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Offline Wakas

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The meaning of sabih according to The Quran
« on: April 20, 2014, 12:13:09 PM »
The meaning of SaBiH from The Quran :: Part 1


The Arabic word 'sabih' (root: Siin-Ba-Ha) is commonly taken to mean 'glorify/extol/magnify'. In the following article, Quran occurrences are analysed in order to gain a better understanding. Sometimes significant points will be made, but also small observations which by themselves may not provide definitive insight, but taken together will hopefully provide a coherent view.


Abbreviations:
CAD = Classical Arabic Dictionaries
SBH = Siin-Ba-Ha


The root and its derivatives have the following meanings, taken from Project Root List:

Siin-Ba-Ha = to swim, roll onwards, perform a daily course, float, the act of swimming, occupy oneself in: the accomplishment of his needful affairs or seeking the means of subsistence, business/occupation, those who are floating, went/travel far, being quick/swift. To praise/glorify/hallow/magnify, sing/celebrate praise, holy, declaring God to be far removed or free for every imperfection/impurity


Some examples of words derived from verb form 1 "SaBaHa":

And He is the One who created the night and the daytime, and the sun and the moon, each/all in an orbit/rotation floating/swimming/rolling. [21:33]

Not proper for the sun that it overtakes the moon, and not the night can outstrip/forerun the daytime, all/each in an orbit/rotation floating/swimming/rolling. [36:40]


The noun "SuBHan" is reserved for God only and commonly occurs when something unbefitting of God is assigned to Him, or when the context discusses an attribute unique to God. This ties in with the meaning "declaring God to be far removed or free for every imperfection/impurity", for which "glory" is a reasonable translation. Some examples:

...glory be to Thee, guard us against the punishment... [3:191]
...they assign God daughters, glory be to Him... [16:57]
...God is only one God, glory be to Him... [4:171]
...glory be to our Lord, am I aught but a mortal... [17:93]
...glory be to God, Lord of the beings... [27:8]
...glory be to God, from what they associate... [59:23]
etc.


The noun "SaBHan":
...in the daytime thou has occupation prolonged. [73:7]


Some examples of verb form 2 "SaBBaHa":

Only believe in Our signs/verses are those whom when they are reminded with them, they fall acknowledging/sujjad and glorify with praise of their Lord, and they are not arrogant. [32:15]

The phrase 'SBH bi HMD' (glorify with praise) does seem to suggest a type/subset of SBH that is communicated somehow (e.g. by thunder 13:13, controlling forces 39:75, 40:8, 42:5). Of course, since God knows what is in our hearts/minds it may not necessarily mean it has to be a verbal communication.

Whatever is in the heavens and the earth glorifies God... [see 57:1, 59:1, 59:24, 61:1, 62:1]
Also: ...every thing glorifies with His praise but you do not understand their glorification. [see 17:44]

When referring to things 'glorifying with praise' in 17:44, the phrase "you do not understand their SBH" is interesting, as I, and perhaps others, would like to think that whilst we may not understand it we could at least conceptualise about the possible type of SBH things were doing. It is possible it is referring to the audience of the time only.
It may be interesting to note that the examples given of 'SBH with praise' seem to be related with communication, e.g. sound. Sound is essentially vibrations (i.e. kinetic energy) that travel through a medium, e.g. air. All atoms in the universe vibrate. We could speculate that every thing is communicating their SBH in the form of energy somehow. Interestingly, a recent theory called 'superstring theory' is an attempt to explain all of the particles and fundamental forces of nature in one theory by modelling them as vibrations of tiny supersymmetric strings. Scientists are currently hunting for these strings.

Do you not see that whoever in the heavens and the earth glorifies God - and the birds with wings outspread? Each knows its salat/bond and its glorification. And God is fully aware of what they do. [24:41]

Note that it is possible to see glorificationy/SBH of God, but due to the question being asked the implication is that seeing this SBH may require some deeper thought. If "whoever" (i.e. everyone) glorifies God then clearly SBH is not only restricted to something verbal or voluntary, as commonly thought. To my knowledge the only other terms that apply to everyone in this manner are "aSLaMa (to give over)" [3:83] and "SuJuD (give acknowledgement/recognition)" [22:18, 55:6, 13:15]. What these three terms seem to have in common is that they contain an inherent subordinate relation. In other words: A doing SBH of B implies A is subordinate to B.
Birds with wings outspread is given as an example of SBH that can be seen. The obvious question to reflect upon is what makes this an example of SBH? It seems to me the bird is simply utilising how it is designed, in unison with the laws of nature, in order to function or acheive its desired result. This majestic expression of innate design harnessing the laws of nature could be regarded as SBH (as it glorifies The Creator of such design and laws). The same could apply to humans as mentioned in 24:41, thus explain the usage.

..And We subjected the mountains with David to glorify and the birds... [21:79]
One explanation of the above is that when David praised God by voice, the mountains and birds joined him, i.e with echo and chirping respectively (see 34:10 "...mountains repeat/echo with him and the birds..." and also 38:19).

With regard to birds, note that the above SBH suggests something different to SBH of birds with wings outspread (24:41), thus, the bird is an exemplar of multiple forms of SBH (verbal and non-verbal), and is a creature capable of communicating by sound, like us. This is an important point to reflect upon.

If a human was to SBH like the bird with wings outspread, then the equivalent would be walking, running etc but this is only expressing ourselves through the laws of nature. One may argue that the bird is simply doing what it does out of instinct (inbuilt programming) and whilst humans have an inbuilt program to some extent (see 30:30), we can also choose to express ourselves through God's revealed law, e.g. by carrying out a commandment from The Quran, such as giving to charity, abstinence, feeding a needy person etc. Doing so could be classed as a type of SBH/glorification, and such an association seems to be present in the following verses:

20:30 (Moses said) "Aaron, my brother."
20:31 "Reinforce with him my resolve."
20:32 “And share with him my task.”
20:33 “That we may glorify/SBH You plenty.”
20:34 “And remember You plenty.”

