Monday 8 October 2018

Surah Al-Fatiha - The Opener: The Exegesis of First Surah / Chapter of Qur'an

Alhamdolillah, this is our second post on the series of posts that we shall be undertaking, In Sha Allah, to present to our readers the exegesis / tafsir of the all 144 surahs of the Qur'an. The exegesis / Tafsir of each surah will be based on the lifelong work of some of the greatest and eminent Muslim scholars so that our viewers can compare the work of each scholar and accrue maximum benefit in understand the Qur'an. We will also embed the videos of recitation of each surah in Arabic with English subtitles in the summary of each surah, while we add videos of scholars explaining their viewpoint in the posts covering the exegesis / tafsir of the surahs.

In our first post we presented the Summary of the First Surah of the Qur'an. Now in this post we present the detailed explanation / tafsir and exegesis of the first Surah of the Qur'an: Surah Al-Fātiḥah, The Opening. This has seven verses and is a Makki/Meccan surah, meaning by this this surah was revealed on to Prophet Muhammad ﷺ in Makkah before his Hijrah / migration to city of Medina. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ has been oft been quoted as saying: "By Him in Whose Hand is my soul! Allah has never revealed in the Tawrah (Torah), the Injil (Bible), the Zabur  (Psalms) or the Furqan a Surah like Sūrah al-Fātiḥah. It is the seven repeated verses that I was given."
Surah Al Fatihah is said to be the first COMPLETE surah to have been revealed completely in one go.
This Surah is in fact a prayer which Allah has taught to all those who want to make a study of His book. It has been placed at the very beginning of the Qur'an to teach this lesson to the reader: if you sincerely want to benefit from the Qur'an, you should offer this prayer to the Lord of the Universe.

Please read the summary of Sūrah al-Fātiḥah which will reveal to you that the this Sūrah is divided into three parts. Let us now begin with the exegesis / tafsir of each ayah / verse by eminent Muslim scholars whose names are given at the end of this post.

بِسۡمِ اللهِ الرَّحۡمٰنِ الرَّحِيۡمِ 
( 1 )   In the name of Allah, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful.
Islamic culture requires a man to commence everything with the name of Allah. If this is done consciously and sincerely, it will surely produce three good results. First, it will keep him away from evil, because the very name of Allah will impel him to consider whether he is justified in associating His name with a wrong deed or an evil intention. Secondly, the very mention of the name of Allah will create in him the right attitude of mind and direct him to the right direction. Thirdly, he will receive Allah's help and blessing and will be protected from the temptations of Satan, for Allah turns to a man when he turns to Him.

The Virtue of Bismillah: Ibn-Kathir quotes Imam Ahmad in saying that it is recorded in his Musnad, that a person who was riding behind the Prophet said, "The Prophet's animal tripped, so I said, `Cursed Shaytan.' The Prophet said,
(Do not say, 'Cursed Shaytan,' for if you say these words, Satan becomes arrogant and says, 'With my strength I made him fall.' When you say, 'Bismillah,' Satan will become as small as a fly.)
Further, An-Nasa'i recorded in his book Al-Yawm wal-Laylah, and also Ibn Marduwyah in his Tafsir that Usamah bin `Umayr said, "I was riding behind the Prophet...'' and he mentioned the rest of the above Hadith. The Prophet said in this narration,
(Do not say these words, because then Satan becomes larger; as large as a house. Rather, say, 'Bismillah,' because Satan then becomes as small as a fly.)
This is the blessing of reciting Bismillah.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: According to most of the authorities, this invocation (which occurs at the beginning of every surah with the exception of surah 9) constitutes an integral part of "The Opening" and is, therefore, numbered as verse {1}. In all other instances, the invocation "in the name of God" precedes the surah as such, and is not counted among its verses. - Both the divine epithets rahman and rahim are derived from the noun rahmah, which signifies "mercy", "compassion", "loving tenderness" and, more comprehensively, "grace". From the very earliest times, Islamic scholars have endeavoured to define the exact shades of meaning which differentiate the two terms. The best and simplest of these explanations is undoubtedly the one advanced by Ibn al-Qayyim (as quoted in Manar I,48): the term rahman circumscribes the quality of abounding grace inherent in, and inseparable from, the concept of God's Being, whereas rahim expresses the manifestation of that grace in, and its effect upon, His creation - in other words, an aspect of His activity.

