Reflection No. 216 on Q 17:44 – Tasbīh of the Universe

وَإِنْ مِنْ شَيْءٍ إِلَّا يُسَبِّحُ بِحَمْدِهِ وَلَٰكِنْ لَا تَفْقَهُونَ تَسْبِيحَهُمْ
Wa-in min shayin illā yusabbiHu biHamdihi walākin lā tafqahūna tusabbīHahum
There is not a thing but celebrates His praise, but you do not understand their glorification.
(Sūratul Isrā, No. 17, Āyat 44)

Tasbīh is a glorification of Allah. It proclaims that He is free of all faults, completely perfect. Believers recite Tasbīh as part of their worship of Allah, to glorify Him with their hearts and tongues as He deserves. Tasbīh is an innate admission of submission and insignificance, of accepting the Lordship and Magnificence of the creator, and acknowledging that He is far above anything the human being can comprehend.

The command to glorify God has been mentioned more than all the other forms of remembrance of Allah. Āghā Muhsin Qarātī has the following to say about this:
Glorification of God is not only the fountainhead of Islamic beliefs but also the source of enormous spiritual and moral excellences:
– SubHānallāh is the source of ridhā (satisfaction). If we regard Him as free from any defect, it means that we are satisfied with His decrees and submit to the wisdom behind His will.
– SubHānallāh is the fountainhead of tawakkul (i.e. reliance on God). It is only logical that we have to trust and rely on the One who is free from any need and immune from any weakness and inability: “Immaculate is He! He is the All-sufficient.”
– SubHānallāh is the source of love for God. The Essence that is clear from any defect and shortcoming is loved by man.
– SubHānallāh is the preliminary part of praise and eulogy to God – praise and eulogy for the Essence that is free from filth and unpleasantness. Thus, in the TasbīHāt al-arba‘ah, “subhan Allah” comes first before al-Hamdulillāh.
– SubHānallāh is the key to salvation from all superstitions and man-made creeds: “Clear is Allah, the Lord of the Throne, of what they allege (concerning Him)

The amazing truth that the verse of this week alludes to is that every single thing in this universe glorifies God. The earth and the heavens, the stars, the moon, the plants, the animals, the birds, etc. all sing the glorification of the Creator. Every atom, every vibration, every cell, speaks of the glory of God. It is as though the world is abuzz with all forms of Tasbīh but we cannot perceive it.

This Tasbīh of all things has been described as the Tasbīh of existence, where the very existence and state of a creation, the path it traverses in the world, is a proof of the glory of God. There is also the verbal Tasbīh, where each sound that is created, audible to the human being or inaudible, is a hymn of glorification.

This verse reminds you to open up your heart to the world around you. Recite it when you see the trees and flowers, when you hear birds chirping, when you hear the sounds of thunder. According to the Quran, thunder glorifies God with praise. Allah says: And the thunder declares His glory with His praise (Q 13:13). See this, and listen to it, with your heart. Every atom in this world calls out towards glorification. Join them, it lifts up the heart and spirit when you glorify in unison with the world around you.

Sources: Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūne;