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The phrase "Subhan Allah" in Arabic language

Tasbiḥ (Arabic: تسبیح) means praising God as exalted and pure from all imperfections. Any vocal dhikr containing such praise is also called tasbih.

The best time for saying tasbih is before sunrise and sunset, and the most common formula for it is "subhanallah" (Arabic: سبحان الله, Glory be to Allah).

Tasbih of Lady Fatima (a) is one of the most famous types of tasbih in Shiism, and emphasized in several Sunni and Shi'i hadiths.

Seven suras of the Qur'an begin with tasbih, and so they are known as musabbihat.


Tasbih is an Arabic infinitive derived from the word "subhan" (Arabic: سبحان) which means "exalted". In Islamic context, tasbih means exaltation of God from every kind of weakness and need.[1]

In Qur'an

Tasbih and its paronyms are repeated ninety times in Qur'an. Among them, the word "subhan" is the most used word. Most of these words mean glorifying and exalting God.

Sometimes tasbih come together with praise (hamd) in Qur'an, such as praise of angles, thunder, and etc.[2] Exegetes of Qur'an believe that this implies that creatures cannot say tasbih by themselves, so they should praise God for his kindness for letting them say tasbih.[3].

According to Qur'an, God Himself is the first who does tasbih[4], after Him the ones who are with Him[5]. Also angels say tasbih with "hamd[6] or without it[7]; it is mostly interpreted as prayer[8].

In Qur'an's view, all of existence[9] including mountains and birds[10], heavens, sun, moon, stars, living things, and most of people are saying tasbih[11].[12]


Some verses of Qur'an encourage to say tasbih in each morning and evening[13][14], this shows that tasbih could be done all times.

In other verses, it is commanded to tasbih in some special times, like before sunrise and sunset[15], midnight[16], in duration of night and day[17], and after sajda[18]. Among them tasbih is specially emphasized in sunrise and sunset, so in time of alteration of day and night which matches the concept of passing and exaltation. Some believe that it means prayer which is the best type of tasbih[19].

Some Types

Subhan Allah

The most obvious type of tasbih is saying "subhan Allah" (Arabic: سبحان الله, exalted be Allah)

Dhikr of Ruku' and Sajda

  • Dhikr of ruku': "subhan-a rabbi-a l-'azim-i wa bi-hamdih" (Arabic: سبحان ربّي العظيم و بحمده, exalted be my lord the great and I praise him)
  • Dhikr of sajda: "subhan-a rabbi-a l-a'la wa bi-hamdih" (Arabic: سبحان ربّي الأعلی و بحمده, exalted be my lord the highest and I praise him)

Tasbihat al-Arba'a (the Four Tasbihs)

In Islamic tradition, usually tasbih means dhikr of "subhan Allah"; but in its extended usage this term includes other dhikrs such as "Allah-u akbar" (Arabic: أللهُ أکبر, Allah is greater) (takbir), "la ilah-a illa Allah" (Arabic: لا إِلهَ إلّا الله, there's no god except Allah) (tahlil), and "al-hamd-u li-Allah" (Arabic: ألحَمدُ لله, the praise is for Allah) (tahmid). "Tasbihat al-arba'a" which is one of mandatory recites of prayer, consists of these four dhikrs[20].

Tasbih of Lady Fatima (a)

A wooden misbaha

Tasbih of Lady Fatima (a) is one of the most famous Shi'a dhikrs. Many hadiths emphasize tasbih of lady Fatima (a) and state many virtues for it. Tasbih of lady Fatima (a) is one of the most important ta'qibs of prayer and rites before sleep. This dhikr consists of 34 times "Allah akbar" (Arabic: الله اکبر, Allah is greater), 33 times "al-hamd li-Allah" (Arabic: الحمد لله, the praise is for Allah), and 33 times "subhan Allah" (Arabic: سبحان الله, exalted be Allah)[21].

Some hadiths extended the concept of tasbih. They consider scientific conversation, and, with emphasis, mournful sighing for oppression to Ahl al-Bayt as tasbih[22].


In Farsi language, a string of beads made of clay, stone, wood, plastic, etc. is also tasbih which is held in hand for counting dhikr or doing istikhara.

