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Tahlil

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Tahlil (Arabic:تهليل) is saying the phrase "لا اله الا الله" (La ilah-a illa Allah, there is no god but Allah), the most important phrase about Unity of God in Islam. This phrase is among recommended dhikrs said by the believers; and in narrations, it has been referred to as the best speech, strong divine fortress, and a pillar of faith. The hadith Silsilat al-Dhahab quoted from Imam al-Rida (a) shows the importance of this dhikr before God.

Etymology

Tahlil is from the root of "h-l-l" which means "to rise up one's voice". The manhut [consisting of two or more parts] infinitive of the phrase is "Haylala" (هيللة); like "Basmala" (بسملة) for "بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم" (Bism Allah al-Rahman al-Rahim, In the Name of God, the All-Compassionate, the Most-Merciful) and "Hawqala" (حوقلة) for "لا حول و لا قوة الا بالله" (La hawl-a wa la quwwat-a illa bi-llah, No change and no power is but with Allah).

In religious terminology, Tahlil means "to say La ilah-a illa Allah" (لا اله الا الله). The cause of calling this act as tahlil is that when the person says this phrase, he rises up his voice.

In the Qur'an and Hadiths

The phrase "La ilah-a illa Allah" has been mentioned exactly as such twice in the Glorious Qur'an, and in similar forms such as "لااله الاّ أنا" [there is no god but I] and "لااله الاّ أنت" [there is no god but You] and especially "لااله الاهو" (there is no god but He) have been mentioned more than 30 times in the Qur'an.

Commentators have interpreted "word of Godwariness" (کلمة التقوی, Kalimat al-taqwa) in the Qur'an[1] referring to the phrase "La ilah-a illa Allah" based on the narration from the Prophet (s) and the reports of his companions and their Followers.

In hadith sources and commentaries, "La ilah-a illa Allah" has been referred to by names or attributes such as "word of monotheism" (کلمة التوحید, Kalimat al-Tawhid), word of sincerity (کلمة الاخلاص, Kalimat al-Ikhlas), the right word (الکلمة الحق, Kalimat al-Haqq), the pure word (الکلمة الطیبة, Kalimat al-Tayyiba), and the firmist handle (العروة الوثقی, al-'Urwat al-wuthqa). Some have considered it the Greatest Name of God.

Importance as a Dhikr

The "La ilah-a illa Allah" is among recommended dhikrs said by the believers. Some comments mentioned in narrations about this dhikr are:

  • One of the pillars of faith: According to hadiths, admitting to them is one of the five pillars of Islam and the greatest gate of the seventy some gates of faith.
  • Best words: the noble Prophet (s) considered the best of words, "La ilah-a illa Allah" and mentioned "Subhan Allah" (سبحان الله), "al-Hamd-u li-llah" (الحمدلله) and "Allah-u Akbar" (الله اکبر) as equal dhikrs with it.
  • Advising to say it: Due to its importance, the Prophet (s) invited people in early Islam by the phrase "قولوا لااله الاّ اللّه تُفلحوا" [Say, "there is no god but Allah" and become prosperous!). He (s) advised Muslims to revive their Islam by many times saying "La ilah-a illa Allah".
  • The strong fortress of God: In a Qudsi hadith, Imam al-Rida (a) narrated through his forefathers from the Prophet (s) and became famous as Silsilat al-Dhahab, God regarded "La ilah-a illa Allah" as the strong fortress of Himself, entering which brings safety from divine punishment, with the condition of wilaya.

In 'Irfan

The phrase "La ilah-a illa Allah" has always paid attention to by Muslim mystics and indeed one of the reasons for its significance has been its Qur'anic usage. And Ibn al-'Arabi says that this is the mercy of God towards human being that has been mentioned in the Qur'an in such an expression, otherwise how could servants knowing the truth first say "La ilalh-a" (there is no god) and then try to prove it? It seems that hadiths narrated about "La ilah-a illa Allah" have been influential in formation and promotion of mystical interpretations of the phrase "La ilah-a illa Allah". In his Ihya' 'ulum al-din, Abu Hamid al-Ghazzali has collected some of such narrations. One of these hadiths gives the good news that anyone who says "La ilah-a illa Allah" with sincerity, will go to the paradise.

Some mystics have called "La ilah-a illa Allah" a hidden (heartfelt) dhikr, because pronouncing it does not need using the lips and thus it can also be said with closed lips.

Notes

  1. When the faithless nourished bigotry in their hearts, the bigotry of pagan ignorance, Allah sent down His composure upon His Apostle and upon the faithful, and made them abide by the word of Godwariness, for they were the worthiest of it and deserved it, and Allah has knowledge of all things. (Qur'an 48:26)

References

  • The material for this article is mainly taken from تهلیل in Farsi WikiShia.