The word takbīr (Arabic:تکبیر) means "to regard as great, to regard God as exalted, to revere God as great and to say Allah-u Akbar (الله اکبر)". It has been mentioned once in the Qur'an.
Repeating the phrase "Allah-u Akbar" has many rewards and it is recommended to say it and often repeat it. It has been mentioned as a part of many supplications, obligatory phrases such as tasbihat al-arba'a, recommended phrases such as Tasbih of Lady Fatima (a) and a part of Adhan and Iqama.
As a Common Word and as a Term
As a common term, "takbir" means to regard as great, to regard God as exalted, to revere God as great, and to say Allah-u Akbar. In religious texts, "takbir" means to regard God as exalted and to revere God as great, and it seems that its lexical meaning has been influenced by its religious function; because, the lexical meaning of "takbir" has been to to regard anyone or anything as great.
In the Qur'an
The root of Takbir is k-b-r and in different root forms (Kibr, Istikbar, Takabbur, Ikbar) has frequently been used in the Qur'an; but, the word "takbir" has been mentioned only once in the Qur'an; about which, commentators have said that it means "to regard God as exalted and to revere God as great" and according to some narrations, it means "to say 'Allah-u Akbar'", and the two meanings are in agreement with each other.
In other verses of the Qur'an, the word takbir has been used in imperative form and usually the Prophet (s) and the believers are addressed by it. In all such cases, the word "takbir" has only been used about God.
In hadiths, "takbir" has usually been used synonymous with saying "Allah-u Akbar" or to revere God as great because of the guidance and the blessings He has granted us. In some other narrations, the phrase "Allah-u Akbar" has been interpreted as God is greater than being described or considered by imagination or being compared with idols or other gods.
In Chapters of Fiqh
Saying "Allah-u Akbar" has many rewards, and it is recommended to say it and often repeat it. It has been mentioned as a part of many supplications, obligatory phrases such as tasbihat al-arba'a, recommended phrases such as Tasbih of Lady Fatima (a) and a part of adhan and iqama.
In prayer, takbir is either obligatory or recommended:
- Main article: Takbirat al-Ihram
Takbirat al-ihram which is also called takbir al-iftitah and is among the essential elements of prayer, without which prayer would not be correct. Saying takbir five times in Funeral Prayer is obligatory. In Eid Prayer (Fitr and Adha), in addition to takbirat al-ihram, nine other takbirs are said in qunut (five takbirs in the first rak'a and 4 others in the second rak'a. Some have considered them obligatory.
Except for takbirat al-ihram, saying takbir for six other times for prayer which are called takbirat al-Iftihah and also for transitions from one state to another, it is recommended such as from standing to bending position (ruku'), from ruku' position to sajda (prostration), from the first sajda to the second sajda, upon standing up from sajda and for making qunut. Therefore, in two-rak'a prayers, 11 takbirs, in three-rak'a prayers 16 takbirs and in four-rak'a payers 21 takbirs are recommended. Recommendation of takbir before bending and before and after sajda is the famous opinion. Some earlier scholars have mentioned its obligation. Saying takbir three times after prayer is also recommended.
In Sajda of Recitation, Gratitute, and al-Sahw
Saying takbir in sajda when reciting verses which require obligatory sajda is not recommended before sajda, but it is recommended after sajda. Its obligation has been related with the appearance of some words and the occurrence of some other words. However, it has been considered strongly possible that all would be recommended.
Saying takbir after making intention (niyya) and before going to sajda, in sajda al-sahw is famously considered as recommended. Some have mentioned that takbir before sajda for shukr (gratitude) and after sajda is recommended.
In Prayer for Raining
It is recommended that prayers say takbir many times in the prayer of Istisqa' (requesting for raining) and also it is recommended that the leader of congregational prayer goes up on the pulpit after prayer and stands toward Qibla and says takbir loudly a hundred times.
In the Prayers of the Two Eids
- Main article: Eid Prayer
According to the famous opinion, saying prayer is recommended in Eids of al-Fitr and al-Adha. Its time for Eid al-Fitr is after Maghrib and 'Isha prayers on the eve of Eid and after the morning prayer and the prayer of Eid on the day of Eid. At times other than the four mentioned times, takbir is not valid. The time of takbir upon the Eid al-Adha for a person who is in Mina is after 15 prayers beginning with Zuhr prayer of the day of Eid and finish after the morning prayer of Dhu l-Hijja 13. In places other than Mina, after 10 prayers, the first takbir is for Zuhr prayer and the last takbir is after morning prayer of the twelfth day.
The takbir for the prayers of the two Eids is; "اللّهُ أَکبَرُ، اللّهُ أَکبَر، لا إلهَ إلاّ اللّهُ وَ اللّهُ أَکبَر، وَ الحَمْدُ لِلّهِ عَلی ما هَدانا وَ لَهُ الشُّکرُ عَلی ما أَوْلانا" [Allah is Great, Allah is Great, there is no God but Allah and Allah is Great; the praise is for God for what He has guided us to and for Him is the gratitude for what befriended us] and in the prayer for Eid al-Adha, the phrase "وَ رَزَقَنا مِنْ بَهِیمَةِ الأَنْعام" [and gave us daily food from animals] is added at the end. However, in some references of fiqh, the phrases of takbir are mentioned differently.
Upon Ramy al-Jamarat [stoning of the devil], it is recommended that the one who throws stones says takbir with every stone. It is recommended for one who enters the Ka'ba to say takbir and after he exits it, says takbir three times. Saying takbir many times is recommended in Mina.
In several narrations, it is mentioned that takbir is an act of worship in hajj and upon seeing the Ka'ba, saying takbir is recommended for the person who is wearing Ihram. Additionally, on the day of 'Arafa, in the Sa'y between Safa and Marwa in place of Wuquf in 'Arafat and also upon standing in front of Hajar al-Aswad, saying takbir is recommended among religious rituals.
In Trading and Travel
It is recommended that the buyer says takbir when buying goods. Also, one of the manners of journey is saying takbir and tahlil upon going up a height.
Takbir in History
In history and manners of Islamic societies, saying takbir has a long history and important position.
- According to hadith sources, the tradition of takbir dates back before Islam; as in some narrations, it has been mentioned that Prophet Adam (a) says takbir in front of Hajar al-Aswad. Also upon reconstruction of Zamzam well, 'Abd al-Muttalib said takbir and Quraysh repeated with him.
- In the history of early Islam, aside from the above-mentioned cases, saying takbir became a religious and social tradition; as the Prophet (s) said takbir after cutting the revelation. Also in the battle of Khandaq, he (s) told Muslims to say takbir together in several times and he (s) also said takbir in the battle with the jews of Bani Nadir and Khaybar.
- It has also been reported that the Prophet (s) said takbir at the night of the marriage between Imam Ali (a) and Lady Fatima (a) and afterwards, saying takbir became common in such ceremonies.
- Upon hearing the news of Negus's death, the prophet (s) said takbir four times. It is reported that he (s) used to say takbir four or five times in funerals and since then, saying takbir four times became a tradition in the prayer for the dead.
- Imam Ali (a) usually said takbir and tahlil in battles and people repeated with him. Moreover, it is mentioned that saying takbir in battles and gatherings of Muslims has become a common slogan since those times.
- Since the victory of the Islamic revolution in Iran (1979), audience of speeches usually raise their fists and loudly say takbir to show their approval of the speakers' talk and after reading every article of a declaration.
- The content of this article is mainly taken from تکبیر in Farsi WikiShia.