I Meaning &
Morphology (الصرف و اللغة)
of ‘بِاِسْمِ اللَّهِ’
in the expression ‘بِاِسْمِ اللَّهِ’ signifies
‘authority and sanction’. Thus, much like the phrase ‘in the name of the king
…’, the expression ‘in the name of Allah ….’ means ‘on the authority and through
the sanction of Allah’. (see ref. 1).
In the Qur’ān,
it is used in a similar way in the following verse:
اقْرَأْ بِاسْمِ رَبِّكَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ (٩٦:
Read, on the authority of your
Lord who created. (96:1)
as pointed out by the author (ref. 2) is generally used in the Qur’ān to express
gratitude to Allah. Some parallel examples are:
مَا فِي صُدُورِهِمْ مِنْ غِلٍّ تَجْرِي مِنْ تَحْتِهِمْ الْأَنْهَارُ وَقَالُوا
الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي هَدَانَا لِهَذَا وَمَا كُنَّا لِنَهْتَدِيَ لَوْلَا
أَنْ هَدَانَا اللَّهُ (٤٣:٧)
And We shall remove from their
hearts any lurking sense of injury – beneath them will be rivers flowing – and
they shall say: ‘Gratitude be to Allah, who has guided us to this [felicity]:
never could we have found guidance, had it not been for the guidance of Allah.
دَعْوَاهُمْ أَنْ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ (١٠:١٠)
And the ending of their prayer
will be: ‘Gratitude be to Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the Worlds!’
لِلَّهِ الَّذِي وَهَبَ لِي عَلَى الْكِبَرِ إِسْمَاعِيلَ وَإِسْحَاقَ إِنَّ رَبِّي
لَسَمِيعُ الدُّعَاءِ (٣٩:١٤)
‘Gratitude be to Allah, Who has
granted unto me in old age Ishmael and Isaac: for truly my Lord is He, the
Hearer of Prayer!’ (14:39)
وَقَالُوا الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي صَدَقَنَا وَعْدَهُ
وَأَوْرَثَنَا الْأَرْضَ (٧٤:٣٩)
They will say: ‘Gratitude be to
Allah, Who has truly fulfilled His Promise to us, and has given us [this] land
in heritage’. (39:74)
فَإِذَا اسْتَوَيْتَ أَنْتَ وَمَنْ مَعَكَ عَلَى الْفُلْكِ
فَقُلْ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي نَجَّانَا مِنْ الْقَوْمِ الظَّالِمِينَ (٢٨:٢٣)
And when you have embarked on the Ark – you and those with you – say: ‘Gratitude
be to Allah, Who has saved us from the people who do wrong’. (23:28)
آتَيْنَا دَاوُودَ وَسُلَيْمَانَ عِلْمًا وَقَالَا الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي
فَضَّلَنَا عَلَى كَثِيرٍ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ (١٥:٢٧)
We gave knowledge to David and Solomon: and they both said: ‘Gratitude be to
Allah, Who has favored us above many of His servants who believe!’ (27:15)
وَقَالُوا الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي
أَذْهَبَ عَنَّا الْحَزَنَ إِنَّ رَبَّنَا لَغَفُورٌ شَكُورٌ (٣٤:٣٥)
And they will say: ‘Gratitude be to Allah, who has removed from us sorrow: for
our Lord is indeed Oft-Forgiving ready to appreciate [service]’. (35:34)
As pointed out
by the author (ref. 2), the word ‘اللَّه’ is made by
appending the article ‘ال’ to the Arabic word ‘اله’.
As pointed out
by the author (ref. 3), the word ‘رَبّ’ has been
stripped off its literal meaning of ‘sustainer’ and ‘cherisher’. It has come to
be used in the sense of ‘lord’ or ‘master’. Thus expressions like ‘رَبُّ
الْبَيْت’ and ‘رَبُّ الْنَاقَة’ are frequently
used in Arabic.
The plural here
does not signify any meaning beyond its singular ‘اَلْعَالَمْ’.
Both are used in Arabic to imply ‘the world’. In other words, the plural form
does not mean that ‘all worlds’ are being implied.
