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lā ilāha illā allāh

 

The Arabic phrase lā ilāha illā allāh is one of major pillars of the Muslim faith. This sacred phrase is a part of the basic Muslim statement of faith, it is a part of the call to prayer that echoes across the country-side five times a day throughout the Muslim world, it is chanted as a central part of virtually every Sufi gathering, and it appears in two verses of the glorious Qur'ān as follows:
 

arabic text 1

For they when they were told that
 there is no god except Allah,
 would puff themselves up with pride and say:
"What! shall we give up our gods for the sake of a Poet possessed?"

                          Sura as-Saffat (37:35-36)
                                         based on tr by Abdullah  Yusuf Ali

 

arabic text 2

Know therefore that there is no god but Allāh
and ask forgiveness for thy sins
 and for [the sins of] the men and women who believe:
for Allāh knows how ye move about
and how ye dwell in your homes.

                          Sura Muhammad (47:19)
                                          based on tr by Abdullah Yusuf Ali

click this link to hear Shaikh Saad al-Ghamdi recite this verse

FaAAlam annahu la ilaha illa Allahu wastaghfir lithanbika walilmu'mineena walmu'minati wallahu yaAAlamu mutaqallabakum wamathwakum

 


The phrase lā ilāha illā allh, commonly known as the tahlīl (meaning rejoicing or jubilation), is written in Arabic as:

arabic text 3

and has been translated into English as:

...there is no god but Allāh...
              tr by Abdullah Yusuf Ali


...there is no God save Allāh,...
             tr by Muhammad Pickthall


...there is no god but Allāh...
                 tr by M.H. Shakir  

 
...there is no god but Allāh...
             tr by Faruq Malik


...there is no deity save God...
              tr by Muhammad Asad
 

... there is nothing to worship or adore other than Allāh...
              tr by wahiduddin


The four individual words in the phrase lā ilāha illā allāh, have the following meanings:

lā = no, not, none, neither
ilāha = a god, deity, object of worship
illā = but, except (illā is a contraction of in-lā, literally if not)
allāh = allāh

Note: a mark (circumflex) over a vowel indicates that is a long vowel.

When written as part of a sentence where Allah is the subject, there will be a "u" at the end of Allah, denoting that Allah is indeed the subject. Thus, in the verses of al-Qur'an shown above, the phrase is written as lā ilāha illā allāhu.

When used as an entire sentence, such as the call to prayer (adhan), the "u" at the end is silent, and the phrase becomes simply lā ilāha illā allāh.

For some guidance on Arabic pronunciation, click on the following link to hear the phrase lā ilāha illā allāh recited, chanted or sung by a variety of native-speakers:

audio recordings of lā ilāha illā allāh
 



lā ilāha illā huwa


The phrase lā ilāha illā allāh is used only twice in the Qur'ān (37:35 and 47:19), while the phrase, lā ilāha illā huwa, is used frequently in the Qur'ān, such as the following example from Sūrah al-'Imrān (3:2):


arabic text 4
 

Allah, (there is) no god but He,
the Ever-Living, the Self-Subsisting by Whom all subsist

                                                          tr by M. Ali

click this link to hear Shaikh Saad al-Ghamdi recite this verse

Allahu la ilaha illa huwa al-hayyu al-qayyoom
 

The word huwa is a third-person singular masculine nominative pronoun that is, in general, translated into English as he.

Since both Arabic and English lack a neuter gender nominative pronoun with which to refer to Allāh, the Arabic huwa, when referring to Allāh, could be well expressed with the English translation That One.

The phrase lā ilāha illā huwa is written in Arabic as:

arabic text 5

and has been translated into English as:

...there is no god but He...
              tr by Abdullah Yusuf Ali


...there is no God save Him,...
             tr by Muhammad Pickthall


...(there is) no god but He...
                 tr by M.H. Shakir  

 
...there is no god but Him...
             tr by Faruq Malik


...there is no deity save Him...
              tr by Muhammad Asad
 

... there is nothing to worship or adore other than That One...
              tr by wahiduddin
 


lā ilāha illā anā
 

Another similar phrase used a few times in the Qur'ān is lā ilāha illā anā, which appears, for example, in Sūrah Tā Hā  (20:14) as:

arabic text 6


"Verily I am Allah: there is no god but I:
so serve thou me (only) and establish regular
prayer for celebrating My praise."


click this link to hear Shaikh Saad al-Ghamdi recite this verse

Innanee ana Allahu la ilaha illa ana faAAbudnee waaqimi assalata lithikree
 

The phrase lā ilāha illā anā is written in Arabic as:

arabic text 7

The word anā is a first-person singular pronoun, generally translated into English using either the pronoun I or me.

The phrase lā ilāha illā anā has been translated into English as:

...there is no god but I...
              tr by Abdullah Yusuf Ali


...there is no God save Me,...
             tr by Muhammad Pickthall


...(there is) no god but I...
                 tr by M.H. Shakir  

 
...there is none worthy of worship but Me...
             tr by Faruq Malik


...there is no deity save Me...
              tr by Muhammad Asad


 

For more word-by-word translations from Arabic, see the following pages on this web site:

- devotional phrases in Arabic
- ninety nine beautiful names as wazifa
- bismillah
- al-fatiha
- al-ikhlas
- la hawla wa la quwwata


 

Wishing you love, harmony and beauty,
     wahiduddin

last updated 18-Oct-2005

la  ilaha illa allah, la ilaha illa-llah, la ilaha illallah, la ilah il allah, there is nothing to worship other than Allah, tahlil, tahleel, al quran, la ilaha illa ana, there is none to worship except Me, la ilaha illa huwa, there is none to worship except That One