Sunday, February 22, 2009

Pearls & Gem : Al Fatihah

Excerpt from: Imam Mohd Shafi (Pakistan). 11th november 2008 ,which my old classmate ,Lank ,sent to me .I like to share this 'nugget' with my friends on the blog .A wee bit long but Al Fatihah is in essence and in a nutshell ,the Quran .We read it at least 17 time in the course of a day .Like parrots 99.99 % of the time ,especially myself included !

Bear with me as this is a pretty long one for you guys not used to reading 'Tafsir work' ,but remember you are reading 'Divine Precis' , in AlFatihah 's seven precise ayats ,summarising and 'previewing' some 6666 ayats or so of the Glorious Quran ,so how short can you expect the tafsir to be ?




(A1) AL- FATIHAH.

(1) (i) Al-Fatihah has a number of peculiar merits:
(peculiar – distinct or special )
The Quran begins with Al-Fatihah.
The Solat begins with Al-Fatihah.
This is the First complete Surah revealed to Rasul s.a.w.

(ii) Al-Fatihah is the Quintessence of the Quran, and the rest of the Quran is its elaboration. ( quintessence – an extract of a substance containing its central nature in its most concentrated form.)

(iii) The Quran’s message is related to 2 main themes,
Faith (Iman) and Virtuous deeds( al-amal al-salih),
and the basic principals of these two are in this
Surah. (virtuous : morally good)

(iv) This surah is also called “Umm al-Quran”( Essence of the Quran), “Umm al-Kitab” (Essence of the Book),
“Al-Quran al-Azim” ( Glorious Quran).

(v) This surah gives a special instruction to the man who begin the recitation and study of the Quran, that he should approach this book with a mind cleansed of all his previous thoughts and opinions, seeking nothing but the Truth and the Right path, praying to Allah for guidance to the Right path.

(vi) The surah begins with the praise of HIM before Whom the request is submitted, and ends with the request for
guidance.

(vii) The rest of the Quran is the answer to this request for
guidance.




(viii) Rasul s.a.w said: “ I swear by Allah who is the master of my life, neither the Torah, nor the Evangile nor the Psalms of David have anything to compare with the Opening Chapter of the Quran, and no other Chapter of the Quran itself can compare with it.” ( reported by Abu Hurairah ).

(ix) Rasul s.a.w. said: “This surah is a cure for all kinds of illnesses. It is also called “Al-Shifa” ( Cure).
(from Qurtubi).
Rasul s.a.w. has called this surah the greatest among
all the surahs in the Quran. ( reported by Anas from
Bukhari/Qurtubi).

(x) Consists of 7 verses including Bismillah.
After Bismillah, the first 3 verses praises Allah.
The 4th verse has an aspect of praise, and an
aspect prayer. The last 3 verses contains
requests and prayers.

(2) From Sahih Muslim: ALLAH says: Al Fatihah is equally
divided between ME and My servant.
My servant shall be given what he prays for.

(i) when he says: Al hamddu lilah hi rabbil alameen.
(All praises belongs to Allah, Lord of all Creation)
Allah says: My servant has paid his homage to Me.
(homage: showing great respect, adoration, reverence,
adulation )
(ii) when he says: Al Rahman Al Rahim
( The All Merciful, The Very Merciful)
Allah says: My servant has praised Me.

(iii) when he says: Maliki yau middeen.
( The Master of the Day of Judgement)
Allah says: My servant has proclaimed my Greatness.

(iv) when he says: Iya kana’ budu wa iya kanas ta’in
( You Alone we worship, You Alone we pray for help)
Allah says: This verse is common to Me and My servant,
he shall be given what he prayed for.




(v) when he says: Ih dinass siratal mustakim
(Guide us to the Straight path)
Allah says: All this is there for My servant, he shall be given
what he prayed for.

(A2) BISMILLAH.

(1) It was the custom during the age of Ignorance that people began their activities by reciting the names of their idols or gods.

(2) It was to eradicate this practice that the first verse of the Quran commanded Rasul s.a.w. to begin with “the name of Allah.”

“Iqq –Raqq – Bismi - Rabbika” ( Q 96:1)
Read in the Name of your Lord.

(3) According to Al-Sayuti, all the divine books began with
“Bismillah”.
While “Bismillah Al Rahman Al Rahim” is peculiar and specific to the Quran only.

(4) Rasul s.a.w. began every activity with the name of Allah.

(a) he s.a.w. used to say “Bismika Allahuma”

(b) But when “Bismillah Al Rahman Al Rahim” was revealed, he
would use these words.

(c) The Quran instructs us to begin whatever we do with the
Name of Allah.

(d) Rasul s.a.w. says that no important work receives Allah’s
blessings unless it is begun in His Name.

(e) In fact, beginning any activity should be done by reciting
“Bismillah” at the start of that activity.






(f) Thus by instructing man to begin ALL his activities with the Name of Allah, Islam has made man’s life completely oriented and directed towards Allah, so that with each step he takes, man renews his allegiance to his covenant with Allah, that whatever he does, even his very existence is by the will and help of Allah.

(g) Thus all man’s economic and worldly activities, each movement and gesture becomes transformed into an act of worship by him reciting “Bismillah”.


(h) How brief is the action, which consumes neither time or energy, and how immense is the gain.

(i) A disbeliever also eats and drinks like a muslim. But a muslim who eats and drinks by saying “Bismillah” as he begins to eat actually affirms that it is not in his power to obtain this little morsel of food which has passed through innumerable steps, from the sowing of the seeds to the reaping of the crops, and by the actions of the wind, the sun, the rain, and the activities of countless men; and that Allah Alone who has the Supreme Power over all these actions and activities that has granted man his morsel of food.
The water we drink goes through similar stages as well.

(5) Bismillah consists of 3 words:

“BA” “ISM” “ALLAH”

(a) The Letter “BA” has several connotations in Arabic of which
3 are applicable here:

(i) Contiguity, or Close Proximity between something
or someone.
(ii) Seeking the aid of someone or something.
(iii) Seeking the blessings of someone.





