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The phrase can be roughly translated as "Praised be God" or "Glory (be) to God". The root of the word سبحان (subḥān) is derived from the word سبح (sabaḥa = to swim/float on the surface), giving the phrase a meaning that God is above any imperfection or false descriptions.
The phrase often has the connotation of praising God for his total perfection, implying a rejection of any anthropomorphic elements or associations with God, or any attribution of mistakes or faults to him. Thus, it serves as testimony to God's transcendence (تنزيه, tanzīh).
For example, the Quran says subḥāna llāhi ʿammā yaṣifūn (37:159; "Glory be to God [who is free from] that which they describe") and subḥāna llāhi ʿammā yušrikūn (52:43; "Glory be to God [who is free from] that which they associate with him").
There is no exact counterpart for this phrase in the English language, so all the above meanings combined hold the meaning of that word.
Muslims are also encouraged to say the phrase 33 times after prayer and throughout the day. Muhammad, the Messenger of this Ummah taught us that it is one of the four praises that God likes Muslims to say continuously.
- Al-hamdu lillahi rabbil 'alamin
- Hallelujah (הַלְּלוּיָהּ), Biblical word
- List of Islamic terms in Arabic