In the Spirit of the Gracious and Compassionate
Creator of the Heavens and the Earth
“Allahu akbar” (“Allah is greater”) is a simple statement. Any Muslim who is performing the daily salawaat is saying “Allahu akbar” 100 times aloud each day. (And saying it at least another 116 times silently.) (Salawaat is the plural of salaah, which does not mean “prayer”, the closest English equivalent being “purification”.)
“Allah” is the name of the one who created everything, and who is known by many names by all kinds of people in many languages all over the world.
Saying Allahu akbar 100 times a day — or thousands of times a day — will not convince anyone who does not already believe it. Its effect is to remind those of us who do believe it that nothing is more important than the one who created and sustains us.
If people treat us badly, Allahu akbar reminds us that Allah is more important. When we are beset with problems, Allahu akbar reminds us that Allah is more important. When our life or our well-being seems threatened, Allahu akbar reminds us that Allah is more important. When we learn that the cosmos is inconceivable vast, Allahu akbar reminds us that Allah is even more vast. When we learn that the cosmos is inconceivably ancient, Allahu akbar reminds us that Allah is even more ancient.
In the course of the five daily salawaat, Allahu akbar is immediately followed by bowing at least 30 times, by prostration at least 90 times, by asking Allah for forgiveness and mercy at least 30 times, and by reminding ourselves that Allah is generous and merciful at least 30 times. This is what at least a hundred million Muslims (or perhaps a billion or almost two billion Muslims) are doing every day all over the world.
If less then ten percent of the Muslims — only a hundred million Muslims — are performing the five daily salawaat each day, at 100 takbeers per Muslim (“takbeer” means saying “Allahu akbar”), that’s ten billion takbeers a day, a reminder that the generous and merciful one who created and sustains us is more important.