The Takbir (Arabic: تَكْبِير, pronounced [tak.biːr], "magnification [of God]")[a] is the name for the Arabic phrase ʾAllāhu ʾakbaru (ٱللَّٰهُ أَكْبَرُ, pronounced [ʔaɫ.ɫaː.hu ʔak.baru] (listen)), meaning "God is the greatest".
It is a common Arabic expression, used in various contexts by Muslims and Arabs around the world: in formal Salah (prayer), in the Adhan (Islamic call to prayer), in Hajj, as an informal expression of faith, in times of distress or joy, or to express resolute determination or defiance. The phrase is also used by Arab Christians. It is also used as war cry by terrorist groups.
The Arabic word كَبِير (kabīr) means big from the Semitic root k-b-r. The Arabic word أَكْبَر (ʾakbar) is the elative form (biggest) of the adjective kabīr. When used in the Takbīr it is usually translated as biggest, but some authors translate it as bigger. The term Takbīr itself is the stem II verbal noun of the triliteral root k-b-r, meaning "big", from which akbar "bigger" is derived. The form Allāhu is the nominative of Allah, meaning 'God'.
This phrase is recited by Muslims in many different situations. For example, when they are very happy, to express approval, to prevent a Muslim from becoming prideful by reminding them that Allah is their source of success, as a battle cry, or during times of extreme stress. The phrase is not found in the Quran, which does not describe God as akbar, but uses the name al-Kabīr "The Great" or Kabīr "Great", commonly translated as "Most Great" (13:9, 31:30, 22:62, 34:23, 40:12, 4:34).
The phrase is said during each stage of both salah (obligatory prayers, performed five times a day), and nafl (supererogatory prayers, performed at will). The call to prayer by the muezzin to those outside the mosque (adhan) and the call to those inside to line up for the commencement of prayer (iqama) also contain the phrase.
While there are many short prayers like it, the takbir is used more frequently than any other.
The phrase is used after the birth of a child as a means of praising God. It is also part Islamic funeral and burial customs.
During the festival of Eid al-Adha and the days preceding it, Muslims recite the Takbīr. This is particularly the case on the Day of Arafah.
The process of pronouncing the name of Allah while performing Dhabihah one must say "Bismillah Allahu Akbar".
The Afghan constitution that came into force on January 4, 2004, required that Allāhu akbar be inscribed on the Flag of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Afghanistan came under Taliban control following the 2021 offensive, and the Islamic Republic collapsed.
The phrase Allāhu akbar is written on the flag of Iran, as called for by Article 18 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The phrase appears 22 times on the flag, written on the borders of the central white stripe.
The phrase Allāhu akbar is written on the center of the flag of Iraq.
During the Gulf War in January 1991, Saddam Hussein held a meeting with top military commanders, where it was decided to add the words Allāhu akbar (described as the Islamic battle cry) to Iraq's flag to boost his secular regime's religious credentials, casting himself as the leader of an Islamic army. Hussein described the flag as "the banner of jihad and monotheism".
In 2004, the US-picked Iraqi Governing Council approved a new flag for Iraq that abandoned symbols of Hussein's regime, such as the words Allāhu akbar. In January 2008, however, Iraq's parliament passed a law to change the flag by leaving in the phrase, but changing the calligraphy of the words Allāhu akbar, which had been a copy of Hussein's handwriting, to a Kufic script. The Iraqi flag under Hussein had each of the two words of the phrase written in one of the spaces between the stars on the central band; the 2008 flag, while leaving the phrase in, removes the stars.
A resistance movement that fought British rule in Waziristan, Pakistan, used a red flag bearing Allāhu akbar in white letters.
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