(b) “ISM”- Name.

(c) “ALLAH”- the Greatest and Most Comprehensive of the
Divine Names and refers to His Essence.

(d) ALLAH is the Name of that Ultimate Reality which
comprehends in Itself All the Attributes of Perfection,
Who is the Creator and Sustainer, Unique, Peerless.

(e) Thus the phrase “Bismillah” has 3 respective meanings:

(i) With the Name of Allah.(Close Proximity to the Name of Allah)
(ii) With the Help of Allah.
(iii) With the Blessings/Barakah of Allah.


(A3) RAHMAN.

(1) This is one of the 2 Names ( the other is Rahim) that is
derived from the root word “RAHMAH” ( Mercy ).

(2) “RAHMAH” indicates the All-Pervasiveness, Vastness,
All Embracing, All Inclusive and Perfection of Allah’s
Mercy. (pervade - spread throughout )
(3) The creation of the heavens and the earth and its sustenance has no other motivation then to manifest Allah’s quality of Mercy.

(4) Allah does not need the heavens and the earth and no one has compelled HIM to create them.

(5) It is due to Allah’s Own Mercy that caused Him to create
All creation and to sustain it.

RAHMAN – signifies One whose Mercy is common to all, and extends to the whole universe, to all creation, to everything that will be created in the future, and is applicable to Allah only.






(A4) RAHIM.

(1) Signifies ONE whose mercy is perfect in all possible way, and can apply to human beings who has exemplary qualities of mercy such as rasul s.a.w.


(B1) AL HAMDU LILAH.

This words signifies that :“All Praises essentially belongs to
Allah.”

(1) The world that we live in contains millions of things which compels man’s attention and admiration for their beauty and usefulness.

(2) When we admire anything that exists in the created world, the Universe or beyond, we are actually showing our admiration to the Creator of these things, which is ALLAH.

(3) The world and all its contents, the Universe, other Universes, and All Creation is Created by Allah.

(4) It can be said that any created object, even the single atom or a speck of dust, are all created by Allah. Every created object whether it is large or small are all created by Allah, and they ALL point back to Allah as their Source and the Sole Creator of All Creation.

(5) Therefore “ All Praises are Solely due to Allah only ” because it is Allah :

(i) Who has Created All the beauty, perfection, balance
etc in our world, the Universe, and beyond, and in
All Creation.
AND

(ii) All Creation, everything that is created be it large or small, ALL Points back Solely to Allah as the Sole and ONLY Single Source of its creation, thus Affirming the ONENESS of Allah, the Basic Principal of Islam.


(6) That :

“ All Praises in Reality belongs to the ONE whose
Power is Absolute.”

If there is ONE Being in the Whole Universe or Beyond who Inherently deserves All Praise, it necessarily follows that this Being ALONE should be worthy of Adoration and Worship.

(7) This verse also teaches man to praise Allah. We praise someone either for a quality inherent in him or for a favour received from him. But this verse mentions neither. This verse implies that the blessings of Allah are limitless, from the Quran:

“ If you try to count the blessings of Allah, you will never be able to number them.’ ( Q 14:34 and 16:18 )

(8) We can reflect on this by studying the single movement of our eye. Before the eye can see, internally it requires physical energy which in turn is provided by food, air, water etc; the complex processes from our brain to our eye, and externally it requires the light of the sun which in turn depends on millions of other factors.

(9) That is to say, all the forces of the universe join together to make it possible for the eye to see even once. Now try to calculate how many times does the eye see in a day, in a year or in man’s life time. Similarly, the functions of the ears, the tongue, the hands and feet, each brings into action the forces of the whole universe.

(10) We can also reflect on our joints, there are more than 300 joints, but Allah have made each of them so strong that during the 60 or 70 years of an average man’s life they are in perpetual motion and yet do not need repairs. Allah has reminded us of this:

It is We Who created them, and it is We Who endowed their joints with strength.” ( Q 76:28 )



(11 ) The above blessings are equally available to every
living man, be he a king or a beggar. In fact, all the
greatest blessings of Allah are common property of
every living creature, for example : air, water, light,
the sun, the moon, the stars, in fact everything that
exists between the heavens and the earth,
offers its benefits to ALL without distinction.

(12 ) Then there are the special blessings which the Divine
wisdom has chosen to distribute unequally among
men, some getting more than others. This includes
wealth, honour, health, peace, knowledge etc.
Although the general blessings are obviously much
more important and essential for human life than the
special blessings, men in his naivety takes them for
granted and never realize what great gifts they are
in spite of it being common.

(13) As we now realise and recognise the innumerable blessings that keeps descending on us at every moment of our lives, we would therefore want to praise and continue to praise our Benefactor.

(14) It is to fulfill this basic need of human nature that the Quran employs the word “Al-hamd” (Praise) as the first word of this Surah. The praise of Allah has been accorded a very high rank among the acts of worship.

(15) Rasul s.a.w says that when receiving some kind of blessing from Allah, His servant says
“Al-hamdulillah”(Praise belongs to Allah), it is like
giving something better in return for what he has
taken.( Qurtubi from Ibn Majah, as narrated by Anas )
From another hadith, if a man on receiving all possible blessings of the world, says
“Al-hamdulillah”, his act is superior to all those blessings. According to another authenthic hadith, saying this phrase fills half the scale on the side of good deeds in the Balance.

(16) The second element is the phrase “Lillah” which is composed of the preposition Lam( Arabic equivalent of
the letter L ) and the noun ‘Allah’.
This preposition means ‘for’ and is used for
particularization, showing the exclusive possession
of a thing or quality.

(17) So, this phrase implies that not only is the duty of man to praise Allah, but in reality all praise belongs exclusively to Him, and no one else in the universe is worthy of it.