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: The Arabic words "Rahman" and "Rahim" translated "Most Gracious" and "Most Merciful" are both intensive forms referring to different aspects of God's attribute of Mercy. The Arabic intensive is more suited to express God's attributes than the superlative degree in English. The latter implies a comparison with other beings, or with other times or places, while there is no being like unto God, and He is independent of Time and Place. Mercy may imply pity, long-suffering, patience, and forgiveness, all of which the sinner needs and God Most Merciful bestows in abundant measure. But there is a Mercy that goes before even the need arises, the Grace which is ever watchful, and flows from God Most Gracious to all His creatures, protecting the, preserving them, guiding them, and leading them to clearer light and higher life. For this reason the attribute Rahman (Most Gracious) is not applied to any but God, but the attribute Rahim (Merciful), is a general term, and may also be applied to Men. To make us contemplate these boundless gifts of God, the formula: "In the name of God Most Gracious, Most Merciful": is placed before every Sura of the Qur-an (except the ninth), and repeated at the beginning of every act by the Muslim who dedicates his life to God, and whose hope is in His Mercy.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation: This verse occurs at the start of every sūrah except Sūrah 9. al-Tawbah in the same manner as it occurs here. Consequently, though it is certainly a verse of the Qur’ān and was revealed in this manner at the beginning of its sūrahs and written at the behest of the Almighty, it is not a part of any sūrah including Sūrah Fātiḥah. It has an independent status at all these places. The words اِقْرَاْهُ عَلَي النَّاس are understood to be implied in it in accordance with linguistic principles. The overall rendering would thus be: “In the name of God, the Most Gracious the Ever Merciful, read out this sūrah before the people O Prophet!” Viewed thus, the particle ب indicates authority and the verse itself is a manifestation of a prediction made in the Old Testament regarding the Prophet Muhammad (sws). According to this prediction, he would present the words of God before people in the very name of God:
 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put My words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. If anyone does not listen to My words that the prophet speaks in My name, I myself will call him to account. (Deuteronomy, 18:18)
اَلۡحَمۡدُ لِلّٰهِ رَبِّ الۡعٰلَمِيۡنَۙ‏ 
( 2 )   [All] praise is [due] to Allah, Lord of the worlds -
It has been stated in the Introduction to this Surah that AI-Fatihah is a prayer. It begins with the praise of Allah to Whom it is addressed in order to teach us the right way of making a supplication. We should not put forward our request bluntly and abruptly without an appropriate introduction. The right way is to acknowledge the excellences and the favors and the high position of the One to Whom we address our prayer. That is why we begin our prayer with the praise of Allah, for He is the perfection of all excellences and .is also our Benefactor. We pay homage to Allah to show that we sincerely acknowledge His excellences and also are grateful to Him for His countless favours. It should also be noted that not only Praise is for Allah but also Praise is only for Allah. This distinction is very important because it cuts at the root of the worship of any of His creation. As none of them is worthy of praise, none is worthy of worship. No man, no angel, no prophet, no so-called god, no star, no idol, in short. none of His creation inherently possesses any good quality. If one has any, it is given by Allah. Hence the Creator of these qualities alone deserves devotion, worship, gratitude, and none of His creation.

The word Rab which has been translated into `Lord' stands for (a) Master and Owner, (b) Sustainer, Provider and Guardian, (c) Sovereign, Ruler, Administrator and Organizer. Allah is the Lord of the Universe in all these senses.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: In this instance, the term "worlds" denotes all categories of existence both in the physical and the spiritual sense. The Arabic expression rabb - rendered by me as "Sustainer" - embraces a wide complex of meanings not easily expressed by a single term in another language. It comprises the ideas of having a just claim to the possession of anything and, consequently, authority over it, as well as of rearing, sustaining and fostering anything from its inception to its final completion. Thus, the head of a family is called rabb ad-dar ("master of the house") because he has authority over it and is responsible for its maintenance; similarly, his wife is called rabbat ad-dar ("mistress of the house"). Preceded by the definite article al, the designation rabb is applied, in the Qur'an, exclusively to God as the sole fosterer and sustainer of all creation - objective as well as conceptual - and therefore the ultimate source of all authority.

