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      Tafseer - Explanation of the Qur'aan

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Soorah Al-Fatihah comprises the meaning of the Entire Qur’aan - As alluded earlier, al-Faatihah is named the Mother of the Qur`aan because it succinctly summarizes the whole of the Qur`aan. We are now in a position to analyse this statement further: The Surah includes affirmation of Tawheed in all of its various categories:

        ·           Tawheed ar-Rububiyyah – Maintaining the Unity of Allah’s Lordship - contained in: "Lord of the Universe."

        ·           Tawheed al-Uluhiyyah – Maintaining the Unity of Allah’s worship in that all worship is to be done sincerely for His sake Alone, contained in His saying: "You Alone we worship and Your aid Alone we seek."

        ·           Tawheed al-Asma was Sifaat – Unity of Allah’s Names & Attributes in that they are perfect and unique to Him, contained in His saying: "all praise and thanks are due to Allah." [1]

 Composition of Soorah Al-Fatihah – Mentioning of Allah: “All praise [and thanks] is for Allaah, Rabb of all the worlds.” Then “The Rahmaan (Merciful) and the Raheem (Mercy-Giving).” Then “King/Master of the Day of Judgement.”  Shows that a believer should have Love, Fear and Hope in equal proportions.

Explanation: Verse 1: “All praise [and thanks] is for Allah, Rabb of all the worlds.”

In this opening aayah (verse) of the Qur'aan, we have LOVE of Allah and every time we recite this aayah we are testifying to our love for Allah. How is that you ask?

It is because in the aayah, we are acknowledging that Allah is our Rabb and the Rabb of all the worlds. Rabb as mentioned earlier means that Allah is the Creator of everything; He sustains and nourishes everything; He gives life and death; everything good that we have is from Him; everything is dependent on Him and nothing can happen unless He wills it. Furthermore, for the Muslims He - the Rabb - in the One who has guided us to the Truth and given us good morals and manners. Thus, when we testify that Allah is our Rabb, then we are acknowledging that He is the One who has given us so many blessings - so many that if we try to enumerate His blessings, we would be unable to do so. So how could we not but LOVE Him?

We love those who show kindness towards us or present us with gifts. And therefore the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam) encouraged the exchange of gifts between Muslims because it helps to strengthen ties and develop love for one another. He (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam) said, “Give gifts to one another, you will come to love one another.”[2] 

So imagine the LOVE we should have for our Rabb who has given us everything: good family, shelter, security, food, health and above all the Guidance of Islam and the Sunnah. We should be overwhelming in our love for Him. That is why we praise Him and thank Him and say, “All praise (and thanks) is for Allah, Rabbil-‘aalameen.”

 The Rahmaan (Merciful) and the Raheem (Mercy-Giving).” - In the first aayah of Soorah al-Faatihah, Allah mentioned He was the Rabb. In this aayah two more of His beautiful names are mentioned: ar-Rahmaan and ar-Raheem. Ar-Rahmaan means that He is the Most Merciful. Ar-Raheem means that He is the Giver of Mercy, in other words His actions are full of Mercy and He shows Mercy to His creation.[3]

When we mention these two names of Allah, then we have HOPE. Since He is the One who is full of Mercy, and we hope He will forgive our mistakes and shortcomings. One must never loose hope, because Allah says in the Qur'aan, “O My slaves, who have transgressed against themselves! (by committing evil deeds and sins) Despair not of the Mercy of Allah, Verily Allah forgives all sins. Truly He is Oft-Forgiving, the Most Merciful” [39: 53] The need to have FEAR in our worship is shown by the next ayah of Soorah al-Faatihah.

“King/Master of the Day of Judgement.” - When we recite this aayah, we remind ourselves of the Day of Judgement - that awful Day, when all of humanity shall stand before Allah … naked, uncircumcised and barefooted. People will appear drunk though they are not. On that Day, every person will stand before Allah and account for his sins, knowing that not even the smallest action which he did is hidden from Allah: “So whosoever does good equal to the weight of an atom, shall see it. And whosoever does evil equal to the weight of an atom shall see it.” [(99): 7-8]

So when we recite this third aayah of Soorah al-Faatihah, we remind ourselves of this judgement and accountability and that bring about a sense of fear in us - that maybe our evil actions will be too great and we will be responsible for them - May Allah protect us from such a fate. Then the next verse goes on to say: “You alone we worship.” i.e. we single out Allaah for our worship. And how do we worship Him? With LOVE, HOPE and FEAR. And in order to achieve these qualities, we need Allah’s assistance, so we say then, “We seek Your Aid”

 Striking the Balance - After understanding the need to have love, hope and fear in our worship, the next question that naturally arises is that, in what proportion should these qualities be present in our worship? Again we turn to the Qur'aan for the answer.  “Call upon Him with Fear and Hope.”   [(7): 56]

“Their sides forsake their beds, to invoke their Lord in Fear and Hope.”   [(32): 16]

So both fear and hope should be present in our hearts in equal proportions. Anas (radiyallahu anhu) reported that the Prophet (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam) entered upon a young boy who was dying. The Prophet (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam) asked, “How are you?” The boy replied, “O Messenger of Allah, I am in between hoping in Allah and fearing for my sins.” The Prophet (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam) said, “The like of these two qualities do not unite in the heart of a servant except that Allah gives him what he hopes for and protects him from what he feared.” [Sunan at-Tirmidhi & Sunan Ibn Majah & authenticated by Sheikh al-Albani in  Ahkam al-Janaa’iz (no.2)]

