Connecting Muslims Worldwide







Quran

The Holy Qur’an was presented to the people of Arabia by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). It was presented in parts over a period of 23 years of his prophetic life. The book presents itself as the word of God and the Holy Prophet also presented it as such.

The Muslims believe that the Holy Qur’an, being the revealed word of God, is the cornerstone of their faith. They get their philosophy, beliefs and laws from this book – it is the basic source of the Islamic faith. It is the Word of God revealed to his Messenger Muhammad peace be upon him, who read it out before the world loud and clear. Not only did he recite it to the people of Arabia, he also made elaborate arrangements to ensure that it’s contents be preserved and his companions should learn it by heart and should also write it down. The Holy Prophet’s stress on the supremacy of the Book of Allah, over all other sources of knowledge, was unequivocal and categorical. It is believed by the Muslims that the Holy Prophet actually heard or received the divine words. The Holy Qur’an was either communicated to him through wahy (revelation), or through an angel or spoken by God himself. All these forms of communication, the Muslims believe, are verbatim in nature, that is to say, that actual words, revealed by Allah, constitute the Holy Book. It is not like the writings of the New Testament, where God inspires a scribe to write down the scripture; the idea and words are those of the scribe while God only supervises the scribe or the scribe was inspired by God, Who revealed a certain idea to him. The scribe then wrote it down in his own words. In case of the Qur’an, the words and ideas are both divine.

The words and verses of the Holy Qur’an were preserved, through the oral as well as the written traditions, in the Prophet’s lifetime. A large number of companions of the Prophet participated in this preservation process and the text was safely handed over to the next generation.

What do we mean when we say that the Holy Qur’an in our hands is exactly the one that was revealed to the Holy Prophet, and that this is an established fact of history?

The meaning and significance of this statement can be explained in the terms of history where we would like to know when a historical fact is established beyond any shadow of doubt.

Chains of Reports Consisting of Individuals

Usually information about the past has reached us through oral reports, written reports or archaeological artifacts. For instance, the plays of Shakespeare have reached us through documentary evidence (written words). The stories of Achilles originated as oral reports (words of mouth), which were later recorded by early Greek writers. The report that Buddhah used to meditate in a certain posture, has reached us through archaeological remains (pieces of art like statues and engravings). These reports are considered as matters of micro history, which are to be judged in the light of the authenticity of the narrators (in case of oral evidence), the scribes (in case of written evidence) or the artists that created the pieces of art (in case of archaeological evidence).

Discussions in micro history hinge on detailed and incisive discussions on individuals (scribes, narrators and artists). The lives of these individuals are examined to get an idea of the authenticity of the report they have conveyed us. Their character, capabilities, resources, environment, and location at a certain place and time are studied. Obviously, the individual being the king pin in such instances of micro history, must be shown to be reliable, truthful, intelligent (to confirm his ability to comprehend, retain and truly express the facts) and unprejudiced.

Once the individuals are investigated, the historians turn to the question of continuity. Continuity means that the individuals involved in collecting and then transmitting the report must be shown to be in a state of uninterrupted contact and communication. We are referring to the fact that there should be an immediate proximity in time and place between the two reporters who form one ring of the chain of transmission. There should be no time when the report remained with anonymous narrators because then we cannot investigate the individuals. It should also not suffer from oblivion because, in that case, any change or corruption in the report, during the time it remained hidden from us, cannot be ruled out. If the communication between two consecutive reporters is smooth, continuous and uninterrupted, the report gathers strength. This evidence for continuity is however to be produced in respect of each stage of the chain of reporters to say with a fair degree of confidence that the report is worth consideration. If the investigation of individuals and continuity of the report leads to positive conclusions, we hav established one chain of the report. Sometimes two or more such chains of reports, leading to the same event, can be established. For example, two courtiers of Akbar the Great may narrate the same incident. In such cases, the supporting narration should be identical or at least similar. If the individuals and their continuity have been investigated, these corroborating reports strengthen and reinforce each other and we are able to place more confidence in the substance brought out by them.

We can summarize our discussion by saying that in micro history, the following components are vital:

  • Individuals
  • Continuity of the report
  • Corroboration (if any)

If an event or a substance is supported by this investigation it becomes worth considering for a historian. However, it can never establish a fact beyond any shadow of doubt. The primary reason is that in such examinations, the historicity of the report ultimately depends on one or two individuals. If our investigation about even one of the individuals in the chain of reporters is faulty, the entire chain is shaken. These individuals may be widely known as men of reasonably good character, fairly reliable memory, sound understanding and relatively free of prejudices. However, they cannot be assumed to be of infallibly good character, unfailing memory, perfect understanding and absolutely free of prejudices.

Similarly, our investigation (and finally our judgment) about them can be extremely cautious, scientific and objective, yet it cannot be infallible and indubitable. We were told that an individual was known to be honest, truthful and reliable, but we know that individual behavior is not predictable. One may be honest and truthful most of the times and yet stumble at a particular instance. One may have a sound memory yet he may forget something. Moreover, how are we going to collect evidence about reporters themselves? Obviously, we would establish more chains of reporters to learn about a certain historical character. These sources would suffer from the same limitations, thereby compounding our problem.

Before proceeding ahead let us summarize our discussion. The chains of reports consisting of individuals, may lead us to a fair degree of plausibility of an event, yet they cannot lead us to the knowledge of the event that is beyond any shadow of doubt because of the following reasons:

  • The reliability of the report hinges on one or two individuals.
  • These individuals are not infallible.
  • Our investigation and judgment about these individuals can also be incorrect.