The fact that
this plural word can be used in the singular sense is evident from its usage in
the Qur’ān. Consider the following verses:
مِنْ الْعَالَمِينَ (١٦٥:٢٦)
Of all the
creatures in the world, will you approach males. (26:165)
الَّذِي نَزَّلَ الْفُرْقَانَ عَلَى عَبْدِهِ لِيَكُونَ لِلْعَالَمِينَ نَذِيرًا
Blessed is He Who sent down the Criterion to His servant, that it may be an
admonition to the world. (25:1)
It is quite
obvious that in both these verses the word ‘الْعَالَمِينَ’
is not meant in its plural sense and is equivalent to ‘اَلْعَالَمْ’.
It is evident
from ref. 5 that in the opinion of the author, commentators have generally
failed to appreciate the true relevance and usage of these attributes mentioned
successively. Zamakhsharī for example says that ‘الرَّحْمَان’
has more intensity and exaggeration than ‘الرَّحِِيْم’.1
As pointed out by the author, it is Imām Amīn Ahsan Islāhī who for the first
time has determined the true purport of these attributes. No doubt both these
attributes are intensive forms; however, both have specific meanings to convey.
While pointing out the meaning of this word, the author has
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 worship, however, since man in this
world is also a ‘man of action’ this worship necessarily relates to his deeds
and actions as well and in this way includes obedience.
II Syntax &
Declensions & (النحو و الاعراب)
1. Declension of
‘مَالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ’
The word ‘مَالِك’
is used as an attribute and not as a nomen agentis ‘اِسْمُ
الْفَاعِل’2. Therefore, its
annexure (اِضَافَة) has made it a defined (مَعْرِفَه)
adjective. Hence, it can occur in conjugation with the defined adjectives
mentioned in the previous verses.
2. Declension of
The word ‘غَيْرِ’
is declined in the genitive because it is a permutative (بَدَل)
of ‘الَّذِينَ’ found in the expression ‘صِرَاطَ
الَّذِينَ’. Thus the sense is ‘… الْمَغْضُوبِ
عَلَيْهِمْ غَيْرِ صِرَاطَ’.
III Style & Eloquence (الاساليب و البلاغة)
related to the particle ‘ب’ in ‘بِاِسْمِ
As pointed out
by the author (ref. 1), the Bismillāh verse is addressed to the Prophet (sws)
and hence the words ‘اِقْرَأهُ عَلَى الَّناس’ ([O
Prophet] read this sūrah out before these people) are suppressed after the
verse. This opinion of the author is in contrast with most of the classical
commentators who regard verbs such as ‘اَبْدَاُ’ (I
begin) and ‘اَقْرَاُ’ (I read) to be suppressed before
or after the Bismillāh verse.
of the Preposition
‘اِلَى’ is suppressed after the verb ‘اِهْدِنَا’.
In classical Arabic, prepositions are suppressed to emphasize and add to the
meaning of verbs after which they are suppressed. The author has pointed this
out in the following words:
expression ‘اِهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ’ now
does not simply mean ‘give us guidance’. It means: ‘set our hearts on this
path; instill in us the desire to tread this path, give us the resolve,
determination and facility to stay on this path and guide us forever through
whatever circumstances we encounter while traversing it.’
3. Shift in
The first three
verses of the sūrah do not directly address anyone. Rather they are an
expression of the various attributes of the Almighty in general. It is the
fourth verse with which the address starts. This ‘اِلْتَفَات’
(address shift) is very apt as the attributes form a befitting prelude to the
direct prayer that the subsequent verses express.
IV. Exegesis and Explanation (الشرح و التفسير)
Connotation of ‘اَلْمَغْضُوبِ عَلَيْهِمْ’ and ‘اَلضَّالِّين’
A study of the
Qur’ān and other parallel verses in which these expressions occur reveals that
the people referred to by the words ‘اَلْمَغْضُوبِ عَلَيْهِمْ’
and ‘اَلضَّالِّين’ are the Jews and Christians of the
time of the Prophet Muhammad (sws). The author has pointed this out in ref. 11
and ref. 12. Thus the context of 5:60 and 2:61 shows that Jews are addressed:
قُلْ هَلْ أُنَبِّئُكُمْ بِشَرٍّ مِنْ
ذَلِكَ مَثُوبَةً عِنْدَ اللَّهِ مَنْ لَعَنَهُ اللَّهُ وَغَضِبَ عَلَيْهِ وَجَعَلَ
مِنْهُمْ الْقِرَدَةَ وَالْخَنَازِيرَ وَعَبَدَ الطَّاغُوتَ أُوْلَئِكَ شَرٌّ
مَكَانًا وَأَضَلُّ عَنْ سَوَاءِ السَّبِيلِ (٥ :٦٠)
I point out to you something much worse than this, [as judged] by the treatment
it received from God? Those who were cursed by God and incurred His wrath, those
from whom some he transformed into apes and swine, those who worshipped Evil; –
these are [many times] worse in rank, and far more astray from the even Path!’
وَإِذْ قُلْتُمْ يَامُوسَى لَنْ
نَصْبِرَ عَلَى طَعَامٍ وَاحِدٍ فَادْعُ لَنَا رَبَّكَ يُخْرِجْ لَنَا مِمَّا
تُنْبِتُ الْأَرْضُ مِنْ بَقْلِهَا وَقِثَّائِهَا وَفُومِهَا وَعَدَسِهَا
وَبَصَلِهَا قَالَ أَتَسْتَبْدِلُونَ الَّذِي هُوَ أَدْنَى بِالَّذِي هُوَ خَيْرٌ
اهْبِطُوا مِصْرًا فَإِنَّ لَكُمْ مَا سَأَلْتُمْ وَضُرِبَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ الذِّلَّةُ
وَالْمَسْكَنَةُ وَبَاءُوا بِغَضَبٍ مِنْ اللَّهِ (٢:
you said: O Moses! we cannot endure one kind of food; so ask your Lord for us to
produce for us of what the earth grows, – its pot-herbs, and cucumbers, its
garlic, lentils, and onions.’ He said: ‘Will you exchange the better for the
worse? Go you down to any town, and you shall find what you want!’ They were
covered with humiliation and misery; they drew on themselves the wrath of God.
is evident from the context of 5:77 that Christians of the times of the Prophet
(sws) have been addressed in it. They are the ones who have gone astray (as
indicated by the underlined portion). So on the basis of 5:77 one can conclude
that the word ‘اَلضَّالِّين’ (who have gone astray) in
Sūrah Fātihah refers to these Christians.
قُلْ يَاأَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ لَا تَغْلُوا
فِي دِينِكُمْ غَيْرَ الْحَقِّ وَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا أَهْوَاءَ قَوْمٍ قَدْ ضَلُّوا
مِنْ قَبْلُ وَأَضَلُّوا كَثِيرًا وَضَلُّوا عَنْ سَوَاءِ السَّبِيلِ (٥ :٧٧)
People of the Book! Exceed not in your religion the bounds [of what is proper],
trespassing beyond the truth, nor follow the vain desires of people who have
gone astray in times gone by, – who misled many, and strayed [themselves] from
the even Way. (5:77)
Connotation of ‘أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ’
As pointed out
by the author (ref 10), the Qur’ān itself points out who are implied by the
words ‘أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ’:
وَمَنْ يُطِعْ اللَّهَ وَالرَّسُولَ
فَأُوْلَئِكَ مَعَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِمْ مِنْ النَّبِيِّينَ
وَالصِّدِّيقِينَ وَالشُّهَدَاءِ وَالصَّالِحِينَ وَحَسُنَ أُوْلَئِكَ
who obey Allah and the Prophet shall be among those whom God has blessed like
the Prophets, the upright, the witnesses [to the truth] and the righteous. And
how excellent these companions are. (4:69)
3. The Status of
the Bismillāh verse
In the opinion
of the author (ref. 1), the Bismillāh verse, though a part of the Qur’ān, is not
part of any Qur’ānic Sūrah including Sūrah Fātihah. It is addressed to the
Prophet Muhammad (sws) with the indication that he is required to read out
before his addressees the sūrah that follows these words.
4. The First
the author, Sūrah Fātihah is the first revelation of the Qur’ān. It is the only
sūrah of the Qur’ān which is not directed to any addressee of the Prophet (sws).