Therefore, whenever we do a good action, we should hope that it has been accepted by Allah, but at the same time we should also have fear that maybe it isn’t enough or that the good deed has not been worthy of acceptance. Likewise when we sin, we should have hope that Allah will accept our repentance and forgive us, but we should also fear that we may be accountable for it.We find Allah telling us in the Qur'aan: “Verily your Lord is Quick in Punishment and verily He is the Oft-Forgiving, the Giver of Mercy.” [(7): 167]

And the scholars of Islam say, “He who worships Allah with hope only is a murji’ee.[4] He who worships Him in fear only is a Harooree [Khaarijee][5]. And He who worships Allaah in love only is a Zindeeq[6] [eg. the Soofis, the Christians, etc]. But he who worships Allah in fear, love and hope is a Muwahhid Mu’min. [a believer Tawheed].”[7]

It is thus clear how imbalances in any of the 3 qualities of worship can lead to major deviation & straying from the True Guidance. It is therefore important for every Muslim to combine all three of them in his heart.

Teachings of Soorah Al-Fatihah

It teaches us to praise and glorify Allah by mentioning His beautiful and perfect Names and Attributes. 

It teaches us about His Mercy and His Justice.  

It teaches us about the Day of Judgement and about the recompense of our deeds.  

It teaches us that the recompense will be established upon perfect justice.

It encourages one to perform righteous actions and dissuades one from performing sins.  

It teaches the servants of Allah to ask of Him Alone, to humble themselves and worship Him Alone and to put their trust and reliance in Him Alone. 

It teaches us to ask Allah continuously for guidance to the Straight Path.  

It points us towards the nations of the past and warns us against falling into the same acts of transgression and misguidance that they were guilty of.  

It teaches us to aspire to the company of the sincerely truthful, the martyrs and the righteous.  

It teaches that there is nothing in the Qur`aan that would give aid to or encourage innovation. Hence never will the innovator be able to find evidence for his misguidance in the Qur`aan.  

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This commentary is a compilation gathered from a number of commentaries written. These being

       1.         Tafseer at-Tabaree

       2.         Tafseer al-Qurtubi [Jaami lil Ahkaam al-Qur`aan

       3.         Tafseer ibn Katheer

       4.         Tafseer ash-Shawkanee [Fath al-Qadeer]

       5.         Tafseer as-Sa`dee [Tayseer al-Kareem ar-Rahmaan]

       6.         Tafseer ash-Shanqeetee [Adwaa al-Bayaan fee Eedaah al-Qur`aan bil Qur`aan].


[1] This is because the servant praises Allah believing Him as the Rabb, which means - master, one who is obeyed, owner, one who puts something in order – according to this he affirms all the Attributes of the Rabb for Allah for e.g. the Attribute of Provider (Khaliq), the Attribute of Mercy (by affirming that He has bestowed blessings on His creation from His Mercy and also affirming for Him the Name - Raheem – The Merciful etc.  

[2] Collected by Imaam Bukhari in al-Adabul-Mufrad and declared hasan by al-Albaanee in al-Irwaa (1601)

[3] As explained by Ibnul-Qayyim (d.751H) in Badaa’I ul-Fawaa’id.

[4] The Murji’a were a sect that emerged within the first century of Islam. The people of this sect believe that sins do not affect faith i.e. no matter what sins a person commits, his Eeman (faith) is complete and perfect. They worship Allah only with hope because they believe that as long as one believed and testified to Islam, they would enter Paradise regardless of their actions.

[5] The Khawaarij, they worshipped Allah in fear only because they held that anyone who commits major sins was a disbeliever and would therefore dwell in Hellfire forever. This of course is gross extremism and straying from the correct path. The Prophet (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam) said: “There were two men of Banoo Israa’eel who strove equally. One of then committed sins and the other strove hard in worship. And the one who strove in worship to see the other in sin and kept saying to him: “Desist.” So one day he found him committing a sin and so said to him: “Desist” So he replied, “Leave me by my Lord, have you been sent as a watcher over me?”. He said, “By Allah, Allah will not forgive you, nor will Allah admit you to Paradise”. Then their souls were taken and they came together before the Lord of the Worlds. So Allah said to the one who strove in worship: “Did you have Knowledge of Me, or did you have any power in what is in my Hands?” And He said to the sinner: “Go and enter Paradise through My Mercy.” & He said to the other: “Take him to the fire.” Abu Hurairah (radiyallahu anhu) said: “By Him in whose Hand is my soul! He spoke a word which destroyed this world & the hereafter for him.”[5] Therefore we should never say of anyone that he or she is a ‘lost cause’ or ‘doomed’ or the like for this is a great sin. However, we fear for those who commit major sins because they have been threatened with punishment in the Qur'aan and the Hadeeth. However it is up to Allah whether He chooses to punish them or whether He will forgive them.

[6] The Zindeeqs - or the heretics - are groups, such as many of the Soofis who have become like the Christians and reduced the religion to just ‘love’ and so all their talk and their mystical practices are centered around developing more ‘love’.

[7] Quoted by Ibn Rajjab in al-Takhweef minan-Naar.

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