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Why do Muslims say “Allahu Akbar”?

high angle shot of a person kneeling on a blue prayer rug

How many times have we heard this phrase? We have heard it on television, on the news, in mosques. Even on social media, when we see videos of atrocities and despair, we have seen people chanting the same phrase over and over again.
But what does it mean?
And most importantly, why do Muslims often say it?

What is the significance of Muslims saying “Allahu Akbar”?

“What it suggests is that God is greater than all our concerns, God is greater than all that is ascribed to him, greater than all the disappointments we have,” Suleiman said. “God is greater than our pain, God is greater than our material possessions.”

Omar Suleiman/Yaqeen Institute

“I’ll never forget the day a US army veteran who had fought in Iraq embraced Islam at my former mosque in New Orleans. He arrived in his full uniform, and was overcome with emotion when he heard the congregation shout “Allahu Akbar” after he uttered the Islamic declaration of faith.

The army veteran never thought that the words that had terrified him in Iraq would be the very same that would welcome him to his new faith. They are words that he now uses in prayer.” Said Imam Omar Suleiman.

Imam Omar Suleiman is the founder and president of the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research and an adjunct professor of Islamic Studies at Southern Methodist University.
(Omar Suleiman/Yaqeen Institute)

“Allahu Akbar is more than just a phrase, it is a way of life.
It means that God is greater than anything else on Earth – whether it be a vicious tyrant shooting and killing his own people or from one’s own evil whims and temptations.”

Dr Hesham Hassaballa

Why do Muslims say “Allahu Akbar”?

Muslims say “Allahu Akbar” for various reasons, and it holds different meanings depending on the context. Here are some common reasons:

  1. Expression of Faith: “Allahu Akbar” is a declaration of faith and a reminder of the greatness and oneness of God. It is used to express the belief that God is greater than anything else in existence.
  2. Prayer: Muslims recite “Allahu Akbar” during their prayers, known as Salah. It is said at the beginning of each unit (rak’ah) of the prayer as a way to start the prayer and focus on God’s greatness.
  3. Gratitude: Muslims may say “Allahu Akbar” to express gratitude to God for His blessings and favours. It is a way to acknowledge that everything comes from God and that He is greater than any worldly concerns.
  4. Celebrations: During festive occasions and celebrations, such as the Eid prayers, Muslims may say “Allahu Akbar” to express joy and gratitude to God.
  5. Everyday Life: Some Muslims incorporate the phrase “Allahu Akbar” into their daily lives as a form of remembrance and devotion to God. It serves as a constant reminder of God’s presence and power.
crowd of praying muslims kneeling and bowing
Photo by Kafeel Ahmed on

It is important to note that “Allahu Akbar” itself is not inherently negative or associated with violence. It is a phrase used by Muslims in various peaceful and religious contexts. Unfortunately, it has been misused by a small minority of individuals who commit acts of violence in the name of Islam. However, it is crucial to distinguish between the peaceful use of the phrase by the majority of Muslims and its misuse by a few.



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