(18) At the same time, and by way of a further blessing, Allah has also taught man to thank those through whom the gifts of Allah has come to him, for one who does not see the need of thanking his human benefactor is also not sending his thanks to Allah, because it is Allah Who has inspired this human benefactor to send to us His(Allah’s ) gift.

(B2) RABB.

Signifies “ One who Nurtures ”.

(1) This implies : “developing a thing by gradual stages in a
manner which is conducive to its own
good till it attains perfection”.

(2) This attribute is Exclusive to Allah ONLY. A created being
needs to be nurtured, and cannot nurture anyone else.

(B3) AL-ALAMIN.

Plural of “Alam” ( World, Universe ).

(1) This word refers to All the Worlds, All the Universes, including All possible forms of creation and existence
( except Allah) ; from the speck of dust in this world or in space,
to the Universe, to other Universes and beyond.




(2) Allah has created the heavens and earth for a purpose:

“We have not created in vain the heavens and the earth and what lies between them. That is the fancy of the disbelievers. But woe to the disbelievers in the fire of Hell”.(Quran 38:27)

and has created man and made this world subservient to him for a purpose, that is to worship HIM Alone. :

“ I have not created the jinn and mankind except to worship
Me.”
( Quran 51:56).


(3) Allah ALONE is the Rabb (Nurturer/Sustainer) of All the Worlds/All Creation and is therefore the ONLY ONE worthy
of All Praise, Adoration and Worship.


(4) “Rabb bil Alameen” (Rabb/Nurturer of All the Worlds/Universe/ of All Creation) also signifies that Allah ALONE is the ONE who nurtures All Creation and All Creation functions according to His Will, and this reinforces the ONENESS of Allah, the Basic principal of Islam.


(C1) AL-RAHMAN AL-RAHIM.

The All Merciful, the Very Merciful.

(1) Repeating the 2 adjectives of “Rahman” and “Rahim” again.
This denotes respectively the Boundless/Limitless
Abundance and Perfection of the Divine Mercy.

(2) This reference again to these attributes of Allah is a reminder to us that it is not through any external compulsion on inner need of any kind or necessity whatsoever that Allah has assumed the responsibility of creating and nurturing the Whole of Creation, but it is in response to the demands of His Own Quality of Mercy.

(3) If this Universe and All Creation did not exist, HE would suffer no loss, if it does not exist, it is of no burden to HIM.


(D1) MALIK YAUM MIDDEEN.

The Master of the Day of Requital/Judgement.


(D2) MALIK

Signifies possessing a thing in such a manner that one has the right or power to dispose of it as one likes.
i.e. The Master, Owner, Absolute Authority.


(1) The REAL MASTER.

(i) It is HE Who Created every particle of dust in the Universe,
and HE also Created ALL Creation and nurtured it.

(ii) Whose Mastery over Everything is Complete, WHO has
neither a Beginning nor an End. HE existed before
anything that was living and will exist after the death of
everything. HE is the apparent and the hidden, the seen
and the unseen.

(iii) On the contrary, the mastery of man is delimited by a
beginning and an end. Man has a ‘before’ when he did not
exist, and an ‘after’ when he will die.

(iv) man’s mastery and control extends to the living, not to
the dead. To the seen, not to the unseen.
To the external aspect of things, not to the internal.

(v) All these shows that the Real Master of the Whole
Universe and of All Creation, and also of the Day of
Judgment and Requital, is NO Other then ALLAH.

(vi) Even though Allah ALONE has the Real and Complete
Mastery over Everything, and Everything belongs to
Allah ALONE; Allah in His Beneficence and Wisdom has
granted man a kind of imperfect, temporary and apparent
mastery of this world. ( beneficent - charitable, generous )

(vii) Allah has given to man according to HIS Laws for
worldly affairs (the Syari’ah), limited rights to ownership
in this world.

(viii) However man, when in possession of money, property or
power, which Allah has given to man as a trial, are
prone to pride and vanity.







(D3) YAUM - Day.


(D4) DEEN – Requital and Judgement.

Dictionary meanings of the above words:

Requital – Repayment for something done or given.
Judgement – The sentence of a court of justice.

Therefore for all our actions in this world, we will get “repayment”
( we have to answer for all our actions) and we will be sentenced by Allah with perfect justice according to all our actions, and ONLY HE will determine if we go to heaven or hell.


(D5) MALIK- YAUM – MIDDEEN.

(1) Its more detailed meanings :

Master/Owner/Absolute Authority on the Day when All our actions will be judged and we will be sentenced by Allah with perfect justice according to all our actions, and ONLY HE will determine if we go to heaven or hell.
.
The Total Absolute Mastery of Allah ALONE on this
Day of Requital and Judgement.



(2) This world is only the “field of action”, the place where one is
required to live one’s life according to the way Allah has
guided us, and is NOT the place for receiving one’s rewards.

(3) A person working hard and toiling daily in a factory will continue
working hard daily because he knows that at the end of the
month he will receive his wages.
This simple example also reflects our life on the earth
whereby for all our efforts/toil in this world etc, we will ONLY get
our “wages” or repayment in the “next world”

(4) The physical well being, worldly glory or luxurious life of a person
is no sure indication of his virtues, Nor is the suffering and
sorrow of a person are due to his misdeeds.

(5) Whenever a person receives some punishment or reward,
pleasure or suffering for his deeds in this world, this is
NEVER the full recompense for his actions.
These are sometimes the Trials and sometimes punishment for
us and serves ONLY as a Faint intimation/ warning or
reminder, because the Full Recompense of one’s actions
will ONLY be Fully Rewarded in the “Next World” on the
“Day of Judgment and Requital” as mentioned in the Quran :

“And we shall surely let them taste a nearer punishment
(in this world) before the greater punishment( in the other world),
so that they may return( to the right path).” (Q 32:21)

“Such is the punishment; and the punishment of the other world
is certainly greater, only if they knew.” (Q 68: 33).

(6) As good or evil deeds are NOT Equal in value, every deed shall
be rewarded or punished according to its nature. EVERY Deed
be it big or small, good or evil will be judged, and justly
rewarded and punished and the Place for this will be on
the “Day of Judgment and Requital”.

“The blind are not equal to the seeing, nor the wrong doers
with those who believe and do good deeds. Yet you seldom
reflect.
The hour of retribution is sure to come, no doubt about it,
yet most people do not believe.” ( Q 40 : 58-59 ).
(7)What Really Matters is the JOY or SUFFERING that WILL
ENDURE FOR EVER, which we will Know in the “Other World”
beyond this world which the Quran calls “Al-Akhirat”
( The world to come), or “Al-Qiyamah”(Doomday or Day of
Judgment), or “Yaum Al-Din” ( Day of Requital).

(8) The phrase: “Master of the Day of Judgment and Requital.”

(i) is a warning to man who are absorbed in forgetfulness and
self conceit, an intimation that all his possessions, all his
relationships with things and men are only short lived.

(ii) That there shall come a Day when masters will be masters no
more, and slaves will not be slaves anymore, when no one
will own anything, not even in their appearance.

(iii) On the Day when the Ownership and Mastery, Apparent as
well as Real; of the Whole Universe and All Creation will be
Belong to None but Allah, the Exalted.

“The day they will present themselves (before Allah),
and nothing of theirs will remain hidden from Allah
( even apparently). ‘Whose is the kingdom today.?’
Of Allah Alone, the One, the Mighty.
Today everyone will be recompensated for what he has done.
Today no one will be wronged. Allah’s reckoning is surely swift.”
(Q 41 :17).

(E ) IYA KANA’ BUDU WA IYA KANAS TA’IN.

“You Alone we worship, from You Alone we seek help.”

(1) This verse has a double aspect, one of praise and another of
prayer.
(2) A man’s life is subject to 3 states of time;
a past, present and future.
The verses - “al hamd dulillah rabil alamin”( all praise belongs to Allah) , and “al rahman al rahim”( the All Merciful, the Very Merciful) reminds man that as far as his past and present are concerned, he owes everything to Allah Alone, for it is Allah Alone who created him out of nothing, endowed him with the best forms in the universe, and continues to nurture and sustain him in the present.


(3) The verse – “malik yaum midin” ( Master of the Day of Judgment) tells man that in the future too, he will have to depend on Allah Alone, for on the Day of Judgment and Requital one cannot possibly have a helper Other then Allah.

(4) Therefore, after comprehending the meanings of the 3 verses above, and that we were nothing and Allah created us (our past), our lives are completely dependent upon Allah for his nurture and sustenance ( the present), and after our death and our resurrection in the next life ( in the future); that man is Totally dependent on Allah in his 3 states of life and are completely and absolutely dependent on Allah for everything, then it comes naturally and logically to us that :
“Iya kana’ budu” ( You Alone we worship)

That Allah Alone is worthy of Worship, Adoration and Love.


(5) The Arabic word for worship, “Ibadah” connotes :

“showing the utmost humility and submissiveness out of
an intense respect and love for someone.”

Such an attitude of willing self-abasement cannot be justly
adopted towards anyone except Allah.

(6) As we are totally and absolutely dependent on Allah, who can satisfy all our needs, then it is only natural and logical to turn to Him ALONE for help in everything :

“wa iya kanas ta’in” ( from You Alone we seek help).

(i) It is generally accepted that the “help” requested here is
not specific and covers everything from acts of worship
to all possible worldly and non-worldly concerns.







(7) The verse “iya kana’ budu wa iya kanas ta’in” ( You Alone we worship, from You Alone we seek help ) also has another dimension in that:

(i) It teaches man NOT to worship anyone or anything
EXCEPT Allah Alone, NOT to consider anyone else or
anything else as being capable of satisfying one’s needs.

(ii) Therefore, NOT associating anyone with Allah in worship
means:

(a) NOT to love, fear or depend on anyone else or
anything as one loves, fears or depends on Allah.

(b) NOT to repose one’s hope in anyone else or anything
else.

(c ) NOT to consider obedience, submission or service to
another person or thing as obligatory as the
worship of Allah. (obligatory : binding, compulsory ).

(d) NOT to make votive offering, consecrate or dedicate
anything to anyone or take a vow in the name of
anyone similar to the way one does these things in
the case of Allah.

(e) NOT to show complete self-abasement and total
humility before anyone as one is required
to do before Allah.

(f) NOT to engage in the particular God-oriented acts of
worship for anyone other than Allah, acts which
symbolizes the farthest limits of self-abasement,
such as ruku and sajdah( bowing and prostration in
the salah.)

(iii) It is also acceptable in supplicating to Allah to mention the
Rasul s.a.w. as sanctioned in the Quran and Hadith.



(iv) “Ibadah” ( acts of worship) are not limited to prescribed
prayers and fasting, but also includes
( from Imam al-Ghazali in his book ‘Arba’in ) :

Prayers. Prescribed Alms-giving. Fasting.
Hajj or Pilgrimage to Makkah. Reciting the Quran.
Rememberence of Allah in all possible situations.
Earning one’s livelihood in accordance to theSyari’ah.
Fulfilling one’s obligations towards one’s companions and
neighbours. Persuading people to act righteously and
dissuading them what is reprehensible and forbidden.
To follow the Sunnah of Rasul s.a.w.



( F) The Last 3 Verses : “IH - DINAS – SIRRATAL - MUSTAKIM.”
( Guide us to the straight path ).

“SIRRATAL - LAZI - NA - AM – AN - TA - ALAIHIM.”
(the path of those whom You have bestowed Your Grace )

“ GHAIRIL - MAGGDHUBI – ALAIHIM – WALLAD –
DHALEEN.”
(not of those who have incurred Your wrath, nor of those
who Have gone astray).

(1 ) The Last 3 verses consist of a prayer on the part of man, whereby
Allah Himself, in His Great Mercy, has taught man what to pray
for, that is ‘guidance’ to the straight path.

(2 ) “Hidayah” or guidance is to ‘lead someone gently and kindly
towards his destination.’

However, the Real and True Guidance comes from Allah
Alone and has several degrees:








(A) The First degree of Guidance.

(i) This covers and includes everything that exists in the
Universe, and in all Creation from minerals, plants,
animals, even the particle of dust etc.

(ii) The Quran makes it quite clear that all forms of existence
in the universe, even the particle of dust possesses life,
sensitivity, and even consciousness and understanding
in its own degree and according to its
own sphere of existence.

(iii) Some of these creations possess more of this essence
then others, and some less. Hence those who have very
little of it are considered to be inanimate and
devoid of consciousness.

(iv) The creatures and creations which shows obvious signs of life, but not those of consciousness and reason are
considered to be living, but not rational.

(v) Those creatures that are alive and shows consciousness and reason, are called rational beings. Because of these differences in the degrees of consciousness for all the creatures and creations in the Universe, the obligation to observe the injunctions of the Syari’ah( Allah code of Laws, which is also the Islamic code of Laws) are not applicable to all the creatures and creations.

(vi) Of all Allah’s creations, man and jinns alone have been given the necessary consciousness, reason and understanding; therefore Allah has made the Syari’ah
( Allah’s code of Laws ) an obligation that is applicable
to all man and jinns, and thus man and jinn are held
accountable for all their actions.








(vii) Thus the Syari’ah is applicable to man and jinns only,
and Not to the other creatures and creations. These other
creatures and creations are not totally devoid of life,
sensitivity , consciousness and understanding; but in
degrees different than that of man and jinn, and which are
beyond our human capacity to fathom.

“Nothing exists that does not celebrate His praise, but you do
not understand their ( mode of ) praising”. ( Q 17 : 44 ).

“Have you not seen that everything in the heavens and the
earth proclaims Allah’s purity, and the birds too that spread their wings.? Each of them knows its prayers and its
( mode of ) praising.
And Allah is aware of what they do. ( Q 24 : 41 )

(viii) A person also cannot really extol and praise Allah properly without knowing Allah. The highest form of knowledge possible is the knowledge of knowing about Allah, and therefore man must possess consciousness, reason and
understanding if he wants to learn about Allah.

(ix) To sum up the first degree of guidance is common to all creation, and is common to the minerals, plants, animals, men and jinns. That Allah has given every creation and creature, even a particle of dust; a particular nature and function, and guided it in a way which should correspond to its station in the scheme of things.

(x) Thanks to this general guidance, everything in the universe performs according to its allotted function and with such marvelous efficiency. As a simple example, it is the ears that hears sound and not the eyes or the nose. Similarly, the nose smells but cannot see, the eyes see but cannot smell. This first degree of guidance is mentioned in the Quran :

“He gave to everything its distinctive form, and then guided it”.
( Q 20 : 50 )




“Celebrate the name of your Lord, the Most high, Who has
Created all things, well proportioned them, and Who has
determined and guided them.” ( Q 87 : 1 – 2 ).

“There is nothing in the heavens and the earth but comes to the
All-Merciful as a servant. ( Q 19 : 93 ).


( B) The Second degree of Guidance.

(j) The second degree of guidance is not general but particular.
It is applicable only to those creatures which are considered
to be rational, that is man and jinns. This kind of guidance
comes to every man through the prophets and the
revealed books.

(ii) Some accept this guidance and becomes believers
( Muslims ), some reject it and
becomes disbelievers ( Kafirs ).


(C ) The Third degree of Guidance.


(i) The third degree of guidance is still more particular, being special to the true believers ( Mu’minin ) and the God-fearing
( Muttaqin ). Like the first degree, the third kind of guidance
also descends directly to the individual from Allah,
and it is called “Tawfiq”.

(ii) By Allah’s grace, when Allah provides a man with the internal and external means and circumstances which should make it easy, and even pleasant for him to accept and act upon the guidance of the Quran, and difficult for him to ignore or oppose it, then this man has the third kind of guidance called “Tawfiq.”







(iii) The scope of the third degree of is limitless and its levels are indefinite, and is achieved by the performance of virtuous deeds. All increase in performing virtuous deeds brings with it an increase in divine guidance as folls:

“ As for those who follows the straight path, Allah will increase
their guidance.” ( Q 47 : 17 ).

“ And whoever believes in Allah, He guides his heart.”
( Q 64 : 11 )

“ Those who strive for (literally, ‘in’ ) Us, We will surely guide
them in Our paths.” ( Q 29 : 69 ).

(iv ) It is in this field of progress ( to aspire and perform to the highest
levels of virtuous deeds that we are capable of ) , that we see
the greatest prophets and man of Allah striving for, and it is
an increase in divine guidance and help that they are
seeking to their last breath.

(D ) A Cumulative View of Guidance.

(i) Keeping in mind the 3 distinct degrees of guidance, one can easily see that guidance is a thing which everyone possess in some way, and yet no one, not even the greatest, aspires to attain more of its advanced
and higher stages.

(ii) Therefore, of all the prayers man can address to Allah, the most important is the prayer for guidance, which has been taught to us in the very first Surah of the Quran, and this prayer is as necessary for the greatest of the prophets,
men of Allah as well as for the ordinary muslim.

(iii) After the conquest of Makkah, in the last days of Rasul s.a.w, the Surah “Al-Fath” and the verse “ and guide you on the straight path” ( Q 48:20) was revealed to him s.a.w. Rasul s.a.w. had already received “guidance” for the past 23 years of his life, and was a source of guidance to others. This verse is the good tidings from Allah that he s.a.w. has attained a very high station of guidance at that time.


(E ) Guidance : Some notes of caution.

In concluding this discussion about the different degrees of guidance “Hidayah”, we would like to repeat certain points that would help the reader of the Quran avoid certain confusions and errors.

(i) The Quran sometimes speaks of divine guidance as being general and common to believers and non-believers, in fact to all creatures, and sometimes makes it out to be particular and special to the God-fearing.

(ii) The unwary may be led to a sense of contradiction in here. But once it is understood that one degree of guidance is common to all, whereas another degree is limited to particular cases,
the doubts and confusions readily resolves itself.

(iii) The Quran reminds us again and again that Allah does not grant guidance to the unjust and the unrighteous; on the
other hand it repeated declares that Allah guides all.

(iv) This misunderstanding which may arise here is also dispelled by the knowledge of the degrees of guidance.
We can then easily see that the general guidance is
given to all without any distinction, but the third and very
special degree of guidance is not granted to the unjust
and the unrighteous.

(v) The first and third degrees of guidance pertains to a direct act of Divine grace, and no prophet can have anything to do with it, for the function of the Prophets a.w. are related only to the second degree.

(vi) When the Quran refers to the Prophets a.w. as guides, it is always referring to this second degree, and to this alone.








(vii) When the Quran, addressing the Rasul s.a.w. says:

“You cannot guide whom you please.” ( Q 28:56 )

It is referring to the third degree of guidance, that is to say ,
it is not the function or within the power of a prophet to provide “tawfiq” to anyone,( pls refer to C(i) and C(ii) for its definition) in other words, to make it easy for anyone to accept guidance, as this comes directly from Allah.

(viii) We would also like to clarify here the statement by the London Economist that :
“ Islam also implies a one-to-one relationship between the
believer and God, a direct contact without intermediary.
And in this relationship, in which a single God speaks
directly to the core of a single man, is the basis of
individualism. The protestant ethic is grounded on precisely
the same concept.”
( may 17-23, 1975 pg 82 of the special survey).
In the light of our definitions of the 3 degrees of guidance, we
can see that the direct contact with Allah without
intermediaries pertains only to the first and third degrees of
guidance, and not the second degree where the
mediation of the prophets are is required.
Any other authenthic religion is born out of the second
degree of guidance.
As for Islam, one cannot enjoy the benefits of
third degree of guidance without having accepted the
second degree of guidance( the guidance brought via the
prophets and their revealed books ), that is to follow, apply
and live by Allah’s laws of the Universe ( the Syari’ah),
which are all embedded in the Quran and the authentic
hadith of Rasul s.a.w.










(ix) To sum up, the prayer “ guide us in the straight path”
is the most comprehensive, and certainly, one of the
most important prayers taught to man.
No member of a family can claim not to need it.
No success, no prosperity in this world or the ‘next’
world can really be achieved without being on the straight
path.
With man lost in the anxieties of mortal life, the prayer for a
straight path is an elixir ( something with a magical power
to cure ), though most people do not realize it.


(F ) What/ Which is the “ Straight Path”.

(i) It is the path which has no “twists and turns.” This signifies
the particular way of Faith which equally avoids the
two extremes of excess and deficiency. One who follows
the straight path, would, in both matters of doctrine and
practice, neither go beyond the limits or fall short of them.

(ii) The last 2 verses of Surah Al-Fatihah defines and identifies
the ‘straight path.’

The verse says: “The path of those on whom You have
bestowed Your Grace.”

As to who these people are, another verse in the Quran
refers to these people:

“ Those whom Allah has blessed, namely, the prophets, the
Sidiqin, the Shuhada, and the righteous.” ( Q 4:69 )


(iii)These are the 4 categories of those whom Allah favours.
The greatest are the prophets a.w.
The Siddiqin (the constantly true) are those who acquire spiritual perfection, and thus attain the highest ranks among the followers of the prophet.





The Shuhada (martyrs) are those who sacrifice their lives for the sake of Allah ( or, those who bear witness to the truth, as the word admits both meanings. )
The Salihin (the righteous) are those who follow the Syari’ah completely, not only in matters of obligations
( Wajibat) but also with regards to commendable actions
( mustahabb), that are pious or virtuous good deeds.


(G ) Thus the straight path is identified as the path followed by
the men in the four categories above.
The next verse, by the process of elimination,
does the same in a negative manner :

“Not those who have incurred Your wrath, nor of those who
have gone astray.”

(i ) Those who have incurred Allah’s wrath are the people, who,
although they are quite familiar with the commandments of
Allah, willfully go against them out of a calculated perversity,
or due to their own desires. They disobey and violate
Allah’s divine injunctions.
For example, this was the general condition of the Jews
who were ready to sacrifice their religion for the sake of a
petty worldly gain, and used to insult and sometimes
even kill their prophets. (perverse: deliberately or
stubbornly departing from what is required).

(ii) Those who goes astray are the people who, out of ignorance or lack of thought, go beyond the limits appointed by Allah, and indulge in excess and exaggeration in religious matters.
As an example, this has been the error of the Christians
who exceeded the limits in their reverence for a prophet
and turned him into a god.








(iii) Thus the essential meaning of this verse is that, in praying for the straight path;

(a) We do not ask for the path of those who are the slaves of their desires, perverse in thought and action, and
deficient in performing their religious obligations.
( perverse – deliberately acting in a way different from
what is regarded as normal or proper.)

(b) Nor the path of those who are ignorant, unmindful or misled, and indulge in excess and exaggeration in
religious matters.

(c) And that we pray for a path between those 2 extremes, which inclines neither towards excess nor towards deficiency, and which is free from the prompting of desires, doubts, confusions and of erroneous beliefs.

(iv) To sum up, the prayer for the straight path is the essence of the Surah Al-Fatihah, since knowing and following the straight path is the real knowledge and the real achievement in this mortal world.
A mistake in taking the straight path can take
peoples and nations to ruins, and there are even non
muslims who claim to be seeking God and undertake
stupendous labours in order to attain this end.
The Quran has therefore defined the straight path so
explicitly from a positive as well as an eliminative viewpoint.


(H ) The Key to the Straight Path.

