In the Qur’an there are a few surahs that begin with tasbeeh, a declaration of Allah’s Perfection, known as Al Musabbihaat. These surahs begin in different forms yet they all point to the same thing: there is no Rabb higher or greater than Allah azza wa jal.
Tasbeeh comes from seen-ba-ha (س-ب-ح) and it means to glorify, praise, magnify, extol Allah, by tongue or by heart. It includes:
- To say He has no flaw in His Perfection, that He is Far above any imperfection.
- He is far above and beyond any similarity to His Creation.
- He is free from and above all kinds of association (shirk) and any un-divine attributes.
When one does tasbeeh, they negate any flaw and affirm all perfection in Allah azza wa jal.
Infinitive/Ism form (Subhaan)
“Glorified (and Exalted) be He (Allah) Who took His slave for a journey by night from Al-Masjid-al-Haram (at Makkah) to Al-Masjid-al-Aqsa (in Jerusalem), the neighborhood whereof We have blessed, in order that We might show him of Our signs. Verily, He is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer.” (17:1)
This form shows permanence and timelessness. Even if there was no creation, Allah is Perfect and His Perfection is still declared. We learn from this that creation affirms nothing. Our acknowledgment of Allah’s Infinite and Supreme Authority over all things does not affirm it, rather with or without us, He is Perfection.
Command Form (Sabbih)
“Glorify the Name of your Lord, the Most High.” (87:1)
Sabbih is a command to declare perfection. When there is a “ba” (like in surah Nasr: sabbih bihamdi), the meaning becomes declare his perfection by using His names; so it is a command to do dhikr. This signifies recognizing the perfection of Allah, declaration of His Perfection and maintaining His Perfection.
Past tense (sabbaha)
“Whatsoever is in the heavens and the earth glorifies Allah – and He is the All-Mighty, All-Wise.” (57:1)
“Whatsoever is in the heavens and the earth glorifies Allah – and He is the All-Mighty, All-Wise.” (59:1)
“Whatsoever is in the heavens and the earth glorifies Allah – and He is the All-Mighty, All-Wise.” (61:1)
This form shows that the Perfection and Greatness of Allah is declared by all of creation.
Present Tense (Yusabihu)
“Whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is on the earth glorifies Allah, the King (of everything), the Holy, the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.” (62:1)
“Whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is on the earth glorifies Allah. His is the dominion, and to Him belong all the praises and thanks, and He is Able to do all things.” (64:1)
Present tense also includes future, so this form shows that the Perfection and Greatness of Allah is declared during the present and will be declared in the future.
These forms show that the Perfection, Greatness and Flawlessness of Allah azza wa jal is always declared, in the past, present and future. SubhanAllah.
(Based on Br Nouman Ali Khan’s tafseer of Surah al ‘Alaa.)