Is the hadith stating that the sins of a person who says Subhanallahi wa bihamdihi 100 times will be forgiven sound?

Details of the Question

​“If a person says subhanallahi wa bi–hamdihi one hundred times a day, all his sins will be forgiven even if they are as abundant as the foam of the sea.” (Bukhari, Bad’ul–Khalq 11; Daawat 64, 65; Muslim, Dhikr 28. See also Tirmidhi, Daawat 59, 62; Ibn Majah, Dua 14.)

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Yes, the hadith above is sound. It is necessary to evaluate the phrase “all his sins will be forgiven even if they are as abundant as the foam of the sea” in the hadith according to the general rule regarding the issue and to know that the sins to be forgiven are minor sins.

The hadith in question is as follows:

منْ قال لا إله إلاَّ اللَّه وَحْدَهُ لا شرِيكَ لَهُ،  لهُ المُلكُ ، وَلهُ الحَمْدُ ، وَهُوَ عَلى كُلِّ شَيءٍ قَدِيرٌ ، في يومٍ مِائةَ مَرَّةٍ كانَتْ لَهُ عَدْل عَشر رقَابٍ وكُتِبَتْ لَهُ مِائَةُ حَسَنةٍ ، وَمُحِيت عنهُ مِائة سيِّئَةٍ ، وكانت له حِرزاً مِنَ الشَّيطَانِ يومَهُ ذلكَ حتى يُمسِي ، ولم يأْتِ أَحدٌ بِأَفضَل مِمَّا جاءَ بِهِ إلاَّ رجُلٌ عَمِلَ أَكثَر مِنه

وقالَ : من قالَ سُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ وَبحمْدِهِ ، في يوْم مِائَةَ مَرَّةٍ ، حُطَّتْ خَطَاياهُ ، وإنْ كَانَتْ مِثْلَ زَبَدِ البَحْر

“If a person says, ‘La ilaha illallahu wahdahu la sharika lah, lahul mulku wa lahul hamdu wa huwa ala kulli shay'in qadir’ one hundred times a day, he will be given thawabs as if he has freed ten slaves; one hundred thawabs of good deeds are given to him; one hundred sins of him are forgiven; it protects him against Satan until the evening that day. No one except the one who says it more than him can do a deed better than his." [Bukhari, Daawat 54, Bad'ul-Khalq 11; Muslim, Dhikr 28, (2691); Muwatta, Qur'an 20, (1, 209); Tirmidhi, Daawat 61, (3464)]

The Messenger of Allah continued as follows: “If a person says subhanallahi wa bi–hamdihi one hundred times a day, all his sins will be forgiven even if they are as abundant as the foam of the sea.  (Bukhari, Bad'ul-Khalq 11; Daawat 64, 65; Muslim, Dhikr 28)

In the hadith above, the following dhikr is advised first: “La ilaha illallahu wahdahu la sharika lah, lahul mulku wa lahul hamdu wa huwa ala kulli shay'in qadir.”

The meaning of this dhikr, which is generally said after prayers and before dua, is as follows:

“There is no god but Allah, having no partner with Him, to Him belongs sovereignty and to Him is praise due, and He is Potent over everything”.

The meaning of the dhikr subhanallahi wa bi–hamdihi, which the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) advises in the second part of the hadith, is as follows: “Glory be to Allah and all praise is due to him.”

The phrase “lahul mulku” in the hadith expresses the loftiness of God Almighty’s tremendous sovereignty. The whole universe along with the realm of angels, or to put it more clearly, all of the created beings belong to him and are part of His sovereignty. Therefore, only He has the right to manage them. To create something, to eliminate it, to capture, to manage, to grant boons, to punish, to enlarge; to diminish, to do, to demolish, to make people cry or laugh, in short, to rule belongs to Him.

Such a being has power over everything. He does not need any assistant, deputy and tool. He does whatever He wishes with His own power and strength. He says, “Be!” and everything comes into being.  

Doubtlessly, He who has property, sovereignty, power and strength deserves praise.

How many times should that dhikr be said?

In some narrations, that dhikr is advised to be said in the morning. That addition in them clarifies the statement “Satan will not be able to harm him until the evening that day” in the first hadith. In another narration that is not as sound as that one, we are advised to say it ten times after the morning prayer and before speaking to anyone. (Tirmidhi, Daawat, 63)

That dhikr is advised to be said a hundred times a day, and ten times a day in another narration. (see Bukhari, Daawat 64; Muslim, Dhikr 30)

For, not everybody can say it a hundred times every day. It is advised to be said at least ten times a day so as not to be deprived of its thawab by abandoning it completely due to intense work.

It is not difficult for the Muslims who say that dhikr after prayers and before dua five times every day to say it five more times in order to follow that advice of the Prophet.

It is not necessary for those who want to repeat that dhikr a hundred times a day to say all of it one after another. Doubtlessly, the most appropriate way is to start and finish it in the morning in order to be protected from Satan until the evening. Saying that dhikr a hundred times will take about 7 or 8 minutes. Those who cannot due it due to lack of time or another reason can say it five or ten times as they have the opportunity and make it a hundred.    

As we have mentioned at the beginning, it is necessary to evaluate the phrase “all his sins will be forgiven even if they are as abundant as the foam of the sea” in the hadith according to the general rule regarding the issue and to know that the sins to be forgiven are minor sins.

For, if the major sins that are committed are related to Allah Almighty, it is necessary for the person who committed them to ask forgiveness from Him and to repent; if the sin is related to the violation of a person’s right, it is necessary for one to find that person, ask forgiveness from him and to pay him some money if it is necessary to for him to pay in order to be forgiven by him.

Minor sins occur due to the duties that are given by Allah and that man has to fulfill. "If ye (but) eschew the most heinous of the things which ye are forbidden to do, We shall expel out of you all the evil in you, and admit you to a gate of great honor." (an-Nisa, 4/31) As we learn from the verse above, the forgiveness of the minor sins is dependent on avoiding major sins.

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