Islamic Studies

SubhanAllah – Flawless

SubhanAllah, He is Absolutely Flawless. The utter beauty, completeness, total negation, absolute perfection and exaltation that is contained in saying those two words completely boggles my mind and I know I cannot do any justice to it. My intention is to give a tiny drop from the ocean of what tasbeeh really contains, so we do not continue to repeat this phrase (especially in salah) without knowing its true meaning.

The word ‘tasbeeh’ means the act of saying subhanAllah just as tahmeed means the act of saying alhamdulillah.

Tasbeeh is comprised of two words: Subhan and Allah: سبحان الله

Subhan is from seen-ba-ha (س-ب-ح) and it means to glorify, praise, magnify, extol Allah, by tongue or by heart. It includes:

1. To say He has no flaw in His Perfection, that He is Far above any imperfection.

2. He is far above and beyond any similarity to His Creation.

3. 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.

Translations such as “glory be to Allah” do not contain the full meaning of tasbeeh, rather it is an impartial translation. A more appropriate translation is, SubhanAllah: How Perfect is Allah and Far Above any flaw and association.

Another meaning of the root seen-ba-ha is the act of swimming, floating, and being quick and swift as well as being remote. How does this connect with glorifying Allah? It denotes the ‘quickness’ in betaking oneself to Allah, in agility in serving and obeying Him. When doing tasbeeh, you affirm (i.e., keep afloat) the Perfection of Allah ta’ala and His disassociation to His creation. It is used for prompt obedience that comes out immediately, like an immediate reaction. (Imagine when you see something amazing, right away, you say: “subhanAllah!”)

A name of Allah that coincides with this root is As-Subooh, which means The Exalted One who is praised and glorified extensively. We learn from a  hadeeth in Saheeh Muslim from A’ishah radi Allahu anha, that the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam used to say in ruku’ and sajdah: Suboohun, Qudoosun, Rabb al Malaa’ikati war Rooh. Suboohun: the One who is Exalted a lot, Quddoos : the One who is very Pure, Rabb ul Malaa’ikati war Rooh : Rabb of the angels and of Jibreel. Why do we say this in ruku and sajdah? It is out of humility, reminding ourselves how small we are, and we acknowledge Allah’s Purity and that He is the Rabb.

As stated in the previous post on hamd, the dwellers of Jannah’s last call will be: “Alhamdulillah!”, but what do they say when they enter Jannah?

دَعْوَاهُمْ فِيهَا سُبْحَانَكَ اللَّهُمَّ

“Their call therein will be “Subhanaka Allahumma!”, How Exalted are You, O Allah, a Far from imperfection!” (Surah Yunus, verse 10) (It is very interesting to see the speech of the dwellers of Jannah, here’s an assignment for the readers: look throughout the Qur’an and see how the dwellers of Jannah speak when they reach Jannah, what is it that you find? To make this easier to find the verses, search in the Qur’an using this site:

So when we say “SubhanAllah” the complete meaning is (but not limited too): I declare (or celebrate, extol) the remoteness, or freedom, of Allah from any imperfection or impurity or from anything derogatory from His glory. From the attribution of there being an equal to Him, or any companion, or anything like unto Him, or anything contrary to Him, from everything that should not be attributed to Him.


About the author


Amatullah is a student of the Qur’an and its language. She completed the 2007 Ta’leem program at Al-Huda Institute in Canada and studied Qur’an, Tajweed (science of recitation) and Arabic in Cairo. Through her writings, she hopes to share the practical guidance taught to us by Allah and His Messenger and how to make spirituality an active part of our lives. She has completed her undergraduate degree in Social Work and will be completing a Masters program in 2014. Her experiences include working with immigrant seniors, refugee settlement, and accessibility for people with disabilities.


  • Anyone want to earn 1000 hasanaat (good deeds)? How about 1000 bad deeds erased?

    Alhamdulillah, there is a way 🙂 and it will only take a few minutes!

    عن سعد بن أبي وقاص رضي الله عنه قال : كنا عند رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فقال ” أيعجز أحدكم أن يكسب كل يوم ألف حسنة ؟ ” فسأله سائل من جلسائه كيف يكسب أحدنا ألف حسنة ؟ قال : ” يسبح مائة تسبيحة فتكتب له ألف حسنة أو تحط عنه ألف خطيئة

    Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqaas may Allah be pleased with him narrated that, “We were with the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam and he asked us, ‘is one of you incapable of earning a thousand good deeds every day?’ So one of the people in the audience asked, ‘how could we get a thousand good deeds?’ So he sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam said, ‘whoever glorifies Allah (does tasbeeh/SubhanAllah) one hundred times, a thousand good deeds are written for him or a thousand bad deeds are removed.'” (Saheeh Muslim)

    May Allah soften our tongues and hearts with His Remembrance, Ameen.

  • SubhanAllah!
    So now when someone who didn’t know what subhanallah means or the importance of it, reads this article, and learns something out of it, you will get Hasanaat each time that person mentions subhanallah.
    May allah give you jennah. Ameen

  • brother Mohammed, it is a collection of resources. If you speak (or understand) Arabic, this will be easy for you to research inshaAllah. Tafseer books as well as Lexicons contain all of these meanings.
    If you don’t speak Arabic, then the only English source I can think of that contains these meanings is Lane’s Lexicon. You can find it here, look under the root for seen-ba-ha:

  • Jazakallah Khair for the article. Indeed so many things in the creation aroung us makes one say Subhanallah! The countless numbers of Allah’s blessings and the perfect rhythm with which all created things are in coordination. It makes one realise the fact as stated in a hadith Qudsi where Allah says: “I have prepared for my righteous slaves such things which no eye has seen, no ear has ever heard, nor which a human heart can ever think of ” Hence, making us realise the splendour of heaven. May Allah through His Infinite Mercy grant us an abode in Jannah.

  • SubhanAllah
    what an excellent explanation.
    i was never satisfied with most common urdu translation of SubhanAllah i.e “Allah pak hai”. which we normally translate is like Allah is clean.
    Now i understand the full meaning of this. May Allah bless you for sharing such a valuable peace of information.

  • MashaALLAH. JazakALLAH kahir, truly worth full article. i was little bit confused after translating it in english and urdu.i am searching the meaning from many days and now i got the correct meaning and understood properly:)

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