The scholars of hadith of early Muslim History were alive to the above weaknesses in the information [regarding historical facts] provided by individuals. It is because of this reason that they termed an “individual to individual” report as “khabr al-wahid” (or an individual’s report). Almost the entire hadith literature consists of akhbar al-ahad (individual reports).

Chains of Reports Consisting of Generations

On the other hand in macro history we deal with facts, incidents and reports transmitted, not by one or two individuals to another individual, but by one generation that witnessed these facts and incidents to another generation. For example, the fact that the World War I did take place in the beginning of the twentieth century, is a fact transmitted by a generation to another. The generation that actually fought and witnessed the war conveyed this knowledge to the next generation and so on till it reached us. This communication to succeeding generations can be through any means – oral, written or through any mode of art.

Here we should note, that the unit of the chain of transmission of such information is not individuals, but generations. This singular difference changes the very character of such a report. An important aspect of “generation to generation” transfer is that it does not deal with opinions and ideas of individuals but the hard facts which were witnessed, seen and/or heard by the first generation. [i] This condition eliminates the possibility of including mythologies and opinions in the “generation to generation” transmission.

The essential differences between individual-to-individual transmission and generation-to-generation transmission are:

  1. The reliability of the report from generation-to-generation does not hinge upon one or two individuals. It rather depends on the hundreds and thousands of people that lived together in a known place and time.
  2. It is no more necessary to investigate the character, understanding, memory or impartiality of individuals. The entire generations can neither be investigated nor is it necessary. When such a large number of people convey a fact, it is impossible that all of them could have wrongly reported it, forgotten it or could have developed a consensus on telling lies.
  3. There is no need to establish the continuity of reporting system because one generation is so perfectly enmeshed into another and the contact and proximity with the next generation is so tremendous and obvious that conducting an inquiry to prove it is not required.
  4. When hundreds and thousands of people are conveying a fact to the next generation, we do not need any corroborating evidence. Agreement of the entire generation is so overwhelmingly strong that it renders further corroboration redundant.

Terminology of the Muslim Historiography

In the historiography (‘ilm ul-hadith) developed by the Muslims, the “individual to individual” report is termed as khabr al-wahid (an individual’s report) whereas the “generation to generation” report is called khabr al-mutawatir, and the process of generation to generation transmission is known as tawatur. We would now use the term tawatur for the process of generation to generation transmission of a fact.

The Holy Qur’an Has Reached Us Through Tawatur

The Holy Qur’an has reached us through the process of tawatur – historical continuity and perpetuation achieved through transfer from generation to generation. When we say that the Qur’an has reached us through tawatur, we imply that so many people in every generation conveyed it to the next and so on that there can be no doubt about its authenticity. It was not transmitted by a few persons in one generation to a few persons in the next. It was handed over by the entire generation to the next generation. The generation of the Companions witnessed the revelation and compilation of the Holy Qur’an during the life of the Holy Prophet and then handed it over to the next generation and so on.

Its certainty has far exceeded the need for any debate. In the presence of established history, we would not accept any individual reports and rumors to the contrary. For instances a report in one of the history books that claims that Akbar the Great never ruled in India, would not be considered by us. The fact that Akbar the Great ruled over India for half a century is so established, that any odd report to the contrary would be simply ignored. So is the case of the Holy Qur’an. Since it has achieved the status of tawatur, no odd report would affect its credibility. When generations and generations of people without interruption hold the Qur’an as the one and only version of the divine guidance received from the Holy Prophet, such reports would not infringe upon its authenticity. The evidence for the Qur’an is so overwhelming, involving millions of people, that it would simply override any odd reports that may be found anywhere.

The history of the compilation of the Holy Qur’an found in the books of history and exegesis confirms that the transmission of the Holy Qur’an from one generation to the other has been mutawatir.

During the Holy Prophet’s Life

During the first thirteen years of his ministry at Makkah, the Prophet Muhammad used to read out the revealed passages to the small group of his followers and non-believers. His followers used to commit the revelation to their hearts. There is evidence that the revealed verses or chapters were also written down on whatever writing material was available.

[i] It is reported that when ‘Umar, learnt that his sister and her husband had converted to Islam, he hurried to her sister’s house in anger. When he arrived at her house, she hid the part of Qur’an she was reading. When ‘Umar expressed his eagerness to see what they were reading, his sister told her to wash before touching the scripture.

[ii] This shows that as early as the sixth year of the Prophet’s ministry, the Qur’an was being written down, in addition to being learnt by heart. When the Prophet migrated to Madinah and established a state, he made elaborate arrangements under the state machinery, for the preservation and large scale dissemination of the Qur’an. He constituted a committee of about forty of his literate companions who were assigned the task of recording the Holy Book.

[iii] Hadhrat Zayd was the full time Secretary of the Committee of the Scribes. On receiving a verse or verses from Allah, the Holy Prophet used to call one of the members of the committee and get it dictated. Then the written passage was read out to the Prophet and was corrected and approved by him. It was then issued for all. People used to copy it and memorize it. Given the swelling number of his followers after migration, the Qur’an was learnt and recorded by a large number of his followers.