Misbaha usually consists of 101 beads in three parts of 33 beads. These parts are separated by two beads with different shapes than others. The number of beads and their partition is for compliance with tasbih of Lady Fatima (a).


Suras of al-Saff, al-A'la, al-Hadid, al-Jumu'a, al-Taghabun, al-Hashr, and al-Isra' begin with tasbih, so they are known as musabbihat[23].


  1. Farāhīdī, al-ʿIyn, vol. 3, p. 151-152; Rāghib al-Iṣfahānī, al-Mufradāt, p. 221; Fakhr al-Rāzī, al-Tafsīr al-kabīr, vol. 2, p. 188.
  2. The Thunder celebrates His praise, and the angels [too], in awe of Him, and He releases the thunderbolts and strikes with them whomever He wishes. Yet they dispute concerning Allah, though He is great in might. (Quran 13:13)
  3. Fakhr al-Rāzī, al-Tafsīr al-kabīr, vol. 2, p. 188; Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Mīzān, vol. 15, p. 111.
  4. Immaculate is He who has created all the kinds of what the earth grows, and of themselves, and of what they do not know. (Qurʾān 36:36)
  5. Indeed those who are [stationed] near your Lord do not disdain to worship Him. They glorify Him and prostrate to Him. (Qurʾān 7:206)
  6. When your Lord said to the angels, 'Indeed I am going to set a viceroy on the earth,' they said, 'Will You set in it someone who will cause corruption in it, and shed blood, while we celebrate Your praise and proclaim Your sanctity?' He said, 'Indeed I know what you do not know.'(Qurʾān, 2:30)
  7. They said, 'Immaculate are You! We have no knowledge except what You have taught us. Indeed You are the All-knowing, the All-wise.'(Qurʾān, 2:32)
  8. Ṭabarī, Jāmiʿ al-bayān, vol. 1, P. 166-167; Fakhr al-Rāzī, al-Tafsīr al-kabīr, vol. 2, p. 189.
  9. The seven heavens glorify Him, and the earth [too], and whoever is in them. There is not a thing but celebrates His praise, but you do not understand their glorification. Indeed He is all-forbearing, all-forgiving. (Qurʾān 17:44)
  10. ... And We disposed the mountains and the birds to glorify [Us] with David, and We have been the doer [of such things]. (Qurʾān 21:79)
  11. Have you not regarded that to Allah prostrates whoever is in the heavens and whoever is on the earth, and the sun, the moon, and the stars, the mountains, the trees, and the animals and many of mankind?... (Qurʾān, 22:18)
  12. Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Mīzān, vol. 13, p. 110-112.
  13. Qurn, 33:42
  14. And glorify Him morning and evening. (Quran 33:42)
  15. So be patient with what they say, and celebrate the praise of your Lord before the rising of the sun and before the sunset, and glorify Him in watches of the night and at the day’s ends, that you may be pleased. (Qurʾān, 20:130)
  16. So submit patiently to the judgement of your Lord, for indeed you fare before Our eyes. And celebrate the praise of your Lord when you rise. (Qurʾān, 52:48)
  17. And worship Him for a watch of the night and glorify Him the night long. (Qurʾān, 76:26)
  18. And glorify Him through part of the night and after the prostrations. (Qurʾān, 50:40)
  19. Maybudī, Kashf al-asrār, vol. 1, p. 134.
  20. Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol.87, p. 251, 254, 287; vol.88, p.122.
  21. Ḥillī, Nihāyat al-aḥkām, vol. 1, p. 511-512; Shahīd al-Thānī, al-Rawḍa al-bahīyya, vol. 1, p. 285; Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 76, p. 205; vol. 86, p. 6; vol. 102, P. 89, 240, 260.
  22. Al-Majlisi, Bihar al-anwar, vol. 1, p .171; vol. 2, p. 147.
  23. Qarīb, Tabyīn al-lughāt, vol. 1, p. 524.


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  • Majlisī, Muḥammad Bāqir al-. Biḥār al-anwār. Bierut: Dār al-Wafāʾ, 1403 AH.
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