Understanding the Term "Allah (SWT)" A Guide for Everyone - Ummah.com

Understanding the Term “Allah (SWT)” A Guide for Everyone

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By ummah

The Islamic faith is rich with terminology that offers profound meaning and insight into its beliefs and practices. Two terms you may have come across, especially in Muslim writings or conversations, are “Allah” and “SWT.”

Whether you’re a practicing Muslim or someone eager to learn more about Islam, this article aims to unravel the deeper meaning behind these terms.

What is “Allah”?

Simply put, “Allah” is the Arabic word for “God.” It’s used to refer to the one and only deity in Islam, the same deity recognized in other Abrahamic religions like Christianity and Judaism.

The word “Allah” is unique in its construction and meaning. Unlike the English word ‘God’, which can be pluralized to ‘gods’ or feminized to ‘goddess’, the term ‘Allah’ has no plural or gender. This linguistic feature emphasizes the oneness of God in Islam and negates any possibility of associating partners with Him.

Diving into “SWT” – Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala

Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the term “Allah,” you might have noticed an acronym that often follows it, especially in written content: “SWT.”

This stands for “Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala,” an Arabic phrase meaning “Glory be to Him, the Exalted” or “May He be glorified and exalted.”

“SWT” is an expression of reverence and respect used by Muslims worldwide when mentioning Allah’s name. This act of reverence is analogous to how Christians might use terms like “God Almighty” or “Our Lord” when referring to God.

Let’s break down “Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala”:

  • Subhanahu: This derives from the root word “S-b-h,” which means to glorify or praise. When used in the context of Allah, it emphasizes His perfection and the absence of any flaws or imperfections.
  • Wa: Simply means “and.”
  • Ta’ala: Means “He is exalted.” It conveys the idea that Allah is beyond human comprehension, elevated in status, and above any imperfections.

Together, the phrase serves as a constant reminder of Allah’s unmatched greatness and the duty of believers to recognize and honor this.

Other spellings you might see are Allaah Subhaanahu wa ta’aala as some people choose to transliterate these arabic words into English differently.

You might even see people writing Sub7anahu wa ta3ala as some people use numbers to represent Arabic letters that are not found exactly in the English language. 7 is a strong Ha and 3 is the letter ‘ayn

The Significance of Using “SWT”Why do Muslims say Allah Subhanahu wa ta’ala?

You might wonder, why is it recommended to use these expressions of reverence when mentioning Allah’s name? Why do we say Subhaanahu wa ta’ala?

Using “SWT” after mentioning Allah’s name showcases deep respect and recognition of His majesty. But where does this reverence stem from? It’s natural that creation should revere their creator.

muslim sunset

To understand this, let’s delve into the Qur’an, where even the angels, beings created by Allah, express their limited knowledge in comparison to Allah’s vast wisdom.

In Surah Al-Baqarah, Ayah 32, the angels respond to a command from Allah, saying:


"قَالُوا سُبْحَانَكَ لَا عِلْمَ لَنَا إِلَّا مَا عَلَّمْتَنَا ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْعَلِيمُ الْحَكِيمُ"

English Translation:

"They said, 'Exalted are You; we have no knowledge except what You have taught us. Indeed, it is You who is the Knowing, the Wise.'"
  • Arabic:
    • “قَالُوا سُبْحَانَكَ لَا عِلْمَ لَنَا إِلَّا مَا عَلَّمْتَنَا ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْعَلِيمُ الْحَكِيمُ”
  • English Translation:
    • “They said, ‘Exalted are You; we have no knowledge except what You have taught us. Indeed, it is You who is the Knowing, the Wise.'”

This verse captures the essence of humility and the acknowledgment of Allah’s supreme knowledge and wisdom. Just as the angels recognized their limited knowledge before Allah, using terms of reverence like “SWT” serves as a reminder of Allah’s greatness and our humility before Him.

Deep-rooted Respect

Using “SWT” after mentioning Allah’s name displays deep respect and recognition of His majesty. It’s a small gesture that signifies a Muslim’s awareness of the greatness and magnificence of Allah.

A Constant Reminder

As Muslims go about their daily lives, saying or writing “SWT” becomes a constant reminder of the divine and the values that underpin their faith.

Encouraging Mindfulness

The act of consciously adding “SWT” promotes mindfulness. It’s not just a habitual phrase but a momentary pause to reflect upon God’s glory.

Integrating Reverence into Daily Life

When we incorporate terms like “Allah SWT” into our daily speech and writings, it goes beyond mere linguistic practice. It becomes an act of mindfulness and spiritual anchoring.

  1. Developing Taqwa (God-consciousness): By using “SWT” routinely, one develops a heightened sense of awareness of Allah’s presence. This awareness, or Taqwa, is essential in Islam. It helps believers navigate their daily decisions with righteousness and piety.
  2. Strengthening Connection with the Divine: Every time we say “SWT”, we are essentially sending praises to Allah. This repeated act strengthens our bond with Him, making us feel closer to our Creator and nourishing our souls.
  3. Promoting Unity: When Muslims around the world use “SWT” or similar expressions of reverence, it fosters a sense of unity and shared values. It’s a gentle reminder that, regardless of cultural or regional differences, the core beliefs remain the same.
  4. Acts as a Spiritual Checkpoint: In conversations or discussions, especially heated ones, using “SWT” can serve as a momentary pause – a checkpoint that calms and centers, reminding all involved of the higher values and principles they uphold.
  5. Imparting Values to the Next Generation: When younger members of the community hear and see these terms being used, it naturally inculcates in them the importance of respect and reverence towards Allah. It’s a silent yet powerful way of passing down values.

By integrating these reverential terms and understanding their deeper implications, believers can hope to lead a life more aligned with the teachings of Islam, finding serenity and purpose in every action and thought.

The Words Subhanahu wa ta’ala in Quran

The words “Subhanahu” (often translated as “Glorified is He”) and “Ta’ala” (often translated as “the Exalted”) are used in several verses in the Qur’an, although not always together. Here are some references where these words are mentioned:

Quran with heart

Surah Al-Isra (17:43):

Arabic: “تَعَالَىٰ عَمَّا يَقُولُونَ كَبِيرًا”

English: “Exalted is He and high above what they say by great sublimity.”

Surah Al Isra

Surah Al-Saffat (37:159):

Arabic: “سُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ عَمَّا يَصِفُونَ”

English: “Exalted is Allah above what they describe.”

Surah al Saffat

Surah Al-Baqarah (The Cow), Ayah 32:


“قَالُوا سُبْحَانَكَ لَا عِلْمَ لَنَا إِلَّا مَا عَلَّمْتَنَا ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْعَلِيمُ الْحَكِيمُ”

English Translation (by Saheeh International):

“They said, ‘Exalted are You; we have no knowledge except what You have taught us. Indeed, it is You who is the Knowing, the Wise.'”

Surah al Baqarah

A Message for Non-Muslim Readers

To our non-Muslim readers, understanding these terms provides a window into the Muslim worldview. Just as in any faith or philosophy, language plays a pivotal role in shaping thoughts, values, and behaviors.

By appreciating the terms “Allah” and “SWT,” you gain insight into the reverence and love Muslims hold for the divine.

muslim and non muslim

At its core, Islam is a faith that emphasizes monotheism, love, and reverence for the divine. The term “Allah” encapsulates the central tenet of monotheism, while “SWT” is a beautiful expression of reverence. By understanding and appreciating these terms, we can foster mutual respect and dialogue between diverse communities. Whether you’re a Muslim seeking to deepen your faith or someone keen on interfaith understanding, we hope this article has shed light on these essential Islamic terms.

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