Four words to outweigh your words
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Muslim reports that on the authority of Juwayriyah that the Prophet sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam left her (house) one morning after having prayed Fajr whilst she was (sitting) in her place of prayer, then he returned after the forenoon had come and she was still sitting there. He asked, “Are you still in the same state as when I left you?” She replied, “Yes.” The Prophet said, “After I left you, I said four words three times, which if they were weighed against what you have said since morning, they would outweigh them (and these words are):
سُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ وَبِحَمْدِهِ ، عَدَدَ خَلْقِهِ ، وَرِضَا نَفْسِهِ ، وَزِنَةَ عَرْشِهِ ، وَمِدَادَ كَلِمَاتِهِ
“(I declare with utmost veneration that) Allāh is High above and far from all imperfections and I praise Him by the number of His creation; by the Pleasure of His Self; by the weight of His Throne; and by the ink of His Words.”
This dhikr (remembrance) begins with tasbīh (exaltation) and hamd (praise). Tasbīh entails a negation of imperfect and flawed attributes whilst hamd entails an affirmation of Perfect and Beautiful Attributes. The tasbīh and hamd are then combined with four words or phrases ― each one highlighting and increasing the magnitude of this tasbīh and hamd from four different aspects: quantity, quality, weight and longevity.
By the number of His creation
His statement, “by the number of His creation” is a reference to the quantity. Allāh is praised and exalted equal to the number of each and every existence that was created and will be created. What’s more, there is no end to His Act of Creating for He continues and will forever continue to create, and therefore the enormity of this praise and exaltation cannot be enumerated.
Furthermore, in this is an affirmation of His Act of Creating, which in turn affirms His Knowledge, Will, Intention, Ability and Wisdom.
By the Pleasure of His Self
His statement, “by the Pleasure of His Self” refers to the quality. He is praised and exalted not only by an amount (quantity) befitting Him, but also in a manner pleasing to Him.
There is a subtle point in seeking His Pleasure, and that is that His Pleasure and Satisfaction necessitates His Acceptance, Love, Generosity, Forgiveness and Mercy.
Thus, the believer seeks the Pleasure and Satisfaction of Allāh through every single tasbīh and hamd that constitutes ‘adada-khalqihi (the number of His creation).
By the weight of His Throne
His statement, “by the weight of His Throne” refers to the weight of the tasbīh and hamd.
The Throne is the biggest and heaviest creation. It is narrated that the heavens compared to the Throne are smaller than that of a ring in a desert, and that the distance between the ear lobe of one of its carriers and his shoulder is the distance of seven hundred years. If there was anything heavier than the Throne then it would have been mentioned in its stead.
Words are weighed on the Day of Judgement. The believer thus hopes that each and every tasbīh and hamd is equal to the Throne in weight.
This statement affirms Might, Power, Authority and Kingdom for Allāh alone.
By the ink of His Words
His statement, “and by the ink of His Words” refers to the longevity of the dhikr.
Allāh said, “And if whatever trees upon the earth (and plants and vegetation) were pens and the sea (was ink), replenished thereafter by seven (more) seas, the Words of Allāh would not be exhausted. Indeed, Allāh is Exalted in Might and Wise” [31:27]. In this is an affirmation of His Perfect and Eternal Life.
The believer thus hopes that each and every tasbīh and hamd is preserved for eternity, never erased or blotted by his own misdeeds.
Two types of remembrance
Ibn al-Qayyim categorized this remembrance as dhikr mudā‘af whereas single statements like subhānAllāh and alhamdulillāh are dhikr mufrad.
Dhikr Mudā‘af is a string of sentences that simultaneously affirm several of Allāh’s Beautiful and Awe-Inspiring Attributes. This form of praise reiterates to the believer—rooting in his heart and mind—the Perfect and Beautiful Essence of his Lord and His Wise, Merciful Actions.
This dhikr (mudā‘af) combines flawlessness (tasbīh) which subsumes Complete Glory, Beauty and Ability; and praise (hamd) which comprises Utmost Generosity, Immense Goodness, Kindness and Mercy, all of which lead to admiring and loving Allāh, and appreciating Him. The string of sentences that follow express:
1. Knowledge, Capability, Will and Power (by the number of His creation)
2. Acceptance, Love, Compassion, Bounty, Kindness, Pardon, Forgiveness (by the Pleasure of His Self)
3. Might, Authority and Dominion (by the weight of His Throne)
4. Perfect and Eternal Life (by the ink of His Words)
This combination is then raised to the highest level of praise and exaltation in quantity, quality, weight and longevity. In fact, the believer (muhsin) endeavours that all his deeds reach this level in all four aspects!
والحمد لله رب العالمين
وصلى الله وسلم على نبينا محمد