[iv] The Qur’an was being revealed in accordance with the needs of the different stages of the prophetic mission. It was however not compiled in the chronological order of its revelation. While compiling and arranging it, the Qur’an was given a new order, which was to have a meaningful coherence for the readers in future. Whenever the Prophet dictated a newly revealed passage of the Qur’an to the Scribes, he used to direct them regarding the placement of that passage in the Qur’an as well. This means that not only was the Qur’an being recorded and memorized as it was being revealed piecemeal, it was also being compiled and given a new order under the personal supervision of the Prophet. The Prophet in turn was being instructed by Allah about the placement of passages in the desired order.

[v] Thus the entire Qur’an was systematically recorded and arranged on written material during the lifetime of the Prophet. However the Qur’an was recorded not in one volume but on tanned hides, stone tablets, wooden tablets, piecesof cloth etc. One complete set of the Qur’an was with the State authorities, i.e. with the Holy Prophet. It was placed in the Mosque of the Prophet (Masjid an-Nabawi) from where any one was free to make a copy for himself or to refer to it in case he wished to memorize it. It however appears that apart from this centrally placed copy, a number of other copies also existed. A few of them must have been complete copies whereas in case of others, portions of the Qur’an were in possession of a number of Companions of the Prophet.

[vi] It appears that the official copy, although complete, checked, and approved by the Prophet was available in the life of the Holy Prophet, yet it was not bound in one volume (bayn al-lawhayn). The entire Qur’an was memorized by the Prophet himself and numerous other companions. It is reported that when the revelation of the Holy Qur’an was completed, the Angel Gabriel heard the final recitation of the Holy Qur’an from the Holy Prophet.

The Holy Qur’an constituted the life blood of the early Muslim community during the life of Holy Prophet. It was recited five times a day, people used to commit it to their hearts and used to study it with utmost care and concentration. People were graded and appreciated on the basis of their knowledge and the extent of the Qur’an that they had memorized. All affairs of the state as well as the social life of Arabia were governed in the light of the provisions of the Qur’an. All civil servants, military commanders and judges used to seek guidance from the Qur’an. During the Prophet’s life time, when he used to send governors and judges to far off places, he used to instruct them that they have to govern and decide in the light of the Qur’an. These facts show that Qur’an was alive in that society not because of written manuscripts but as a necessity of faith and an inevitable source of guidance for social, political and legal affairs.

It is therefore incorrect to suggest that the Holy Qur’an was compiled and written in the days of Caliphs Abu Bakr or ‘Uthman. It was preserved under the personal supervision of the Holy Prophet in his lifetime. It is also natural to believe that he could not neglect the task of its preservation. One of the primary missions of the Holy Prophet was to deliver the divine message to mankind. This message consisted of the Holy Qur’an. He could not shift this responsibility to later generations.

“Such as remember Allah, standing, sitting, and reclining, and consider the creation of the heavens and the earth, (and say): Our Lord! Thou createst not this in vain. Glory be to Thee! Preserve us from the doom of Fire.”

Al-Qur’an 3:191

Rain is indeed one of the most important factors for life on the earth. Rain is a prerequisite for the permanence of life in a region. Rain, which carries great importance for all living things including human beings, is mentioned in various verses of the Qur’an where substantial information is given about the formation of rain, its proportion and effects. The fact that it was not possible for any of this information to have been discovered at the time of the revelation of the Qur’an shows us that the Qur’an is the word of Allah. Now, let us examine the information given in the Qur’an about rain.

The Proportion of Rain

In the eleventh verse of Surah Az-Zukhruf, rain is defined as water sent down in due measure. The verse is as follows:

“And He who sends down (from time to time) water from the sky in due measure, and We raise to life therewith a land that is dead. Even so will you be raised (from the dead).”

Al-Qur’an 43:11

This “measure” mentioned in the verse has to do with a couple of characteristics of rain. First of all, the amount of rain that falls on the earth is always the same. It is estimated that in one second, 16 million tones of water evaporates from the earth. This number is equal to the amount of water that drops on the earth in one second. This means that water continuously circulates in a balanced cycle according to a “measure”.

Another measure related with rain is about its falling speed. The minimum altitude of rain clouds is 1,200 meters. When dropped from this height, an object having the same weight and size as a rain drop, would continuously accelerate and fall on the ground with a speed of 558 km/h. Certainly, any object that hits the ground with that speed would cause big damage. If rain happened to fall in the same way, all harvested lands would be destroyed, residential areas, houses, and cars would be damaged, people would not be able to walk around without taking necessary precautions. What is more, these calculations are made just for clouds of 1,200 meters high, whereas there are also rain clouds at an altitude of 10,000 meters. A rain drop falling from such a height could normally reach a very destructive speed. But this is not how it works; no matter from how high they fall, average speed of rain drops is only 8-10 km/h when they reach the ground. The reason for this is the special form they take. This special form increases the friction effect of the atmosphere and prevents acceleration when the rain drops reach a certain speed “limit”. (Today parachutes are designed by using this technique.)

This is not all about the “measures” of rain. For instance, in the atmospheric layers where it starts to rain, the temperature may fall so low as 400C degrees. Despite this, rain drops never turn into ice particles. (This would certainly mean a fatal threat for the living things on the earth). The reason is that the water in the atmosphere is pure water. As known, pure water hardly freezes even in very low temperatures.

