tabaarakasmuka wa Ta’aala Jadduka. Wa Laa ilaaha Ghayruka.” [Free from imperfections are You, O Allaah, and all praise is Yours. Blessed is Your Name, Glorified be Your Greatness, and there is no deity worthy of worship besides You]
The meaning of “Subhaanak Allaahumma” is: I absolve You from all imperfections in a manner that befits Your majesty. “Wa bi-Hamdika” i.e. while praising You. “Wa Tabaarakasmuka” i.e. blessing can be attained by mentioning You. “Wa Ta’aala Jadduka” i.e. Glorified be Your Greatness. “Wa Laa Ilaaha Ghayruka” i.e. There is nothing that has the right to be worshipped on earth or in heaven except You, O Allaah.
~ the explanation ~
The author, may Allaah have mercy on him, states here that the opening supplication is a recommended act. It is neither a pillar nor a recommended act. Rather it is supererogatory. He then went on to choose one version of the opening supplication, which is the shortest, amplest, and most comprehensive of these supplications from the perspective of praise, veneration and glorification of Allaah. And it is: “Subhaanak Allaahumma wa hi Hamdika. Wa Tabaarakasmuka wa Ta’aala Jadduka. Wa Laa Ilaaha Ghayruka.”
The great scholar Ibn Al-Qayyim listed a number of opening supplications in his book Zaad al-Ma’aad. But he preferred this supplication over the numerous other ones of this nature, some of which are longer. This is due to the fact that this concise supplication contains such praise, veneration and glorification for Allaah the likes of which cannot be found in other supplications. Other supplications consist more of requests and invocations whereas this one consists of (purely) glorification, honoring and exaltation (of Allaah).
The author then takes it upon himself to explain this supplication as well as what comes after it. The meaning of: “Subhaanak Allaahumma” is: “I absolve You, O Lord, in a manner that befits You, from all imperfections.” This is an absolving that befits His majesty, and it is derived from the Qur’aan and the Sunnah.
The people are divided in their definitions of absolving Allaah from imperfections. Some people have defined it as negating Allaah’s Attributes, which is why the Jahmiyyah and Mu’tazilah have negated all of Allaah’s Attributes, claiming that they are removing imperfections from Allaah. The reason for this (according to them) is because if one affirms Attributes for Allaah, this leads to likening Allaah to His creation. So, according to them, freeing Allaah from imperfections can only be achieved by negating His Attributes.
The Ashaa’irah and the Matooridiyyah did the same with respect to the textual Attributes. The textual Attributes are those attributes for which the intellect plays no part in affirming. They are only affirmed by way of narrations and textual proofs. According to the understanding of the Ashaa’irah, affirming these attributes literally goes against removing imperfections from Allaah. So as a result they resorted to taweel (misinterpretation). They did not negate the Attributes as others did. Rather, they claimed that what was literally stated in these texts was not what Allaah intended. So therefore, interpreting them them with other than their literal meanings is binding based on the claim of removing imperfections from Allah.
You will notice that everyone who negates or distorts the meaning of Allaah’s Attributes claims to be removing imperfections from Allaah by what they do. When the first group negated Allaah’s Attributes, they did not intend disrespect for Allaah. Rather, according to their claim, they only intended to remove imperfections from Him. But where is this removal of imperfections? They went astray in this regard. Why did they go astray? Because they looked for guidance in other than Allaah’s Book. Whoever searches for guidance in other than the Book of Allaah and in other than what the Messenger brought, will no doubt go astray. This is a principle. Whoever looks for guidance and truth in other than what the Messenger of Allaah came with will be misguided as recompense for turning away (from the Qur’aan and the Sunnah). This is since guidance, correctness and truth is restricted to only that which the Messenger of Allaah (peace be upon him) brought.