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: The Arabic word Rabb, usually translated Lord, has also the meaning of cherishing, sustaining, bringing to maturity. God cares for all the worlds He has created.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation: "Gratitude" The actual word is: اَلْحَمْد. In the Arabic language, this word is used to acknowledge the qualities and excellence of someone and if the person who expresses this word also benefits from the said qualities and excellence, the element of gratitude automatically enters the meaning of the word. It is evident from verse 43 of Sūrah al-A‘rāf, verse 10 of Sūrah Yūnus and verse 39 of Sūrah Ibrāhīm that in the expression اَلۡحَمۡدُ لِلّٰهِ the word اَلۡحَمۡد is used to connote gratitude. In this particular sūrah, it portrays the sentiments of gratitude and appreciation that one is filled with or should be filled with after viewing the unfathomable providence and profound mercy of the Almighty and the reminder of the prophets of God regarding the reward and punishment that is to take place in the Hereafter.

"is for God only," The word اللّٰه has been constructed by prefixing the article ال to the word اِلَه. Before the revelation of the Qur’ān, in the pre-Islamic Arab society this name was always used for the Almighty specifically as the Creator of the Universe and of every living being. The people of Arabia practiced polytheism, yet they never equated any of their deities with the Almighty.

"the Lord of the universe," The actual words are: رَبِّ الۡعٰلَمِيۡنَ. The word رَبّ means “the Cherisher” and “the Sustainer.” As a natural outcome of this meaning, the word came to be used in the sense of “Lord” and “Master” and such was the predominance of this usage that it no longer came to be used in the Arabic language in its original meaning. The attribute رَبِّ الۡعٰلَمِيۡنَ and other attributes mentioned thereafter are actually the basis for the expression of gratitude with which the sūrah begins. Even so, these attributes have not been mentioned in a corroborative way. They are rather mentioned as an acknowledgement of an obvious reality. The implied meaning being that gratitude is for He who is the Lord of the universe. Since we are His creation, therefore He is our Lord as well. As soon as we enter this world, we are cherished and sustained by Him. Various means and resources have been directed by Him to carry out this task even before our arrival. As long as we remain alive, we witness how fervently the sun, the moon, the winds and various other elements of nature continue to serve our needs. They diligently serve us because He in whose hands are their reins does not let them deviate in the slightest manner from their sphere of activity and from the purpose of their creation. The expression رَبِّ الۡعٰلَمِيۡنَ signifies this very reality.

الرَّحۡمٰنِ الرَّحِيۡمِۙ‏ 
( 3 )   The Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful,
Although the Arabic word Rahman itself is in the superlative form and denotes the attributes of beneficence and mercy in the highest degree, even this word fails to express the boundless extent of these attributes of Allah. Hence another word Rahim of the same root has been added to make up for the deficiency.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation: The actual words are: الرَّحۡمٰن and الرَّحِيۡم. Although both these words are attributes from the root word رَحْمَة, there is a great difference in their meanings. While explaining this difference, 
Imām Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāḥī writes:  The noun رَحْمَان (raḥmān) is in the intensive form of فَعْلان (fa‘lān), (eg. سَكْرَان (sakrān) and غَضْبَان (gaḍbān)), while the noun رَحِيْم (raḥīm) is an adjective of the form فَعِيْل (fa‘īl) (eg. عَلِيْم (‘alīm) and كَرِيْم karīm)). A look at the usage of the Arabic language shows that the form فَعْلان (fa‘lān) expresses great fervency and enthusiasm, while the form فَعِيْل (fa‘īl) expresses steadiness and perpetuity. In other words, the first depicts vigour and the second constancy in God’s mercy. A little deliberation shows that the Almighty’s mercy on His creation possesses both these characteristics. The enthusiasm and warmth is complemented by permanence. It is not that His attribute of رَحْمَان (raḥmān) induced Him to create, and He later forgot to foster and sustain His creation. Indeed, He nourishes and takes proper care of them because He is رَحِيْم (raḥīm) as well. Whenever a person invokes His help, He hears his calls and accepts his prayers. Also, His blessings are not confined to this world only. Those who lead their lives according to the path prescribed by Him shall be blessed with eternal life and joy. It must be conceded that all these aspects cannot be comprehended without an integrated understanding of these attributes. (Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāḥī, Tadabbur-i Qur’ān, vol. 1, 48-49)
After a mention of رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ, the reality which both the above attributes reveal is that it cannot be concluded – and certainly cannot be concluded – that the Almighty Who has made such an elaborate arrangement to nourish and sustain this universe has any selfish interests in its creation or is under obligation to someone to fulfil which He has created this universe or needs assistance in sustaining it. When this is not the case, then without any doubt the only reason for our creation is that He is الرَّحْمَان and الرَّحِيْم. It is His fervent mercy that made Him create us, and it is His abiding mercy that we are perpetually benefiting from.

Note: Please read a detailed post on the two attributes  الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ mentioned in the first verse here.

مٰلِكِ يَوۡمِ الدِّيۡنِؕ‏ 
( 4 )   Sovereign of the Day of Recompense.
After saying that Allah is Beneficent and Merciful, it has immediately been added that He is the Master of the Day of Judgment, so that the qualities of mercy and kindness might not mislead anyone into forgetting that on that Day He will gather together all human beings from the first to the last and require each and every one to give an account of all of one's acts to Him. A Muslim should, therefore, always keep in view the fact that Allah is not only Merciful, but He is also Just. He has, however, full authority to pardon or punish anyone He pleases, for He has complete power over everything. Therefore we should have full conviction that it lies absolutely in His power to make our end happy or sorrowful.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation: The implied meaning being that it is the requisite of His continual and abiding mercy that one day He set up His court of justice in a manner where he wields supreme authority and everyone bows to Him in total submission. He would then decide all cases by Himself and no one would be able to influence His decisions in any manner.

اِيَّاكَ نَعۡبُدُ وَاِيَّاكَ نَسۡتَعِيۡنُؕ‏ 
( 5 )   It is You we worship and You we ask for help.
The Arabic word ibadat is used in three senses: (a)worship and devotion, (b) submission and obedience, (c) subjection and servitude. Here it implies all the three, that is, We are Thy worshipers, Thy subjects and Thy slaves and We keep these relations with Thee and Thee alone and "We make none else the object of our worship in all the three senses."

"You we ask for help" It means, We ask for Thy help because we know that Thou art the Lord of the whole Universe and Thou hast all powers and Thou art the Master of every thing. Therefore we turn to Thee for help for the fulfillment of our needs and requirements.

Tafsir Ibn Katir: Linguistically, `Ibadah means subdued. For instance, a road is described as Mu`abbadah, meaning, `paved'. In religious terminology, `Ibadah implies the utmost love, humility and fear.

The Merit of stating the Object of the Action before the Doer of the Act, and the Merit of these Negations

"You...'', means, we worship You alone and none else, and rely on You alone and none else. This is the perfect form of obedience and the entire religion is implied by these two ideas. Some of the Salaf said, Al-Fatihah is the secret of the Qur'an, while these words are the secret of Al-Fatihah,

(5 إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ You we worship, and You we ask for help from.)

The first part is a declaration of innocence from Shirk (polytheism), while the second negates having any power or strength, displaying the recognition that all affairs are controlled by Allah alone. This meaning is reiterated in various instances in the Qur'an. 

For instance, Allah said:
 (فَاعْبُدْهُ وَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَيْهِ وَمَا رَبُّكَ بِغَـفِلٍ عَمَّا تَعْمَلُونَ (So worship Him (O Muhammad ) and put your trust in Him. And your Lord is not unaware of what you (people) do.) (11:123),

(قُلْ هُوَ الرَّحْمَـنُ ءَامَنَّا بِهِ وَعَلَيْهِ تَوَكَّلْنَا Say: "He is the Most Gracious (Allah), in Him we believe, and in Him we put our trust.'') (67:29),

(رَّبُّ الْمَشْرِقِ وَالْمَغْرِبِ لاَ إِلَـهَ إِلاَّ هُوَ فَاتَّخِذْهُ وَكِيلاً (He alone is) the Lord of the east and the west; La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He).

So take Him alone as Wakil (Disposer of your affairs)), (73:9), and,

We should mention that in this Ayah, the type of speech here changes from the third person to direct speech by using the Kaf in the statement Iyyaka (You). This is because after the servant praised and thanked Allah, he stands before Him, addressing Him directly; So take Him alone as Wakil (Disposer of your affairs)), (73:9), 

Al-Fatihah indicates the Necessity of praising Allah. It is required in every Prayer.

The beginning of Surat Al-Fatihah contains Allah's praise for Himself by His most beautiful Attributes and indicates to His servants that, they too, should praise Him in the same manner. Hence, the prayer is not valid unless one recites Al-Fatihah, if he is able. 

The Two Sahihs recorded that `Ubadah bin As-Samit said that the Messenger of Allah said,

«لَا صَلَاةَ لِمَنْ لَمْ يَقْرَأْ بِفَاتِحَةِ الْكِتَابِ» (There is no valid prayer for whoever does not recite Al-Fatihah of the Book.)

Also, it is recorded in Sahih Muslim that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said; (Allah said, `I divided the prayer into two halves between Myself and My servant, one half is for Me and one half for My servant. My servant shall have what he asks for.' When the servant says,

(الْحَمْدُ للَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَـلَمِينَ All praise and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of all that exists.), Allah says, `My servant has praised Me.' When the servant says,

(الرَّحْمَـنِ الرَّحِيمِ The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful), Allah says, `My servant has praised Me.' When the servant says,

(مَـلِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ  The Owner of the Day of Recompense), Allah says, `My servant has glorified Me.' If the servant says,
(إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ You we worship, and You we ask for help), Allah says, `This is between Me and My servant, and My servant shall have what he asked.' If the servant says,

(اهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ - صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ غَيْرِ الْمَغْضُوبِ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلاَ الضَّآلِّينَ Guide us to the straight path. The path of those on whom You have bestowed Your grace, not (that) of those who have earned Your anger, nor of those who went astray), Allah says, `This is for My servant, and My servant shall have what he asked.')

Tawhid Al-Uluhiyyah: Ad-Dahhak narrated that Ibn `Abbas said,

(إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ You we worship) means, "It is You whom we single out, Whom we fear and Whom we hope in, You alone, our Lord, and none else.

 Tawhid Ar-Rububiyyah

(وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ And You we ask for help from), to obey you and in all of our affairs.'' Further, Qatadah said that the Ayah,

إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ
(You we worship, and You we ask for help from) "Contains Allah's command to us to perform sincere worship for Him and to seek His aid concerning all of our affairs.'' Allah mentioned,

(إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ You we worship) before,

(وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ And You we ask for help from), because the objective here is the worship, while Allah's help is the tool to implement this objective. Certainly, one first takes care of the most important aspects and then what is less important, and Allah knows best.

 Allah called His Prophet an `Abd

Allah called His Messenger an `Abd (servant) when He mentioned sending down His Book, the Prophet's involvement in inviting to Him, and when mentioning the Isra' (overnight journey from Makkah to Jerusalem and then to heaven), and these are the Prophet's most honorable missions. Allah said,

(الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِى أَنْزَلَ عَلَى عَبْدِهِ الْكِتَـبَ All praise and thanks be to Allah, Who has sent down to His servant (Muhammad ) the Book (the Qur'an)) (18:1),

(وَأَنَّهُ لَّمَا قَامَ عَبْدُ اللَّهِ يَدْعُوهُ And when the servant of Allah (Muhammad ) stood up invoking Him (his Lord ـ Allah in prayer)), (72:19) and,

(سُبْحَانَ الَّذِى أَسْرَى بِعَبْدِهِ لَيْلاً Glorified (and Exalted) be He (Allah) (above all that they associate with Him) Who took His servant (Muhammad ) for a journey by night) (17:1).
Encouraging the Performance of the Acts of Worship during Times of Distress: Allah also recommended that His Prophet resort to acts of worship during times when he felt distressed because of the disbelievers who defied and denied him. Allah said,

(وَلَقَدْ نَعْلَمُ أَنَّكَ يَضِيقُ صَدْرُكَ بِمَا يَقُولُونَ - فَسَبِّحْ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّكَ وَكُنْ مِّنَ السَّـجِدِينَ - وَاعْبُدْ رَبَّكَ حَتَّى يَأْتِيَكَ الْيَقِينُ Indeed, We know that your breast is straitened at what they say. So glorify the praises of your Lord and be of those who prostrate themselves (to Him). And worship your Lord until there comes unto you the certainty (i.e. death)) (15:97-99).

Why Praise was mentioned First: Since the praise of Allah, Who is being sought for help, was mentioned, it was appropriate that one follows the praise by asking for his need. We stated that Allah said,

(فَنِصْفُهَا لِي وَنِصْفُهَا لِعَبْدِي، وَلِعَبْدِي مَا سَأَلَ One half for Myself and one half for My servant, and My servant shall have what he asked.)

This is the best method for seeking help, by first praising the one whom help is sought from and then asking for His aid, and help for one's self, and for his Muslim brethren by saying.

(اهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ Guide us to the straight path.)

This method is more appropriate and efficient in bringing about a positive answer to the pleas, and this is why Allah recommended this better method.

Asking for help may take the form of conveying the condition of the person who is seeking help. For instance, the Prophet Moses said,

(رَبِّ إِنِّى لِمَآ أَنزَلْتَ إِلَىَّ مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَقِيرٌ My Lord! Truly, I am in need of whatever good that You bestow on me!) (28:24).

Also, one may first mention the attributes of whoever is being asked, such as what Dhun-Nun said,

(لاَّ إِلَـهَ إِلاَّ أَنتَ سُبْحَـنَكَ إِنِّى كُنتُ مِنَ الظَّـلِمِينَ La ilaha illa Anta (none has the right to be worshipped but You (O Allah)), Glorified (and Exalted) be You (above all that they associate with You)! Truly, I have been of the wrongdoers) (21:87).

Further, one may praise Him without mentioning what he needs.

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: On realizing in our souls God's love and care, His grace and mercy, and His power and justice (as Ruler of the Day of Judgment), the immediate result is that we bend in the act of worship, and see both our shortcomings and His all-sufficient power. The emphatic form means that not only do we reach the position of worshipping God and asking for His help, but we worship Him alone and ask for His aid only. For there is none other than He worthy of our devotion and able to help us. The plural "we" indicates that we associate ourselves with all who seek God, thus strengthening ourselves and strengthening them in a fellowship of faith.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:  The word عِبَادَة is primarily used in Arabic for “humility” and “submission.” In the Qur’ān, it is specifically used for the humility and servility a person shows to His Creator. The basic manifestation of this trait is definitely worship; however, since a person also has a practical life in this world, this “worship” takes a step further and necessarily relates to this practical life as well and in this manner becomes inclusive of obedience. At that time, it requires a person to lower his outer-self before the being before whom his inner-self has also bent down; the ruler of his inner-self should also rule his deeds and actions, leaving no sphere of human activity an exception to this submissiveness. It is this very worship which, according to the verse, a person cleansing it from any slightest tinge of polytheism, should express specifically for the Almighty. Consequently, the verse does not merely say that we human beings worship the Almighty; it emphasizes that we worship only the Almighty and seek His help only. After this confession and acknowledgement, there is obviously nothing that a person can give to others and there is nothing for which he needs to ask of others. Consequently, in matters of worship and in other affairs of life, He asks only the Almighty for help. A little deliberation shows that this seeking of help from the Almighty in the form of this confession and acknowledgement is a natural outcome of the sentiment of gratitude with which the sūrah began.

اِهۡدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الۡمُسۡتَقِيۡمَۙ‏ 
( 6 )   Guide us to the straight path -
That is, "Show us that way which may lead us aright in every walk of life and keep us absolutely free from errors and evil consequences and bring us success in the end." , This is the request which the servant of Allah makes to Him when he begins the study of the Qur'an. He prays to Him to guide him in every walk of life and save him from the labyrinths of doubt and uncertainty, which result from the lack of true knowledge. The servant also requests the Master to show him the right and the straight way of life from among the many by-paths and crooked ways.

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: If we translate by the English word "guide," we shall have to say: "Guide us to and in the straight Way." For we many be wandering aimlessly, and the first step is to find the Way; and the second need is to keep in the Way: our own wisdom may fail in either case. The straight Way is often the narrow Way, or the steep Way, which many people shun (xc.11). By the world's perversity the straight Way is sometimes stigmatized and the crooked Way praised. How are we to judge? We must ask for God's guidance. With a little spiritual insight we shall see which are the people who walk in the light of God's grace, and which are those that walk in the darkness of Wrath. This also would help our judgment.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation: " Bestow on us the guidance " The verb اِهْدِنَا occurs here without the preposition اِلٰي. Thus, according to linguistic principles, the expression اِهۡدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الۡمُسۡتَقِيۡمَ now does not simply mean “give us guidance.” More aspects are added to this; ie., “set our hearts on this path; instil in us the desire to tread this path, give us the resolve and determination to stay on this path and guide us in its ups and downs, and forever give us the urge to tread on it in this manner.”

" of the straight path " The actual words are: اِهۡدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الۡمُسۡتَقِهۡمَ. The article ال signifies عهد (definition). That is the straight path which has been explained in the next verse.

صِرَاطَ الَّذِيۡنَ اَنۡعَمۡتَ عَلَيۡهِمۡ ‏ غَيۡرِ الۡمَغۡضُوۡبِ عَلَيۡهِمۡ وَلَا الضَّآلِّيۡنَ‏ 
( 7 )   The path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked [Your] anger or of those who are astray.
The straight way for which we are praying is the way which has always been followed by the people favored by Thee and which has always brought Thy favors and blessings.

This is to show that the favored people are not those who go astray and incur the wrath of Allah, though apparently they might be enjoying the transitory good things of life. The really favored people are those who receive blessings on account of their righteous living. From this it also becomes clear that by favors are meant those real and permanent rewards, which result from righteous living and from winning the pleasure of Allah, and not those transitory good things of life which have been enjoyed even by the tyrants and worshipers of mammon and which are being enjoyed even today by all sorts of evildoers who have gone astray from the straight way.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: " the way of those upon whom Thou hast bestowed Thy blessings " I.e., by vouchsafing to them prophetic guidance and enabling them to avail themselves thereof.

"not of those who have been condemned [by Thee], nor of those who go astray!" According to almost all the commentators, God's "condemnation" (ghadab, lit., "wrath") is synonymous with the evil consequences which man brings upon himself by wilfully rejecting God's guidance and acting contrary to His injunctions. Some commentators (e.g., Zamakhshari) interpret this passage as follows: "...the way of those upon whom Thou hast bestowed Thy blessings - those who have not been condemned [by Thee], and who do not go astray": in other words, they regard the last two expressions as defining "those upon whom Thou hast bestowed Thy blessings". Other commentators (e.g., Baghawi and Ibn Kathir) do not subscribe to this interpretation - which would imply the use of negative definitions - and understand the last verse of the surah in the manner rendered by me above. As regards the two categories of people following a wrong course, some of the greatest Islamic thinkers (e.g., Al-Ghazali or, in recent times, Muhammad 'Abduh) held the view that the people described as having incurred "God's condemnation" - that is, having deprived themselves of His grace - are those who have become fully cognizant of God's message and, having understood it, have rejected it; while by "those who go astray" are meant people whom the truth has either not reached at all, or to whom it has come in so garbled and corrupted a form as to make it difficult for them to recognize it as the truth (see 'Abduh in Manar I, 68 ff.).

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: Note that the words relating to Grace are connected actively with God; those relating to Wrath are impersonal. In the one case God's Mercy encompasses us beyond our deserts. In the other case our own actions are responsible for the Wrath, the negative of Grace, Peace, or Harmony.

Are there two categories? - those who are in the darkness of Wrath and those who stray? The first are those who deliberately break God's law; the second those who stray out of carelessness or negligence. Both are responsible for their own acts or omissions. In opposition to both are the people who are in the light of God's Grace: for His Grace not only protects them from active wrong (if they will only submit their will to Him) but also from straying into paths of temptation or carelessness. The negative gair should be construed as applying not to the way, but as describing men protected from two dangers by God's Grace.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation: " – the path of those you have blessed,"  The implied meaning being: “O Almighty guide us to the path which you showed those whom you blessed with your guidance – those who whole heartedly accepted this guidance in such a manner that they received all your favours.” It is evident from verse 69 of Sūrah Nisā’ that the reference is to the noble group of messengers, the truthful, the witnesses to the truth and pious Muslims.

"who have neither earned your wrath " This refers to people who rejected divine guidance because of arrogance and haughtiness or if they accepted, did so without the willingness of the heart and always insisted on deviating from it. They rejected God’s servants who tried to reform them and at times went as far as to torture and even kill them. Consequently, they became worthy of the wrath of God in retribution of these sins. This is in fact a reference to the Jews who in the next sūrah, Sūrah al-Baqarah, are conclusively communicated the truth.

You may like to listen to an in Depth Analysis and Tafseer of Surah Fatiha by eminent Muslim scholar Nauman Ali Khan:

I hope this post adequately explains the opening chapter of the Holy Qur'an, its meaning and purpose and how to easily learn to recite it.
May Allāh (سبحانه و تعالى‎) help us understand Qur'ān and follow the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, which is embodiment of commandments of Allah contained in the Qur'ān. May Allah help us to be like the ones He loves and let our lives be lived helping others and not making others' lives miserable or unlivable. May all our wrong doings, whether intentional or unintentional, be forgiven before the angel of death knocks on our door. 
وَمَا عَلَيۡنَاۤ اِلَّا الۡبَلٰغُ الۡمُبِيۡنُ‏ 
(36:17) and our duty is no more than to clearly convey the Message.”
That is Our duty is only to convey to you the message that Allah has entrusted us with. Then it is for you to accept it or reject it. We have not been made responsible for making you accept it forcibly, and if you do not accept it, we shall not be seized in consequence of your disbelief, you will yourselves be answerable for your actions on Day of Resurrection.

Reading the Qur'ān should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully. It will also help the Muslims to have grasp over social issues and their answers discussed in the Qur'an and other matter related to inter faith so that they are able to discuss issues with non-Muslims with authority based on refences from Qur'an.

May Allah forgive me if my posts ever imply a piety far greater than I possess. I am most in need of guidance.

Note: When we mention God in our posts, we mean One True God, we call Allah in Islam, with no associates. Allah is the Sole Creator of all things, and that Allah is all-powerful and all-knowing. Allah has no offspring, no race, no gender, no body, and is unaffected by the characteristics of human life.

Please refer to our Reference Page "114 Chapters (Sūrahs) of the Holy Qur'an" for translation, explanation and exegesis of all other chapters of the Qur'an. You may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Quran.
    Reading the Holy Quran should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully. An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Holy Qur'an from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that:
    • The plain translation and explanation has been taken from the Holy Quran officially published by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. [1]
    • The exegesis of the chapters of the Holy Quran is mainly based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi.  [2]
    In order to augment and add more explanation as already provided by [2], additional input has been interjected from following sources (links to Reference Pages given below):  
    • Tafsir Ibn Khatir
    • Muhammad Asad Translation
    • Al-Quran, Yusuf Ali Translation
    • Javed Ahmad Ghamidi / Al Mawrid
    • Qur'an Wiki
    • Verse by Verse Qur'an Study Circle
    • Tafsir Nouman Ali Khan
    • Towards Understanding the Quran
    In addition the references of  other sources which have been explored have also been given below. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites:

    Photo | References | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 |
    An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis the surahs of the Holy Qur'an from authentic souses and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. However, the exegesis of the chapters of the Holy Quran are basically based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi. In addition the references of  other sources which have been explored have also been given above. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites. 

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