What is Hamd?
The word Hamd حمد has the following meanings/implications:
1. Praise, eulogy, commendation, admiration. حمد is different than مدح in that حمد is only of such acts as are volitional [see 3:188] and done by choice, and not are just accidental. For example, describing a pearl as clear and beautiful is not حمد but مدح because the beauty of a pearl is not because of the pearl’s will. The Creator of the pearl is worthy of all حمد.
2. It also embodies the idea of thankfulness. حمد is different from شكر in that شكر is only on account of favour received whereas حمد is sometimes on account of favour received and sometimes on account of other causes.
3. It also implies magnifying and honouring of the object thereof.
4. It also implies lowliness, humility and submissiveness in the person who offers it.
5. It also implies spontaneity and complete absence of any pretension, compulsion or hypocrisy in the person who offers it.
6. It also implies full comprehension of the object of praise by the person who offers it.
7. It also implies absolute perfection and tangible beneficence in the object of praise.
One of the attributes of the Believers (momineen), as given in the Quran, is that they are الحامدون al-hamidoon [9:112]. True حمد Hamd is spontaneous and based on full comprehension of the object of praise. It is not possible to comprehend Allah directly, as He has himself said in the Quran (لا تُدْرِكُهُ الأبْصَارُ) [6:103]. We can know Allah only through His Ayaat in the Quran and in the universe (الْعَالَمِينَ al-aalameen). In the Quran He has given His attributes as well as other ayaat. Al-aalam literally means ‘that by means of which one knows’ or ‘that by means of which the Creator is known’. So we can know Allah by pondering on the universe (i.e. al-aalameen). Ayat literally means ‘a sign by which something is known’. We can know Allah by pondering over His ayaat. His ayaat are in the Quran as well as in the universe. So in order to render true Hamd to Allah we need to ponder on the Quran as well as on the universe. Whenever, we will find a fascinating passage in the Quran and/or a captivating characteristic in any of His creation, His hamd will spontaneously come on our lips. Examples of some of His ayaat in the universe are mentioned in the Quran as are given in the following:
وَلَهُ الْحَمْدُ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأرْضِ وَعَشِيًّا وَحِينَ تُظْهِرُونَ
يُخْرِجُ الْحَيَّ مِنَ الْمَيِّتِ وَيُخْرِجُ الْمَيِّتَ مِنَ الْحَيِّ وَيُحْيِي الأرْضَ بَعْدَ مَوْتِهَا وَكَذَلِكَ تُخْرَجُونَ
وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ أَنْ خَلَقَكُمْ مِنْ تُرَابٍ ثُمَّ إِذَا أَنْتُمْ بَشَرٌ تَنْتَشِرُونَ
وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ أَنْ خَلَقَ لَكُمْ مِنْ أَنْفُسِكُمْ أَزْوَاجًا لِتَسْكُنُوا إِلَيْهَا وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَكُمْ مَوَدَّةً وَرَحْمَةً إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لآيَاتٍ لِقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ
وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ خَلْقُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأرْضِ وَاخْتِلافُ أَلْسِنَتِكُمْ وَأَلْوَانِكُمْ إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لآيَاتٍ لِلْعَالِمِينَ
وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ مَنَامُكُمْ بِاللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ وَابْتِغَاؤُكُمْ مِنْ فَضْلِهِ إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لآيَاتٍ لِقَوْمٍ يَسْمَعُونَ
وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ يُرِيكُمُ الْبَرْقَ خَوْفًا وَطَمَعًا وَيُنَزِّلُ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مَاءً فَيُحْيِي بِهِ الأرْضَ بَعْدَ مَوْتِهَا إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لآيَاتٍ لِقَوْمٍ يَعْقِلُونَ
وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ أَنْ تَقُومَ السَّمَاءُ وَالأرْضُ بِأَمْرِهِ ثُمَّ إِذَا دَعَاكُمْ دَعْوَةً مِنَ الأرْضِ إِذَا أَنْتُمْ تَخْرُجُونَ
وَلَهُ مَنْ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأرْضِ كُلٌّ لَهُ قَانِتُونَ
Seeing that the heavens and the earth bear an open testimony that all Praise is due to Him, whether you observe them in the darkness of the night or in full blast of the daylight.
He it is Who brings forth the living out of the dead and brings forth the dead out of the living. And gives life to the earth after it had been lifeless. And thus it is – that you will be brought forth. (And thus can His Guidance revive nations.)
And among His Signs it is that He created you out of dust – and then, behold, you become human beings ranging widely.
And among His Signs is this: He created for you mates from yourselves, so that you might find comfort in them. And He ordained between you love and kindness. In this, behold, are Signs for people who think. (AZWAJ = Husband + Wife, that are mates to, and complement each other towards fulfillment of each other’s personality).