(i) It would seem that in order to define the straight path it should have been sufficient to call it ‘the path of the Prophet s.a.w’. or the ‘the path of the Quran’ ; for the Quran is really an explanation of the straight path, and the teachings of the Prophet s.a.w. an elaboration.






(ii) However, at the beginning of the Quran, this most important first Surah of the Quran has given us 2 verses for defining and delimiting the straight path positively and negatively, and thus has indicated that if one wishes to follow the straight path, one should seek such men: ‘those on whom Allah has bestowed His grace__’, and adopt their way.

(iii) Therefore, even though we follow ‘the path of the Quran’, a book alone is not sufficient for the grooming of man; and even though we follow ‘the path of the prophet s.a.w.’ , the prophet s.a.w. was not to be in this world for ever, and no other prophet will come after him in order to give direct guidance and to teach us.

(iv) Fortunately, the last 2 verses of this Surah has also included besides the Prophet, others who will always to be found to be living among us till the last day of the world; namely, the Siddiqin( the constantly true ), the Shuhada
( the martyrs ), and the Salihin (righteous).

(v) For the purpose of indicating the manner in which one can find the straight path, the Quran has thus referred us to
certain men, the Siddiqin, the Shuhada and the righteous.

(vi) We now refer to the hadith of Rasul s.a.w when he s.a.w informed his Companions that , like earlier communities, his s.a.w. ‘Ummah’ too will be divided into seventy or seventy two sects, and that only one among them would be on a straight path. They wanted to know which group will that be. He s.a.w. answered : “ That which follows my way and the way of my Companions”.
This answer indicates very strongly that
‘in order to follow the way of Rasul s.a.w. and the way
of his s.a.w.’s Companions’, we must be taught on
these matters, and some one
has to teach us these matters.






(vii) All this comes to mean that written books or oral traditions alone cannot teach, train and discipline man; for this, one
has to be with knowing men, and learning from them.
The real teacher of man has to be another man,
a book cannot take that place all by itself.

(viii) No one has ever become a doctor, an engineer, or even a cook merely by reading a book. Similarly, studying the Quran and the Hadith on one’s own cannot by itself be sufficient for the moral-spiritual education and training of man; such a study should be carried out under the guidance of a specialist or a
genuine scholar before it can be useful.

(ix) It is a common observation that many people today cherish the erroneous notion that one can acquire a masterly knowledge of the Quran and Hadith merely by reading a translation or at best a commentary.

(x) Had a book in itself been sufficient for the guidance of men, then there was no need for the prophets to be sent. Allah, by sending us His Book, has also sent His Prophet to serve as a teacher and guide.
In defining the straight path, Allah has also thus
enumerated those of His servants who find special favour
with Him, all of which argues that, in trying to understand
the Book of Allah and to act upon it, one cannot solely rely
on one’s own study and judgment, but must turn to
someone who knows.



( I ) Conclusion.

(1 ) Two things are necessary for the physical and spiritual
well being and success of man, the Book of Allah which
contains guidance in every sphere of human life, and the
men of Allah who help in making this guidance effective.





(2 ) The way to profit from the men of Allah is to assess them
according to the well known principals of the Book of Allah.
Those who do not conform to these principals
should not be regarded as men of Allah.
Once you have found true men of Allah, in the real
sense, then one should seek their guidance in order to
understand the meaning of the Book of Allah and act upon it.


(3 ) SHIRK( Association )

The other matter which we would like to caution are :

( a) It is totally forbidden to worship anyone except Allah,
and associating anyone else with Him is a deadly and
unforgiveable sin.
As we have explained earlier, Ibadah (worship)
signifies ‘an utmost humility and willing self-abasement
before someone out of the deepest love and veneration’.

(b ) If one behaves in this manner in relation to any created
being, it is called Shirk( association ) in Islamic
terminology.
It basically follows from this definition of “worship”
that “association” does not merely consists of
attributing divine powers to figures made out of stone
or metals as the idolators usually do; but to obeying,
loving or venerating someone or something to the
degree which is usually reserved for Allah is also an
“obvious association”
( al-shirk al-Jalii ).

(c ) In recounting how the Jews and Christians indulge in
shirk(association) the Quran says:

“They have taken their religious scholars and their monks
as lords apart from Allah”. ( Q 9:31 )






A companion Adi Ibn Hatim, who was a Christian before
accepting Islam, asked the Prophet s.a.w with reference to
this verse as to why the Quran should blame the Christians
for having taken their religious scholars as lords when they
were never guilty of worshipping them.??
The Rasul s.a.w. replied by asking him (Adi Ibn Hatim) if it
was not a fact that their scholars had declared many things
as forbidden although Allah had permitted men to eat
them, and that conversely they had declared as
permissible what had been forbidden., and that the
Christians obeyed their scholars in both respects.
Adi admitted that it was so.
Therefore, the Rasul s.a.w. remarked that this was
exactly how they ‘worshipped’ their scholars.

(d ) Only Allah Alone has the right to establish what is
permissible and what is forbidden. If one is familiar with the
divine injunctions regarding what is permissible(halal) and
what is forbidden(haram), and goes against these
injunctions, believing that someone other than Allah too
can demand obedience in these matters, one is virtually
worshipping him and is guilty of Shirk(association).

(e ) The Quran however does encourage us to seek out the
knowledgeable religious scholars, to learn from them the
Quran and the Sunnah, as per the Quran :

“ Ask the men of knowledge, if you yourselves do not know”.
( Q 16:43 )

(f ) Another thing which comes under the category of
Shirk(association) is to make votive( to fulfill a vow, etc)
offerings to someone other than Allah, so does praying to
someone else in times of need or distress, for, according to a
Hadith, praying is also an act of worship.

(g ) Similarly, adopting such practices that are in general
considered to be the signs or symbols of Shirk( association)
also constitutes the same sin. i.e. having a cross around
one’s neck or amulets etc, bowing (ruku’) or prostrating
( sajdah ) oneself before anyone except Allah etc.