The Formation of Rain

How rain forms remained a great mystery for people for a long time. Only after air radars were discovered, could it have been possible to learn by which stages rain formed. The formation of rain takes place in three stages: First, the “raw material” of rain rises up in the air. Later, clouds are formed and lastly, rain drops appear. These stages are clearly defined in the Qur’an in which precise information was given about the formation of rain centuries in advance;

“It is Allah Who sends the Winds, and they raise the Clouds: then does He spread them in the sky as He wills, and break them into fragments, until you see rain-drops issue from the midst thereof: then when He has made them reach such of his servants as He wills behold, they do rejoice!”

Now, let us look at the three stages mentioned in the verse:

  1. 1st Stage: “It is Allah Who sends the winds … “ Countless air bubbles formed by the foaming in the oceans continuously burst and cause water particles to be ejected towards the sky. These particles which are rich in salt, are then carried away by winds and move upwards in the atmosphere.These particles which are called aerosols form clouds by collecting around themselves the water vapor -that again ascends from the seas – as tiny drops, by a mechanism called “water trap”.
  2. 2nd Stage : ” … and they raise the Clouds: then does He spread them in the sky as He wills, and break them into fragments … The clouds form from the water vapor that condenses around the salt crystals or the dust particles in the air. Because the water drops in these are very small (with a diameter between 0.01 and 0.02mm), the clouds are suspended in the air and they spread in the sky. Thus the sky is covered with clouds.
  3. 3rd Stage : ” … until you see rain-drops issue from the midst thereof.” Water particles that surround salt crystals and dust particles thicken and form rain drops. So, the drops which become heavier than air depart from the clouds, and start to fall on the ground as rain.

The conclusion to be arrived here is that; Every stage in the formation of rain is told in the verses of the Qur’an. Furthermore, these stages are explained in the order they take place … Just like in many other natural phenomena in the world, it is again the Qur’an that provides the most correct explanation about this phenomena as well, and more, that has announced these facts to people centuries before they were discovered by science.

Life Given to a Dead Land

In the Qur’an, a lot of verses call our attention to a particular function of rain, which is “giving life to a dead land”. It is stated in a verse as:

“We send down pure water from the sky. That with it We may give life to a dead land, and slake the thirst of things We have created, cattle and men in great numbers.”

Al-Qur’an 25:48- 49

In addition to furnishing the earth with water, rain also has a fertilization effect. Rain drops that reach the clouds after being evaporated from the seas, contain certain substances “that will give life” to a dead land. These “life-giving” drops are called “surface tension drops”. Surface tension drops form on the top level of the sea surface which is called the micro layer by biologists. In this layer, which is thinner than one tenth of a millimeter, there are many organic leftovers caused from the pollution of microscopic algaes and zooplanktons. Some of these leftovers select and collect within themselves some elements which are very rare in sea water such as phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and some heavy metals like copper, zinc, cobalt and lead. These “fertilizer” laden drops are lifted up into the sky by the winds and after a while they drop on the ground inside the rain drops. Seeds and plants on the earth find numerous metallic salts and elements essential for their growth here in these rain drops. This event is informed in another verse of the Qur’an as follows:

“And We send down from the sky rain chartered with blessing, and We produce therewith gardens and grain for harvests.”

Al-Qur’an 50:9

Salts that fall with rain are small examples of some fertilizers (calcium, magnesium, potassium etc.) used for increasing fertility. The heavy metals found in these types of aerosols, on the other hand, are other elements that increase fertility in the development and production of plants. Forests also develop and are fed with the help of these sea-originated aerosols. In this way, 150 million tons of fertilizer falls on the total surface of lands every year. If there was not a natural fertilization like this, there would be very little vegetation on the earth, and the ecological balance would be damaged. What is more interesting is that this truth, which could only be discovered by modern science, was informed by Allah in the Qur’an centuries ago.

“Surely Allah is not ashamed to set forth any parable – (that of) a gnat or any thing above that … “ [Al-Qur’an 2:26]

As people are invited to contemplate on their own creation, the Qur’an frequently calls people to investigate the nature and to see the signs of Allah therein. Since the whole universe, with all its living and non-living elements, consists of the signs revealing that they have been ‘created’. And they exist just in order to demonstrate the power, knowledge and art of their ‘Creator’. And mankind is responsible to know these signs and appreciate the Creator of all, Allah. All living things possess these signs, yet there are some specifically mentioned animals in the Qur’an. Mosquito is one of these. This is referred to in the Qur’an in the below verse:

“Surely Allah is not ashamed to set forth any parable– (that of) a gnat or any thing above that; then as for those who believe, they know that it is the truth from their Lord, and as for those who disbelieve, they say: What is it that Allah means by this parable:

“He causes many to err by it and many He leads aright by it! but He does not cause to err by it (any) except the transgressors,” [Al-Qur’an 2:26]

When considering the life of the mosquito, we can say that it has a very extraordinary adventure. What is generally known about mosquitoes is that they absorb and feed on blood. Yet, this is not completely true. Because not all the mosquitoes, but only the female ones absorb blood. And their need for blood is not related to feeding at all. Actually, both male and female mosquitoes feed on nectar of flowers. The only reason that females, unlike males, do absorb blood is for their eggs which need to mature with the proteins contained in the blood. In other words, female mosquito absorbs blood just to ensure the survival of the new generation.

The point to be stressed here is that the verse of the Qur’an points out only the ‘female’ mosquito. As previously mentioned, it is only the female mosquito which has the superior capabilities that will be detailed here. So, it is surely quite expressive that female mosquitoes are particularly emphasized in the Qur’an. Besides, it is a remarkable fact to point out that at the time of the revelation of the Qur’an, this knowledge was completely unknown to mankind.

The development process and its phases, is one of the most amazing aspects of the mosquito. This animal converts from a larva into a mosquito after passing through completely different phases. Let us see this adventurous story of the mosquito briefly.

The mosquito eggs which are fed with blood are laid on damp leaves or dried ponds for maturation by the female mosquito, during summer or fall. But prior to this, the mother initially examines the ground thoroughly by using a receptor placed under her abdomen, functioning as a humidity and temperature sensor. She aims at finding a convenient place for her eggs. When the most suitable area is found, she starts to lay her eggs. These eggs, which have a length of less than 1 mm, are arranged in a line either in groups or one by one.

Some species lay their eggs joined to each other forming a raft, some of which may contain up to 300 eggs.

The carefully placed white eggs soon start to change their colour. This takes only about a few hours after they are laid down, and they become completely black in colour. With this change, they attain an excellent protection against birds and insects. Their dark colour can not be recognized by these organisms.

It takes a winter for the incubation period to complete. Since eggs are created with such a structure to resist a long and cold winter, they survive until spring when their incubation period ends. When the incubation period is complete, the larvae start getting out of their eggs, all about the same time. The first egg is immediately followed by the others. As soon as they get out of the eggs, they start to swim in water. Now, the underwater days start for the mosquitoes.

The continuously fed larvae grow with great speed. Soon the skin covering their body gets too small to let them grow any further. This is the time for their first skin change. The hard and brittle skin gets easily broken. Until this developmental cycle is completed as a whole, the mosquito larvae will change its skin two more times.

Since the life of the mosquito initializes in water, the system designed for feeding of the larvae is rather impressive. The larvae empowers whirlpools in the water with its feathered prolongations located at the two sides of its mouth, which lead bacteria and other micro-organisms for feeding. And a solution also exists for its respiration: each larva has an innate diving equipment. They breathe via respiratory tubes at their back while standing upside down in water. This system may be resembled to “snorkels” used by the divers.

During the employment of this method, the larva secrete a sticky secretion from their body in order to prevent water from leaking inside, through the respiratory openings. Shortly, the animal lives with the help of the combined harmony of all these delicate balances.

If it did not have a respiratory tube, it would not survive; if it did not have a sticky secretion, its respiratory tube would be choked.

As the time goes by, most of the larvae change their skin once more. The last skin change is rather different from the others. With this last change, larvae pass onto the final phase of their maturation, the “pupa phase”, and they are ready to become a real mosquito at the end. So, the time has come for the mature pupa to get out of the sheath covering its body.

However, the creature that gets out of the sheath is so different from the earlier phases, thatit seems unbelievable for them to be just two developmental phases of the same being. And this metamorphoses is too complicated and delicate to be designed by the larva itself, nor by its mother, or any other thing. During this last transition period, there is a threat for the creature, since the respiratory openings above the water may get closed with the leaking of water inside. This will naturallymean that the pupa will be out of breath, and die. But from then on, respiration will not be done via these holes. There emerge two new air tubes on the head of the pupa. Therefore, before the pupa gets ready for the last skin change, firstly these two tubes rise on the water. This will be its new method for respiration. During the three or four days of the pupa phase, there will be no nutrition for the coming mosquito.

Now, the mosquito within the pupa cocoon is mature enough and ready to fly with all itsorgans and organelles like antennas, trunks, feet, chest, wings, abdomen and large eyes covering most part of its head. Then, the pupa cocoon is torn at the top. This stage where a complete mosquito will emerge is the most dangerous stage of all. The greatest risk is water leakage into cocoon. However, the torn top is covered with a sticky liquid preventing the head from contacting water. The mosquito must get out of water without having any direct contact with water, so only its feet touch the water surface. This instant is extremely important; even a light wind may cause its death. Finally, the mosquito leaves for its first flight after a rest of about half an hour.

It should be noted once again: The animal has got out of water without even touching the water… At this point, the question that should come to mind is, how the first mosquito has attained such an ‘ability’? Might be that a larva has decided to transform into a mosquito after changing skin three times? Absolutely, these are impossible. This tiny animal which Allah gives as an example, has specifically been created as it is. This leads the Muslims to ponder on the creation of Allah and think that Allah has not created all these for nothing, they fear Allah and act totally to comply with His Will.

“Men who celebrate the praises of Allah, standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and contemplate the (wonders of) creation in the heavens and the earth, (With the thought):

“Our Lord! not for naught Hast Thou created (all) this! Glory to Thee! Give us salvation from the penalty of the Fire.”

Subhanallahi wa bihamdihi subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-hadu an la ilaha illa anta astaghfiruka wa atubu alayk subhana rabbika rabbil-izzati amma yasifun, wa salamun alal-mursalin, wa’l-hamdulillahi rabbil-alamin, birah matika ya ar hamar-rahimin.

Allah – the Most Perfect, the Most High – responded to the supplication of His Prophet Ibrahim ‘alayhis-salam when he said:

“Our Lord! Send to them a Messenger from themselves, reciting to them Your Signs, teaching them the Book and the Wisdom and purifying them. Indeed You are the Most Powerful, the Most Wise.”

[Al-Qur’an 2:129]

So Allah – the Mighty and Majestic – said:

“It is Allah who has sent to the unlettered people a Messenger from amongst themselves, reciting to them His Signs, purifying them and teaching them the Book and the Wisdom, whereas before that, they had been in clear misguidance.”

