The Majestic Qur'an

Surah al-Fatihah

1) With the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful. 2) All the praises and thanks are for Allah the Lord of the Universe. 3) The Most Beneficent, The Most Merciful. 4) Master of the Day of Recompense. 5) You Alone we worship, and You Alone we ask for help. 6) Guide us to the Straight Path. 7) The Path of those on whom You have bestowed your grace, not the Path of those who earned your Anger, nor of those that went astray.

"All the praises and thanks are for Allah"

There is no mention here as to when this praise is said or from where this praise comes from, but in Surah Rum there is mention that from amongst the 'where's' are the heavens and the earth - in His saying, " ... and His is all the praises and thanks in the heavens and the earth." [Al-Qur'an 30:18] And in Surah Qasas there is mention that from amongst the 'when's' are in this world and in the Hereafter - in His sayings:

"And He is Allah, none has the right to be worshipped besides Him. To Him belongs all praise in the beginning (i.e. this world) and in the end (i.e.the Hereafter)." [Al-Qur'an 28:70]

And He said in the beginning of Surah Sab'a:

"His is all the praise in the Hereafter, and He is the All-Wise, All-Aware." [Al-Qur'an 34:1]

The Alif and Lam (i.e. the definite article 'the') in al-hamd is so as to include all the different manners of praise, and it is an extolling with which Allah has praised Himself and ordered His servants to praise Him with.

"The Lord of the Universe (Alamin)"

There is no explanation here as to what al-alamin is but this is explained in another place with His saying:

"Pharaoh said: and what is the Lord of the Alamin? He (Moses) said: the Lord of the heavens and the earth and what is between them." [Al-Qur'an 26:23-24]

Some of the scholars stated that al-alam (world, pl. alamin) is derived from Al-Allamah (sign) because the existence of the world is a sign, without doubt, of the existence of it's Creator who is described with perfect and magnificent Attributes. The Exalted said:

"Indeed in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the change of the night and day are signs (ayat) for the people of understanding."

And in the language ayah means allamah.

"The Most Beneficent (Ar-Rahman), the Most Merciful (Ar-Rahim)"

These are two descriptions of Allah, the Exalted, and two of the Names from amongst His Beautiful Names, derived from ar-rahma (mercy) in a way to express intense and exaggerated meanings. And Ar-Rahman is more intense than Ar-Rahim because Ar-Rahman is the one endowed with Mercy which extends to all of the creations in this world and to the believers in the Hereafter, and Ar-Rahim is the One endowed with Mercy which extends to only the believers on the Day of Judgement - this being the understanding of the majority of the scholars. And from the discussion of Ibn Jarir (at-Tabari) one can understand that there is an agreement on this, and the tafsir of some of the salaf lends weight to this understanding as was stated by Ibn Kathir, and the narration reported from Isa, as mentioned by Ibn Kathir and others, also indicates this - that he (upon him and our Prophet be peace and blessings) said, "Ar-Rahman: the One Who shows Mercy in this world and the Hereafter. Ar-Rahim: the One Who shows Mercy in the Hereafter." {qluetip title=[1]}Ibn al-Jawzi includes this hadith in his 'Mawdu'at' (1/204) saying, "it's (chain of narration) contains Isma'eel bin Ayash who was declared to be da'eef by an-Nasa'ee. It also contains Isma'eel bin Yahya about whom Ad-Daruqutni said, "A liar, abandoned." It also contains Atiyyah ibn Sa'ad who is a Mudallis, a Shi'i, truthful but has many mistakes. [the footnotes of Muqbil ibn Hadi to Ibn Kathir (1/37 fn.1)]{/qluetip}

And Allah, the Exalted, also points to what we have mentioned when He said, "Then He rose over the Throne, Ar-Rahman" [Al-Qur'an 25:59] and when He said, "Ar-Rahman rose over the Throne" [Al-Qur'an 20:5]. So he mentioned the Istawa (rising over the Throne) with His Name Ar-Rahman so as to embrace the whole of His creation with his Mercy as was stated by Ibn Kathir.{qluetip title=[2]}This is because the Throne of Allah is far greater than the expanse of the Heavens and the Earth, and Allah is Above the Throne. So His mentioning His Name of Ar-Rahman with respect to the Throne is implying that the effects of this name are true for the whole of creation - Muslim or non-Muslim.{/qluetip} And likewise is His saying, "Do they not see the birds above them, spreading out their wings and folding them in? None upholds them except ar-Rahman" [Al-Qur'an 67:19] meaning: from his Mercy to His creation is his kindness to the birds and His holding them in the sky while they are spreading out their wings and folding them in. And from the clearest evidences pertaining to this is His saying, "Ar-Rahman. He taught the Qur'an ... So which of the favours of your Lord will you two deny?" [Al-Qur'an 55:1-13]

