‘Allahu akbar’ means - ‘Allah is greater’.
We say this at the beginning of our Salaah, and by saying it – we are telling ourselves that ‘Allah is greater’ than anything else in our lives. So now we need to focus on Allah in our prayer.
Rukoo’ (Bowing) – Subhaana Rabbiy al-’ADheem -
Subhaan comes from the root word Sabaha = it Floated.
Anything which is constantly Floating or Gliding.
Meaning: something which does not sink or fall – but keeps in its high position.
This is why Allah says; ‘Subhaan Allah’ about Himself when the disbelievers slander Him (i.e. by accusing Him of having a son, or daughters etc.)
Subh = Perfection, Gliding/floating above all falsehood and evil.
Subh-AAN = ABUNDANT/LOADS of Perfection.
So by saying; Subhaana Rabbiy = Abundant Perfection (to)
Rabb-IY ( ربي ) [MY Master].
The Meaning related to RUKOO’ (bowing)-
By bowing to Allah, we are standing in a position which is lower than our normal standing position. Which means we are not in a state of ‘Subhaan’ (perfect balance and uprightness). Yet we are bowing to One who is ALWAYS Subhaanah (Perfect/Above ALL).
GEM: This is why we are praising Allah as ‘subhaana Rabbiy’ (perfectly upright is my Master), showing that we are humbling ourselves to His Perfection, by Lowering ourselves from our normal Upright (subh) position.
al-’ADheem ( العظيم ) – from the word; ‘ADhm ( عظم ) = Bone.
The Bone is strong and firm and has all descriptions of being the Strength and structure of the body.
So Allah is the ‘ADheem = Strong, Firm, Powerful.
‘aDhEEm (the letter ‘Ya’ after the 2nd Root Letter signifies ‘Constant‘) = CONSTANTLYstrong, firm, powerful.
= Subhaana Rabbiy al-‘ADheem-Perfect is my Master, the Constantly Strong, Firm and Powerful.
RUKOO’ (bowing) – We praise Allah as al-’ADheem – the Firm, Powerful, and we know that the ‘ADhm (Bone) is Stable.
So Allah is al-’ADheem – constantly Stable/firm/powerful.
Now Abdul Nasir Jangda mentioned in his tafseer (i think surah Haqqah 69:52) that when we do Rukoo’ [bowing] to Allah – we are in one of the most Non-Stable positions. So that even if a really strong man was in Rukoo’ (bowing) position, and a child ran past him and accidentally pushed him – this man would probably fall or lose stability. Showing that humans are not Constantly stable.
GEM: So by bowing to Allah in Rukoo’ – we are admitting our Weakness and Instability (Lack of Stability/strength/firmness) to our Master Allah, al-’ADheem (the Constantly Firm/Stable/Strong.)
Sajdah (Prostration) – Subhaana Rabbiy al-A’la:
Subhaana = Abundant Perfection and Constant Highness is given to Allah as praise when we are in the lowest position in our prayer.
So we praise His highness when we are low position which is not normal for humans to be in, except when in a state of total submission, dependance and weakness.
So we admit our weakness and dependance to Allah by lowering ourselves in a position which everyone (Muslim or non-Muslim) recognizes as submission.
al-A’la ( أعلى
) = the Higher.
When we prostrate (do Sajdah) to Allah – we place ourselves in the lowest position the human can get.
By placing your face on the ground – you are saying you are the lowest, and the Arabs would say to someone they hated; ‘May your nose be rubbed in dust’ (on the ground) – i.e. may you be humiliated.
So for someone to place their nose on the ground is humiliation, but the believer puts his nose on the Lowest ground for no-one, except for One only. Who? Al-A’la (the Highest!)
We gain strength through this, and non experiences the true joy of it except the Muslim, and none finds honor through sajdah (prostration) except the Muslim.
«ثَلَاثٌ أُقْسِمُ عَلَيْهِنَّ: مَا نَقَصَ مَالٌ مِنْ صَدَقَةٍ، وَمَا زَادَ اللهُ عَبْدًا بِعَفْوٍ إِلَّا عِزًّا، وَمَنْ تَوَاضَعَ للهِ رَفَعَهُ الله»
(I swear regarding three matters: no charity shall ever decrease the wealth; whenever one forgives people, then Allah will magnify his honor; and he who is humble for Allah, then Allah will raise his rank.) [Tafsir ibn Katheer]