[Al-Qur’an 62:2]

So here the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam has been characterised with two tasks: ta’lim (teaching) and tazkiyah (purification). In his request, Ibrahim ‘alayhis-salam mentioned ta’lim before tazkiyah. However, Allah – the Mighty and Majestic – answered him, but by giving tazkiyah precedence to ta’lim.

And Allah blessed the Believers by sending the Messenger who carried out these two tasks, so He – the Mighty and Majestic – said:

“As We sent to you a Messenger from amongst yourselves, reciting to you Our Signs, purifying you, and teaching you the Book and the Wisdom, that which you did not know.”

[Al-Qur’an 2:151]

So in this ayah (verse) also, Allah – the Mighty and Majestic – mentions purification before teaching. Thus, as is known, purification is one of the fruits of acting upon knowledge; and that knowledge causes harm for its possessor if it is not accompanied by action. Indeed, whosoever increases in knowledge, but does not increase in taqwa (piety and obedience to Allah), then let him be suspicious about his knowledge.

Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim (d. 751H) rahimahullah – said: “The Scholar who does not act upon his knowledge, will be punished before the worshippers of idols.”And our Salaf (Pious Predecessors) used to inherit purification from each other, as part of good and fine manners. This was due to their sitting with the Shaykh and accompanying him. So ‘Abdullah ibn Maslamah al-Qa’nabi (d. 221H) said: “We used to sit with Imam Malik and take from his manners and conduct, just as we would take from his knowledge.”{qluetip title=[1]}The likes of this has been related by Adh-Dhahabi in Siyar A’lamu’n-Nubala (3/285).{/qluetip}

However, in the later generations, Shari’ah knowledge has almost become restricted to just colleges and universities and sitting in front of the doctors and teachers for short periods of time. So the students do not take any benefit from good manners and conduct – even if those teachers have a share of it. And we often see and hear about many shortcomings of both the students and the teachers! Thus, the religion has become weak, yaqin (certainty of faith) has dwindled, sabr (patient perseverance) – with its wide Islamic understanding – has passed away, as has zuhd (praiseworthy abstinence from this world) except for those whom my Lord has mercy upon.

So knowledge alone, without good manners and conduct, will not produce any fruit in a way that the people can be benefited by its possessor – from what is seen and what is spoken. And through seeking knowledge alone, the Muslims will not be saved from hypocrisy. Rather, seeking knowledge must be accompanied by good manners and conduct, so that he remains safe, derives benefit and is saved from sin and its causes, and also from being burdened. This is attested to by what At-Tirmidhi relates that the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:

“There are two qualities which do not come together in a hypocrite: Good manners and conduct, and the understanding of the religion.”

[Sahih: Related by At-Tirmidhi (no. 2837), from Abu Hurayrah radhiallaahu ‘anhu. It was authenticated by Shaykh Al-Albani in As-Sahihah]

So in this hadith, good manners and conduct are mentioned before understanding of the religion. Indeed, the greatest and most valuable fruits of purification are sabr (patience) and zuhd (praiseworthy abstinence from this world). Whilst the greatest and most precious fruits of ‘ilm (knowledge) is yaqin (certainty). So he who gains both patience and certainty, in this way, then he is one of the leaders of the religion, and this is testified to by the saying of Allah – the Most High:

“We made from them leaders, giving guidance by Our Command, because they had sabr (patient perseverance) and had yaqin (certainty) in Out Signs.”

[Al-Qur’an 32:24]

So patience is the fruit of purification, whilst certainty is the fruit of knowledge and teaching. And here also patience is mentioned before certainty. Shaykh ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 728H) used to say: “Through sabr and yaqin leadership in the religion is attained.”{qluetip title=[2]}Related by Ibn Al-Qayyim in Madarij as-Salikin (1/132){/qluetip} Indeed! That is so because he who gains them both, then he has attained and actualised the two tasks of Allah’s Messenger sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and has thus become an inheritor of the Prophet – and the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is the leader of all the leaders.

Finally, we must draw attention to the Fact that the Salaf as-Salihin (Pious Predecessors) – may Allah be pleased with them all – actualised these two tasks and therefore they acheived rectification of themselves and rectification of others. ‘Abdullah ibn Al-Mubarak (d. 181H) used to say: “The latter part of this Ummah will not be rectified, except by that which rectified its first part: zuhd and yaqin.” And zuhd cannot be attained except by means of sabr, which cannot be attained except through tazkiyah (purification). And yaqin cannot be attained except through purified Shari’ah knowledge.

So would that we had realised that our misfortune lies in the absence of these two matters from our lives, and that he who calls to them, persisting in this and refusing to be pre-occupied from them by anything else, then he is upon the correct manhaj (methodology) and upon the Straight Path.

This article was taken from Al-Asalah Magazine (no. 10 / Shawaal 1414H). The translation is from Al-Istiqaamah Magazine, Issue No. 2, Safar 1417H / July 1996.

Introduction

Ever since the dawn of human life on this planet, Man has always sought to understand Nature, his own place in the scheme of Creation and the purpose of Life itself. In this quest for Truth, spanning many centuries and diverse civilizations, organized religion has shaped human life and determined to a large extent, the course of history. While some religions have been based on books, claimed by their adherents to be divinely inspired, others have relied solely on human experience.

