One day, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) departed from his home at dawn to go to the mosque for the Morning Prayer. His wife was offering her prayers in the area of her home where she used to pray. He returned home after sunrise and found her still seated in her prayer area.

He asked: “Have you been like this since I left you?” She said that she had. He said: “I have uttered four phrases since I left you and uttered them three times. If they were weighed against everything that you have said in supplication since the start of the day, they would equal it: ‘Glory and praise be to Allah to the number of His creations, and to the degree that He Himself is pleased with, and to the weight of His throne, and to the extent of His words’.” [Sahīh Muslim (2726)]

This is one of the best of all remembrances. We should consider its words carefully. The supplication begins with “Glory and praise be to Allah…” establishing that the glorification and praise of Allah are interrelated.

When we say “subhān Allah” (Glory be to Allah), we are glorifying Allah above any imperfection or deficiency. It is a declaration of His transcendence. Allah is al-Subbūh, the Most Glorified, who has no partner or rival, who possesses every aspect of perfection, and whose actions are all holy and free from evil. He is not subject to the capricious and transient qualities of temporal, created beings.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) used to call upon Allah by this name while bowing and prostrating in prayer: "Most Glorified, Most Holy, Lord of the angels and the Spirit." [Sahīh Muslim (487)]

The Qur’an addresses Allah’s glory in numerous ways and in various contexts. Allah declares His glory, saying: “Glorify the name of your Lord, the Most High.” [Sūrah al-A`lā: 1] In this verse, Allah’s glory is mentioned in conjunction with His transcendence.

Then we say “…to the number of His creations…” thereby acknowledging that our glorifying and praising Allah is also from His grace and favor upon us.

Then we say “…and to the degree that He Himself is pleased with…” affirming that we hope to attain Allah’s pleasure through our glorification of Him. The greatest thing that we can attain is Allah’s pleasure. By saying “Glory and praise be to Allah to the degree that He Himself is pleased with”, it is like saying: “Glory be to You, my Lord, until it attains Your pleasure.” This is indeed a great invocation, that we would glorify Allah until, by that alone, we attain His pleasure.

Then we say: “…and to the weight of His throne…” The extent of Allah’s throne is known only to Allah. Its weight and dimensions are beyond human knowledge. If we were to glorify Allah to the weight of His throne, we would be doing so to an incalculable extent and the virtue of our doing so would be equally incalculable.

Finally, we say: “…and to the extent of His words.” Here we express our hope to glorify Allah to the extent of all of His words. We must understand that Allah’s words are of two kinds:

1. Scriptural words: These include all the commands and prohibition, and all of the teachings that Allah has revealed to His various prophets and messengers throughout time, including the Torah, the Psalms, the Gospel, and the Qur’an.

2. Existential words: These are the words by which Allah creates, sustains and provides for all things, by which He brings life and causes death, and by which He maintains all existence. Allah says: “All those who are in the heavens and the earth ask of Him; every moment He is in a state (of glory).” [Sūrah al-Rahmān: 29]

He says: “Verily, when He intends a thing, His Command is, ‘be’, and it is!” [Sūrah YāSīn: 82]

And He says: “If all the trees in the earth were pens, and the sea, with seven more seas to help it, (were ink), the words of Allah could not be exhausted.” [Sūrah Luqmān: 27]

And He says: “Say: If the ocean were ink (wherewith to write out) the words of my Lord, the ocean would be used up before the words of my Lord would be exhausted, even if we added another ocean like it to help us.” [Sūrah al-Kahf: 109]

Therefore, if we say “Glory and praise be to Allah to the extent of His words” we are aspiring to infinity, since Allah’s words cannot be enumerated. Indeed, this returns us to the very first phrase we say in this supplication, which also aspires to infinity: “Glory and praise be to Allah to the number of His creations…”, since everything that Allah has created is beyond any limit we can imagine.

If we consider that we are not only aspiring to praise Allah for every object in the heavens and Earth that we discern, but also for every living cell, and beyond that, every atom from which they are composed, then we can begin to appreciate the magnitude of what we are saying.

This is why this supplication that Allah revealed to His Messenger is one of the most comprehensive of all praises.