There is also a possible contrast being made in this verse:
And your Lord said to the controlling forces: "I am placing a successor on Earth." They said: "Would You place in it he who would corrupt in it and spill blood while we glorify with Your praise, and sanctify You?" He said: "I know what you do not know." [2:30]

One way to SBH God is with/by his name/attribute, see examples 39:4, 56:74, 56:96, 69:52, 87:1. Perhaps this is where the traditional practice of tasbih (a form of dhikr/remembrance that involves the repetitive utterances of short sentences glorifying God) comes from. This specific practice is not something that needs to be done, but is simply one possible form of SBH.




Part 2 to follow shortly, unless The God wills otherwise.

Offline Sardar Miyan

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Re: The meaning of sabih according to The Quran
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2014, 03:40:29 PM »
What is the need to explain meaning of a single word in detail that too in two parts?
May entire creation be filled with Peace & Joy & Love & Light

Offline Ismail

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Re: The meaning of sabih according to The Quran
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2014, 10:55:44 AM »
Salaam.

Contemplating on God's blemishlessness, and Glorifying Him with Praise with all our hearts, all our bodies and all our souls, is, after all, all that Religion stands for.

Not only two parts of explanation of the root SBH.

"And if all the trees on the earth were pens ....." (31:27)

Sincerely looking forward to the second part.

Regards,
A. Ismail Sait.

Offline Saba

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Re: The meaning of sabih according to The Quran
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2014, 11:26:31 AM »
Salaam Ismail... In your view, is establishing prayers in congregation (salaat) one way in which humans glorify  / praise Allah? thanx Saba

Offline Ismail

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Re: The meaning of sabih according to The Quran
« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2014, 04:10:52 PM »
Salaam.

All actions performed in order to please the Almighty comes under the general term thasbeeh.

Regards,
A. Ismail Sait.

Offline Saba

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Re: The meaning of sabih according to The Quran
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2014, 04:55:38 PM »
Salaam Ismail ...thanx for that ....in your opinion then in verse 11.114 Allah (swt) says establish salaat at two ends of day and also in another verse ....24.58 the mention of salat al fajr is there....

ALSO In another verse..30.17... Allah (swt) says give glory (subhan) to Allah in the morning.

So in your view can we conclude that when Allah (swt) is referring 'subhan' (glory) like in 30:17, it can also mean covering the period of salaat like in 24:58...;.In other words ...sabih can = / include salaat in some cases??? thanx Saba

Offline Ismail

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Re: The meaning of sabih according to The Quran
« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2014, 03:17:17 PM »
Salaam.

'ibadath, salaath, thasbeeh, zikr, thilaavath, etc are synonyms, whose meanings may overlap.

The ultimate purpose is the same.

Regards,
A. Ismail Sait.

Offline Saba

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Re: The meaning of sabih according to The Quran
« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2014, 05:18:07 PM »
Salaam Ismail.. I agree with you too. I do think that in some cases when the Qu'ran talks about glorification it is speaking about salaat too as you rightly say, sometimes these terms are synonyms. thanx. Saba  :) ;D

synonym
noun
plural noun: synonyms
1. a word or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another word or phrase in the same language, for example shut is a synonym of close.
"‘the East’ was a synonym for the Soviet empire"

Offline Wakas

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Re: The meaning of sabih according to The Quran
« Reply #8 on: June 16, 2014, 12:21:39 PM »
salaam/peace all,

Sincerely looking forward to the second part.

The second part is now complete: click HERE.

Quote from: partial excerpt
An important point to note is that SBH does not seem to be restricted to certain times only, unlike the regular/timed salat/bond of the mumineen/believers (see 4:103). Like SBH, the word "thikr" is mentioned at specific times but it is also mentioned in general, see 3:191, 33:35, 33:41, 62:10. Note how 62:10 specifically says "remeber/thikr God frequently" AFTER the salat/bond is completed, even though 20:14 says "uphold the salat/bond for My remembrance/thikr" - clearly showing remembrance of God can occur anytime.
In other words, whilst a timed-salat could be termed a SBH/glorification (or a thikr/remembrance), not all SBH/thikr is a timed-salat.

It also makes sense not to restrict one's SBH/glorification or thikr/remembrance of God to set times only, as this is very much an individual/personal thing. Some will do more, some will do less.

Those who argue that different numbers of time-periods can be derived from the timed-SBH verses (e.g. 5, and thus argue for 5 daily salat) will have to accept that even if this were true it will not change the fact that any number above two is only possible using the singular address verses, which may or may not be applicable to us. Thus, it doesn't seem to matter how one interprets the timed-SBH verses as long as one appreciates this point.

It is possible this finding may help explain how multiple times came about. Furthermore, it is likely that one's SBH/glorification may have been different in format/content to the timed-salat, and sometimes similar, thus in such a flexible environment a mixture of practices may have become formalised later. When it comes to people's practice of religion, it is quite common for fluidity to gradually turn into rigidity, resulting in orthodoxy.


Conclusion

SBH/glorification of God can come in different forms, including expression through actions and verbally. If timed-SBH is taken as timed-salat then it is a minimum of twice daily, with an optional night vigil which the messenger likely undertook regularly [17:79, 73:20]. If the messenger opted to SBH/glorify more than others, then the individual is also free to do the same.