Lank ,

Thank you for sending me the above short 'tafsir' of Al Fatihah by Imam Shafi of Pakistan .Short and succinct because I have read some from tafsir experts who have written longer ones in the past .Short but sufficient for our collective need to remind ourselves and fortify our faith .

Most of us ,minimum ,read Al Fatihah at least 17 time in a day within the context of our daily obligatory prayers .If we Mhslims ,present and past ,really understand and comprehend Al Fatihah as what Allah wanted us to via his messenger Prophet Muhammad ,we would not be where we are now :lagging in all fields ,economic ,social ,technological and even spiritually .

The early Muslims got the knowledge and comprehension direct from The Prophet .That changed a meek tribal people to govern the known world then from the Adriatic Sea to China and Russia and the Far East .When Tariq Ziad crossed over the treacherous Strait of Jabal Tariq [ Gibraltar ] and burnt his ships to make sure he and his men never looked back , that was the beginning of Europe's enlightenment .When the Muslim renaissance in Cordova weaned ,the Ottomans took over .That was the actual meaning of God's 'viceroyship of man on planet earth' .

Had not we changed course and get muddled with our understanding of our religion midway through the Ottoman's era ,we could have been leaders in the world splitting the atoms for humanity ,showing the rest of the world how to live lives and prosper collectively as fellow 'passengers' rather than fighting wars amongst ourselves .Make one wonder whether in the hands of the Muslims whether there would have been a nagasaki or a Hiroshima ?

Now we are so spiritually deficient and economically and knowledgewise dependent on 'lost souls ' of the Earth .Imagine ! just 15 millions Jews dictating the world business ,economic and knowledge agenda in the 'wrong' ways : crass overconsumerism ,materialism and outright 'godlessness'.Dictating the way we dress ,how we should think and live and in some places how we should pray to our God .

I was watching Fareed Zakaria's interview with Imran Khan last night on CNN .The world greatest superpower on Earth is sending drones to bomb the people of the SWAT region of Pakistan because like so many decades before they have chose to live by the Sharia ,the only difference now they have a black and white tacit agreement with Rawalpindi .Likewise the Talibans are not 'perfect' but if one examine all facts correctly they have been demonised for wanting the Sharia .There is an ongoing crusade in Afghanistan .And that is not my word but Imran Khan ,the world re-known ex play boy ,ex criketer and currently Pakistan's hope for better governance .

After somany years of turnoil when Somalia was just about to show some sense of relative peace with a rag tag government of the 'ulama', Ethiopia was sent in to disrupt the process .In Saddam's Iraq ,a country ungovernable except if you are tough and ruthless ,Bush'Crusade came in and now after more than a million Muslims dead and 5 millions orphans ,we still have an ungovernable Iraq .Who is at fault ,Saddam or Bush ?

In Iran ,if Obama does not get his facts right , [ and this is going to be difficult if you have a Chief of Staff whose name is Immanuel and only until recently has dual citizenship ,that of Israel and America ],he is going to start another crusade .What is preventing him now is that America now is nearly bancrupt !

But let us forget about this depressing world politics which we cannot change except see our fellow Muslim brothers become pawns and victims ,and just concentrate at the personal level .

We could be contented and spiritually 'drivened' if we start practising our God given gift .Just take the example of uttering just the simple "BISMILLAH" alone .Do not matter whether you are a Malaysian Airline Boeing 747 jet pilot the Prime Minister ,Public Work engineer ,or just a simple garbage collector : your initial "Bismillah" sets you apart in any task that you do onto a higher plane .If you are the PM ,after your 'Bismillah' you would think thrice about giving that 500 million project to your son in law because it would be difficult to answer later on in the Final Court of Law .If you are the garbage collector you would be hesitant to take the afternoon off on your boss 'time' because you are actually not working for him but for Him .

In my normal course of work in a day I deal with human lives ,oftentimes at the brink of uncertainty .I personally 'use' a lot of 'Bismillah' ,just 'Bismillah' and I must say honestly in many situations during my 'plumbing jobs' ,when my patients blood pressure 'is on the floor' and I felt like even 'peeing in my pants ' as I can see my patient's life go ,going and going before my very eyes ,it is usually that simple 'Bismillah' that recited earlier on that 'normalises things' .

When you deal with 'fresh heart attack patients' you deal with uncertainties and in my opinion ,one never go wrong if one try to recruit the power of the 'Unseen' apart from one's limited and finite skills .

You can also try that for size :You do not know that simple drive to the supermarket on a Sunday morning might really go which way : Which way it takes you ,a 'Bismillah' is never wrong !

This world is a stage ,we are just actors .

Dr Nik Howk

2 comments:

Roslan said...

Doc Nik Howk.

Thank you but you are giving me too much credit, which I don't deserve, for forwarding the meaning of Al-Fatihah to you.

Anyway, regarding the fate of the Islamic countries like Afghanistan and Iraq; my opinion is that the no.1 superpower of the world is worried what Islam can do, just like what Islam has done 1400 years ago. As a doctor, you know that the cancer disease has to be stopped before it can spread further. That's what they hoped of doing to the proper Muslims in those countries - eliminate them before the correct practice of Islam (a deadly "disease" to them) spreads.

As to the "Bismillah", I agree with you that we should say it before we start an activity. "Bismillah" puts us in the right perspective, direction and intention - we do it because of Him (Kerana Allah SWT) and He'll make sure that we won't be disappointed in what we are going to do....

Pearls & Gem said...

Oftentimes even with 'Bismillah' ,and 'sembahyang hajat' we can be dissapointed but that is what life is about ,in both success and failure ,our faith ,spiritual and moral 'endurance' are 'tested'.The results may not be what we want all the time but the 'nawaitu' must be right .And I am not saying this to encourage mediocrity .This is life .

Allah judge us not by the result but by our nawaitu and intention .