As Muslims, the phrase “alhamdulillah” الحمد لله (all praise and thanks is for Allah) is an integral part of our deen; we are taught to say it from both the Qur’an and Sunnah. Linguistically, Hamd is from ha-meem-daal ( حمد or ح م د) and it is to mention the good attribute of a person, such an attribute that is the at the level of perfection. Hamd is based on mahabbah (love) and ta’dheem (greatness). Hamd is not a fake praise, meaning it is not done to please the person or with no significance, Hamd is always true. Hamd implies admiration, love and magnifying the praise of mahmood (one who is praised). Hamd is a sincere and true praise, that the mahmood (one who is praised) deserves. The one doing hamd is doing submission to the one being praise–out of humility. Hamd also includes sincere gratitude and mentioning the kamaal (best) traits of someone.When we say alhamdulillah, it implies exclusivity and entirety, meaning that praise is entirely and only for Allah. The ‘al’ (ال) before ‘hamd’ is called “istighraaq” in Arabic, and when “al” comes before this phrase its means that entire praise, all kinds of praise and all the time, hamd is due to Allah. The “li” (in lillah, meaning for Allah) implies limitation which is known as “ikhtisaas” in Arabic and it means that Allah is the only One who deserves the hamd.
Now with this concrete definition in mind, what exactly does ‘Alhamdulillah’ mean? It means: The perfect, most Beautiful praise is only for Allah.
Alhamdulillah appears 38 times in the Qur’an, five of them at the beginning of surahs. (Look up which surahs start with hamd if you are not aware of them)
When a surah begins with hamd, it implies three interpretations:
- Firstly, to tell and to make it known that: alhamdulillah, all praise and thanks is for Allah. As if to announce it.
- Secondly, when we open something we begin with hamd. (like a khutbah)
- Thirdly, it teaches us how we should praise Allah, by saying: alhamdulillah and we also learn that we must praise Him.
A Name of Allah that coincides with Hamd is, Al-Hameed, Allah ta’ala is Al-Hameed, The Praiseworthy. How is this different from mahmood (one who is praised)? Mahmood is one who is praised only when they are praised by someone. Hameed is One who is ALWAYS deserving of praise, NO MATTER if He is praised or not. So Allah ta’ala is The Most Praiseworthy, if we do hamd of Him or not.
Alhamdulillah. Such a short phrase with a heavy meaning. Let us remember this meaning the next time we say Alhamdulillah.
wa lillahil hamd!
Al-Huda Institute Canada: Ta’leem Al Qur’an English course for women.