Useful Sacred Phrases in Islam
--Compiled by Timothy Conway, Ph.D.
NOTE: an "h" preceded by a "." is to be pronounced gutturally, as, for instance with the name of the Prophet, "Mu.hammad" (d.632 CE).
The name of Prophet Mu.hammad (and Prophet Jesus, and other major prophets) is customarily followed by the rapid saying of the honorary phrase salla Llâhu ‘alayhi wa sallam, “God’s peace and blessings be upon him” (Qur’ân 33:56)
The customary invocation to begin any enterprise (prayer, a speech, a journey, a business enterprise) is the basmala, which goes:
Bismillâh ar-ra.hmân ar-ra.hîm (“In the Name of God, most merciful and most compassionate.”) This phrase also opens the most frequent prayer in Islâm, the Fâti.ha (see below for text), the opening sûra of the Qur’ân.
--Here is the customary greeting and response throughout the Muslim world:
as-Salâm Alaikum (“God’s Peace be upon you”)
wa-laikum as-Salâm (“And God’s Peace be upon you”)
(always respond with this if someone greets you with Salâm Alaikum)
The shahâda, or basic Muslim profession of faith, is as follows:
Lâ ilâha illâ Allâh (there is no god but God),
Mu.hammad rasûl Allâh (and Mu.hammad is the messenger of God).
--This shahâda is included in the âdhân (call to prayer) issued by the muezzin (the one who, five times each day, ascends the minaret tower and soulfully calls the umma, or Muslim community, to .salât/prayer). The Muslim mystics, or Sûfîs, will repetitively chant the first part of the shahâda (Lâ ilâha illâ Allâh) as part of their vocal meditation of Divine remembrance, dhikr or zikr, in the realization “There is nothing but God.”
Whenever one speaks with the intention of doing something or having something happening, one always appends it with the saying inshâ’ Llâh, “if it please Allâh” or “God willing.” So, for example, “Hopefully we will meet again, inshâ’ Llâh.” “I am going to London tomorrow, inshâ’ Llâh.”
When one feels admiration for a person or thing: Ma sha’ Llâh, “it is as Allâh has pleased.”
When one speaks with gratitude over some positive happening, one might add, al .Hamdu li ’Llâh, “Praise be to God” (similar to the Hebrew Alleluia), or Allâh hu Akbar (“God is Superlatively Great.”) These sacred phrases can also be used when saying farewell to anyone.
When receiving a gift from another or receiving any good, one thanks the bestower of the gift with the phrase:
Jazâ-ka-Llâh (“May God reward thee”) or Jazâ-ka-Llâh u khairâ (“May God give you good reward”).
Subhâna-Llâh (“Glory to God”) is used when one has to express contrition over one's imperfections or errors. This phrase is also used when one sees another person making a mistake.
Bârakah Allâh (“May Allah bless you”) is used whenever one sees any good in someone, with the intention that the good be increased in greater measure and never be cut off.
Yar.hamu-ka-Llâh (“May God have mercy on you”) is a prayer for someone in distress.
Innâ li-Llâhi wa innâ ilai-hi râji'un (“Surely we are God’s and to Him we shall return”) is said whenever one is informed of the death of a person or anyone’s major loss.
Bismillâh ar-Ra.hmân ar-Ra.hîm
Al-.hamdu Lillâhi Rabbil ‘âlamîn
Maliki Yaumid Dîn
Iyyâka Na’abudu Wa Iyyaka Nasta’în
Ihdinâs Sirât al-Mustaqîm
Sirât al-Ladhîna An’amta ‘Alaihim Ghair al-Maghdûbi ‘Alaihim, Wa Ladâllîn.
(In the Name of God, all-Compassion, all-Mercy. Praise to God, Lord of all worlds. Compassionate, merciful Master of the Last Day, You alone do we worship and ask for help. Guide us on the straight path, the path of those in your grace. Not the path of those in anger or wandering astray. Amen.) –This is the prayer that every Muslim recites before doing the five-times daily prayer.
[The Tau.hîd prayer affirming God's utter nonduality or oneness:]
Bismillâh ar-Ra.hmân ar-Ra.hîm
Qul Huwa, Allâhu A.had, Allâhu as-.Samad
Lam Yalid Walam Yûlad Walam Yakun Ilahû Kufuwan A.had
(In the Name of God, all-mercy. God is One, Eternal, eternal, unconceiving. There is nothing like God.) –This is one of the prayers usually said, among a few others, during the five-times daily prayer.