Al-Qur’an, the main source of the Islamic faith, is a book believed by Muslims, to be of completely Divine origin. Muslims also believe that it contains guidance for all mankind. Since the message of the Qur’an is believed to be for all times, it should be relevant to every age. Does the Qur’an pass this test? In this booklet, I intend to give an objective analysis of the Muslim belief regarding the Divine origin of the Qur’an, in the light of established scientific discoveries.

There was a time, in the history of world civilization, when ‘miracles’, or what was perceived to be a miracle, took precedence over human reason and logic. But how do we define the term ‘miracle’? A miracle is anything that takes place out of the normal course of life and for which humankind has no explanation. However, we must be careful before we accept something as a miracle. An article in ‘The Times of India’ Mumbai, in 1993 reported that ‘a saint’ by the name ‘Baba Pilot’ claimed to have stayed continuously submerged under water in a tank for three consecutive days and nights. However, when reporters wanted to examine the base of the tank of water where he claimed to have performed this ‘miraculous’ feat, he refused to let them do so. He argued by asking as to how one could examine the womb of a mother that gives birth to a child. The ‘Baba’ was hiding something. It was a gimmick simply to gain publicity. Surely, no modern man with even the slightest inkling towards rational thinking would accept such a ‘miracle’. If such false miracles are the tests of divinity, then we would have to accept Mr. P. C. Sorcar, the world famous magician known for his ingenious magical tricks and illusions, as the best God-man.

A book, claiming Divine origin, is in effect, claiming to be a miracle. Such a claim should be easily verifiable in any age, according to the standards of that age. Muslims believe, that the Qur’an is the last and final revelation of God, the miracle of miracles revealed as a mercy to mankind. Let us therefore investigate the veracity of this belief..

I would like to thank Brother Musaddique Thange for his editorial assistance. May Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) reward him for his efforts, Amin.

The Challenge of the Qur’an

Literature and poetry have been instruments of human expression and creativity, in all cultures. The world also witnessed an age when literature and poetry occupied pride of position, similar to that now enjoyed by science and technology.

Muslims as well as non-Muslims agree that Al-Qur’an is Arabic literature par excellence – that it is the best Arabic literature on the face of the earth. The Qur’an, challenges mankind in the following verses:

“And if ye are in doubt As to what We have revealed From time to time to Our Servant, then produce a Soorah Like thereunto; And call your witnesses or helpers (If there are any) besides Allah, If your (doubts) are true. But if ye cannot –And of a surety you cannot. Then fear the Fire Whose fuel is Men and Stones – Which is prepared for those Who reject Faith.”

Al-Qur’an 2:23-24

The same notation is followed throughout the book. References and translation of the Qur’an are from the translation of the Qur’an by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, new revised edition, 1989, published by Amana Corporation, Maryland, USA.

The challenge of the Qur’an, is to produce a single Surah (chapter) like [any of] the chapters it contains. The same challenge is repeated in the Qur’an several times. The challenge to produce a Surah, which, in beauty, eloquence, depth and meaning is at least somewhat similar to a Qur’anic Surah remains unmet to this day. A modern rational man, however, would never accept a religious scripture, which says, in the best possible poetic language, that the world is flat. This is because we live in an age, where human reason, logic and science are given primacy. Not many would accept the Qur’an‘s extraordinarily beautiful language, as proof of its Divine origin. Any scripture claiming to be a divine revelation must also be acceptable on the strength of its own reason and logic..

According to the famous physicist and Nobel Prize winner, Albert Einstein, “Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind.” Let us therefore study the Qur’an, and analyze whether the Qur’an and Modern Science are compatible or incompatible?

The Qur’an is not a book of science but a book of ‘signs’, i.e. ayat. There are more than six thousand ‘signs’ in the Qur’an of which more than a thousand deal with science. We all know that many a times Science takes a ‘U-turn’. In this book I have considered only established scientific facts and not mere hypotheses and theories that are based on assumptions and are not backed by proof.

Astronomy

(i) Creation of the Universe: ‘The Big Bang’

The creation of the universe is explained by astrophysicists in a widely accepted phenomenon, popularly known as the ‘Big Bang’. It is supported by observational and experimental data gathered by astronomers and astrophysicists for decades. According to the ‘Big Bang’, the whole universe was initially one big mass (Primary Nebula). Then there was a ‘Big Bang’ (Secondary Separation) which resulted in the formation of Galaxies. These then divided to form stars, planets, the sun, the moon, etc. The origin of the universe was unique and the probability of it occurring by ‘chance’ is zero. The Qur’an contains the following verse, regarding the origin of the universe: “Do not the Unbelievers see That the heavens and the earth Were joined together (as one Unit of Creation), before We clove them asunder?” [Al-Qur’an 21:30]

The striking congruence between the Qur’anic verse and the ‘Big Bang’ is inescapable! How could a book, which first appeared in the deserts of Arabia 1400 years ago, contain this profound scientific truth?

(ii) There was an Initial Gaseous Mass Before the Creation of Galaxies

Scientists say that before the galaxies in the universe were formed, celestial matter was initially in the form of gaseous matter. In short, huge gaseous matter or clouds were present before the formation of the galaxies. To describe initial celestial matter, the word ‘smoke’ is more appropriate than gas. The following Qur’anic verse refers to this state of the universe by the word dhukhan which means smoke:

“Moreover, He Comprehended In His design the sky, And it had been (as) smoke: He said to it And to the earth: ‘Come ye together, Willingly or unwillingly.’ They said: ‘We do come (Together), in willing obedience.’ “

Al-Qur’an 41:11

Again, this fact is a corollary to the ‘Big Bang’ and was not known to the Arabs during the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). What then, could have been the source of this knowledge?