If we want to know the true manner of removing Allaah, from imperfections in a manner that befits His majesty, we should read Allaah’s statement: “There is nothing like Him (in comparison), and He is the All Hearer, the All-Seer.” [Surah Ash-Shooraa: 11]
Is there a greater example of removing imperfections from Allaah than this? Allaah affirms Attributes for Himself but negates any comparisons in those Attributes that He has affirmed. This is what is meant by tanzeeh (removing imperfections from Allaah). It is that you affirm for Him what He has affirmed for Himself from complete Attributes, perfect Names and flawless Actions.
Affirm for Him what He has affirmed for Himself. Then negate any comparisons to what He has affirmed (for Himself) since no one can desribe Allaah who is more knowledgeable than Him. Also affirm for what His trusted Messenger has described Him with and negate my comparisons to what he (peace be upon him) has affirmed, since no one can describe Allaah from His creation who is more knowledgeable than Allaah’s Messenger (peace be upon him).
This is how Allaah has guided the people of truth and the callers to truth. So they know how to remove imperfections from Allaah without negating His Attributes, distorting their meaning, making comparisons to them or likening them to His creation. This is the point the author is trying to make when he says: “I absolve You from alt imperfections, my Lord, in a manner that befits You.” This is the type of removing of imperfections from Allaah that befits His majesty, which has been derived from the Qur’an and the Sunnah.
“Wa bi-Hamdika” means: “while praising You.” So this consists of removing imperfections from Allaah while at the same time praising Him. But on the other hand, if you have negated Allaah’s Perfect Attributes, how can you then praise Him?! If you have negated the Attribute of Mercy from Allaah, how can you praise Him? You say that it is impossible for Allaah to have Mercy and that Love is something impossible for Allaah. He is neither loved nor does He love. How then can you praise him when you negate Mercy from Him?
You heard previously the qudsee hadeeth about Al-Faatihah in which it is stated: “And when the servant says: Ar-Rahmaan-ir-Raheem’, Allaah says: ‘My servant has extolled Me.” As for the one who negates the Attribute of Mercy from Allaah, it is not possible for Him to praise Allaah, since praising Allaah can only be achieved through His exemplary Names, Attributes, and Actions.
“Wa Tabaarakusmuka” means: Blessing is achieved by mentioning You. Your Name is removed from any imperfections and blessing is achieved through mention of Your Name. This is how the author (Muhammad bin Abdil-Wahhaab) has explained it.
“Wa Ta’aala jadduka” means: Glorified be Your greatness grandness. The word “jadd” here takes on the meaning of grandness and self sufficiency. So it means: “Glorified be Your Grandness and self-sufficiency.”
This means that: “No one on earth or in heaven is worshipped with due right except for You, O Allaah.” The phrase “with due right” must be mentioned when explaining the meaning of “Laa Ilaaha illaaAllaah. You must include “due right” or “rightfully” or else the meaning will be wrong. If you were to say: “There is no one worshipped in the heavens or on the earth except for You” we would be contradicting reality since those who are worshipped are many. But the one who is worshipped after all others have been negated is the One who is worshipped in truth or with “due right.”
There is no one worshipped on earth or in heaven with due right except for You. As for those who are worshipped in the heavens and the earth, the worship of them is futile and invalid. The sun and the moon are worshipped but worshiping them is invalid. Trees are worshipped. Many of the large trees with many branches (known as dawhaat) are still worshipped today. This goes also for stones, tombs and shrines. The worship of these things is futile.
This also applies to the worship of Jinn and the worship of graves. Every time something is worshipped, it becomes known as a “god” according to the language. It is not called Allaah, but rather a “false” god. The term “god” is general and encompasses the One who is worshipped with due right as well as those that are worshipped wrongfully. The word “Allaah” is specifically reserved for the One who is worshipped with due right – the Creator of the heavens and the earth. Them is no one worshipped in the heavens or the earth (with due right)except for you, O Allaah.
Taken from the Book “An Explanation of ‘The Conditions, Pillars and Requirements of Prayer” Published by al-ibaanah – Explained by Shaykh Muhammad Amaan al Jaami (rahimahullaah) and Shaykh Abdul Muhsin al-Abbaad (hafidhahullaah). You are encouraged to buy this Beautiful Book.