And He said, " ... and He is Ever Most Merciful (Rahim) to the believers" [Al-Qur'an 33:43] and hence particularised His name Ar-Rahim to them. So if it said: "How is it possible to reconcile what you have thus far established with his (peace be upon him) saying in the du'a, 'The Rahman of the world and the Hereafter and the Rahim of them'?"{qluetip title=[3]}Al-Hakim declared this to be sahih in 'Al-Mustadrak' (1/515) and Adh-Dhahabi followed this up saying, "Al-Hakm (one of the narrators) is not trustworthy." Al-Hafidh Al-Mundhiri said in 'At-Targhib wa't-Tarhib' (2/616), "Reported by Al-Bazzar, Al-Hakim, Al-Asbahani all via the route of Al-Hakm ibn 'Abdullah al-Ayli and Al-Hakim said, 'Sahih chain of narration'. How can this be when Al-Hakm is abandoned and accused?" [Ibid. 1/43 fn.1]{/qluetip} The obvious reply - and Allah knows best - is that Ar-Rahim is specific to the believers as we have mentioned, but it is not specified to them in the Hereafter alone, rather His Mercy to them is included in this world as well. So the meaning of "the Rahim of them" would be 'His Mercy to the believers in them'. And the evidence that He is Rahim to the believers in this world as well (as the Hereafter) is that this is the literal meaning of His saying:

"He is the One who sends His Blessings (salah) upon you, and His Angels so as to lead you out of the darkness to the light, and He is Ever Most Merciful (Rahim) to the believers." [Al-Qur'an 33:43]

Because His salah upon them, the salah of His Angels and His leading them out of the darkness to the light is Mercy to them in this world, even though it be the reason for Mercy in the Hereafter as well. And similar to this in meaning is His saying:

"Allah has forgiven the Prophet, the Muhajirun and the Ansar who followed him in the time of distress after the hearts of a group of them had nearly deviated (from the Right Path), but He accepted their repentance. Certainly He is full of kindness to them, Most Merciful (Rahim)." [Al-Qur'an 9:117]

For the Mercy is linked to the event that befell the Prophet, the Muhajirun and the Ansar, and also His forgiving them was Mercy in this world even though it be the reason for Mercy in the Hereafter as well. And the Knowledge (of what is correct) lies with Allah.

"Master of the Day of Recompense (Din)"

There is no explanation here (as to what the Day of Din is), but this is explained in His saying:

"And what will make you comprehend what the Day of Din is? Again what will make you comprehend what the Day of Din is? It is the Day when no person shall have power (to do) anything for another." [Al-Qur'an 83:17-19]

And the meaning of Din in the verse is recompense, as can be seen in His saying, "on that Day Allah will pay them their din in truth" [Al-Qur'an 24:25] meaning: the recompense of their actions with complete justice.

"You Alone we worship"

Indicating in this noble verse to the realisation of the meaning of la ilaha illallah (there is none worthy of worship except for Allah) for it's meaning is comprised of two matters: negation and affirmation. So the negation aspect means to remove every single object of worship apart from Allah in all the actions of worship, and the affirmation aspect means to single out the Lord of the heavens and the earth Alone for all matters of worship in the way that has been legislated by the Shari'ah.

This negation in the la ilaha illallah was indicated by placing the object of worship first in the verse hence, 'You Alone', and it is established in 'Al-Usul' under the discussion on 'Dalil al-Khitab Alladhi Huwa Mafhum al-Mukhalafa', and in 'Al-Ma'ani' under the discussion of 'Al-Qasr': that placing the object first (in a sentence) is one if the ways of confining (the meaning of the verb to the object alone).

And the affirmation part of the kalima was indicated in His saying, 'we worship'.

