Friday 12th of August 2022
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Practical tasbīḥ

Practical tasbī

Imām a-ādiq (‘a) said: “One of the most difficult and important things that God has made necessary for creation is “abundant remembrance” [dhikr al-kathīr].” He (‘a) then said: “What it means is not the recital of “Subān Allāhi wa’l-amdulillāhi wa lā ilāha illallāhu Allāhu akbar” [Glory be to Allah; praise be to Allah; there is no god but Allah; Allah is greater] although it is also part of them. What it means is ‘to remember Allah as to what is lawful [alāl] and what is unlawful [arām]’ [“حَرَّمَ وَ اَحَلَّ ما عِنْدَ اللهِ ذِكْرُ”].”[1] That is, to remember God when acting; if a certain task means obedience to Him, it has to be undertaken; if it earns His displeasure, it has to be abandoned.


Repetition of tasbī

Someone came to the house of Imām a-ādiq (‘a). He saw the Imām (‘a) in a state of rukūglorifying God and repeating the tasbī 60 times. While in the state of sujūd, the Imām repeated the tasbīḥ 500 times.[2]

The repetition of tasbī is discussed not only in prayer but in the Ḥajj rites as well. At the time of looking at the Black Stone [ḥajar al-aswad], during the sa‘ī between Ṣafā and Marwah, and in other cases, the repetition of tasbī has been recommended.

For instance, in the prayer, apart from the dhikr in rukū and sujūd, Tasbīāt al-Arba‘ah can also be repeated in the third and fourth rak‘ahs. Based on both Sunnī and Shī‘ah traditions, what is meant by the bāqiyāt a-āliāt [“lasting righteous deeds”][3] in verse 46 of Sūrah al-Kahf is this Tasbīāt al-Arba‘ah.[4] As stated by Hadrat ‘Alī (‘a), the dhikr of Hadrat Ibrāhīm (‘a) at the time of constructing the Ka‘bah was “Subān Allāhi wa’l-amdulillāhi wa lā ilāha illallāhu Allāhu akbar”.[5]


Remembrance of God [dhikr Allāh] in Islamic culture

Let us take a brief look at the remembrance of God [dhikr Allāh] in Islamic culture:

When surprised and amazed, our faithful ancestors would say: “Māshā’ Allāh” [what Allah has willed!] or “subān Allāh” [glory be to Allah!]; when entering the house: “Yā Allāh” [O Allah!]; when separating from each other: “Khodā āfi” [may God protect (you)!]; when standing: “Yā ‘Alī!” [O ‘Alī!]; to remove fatigue while working: “Khodā quwwat” [may God give you power!]; in reply to the inquiry after one’s health: “Al-amdulillāh” [All praise belongs to Allah]; when offering food: “Bismillāh” [In the Name of Allah!]; and at the end of a meal, they would recite appropriate prayers and thanks to God.

Grandmothers would start their storytelling: “Yekī būd; yekī nabūd” [There was once nobody except Him].

It is clear that to live in such an atmosphere and to be reared in such an environment would encourage the remembrance of God to flow in the heart and His Name to flow from the tongue at any time and in any place.  

[1] Al-Kāfī, vol. 2, p. 80.

[2] Al-Wāfī, vol. 2, p. 107.

[3] Sūrah al-Kahf 18:46: “Wealth and children are an adornment of the life of the world, but lasting righteous deeds are better with your Lord in reward and better in hope.”

[4] Tafsīr al-Mīzān, vol. 13, p. 540.

[5] Wasā’il ash-Shī‘ah, vol. 4, p. 1207.

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