Its addresser is every person in the time of the Prophet who yearned for fresh
guidance from the Almighty after the Jews and Christians – the People of the
Book – had corrupted and interpolated the divine guidance they had been blessed
5. Is Sūrah
Fātihah ‘سَبْعًا مِنْ الْمَثَانِي’?
say that Sūrah Fātihah is ‘سَبْعًا مِنْ الْمَثَانِي’.
This expression is interpreted to mean ‘the seven oft-repeated ones’. This is
because it is suggested that the number seven means the seven verses of Sūrah
Fātihah and since the sūrah is read in all the prayers it is befittingly called
the ‘seven oft-repeated ones’. However, a first reading of the sūrah shows that
is does not have seven verses; they are actually six. Since the expression ‘سَبْعًا
مِنْ الْمَثَانِي’ was understood to mean ‘the seven repeated ones’ and
thus the Hadīth seemingly says that Sūrah Fātihah has seven verses, scholars
tried to solve the problem by either counting the Bismillāh verse as part of
Sūrah Fātihah or splitting the last verse into two verses.
It is submitted
that the expression ‘سَبْعًا مِنْ الْمَثَانِي’ also
occurs in the Qur’ān (15:87):
وَلَقَدْ آتَيْنَاكَ سَبْعًا مِنْ
الْمَثَانِي وَالْقُرْآنَ الْعَظِيمَ (١٥:
bestowed upon you sab‘an mina’l-mathānī and the great Qur’ān. (15:87)
on its meanings shows that the expression does not mean ‘the seven repeated
ones’. The word ‘مَثَانِي’ is the plural of ‘مَثْني’,
which means ‘in two’s’ or ‘in pairs’. In other words the expression ‘سَبْعًا
مِنْ الْمَثَانِي’ means ‘… seven of those composed of pairs. As pointed
out by Islahī3, this refers to the
seven groups of the Qur’ān in which the sūrahs occur as pairs. As for the
conjunctive ‘و’ that precedes the words ‘الْقُرْآنَ
الْعَظِيمَ’ in 15:87, its grammatical function is ‘explication’ (tafsīr),
and so the verse means: ‘… seven of those composed of pairs, i.e. the great
Qur’ān. In other words, as per 15:87, it is the Qur’ān itself which is the ‘سَبْعًا
question arises that why do certain Āhadīth call Sūrah Fātihah ‘سَبْعًا
مِنْ الْمَثَانِي’. The reason, it seems, is that the sūrah epitomises the
Qur’ān, and, as such, can be taken as the Qur’ān in miniature. It is this
character of the sūrah that the Ahādīth seek to bring out.
V. Scriptures and Testaments (العهود و الصحف)
1. Sūrah Fātihah
in the Previous Scriptures
It seems that
the Old and New Testaments contains verses which closely resemble Sūrah Fātihah.
Testament contains the following prayer:
the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love
and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness,
rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the
children and their children fro the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth
generation.’ (Exodus 34:6-7)
Upon a request
from one of his disciples Jesus (sws) taught the following prayer to the
hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive those who sins against us. And lead us
not into temptation.’ (Luke, 11:2-4)
Farāhī in his
exegesis has explained how closely these words of Jesus (sws) resemble Sūrah
Fātihah.4 Those interested in this
comparison are advised to read it.
See how closely the following Palm of David (sws) resembles the content of Sūrah
A prayer of
O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.
my life, for I am devoted to you. You are my God; save your servant who trusts
mercy on me, O Lord, for I call to you all day long.
joy to your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you.
my prayer, O Lord; listen to my cry for mercy.
7. In the
day of my trouble I will call to you, for you will answer me.
the gods there is none like you, O Lord; no deeds can compare with yours.
the nations you have made will come and worship before you, O Lord; they will
bring glory to your name.
10. For you
are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God.
11. Teach me
your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.
12. I will
praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.
13. For great
is your love towards me; you have delivered me from the depths of the grave.
arrogant are attacking me, O God; a band of ruthless men seeks my life – men
without regard for you.
15. But you,
O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love
16. Turn to
me and have mercy on me; grant your strength to your servant and save the son of
17. Give me a
sign of your goodness, that my enemies may see it and be put to shame, for you,
O Lord, have helped me and comforted me.