And He, the Exalted, explained this meaning which is indicated here in detail elsewhere. For example His saying:

"O Mankind! Worship your Lord who created you." [Al-Qur'an 2:21]

Clarifying the affirmation aspect with his words, 'worship your Lord' and the negation aspect at the end of this noble verse with His words, 'so do not set up rivals with Allah while you know' [Al-Qur'an 2:22]. And for example His saying:

"We have indeed sent a Messenger to every people saying: worship Allah and leave all that is worshipped besides Allah." [Al-Qur'an 16:36]

Clarifying the affirmation with His words, 'worship Allah' and the negation with His words, 'and leave all that is worshipped besides Allah'. And for example His saying, "And whosoever rejects all that is worshipped besides Allah and believes in Allah has held onto the most trustworthy handhold." [Al-Qur'an 2:256] Clarifying the negation with his words, 'whosoever rejects all that is worshipped besides Allah' and the affirmation with His words, 'and believes in Allah'. And for example His sayings:

"And when Abraham said to his father and his people: Indeed I am free of what you worship except He who created me." [Al-Qur'an 43:26-27]

"And We did not send a Messenger before you except that We revealed to him: that there is none worthy of worship but Me, so worship Me." [Al-Qur'an 21:25]

"Ask those of Our Messengers whom We sent before you: Did We ever appoint gods to be worshipped besides Allah." [Al-Qur'an 43:45] And other verses.

"You Alone we ask for help"

Meaning that we do not seek aid from anyone but You because the command / affair in it's totality is under Your control Alone, no one else has even an atoms weight of control over it. And in this statement's following His saying, "You Alone we worship" lies an indication that it is not permissible to put our trust in anyone except the One that deserves worship because no one else has control over the command / affair. This meaning which is indicated here is clearly explained in other verses, like His sayings:

"So worship Him and put your trust in Him." [Al-Qur'an 12:123]

"But if they turn away, say: Allah is sufficient for me, none has the right to be worshipped but Him, in Him I put my trust." [Al-Qur'an 9:129]

"The Lord of the East and the West, none deserves to be worshipped but Him, so take Him as the Disposer of your affairs." [Al-Qur'an 73:9]

"Say: He is the Most Beneficent, we have believed in Him and put our trust in Him." [Al-Qur'an 67:29]

"The path of those whom You have favoured"

There is no explanation here as to who are the ones that have been favoured, but this is explained in another place with His saying:

"And whosoever obeys Allah and the Messenger then they will be in the company of those that Allah has favoured: of the Prophets, the Truthful Ones (Siddiq), the Martyrs and the Righteous - what an excellent company!" [Al-Qur'an 4:69]

Addendum 1: the correctness of the Caliphate of Abu Bakr as-Siddiq can be derived from this noble verse because he is included amongst those that Allah has commanded us, in the Great Qur'an and the Seven Oft-Repeated Verses - I mean Al-Fatihah, to ask Him that He guide us to their path thus indicating that their path is the Straight Path.

This lies in His saying, 'guide us to the Straight Path, the Path of those whom You have favoured' and He explained who these favoured people were and included amongst them the Siddiqin. And he (peace be upon him) explained that Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) was from amongst the Siddiqin, so it becomes clear that he is included amongst those that Allah has favoured - those that Allah has commanded us to ask Him to guide us to their path. So there remains no doubt that Abu Bakr as-Siddiq was upon the Straight Path and that his Caliphate was correct.

Addendum 2: you have come to know that the Siddiqin are from those that Allah has favoured. And Allah has made clear that Maryam the daughter of Imran was a Siddiqah in His saying, 'and His mother was a Siddiqah' [Al-Qur'an 5:75]. So is Maryam included in His saying, 'those whom you have favoured' or not? The answer: whether or not she is included amongst them is dependent upon a foundational principle which has a well known dispute over it. This is - does the sound masculine plural and it's likes which occurs in the Qur'an and the Sunnah include the feminine gender in all cases or only in those cases for which there is a specific evidence?