And one of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your tongues and colors; most surely there are signs in this for the learned.
And one of His signs is your sleeping and your seeking of His grace by night and (by) day; most surely there are signs in this for a people who would hear.
And one of His signs is that He shows you the lightning for fear and for hope, and sends down water from the clouds then gives life therewith to the earth after its death; most surely there are signs in this for a people who understand
And one of His signs is that the heaven and the earth subsist by His command, then when He calls you with a (single) call from out of the earth, lo! you come forth.
And His is whosoever is in the heavens and the earth; all are obedient to Him.
Al-Qur’an, 030.018-026 (Ar-Room)
إِنَّ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأرْضِ وَاخْتِلافِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ وَالْفُلْكِ الَّتِي تَجْرِي فِي الْبَحْرِ بِمَا يَنْفَعُ النَّاسَ وَمَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مِنْ مَاءٍ فَأَحْيَا بِهِ الأرْضَ بَعْدَ مَوْتِهَا وَبَثَّ فِيهَا مِنْ كُلِّ دَابَّةٍ وَتَصْرِيفِ الرِّيَاحِ وَالسَّحَابِ الْمُسَخَّرِ بَيْنَ السَّمَاءِ وَالأرْضِ لآيَاتٍ لِقَوْمٍ يَعْقِلُونَ
Verily, in the creation of the heavens and of the earth, and the succession of night and day: and in the ships that speed through the sea with what is useful to man: and in the waters which God sends down from the sky, giving life thereby to the earth after it had, been lifeless, and causing all manner of living creatures to multiply thereon: and in the change of the winds, and the clouds that run their appointed courses between sky and earth: [in all this] there are signs (i.e. ayaat) indeed for people who use their reason.
Al-Qur’an, 002.164 (Al-Baqara)
إِنَّ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأرْضِ وَاخْتِلافِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ لآيَاتٍ لأولِي الألْبَابِ
الَّذِينَ يَذْكُرُونَ اللَّهَ قِيَامًا وَقُعُودًا وَعَلَى جُنُوبِهِمْ وَيَتَفَكَّرُونَ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأرْضِ رَبَّنَا مَا خَلَقْتَ هَذَا بَاطِلا سُبْحَانَكَ فَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ
Verily, in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the succession of night and day, there are indeed signs (i.e. ayaat) for all who are endowed with insight, who remember God when they stand, and when they sit, and when they lie down to sleep, and [thus] reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth:”O our Sustainer! Thou hast not created [aught of] this without meaning and purpose. Limitless art Thou in Thy glory! Keep us safe, then, from suffering through fire!
Al-Qur’an, 003.190-191 (Aal-E-Imran)
وَهُوَ الَّذِي أَنْزَلَ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مَاءً فَأَخْرَجْنَا بِهِ نَبَاتَ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ فَأَخْرَجْنَا مِنْهُ خَضِرًا نُخْرِجُ مِنْهُ حَبًّا مُتَرَاكِبًا وَمِنَ النَّخْلِ مِنْ طَلْعِهَا قِنْوَانٌ دَانِيَةٌوَجَنَّاتٍ مِنْ أَعْنَابٍ وَالزَّيْتُونَ وَالرُّمَّانَ مُشْتَبِهًا وَغَيْرَ مُتَشَابِهٍ انْظُرُوا إِلَى ثَمَرِهِ إِذَا أَثْمَرَ وَيَنْعِهِ إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكُمْ لآيَاتٍ لِقَوْمٍ يُؤْمِنُونَ
And He it is who has caused waters to come down from the sky; and by this means have We brought forth all living growth, and out of this have We brought forth verdure. Out of this do We bring forth close-growing grain; and out of the spathe of the palm tree, dates in thick clusters; and gardens of vines, and the olive tree, and the pomegranate: [all] so alike, and yet so different! Behold their fruit when it comes to fruition and ripens! Verily, in all this there are signs (i.e. ayaat) indeed for people who will believe!
Al-Qur’an, 006.099 (Al-Anaam)
إِنَّ فِي اخْتِلافِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ وَمَا خَلَقَ اللَّهُ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأرْضِ لآيَاتٍ لِقَوْمٍ يَتَّقُونَ
Most surely in the variation of the night and the day, and what Allah has created in the heavens and the earth, there are signs for a people who guard (against evil).
