Terms and the roots


asta = derived verb prefix which denotes seeking, asking
ghfir = forgiveness for past sins, and/or protection from future sins
u = suffix denoting that ghfir is the subject of this phrase
-llâh = allâh
I am seeking forgiveness from Allâh.

I seek Allâh’s protection from committing sins.

astaghfirullâh is sometimes said in response to a compliment, as if to say Allah please protect me from pride and vanity.

ghaffr :  meanings of the root gh-f-r.


The Forgiving,  The Forgiver of Sins and Faults,  The Perfectly Forgiving,  The Pardoner

The One who completely forgives our sins and faults. The One who accepts repentance and pardons sins and faults.

The One who veils or forgives our faults and sins such that they are not seen by anyone else, not even the angels.

The One who is the perfection of forgiveness. The One whose forgiving demonstrates excellence, completeness and perfection of forgiveness.

From the root gh-f-r
which has the following classical Arabic connotations:

to cover, veil, conceal, hide
to pardon, to forgive, to set aright
to cover a thing to protect it from dirt

This name is used in the Qur’ân. For example, see 40:3

Note that the root gh-f-r has given rise to three Beautiful Names that are all used in the Qur’ân:GhaffârGhafûr and Ghâfir. However, only Ghaffâr and Ghafûr were included in the list of 99 Names narrated by Tirmidhi.

In Qastalânî’s commentary on Bukhârî, it is said that the root gh-f-r means a covering or protection which is either between man and the commission of sin [protecting, or watching over], or between sin and the effects of that sin [forgiving, veiling or concealing].

In al-Nihâyah (a dictionary of hadîth), it is said that Ghâfir refers to the One who protects us from the commission of sins, and that Ghafûr refers to the One who forgives our sins and faults.

Sheikh Tosun Bayrak portrays the differences as:

… al-Ghâfir, the veiler of our faults from the eyes of other men; al-Ghafûr, who keeps the knowledge of our faults even from the angels; and al-Ghaffâr who relieves us from the suffering of continual remembrance of our faults.

The Arabic word astaghfirullâh  (sometimes written as astghfrallâh, estagfurullâh or estaferallâh) is from this same gh-f-r root, and is an invocation of Divine Protection having a range of possible connotations that include Allâh please forgive me, Allâh please hide away my faults, Allâh please watch over me and protect me from faults.

In the lexicon and commentary Tâj al-‘Arûs it is mentioned that truly asking for forgiveness must be by both word and deed, not by the tongue alone.

The names Ghafûr, Ghaffâr and Ghâfir denote forgiving or protecting, while ‘Afûw indicates complete removal or obliteration of the condition

bismillâh ir-rahmân ir-rahîm

bi = with, to for, in, through
smi = distinguishing mark, name, light, vibration, essence
-llâh = allâh
ir = the
rahmân = most beneficent, merciful
ir = the
rahîm = most compassionate
In the name of Allâh, most beneficent and most compassionate.

For the glory of Allâh, most merciful and most compassionate.

With the guidance of Allâh, most beneficent and most compassionate.


in = if
shâ’ = wish, want
llâh = allâh
If Allâh wills (something). As Allah intends.

(said in referring to the future)

hawla wa lâ quwwata illâ billâh

lâ = no, not, none, neither
hawla = change, motion, transformation, power
wa = and
lâ = no, not, none, neither
quwwata = strength, power, potency, intensity
illâ = but, except
bi = with, to, for, in, through
llâh = allâh
There is no transformation or potency except through Allâh.

There is neither change nor power except through Allâh.

There is no power or strength except through Allâh.

lâ ilâha illâ-llâh

lâ = no, not, none, neither
ilâha = god, deity, object of worship
illâ = but, except (illâ is a contraction of in-lâ, literally if not)
-llâh = allâh
There is no deity other than Allâh.

There is nothing to worship except Allâh.

There is nothing to revere other than Allâh.

This phrase is often called the tahlîl and was given to us in the Qur’an 47:19.


mâ; = what, whatever, that
shâ’ = wish, want, willingness, intent
llâh = allâh
Common Usage: How wonderful are the works of Allâh.

Literally: Whatever Allâh has intended. That which Allâh has willed.

(often said when one witnesses something good)

subhâna -llâh

subhân = praised, glory be to
-llâh = allâh
May Allâh be praised.

All glory be to Allâh.

The Arabic root s-b-h can certainly mean to praise or to glorify, but in a deeper sense, this root also points toward a sense of swimming in something, or being immersed in something, or to be be floating in something, or to have something spread out in front of you as far as the eye can see.

subhâna wa ta’alâ

subhâna = praised, glory be to
wa = and
ta’alâ = be exalted, raised above, enthroned
(Allâh is) Praised and exalted.

‘ishq allâh ma’bûd allâh
‘ishq = unconditional love, divine love;
ma’bûd = beloved, worshiped, adored.

A mantra, literally saying that Allâh is Love, Allâh is Beloved. Poetically interpreted by Hazrat Inayat Khan as: God is love, lover and beloved.