A group of scholars took to the opinion that it does - so according to them Maryam is included in the above verse. And these scholars depended upon two proofs:

  1. The consensus of the people of the Arabic Language that the masculine gender takes prevalence over the feminine.{qluetip title=[4]}For example a mixed gathering of males and females would be referred to by using the male plural not the female plural even if their be more females than males.{/qluetip}
  2. There a number of verses which prove that the females are included in the sound masculine plural, like His saying concerning Maryam herself, "she testified to the truth of the Words of her Lord and His Books, and she was of those obedient to Allah (Qanitin - a sound masculine plural)" [Al-Qur'an 66:12], and His saying concerning the wife of Al-Aziz, "O Yusuf! Turn away from this! (O Woman!) Ask forgiveness for your sin, indeed your were of the sinful (Khati'in - a sound masculine plural)" [Al-Qur'an 12:29], and His saying concerning Bilqis, "And that which she used to worship besides Allah has prevented her (from Islam), for she was of a disbelieving people (Qawm Kafirin)" [Al-Qur'an 27:43], and His saying, "We said: get down (ihbitu) all of you from this" [Al-Qur'an 2:38] and this includes Hawa by consensus. And the majority of scholars took to the opinion that the females are not included in the sound masculine plural unless there is a specific evidence, and they depended upon a number of verses like His saying, "indeed the male Muslims and the female Muslims, the male believers and the female believers. Allah has prepared for them a forgiveness and a great reward", and His saying, "Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and protect their private parts. That is purer for them" [Al-Qur'an 24:30] following this with, "and tell the believing women to lower their gaze and protect their private parts" [Al-Qur'an 24:31]. So their following the mention of the men indicates that they are not included amongst them. And they replied to the proponents of the first opinion by saying that the fact that the masculine gender takes prevalence over the feminine is not a matter of dispute. What is disputed is whether the masculine plural includes the females in every case. And they replied to the verses (the first group) used by saying that it is known by the context of these verses and the meaning of the wordings that the females are included in the male plural - and that their inclusion in the male plural in the case of their being an evidence that they are included is not contended.

So according to this opinion Maryam is not included in the verse.

And this difference of opinion was pointed out in 'Maraqi as-Sa'ud' with his saying, "There is nothing untoward in including the feminine (amongst the masculine gender) For this is a matter in which the Muslims have differed."

"Not the Path of those who have earned Your Anger, nor of those that went astray"

The majority of the scholars of tafsir said that 'those who have earned Your Anger' are the Jews, and 'those that went astray' are the Christians, and their is the hadith of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) reported from Adi ibn Hatim (may Allah be pleased with him) concerning this{qluetip title=[5]}The hadith is: Adi ibn Hatim said, "I asked the Messenger of Allah about Allah's saying about, 'those who have earned Your Anger', and He said: 'It refers to the Jews.' And I asked about, 'those who have gone astray' and he said: 'the Christians are those that have gone astray.' " [Reported by At-Tirmidhi and Ahmad and it is sahih.{/qluetip}. And the Jews and the Christians even though both of them are misguided and both of them have Allah's Anger on them - the Anger is specified to the Jews, even though the Christians share this with them, because the Jews knew the truth and rejected it and deliberately came with falsehood, so the Anger (of Allah being upon them) was the description most befitting them. And the Christians were ignorant, not knowing the truth, so misguidance was the description most befitting them.

So with this the saying of Allah, 'so they have drawn on themselves anger upon anger' [Al-Qur'an 2:90] clarifies that the Jews are those that 'have earned your Anger'. And likewise His sayings:

"Say: shall I inform you of something worse than that, regarding the recompense from Allah: those (Jews) who incurred the Curse of Allah and His Anger." [Al-Qur'an 5:60]

"Indeed those who took the calf (for worship), anger from their Lord and humiliation will come upon them." [Al-Qur'an 7:152]

And the saying of Allah:

"And do not follow the vain desires of people (i.e. the Christians) who went astray in times gone by, and misled many, and have themselves strayed from the Straight Path." [Al-Qur'an 5:77]

Clarifies that it is the Christians who are astray.

(s) Adwa ul-Bayan
(t) Abu Rumaysah


Be Mindful O Mankind!

To all who love and revere the Book, And earnestly strive to find in it, Not a reflection of their own fancies, But a clue to Unity, Discipline, And the call to higher matters of the spirit, The Fruit of Life, Thought and Study.
'Abdullah Yusuf Ali (d. 1373H), may Allah have mercy upon him