Al-Qur’an, 010.006 (Yunus)
وَهُوَ الَّذِي مَدَّ الأرْضَ وَجَعَلَ فِيهَا رَوَاسِيَ وَأَنْهَارًا وَمِنْ كُلِّ الثَّمَرَاتِ جَعَلَ فِيهَا زَوْجَيْنِ اثْنَيْنِ يُغْشِي اللَّيْلَ النَّهَارَ إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لآيَاتٍ لِقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ
وَفِي الأرْضِ قِطَعٌ مُتَجَاوِرَاتٌ وَجَنَّاتٌ مِنْ أَعْنَابٍ وَزَرْعٌ وَنَخِيلٌ صِنْوَانٌ وَغَيْرُ صِنْوَانٍ يُسْقَى بِمَاءٍ وَاحِدٍ وَنُفَضِّلُ بَعْضَهَا عَلَى بَعْضٍ فِي الأكُلِ إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لآيَاتٍ لِقَوْمٍ يَعْقِلُونَ
And He it is Who spread the earth and made in it firm mountains and rivers, and of all fruits He has made in it two kinds; He makes the night cover the day; most surely there are signs in this for a people who reflect.
And in the earth are tracts (diverse though) neighbouring, and gardens of vines and fields sown with corn, and palm trees – growing out of single roots or otherwise: watered with the same water, yet some of them We make more excellent than others to eat. Behold, verily in these things there are signs for those who understand!
Al-Qur’an, 013.003-004 (Ar-Rad [The Thunder])
وَسَخَّرَ لَكُمُ اللَّيْلَ وَالنَّهَارَ وَالشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ وَالنُّجُومُ مُسَخَّرَاتٌ بِأَمْرِهِ إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لآيَاتٍ لِقَوْمٍ يَعْقِلُونَ
He has committed in your service the night and the day, as well as the sun and the moon, and the stars are committed by His Command. These are sufficient signs for people who use their intellect.
Al-Qur’an, 016.012 (An-Nahl)
وَسَخَّرَ لَكُمْ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الأرْضِ جَمِيعًا مِنْهُ إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لآيَاتٍ لِقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ
And He has made subservient to you, from Himself, all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. Therein, behold, are Signs for people and nations who reflect.
Al-Qur’an, 045.013 (Al-Jathiya)
إِنَّ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأرْضِ لآيَاتٍ لِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ
وَفِي خَلْقِكُمْ وَمَا يَبُثُّ مِنْ دَابَّةٍ آيَاتٌ لِقَوْمٍ يُوقِنُونَ
وَاخْتِلافِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ وَمَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مِنْ رِزْقٍ فَأَحْيَا بِهِ الأرْضَ بَعْدَ مَوْتِهَا وَتَصْرِيفِ الرِّيَاحِ آيَاتٌ لِقَوْمٍ يَعْقِلُونَ
تِلْكَ آيَاتُ اللَّهِ نَتْلُوهَا عَلَيْكَ بِالْحَقِّ فَبِأَيِّ حَدِيثٍ بَعْدَ اللَّهِ وَآيَاتِهِ يُؤْمِنُونَ
Behold, in the heavens and the earth are Signs for all who are willing to attain conviction.
And in your own creative design, and in all the animals which He has spread widely, there are Signs for those who explore and attain certainty.
And in the alternation of the night and the day, and in the means of sustenance which Allah sends down from the Height, reviving the earth which had been lifeless, and in the change of winds and seasons – in all this are Signs for people who use their reason.
These are the Messages of Allah We convey to you with Truth. Then, in what HADITH, if not in Allah and His Verses, will they believe?
Al-Qur’an, 045.003-006 (Al-Jathiya)
وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ اللَّيْلُ وَالنَّهَارُ وَالشَّمْسُ وَالْقَمَرُ لا تَسْجُدُوا لِلشَّمْسِ وَلا لِلْقَمَرِ وَاسْجُدُوا لِلَّهِ الَّذِي خَلَقَهُنَّ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ إِيَّاهُ تَعْبُدُونَ
And among His signs are the night and the day and the sun and the moon; do not prostrate to the sun nor to the moon; and prostrate to Allah Who created them, if Him it is that you serve.
Al-Qur’an, 041.037 (Fussilat)
وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ خَلْقُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأرْضِ وَمَا بَثَّ فِيهِمَا مِنْ دَابَّةٍ وَهُوَ عَلَى جَمْعِهِمْ إِذَا يَشَاءُ قَدِيرٌ
And one of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and what He has spread forth in both of them of living beings; and when He pleases He is all-powerful to gather them together.
Al-Qur’an, 042.029 (Ash-Shura)
وَفِي الأرْضِ آيَاتٌ لِلْمُوقِنِينَ
وَفِي أَنْفُسِكُمْ أَفَلا تُبْصِرُونَ
And in the earth are signs for those who wish to attain conviction.
And also in yourselves, your individual psyche and soma, your folk and the unity in diversity among your human communities. Can you not then use your inner vision? (‘Anfusikum’ entails all the meanings rendered here).
Al-Qur’an, 051.020-021 (Adh-Dhariyat)