(iii) The Spherical Shape of the Earth

In early times, people believed that the earth is flat. For centuries, men were afraid to venture out too far, lest they should fall off the edge. Sir Francis Drake was the first person who proved that the earth is spherical when he sailed around it in 1597. Consider the following Qur’anic verse regarding the alternation of day and night: “Seest thou not that Allah merges Night into Day And He merges Day into Night?” [Al-Qur’an 31:29]

Merging here means that the night slowly and gradually changes to day and vice versa. This phenomenon can only take place if the earth is spherical. If the earth was flat, there would have been a sudden change from night to day and from day to night.

The following verse also alludes to the spherical shape of the earth: “He created the heavens And the earth In true (proportions): He makes the Night Overlap the Day, and the Day Overlap the Night.” [Al-Qur’an 39:5]

The Arabic word used here is Kawwara meaning ‘to overlap’ or ‘to coil’– the way a turban is wound around the head. The overlapping or coiling of the day and night can only take place if the earth is spherical.

The earth is not exactly round like a ball, but geo-spherical i.e. it is flattened at the poles. The following verse contains a description of the earth’s shape:

“And the earth, moreover, Hath He made egg shaped.”

Al-Qur’an 79:30. The Arabic word dahaha has been translated by A. Yusuf Ali as “vast expanse”, which also is correct. The word dahaha also means an ostrich-egg.

The Arabic word for egg here is dahaha, which means an ostrich-egg. The shape of an ostrich-egg resembles the geo-spherical shape of the earth. Thus the Qur’an correctly describes the shape of the earth, though the prevalent notion when the Qur’an was revealed was that the earth is flat.

(iv) The Light of the Moon if Reflected Light

It was believed by earlier civilizations that the moon emanates its own light. Science now tells us that the light of the moon is reflected light. However this fact was mentioned in the Qur’an 1,400 years ago in the following verse:

“Blessed is He Who made Constellations in the skies, And placed therein a Lamp And a Moon giving light.”

Al-Qur’an 25:61

The Arabic word for the sun in the Qur’an, is shams. It is referred to as siraj, which means a ‘torch’ or as wahhaj which means ‘a blazing lamp’ or as diya which means ‘shining glory’. All three descriptions are appropriate to the sun, since it generates intense heat and light by its internal combustion. The Arabic word for the moon is qamar and it is described in the Qur’an as munir, which is a body that gives nur i.e. light. Again, the Qur’anic description matches perfectly with the true nature of the moon, which does not give off light itself and is an inert body that reflects the light of the sun. Not once in the Qur’an, is the moon mentioned as siraj, wahhaj or diya or the sun as nur or munir. This implies that the Qur’an recognizes the difference between the nature of sunlight and moonlight.

Consider the following verses related to the nature of light from the sun and the moon:

“It is He who made the sun To be a shining glory And the moon to be a light (of beauty).”

Al-Qur’an 10:5

“See ye not How Allah has created The seven heavens One above another, And made the moon A light in their midst, and made the sun As a (Glorious) Lamp?”

Al-Qur’an 71:15-16

(v) The Sun Rotates

For a long time European philosophers and scientists believed that the earth stood still in the center of the universe and every other body including the sun moved around it. In the West, this geocentric concept of the universe was prevalent right from the time of Ptolemy in the second century BC. In 1512, Nicholas Copernicus put forward his Heliocentric Theory of Planetary Motion, which asserted that the sun is motionless at the centre of the solar system with the planets revolving around it.

In 1609, the German scientist Yohannus Keppler published the ‘Astronomia Nova‘. In this he concluded that not only do the planets move in elliptical orbits around the sun, they also rotate upon their axes at irregular speeds. With this knowledge it became possible for European scientists to explain correctly many of the mechanisms of the solar system including the sequence of night and day.

After these discoveries, it was thought that the Sun was stationary and did not rotate about its axis like the Earth. I remember having studied this fallacy from Geography books during my school days. Consider the following Qur’anic verse: “It is He Who created The Night and the Day, And the sun and the moon: All (the celestial bodies) Swim along, each in its Rounded course.” [Al-Qur’an 21:33]

The Arabic word used in the above verse is yasbahun . The word yasbahun is derived from the word sabaha. It carries with it the idea of motion that comes from any moving body. If you use the word for a man on the ground, it would not mean that he is rolling but would mean he is walking or running. If you use the word for a man in water it would not mean that he is floating but would mean that he is swimming.

Similarly, if you use the word yasbah for a celestial body such as the sun it would not mean that it is only flying through space but would mean that it is also rotating as it goes through space. Most of the school textbooks have incorporated the fact that the sun rotates about its axis. The rotation of the sun about its own axis can be proved with the help of an equipment that projects the image of the sun on the table top so that one can examine the image of the sun without being blinded. It is noticed that the sun has spots which complete a circular motion once every 25 days i.e. the sun takes approximately 25 days to rotate around its axis.

In fact, the sun travels through space at roughly 150 miles per second, and takes about 200 million years to complete one revolution around the center of our Milky Way Galaxy.

“It is not permitted to the Sun to catch up the Moon, nor can the Night outstrip the Day: Each (just) swims along in (its own) orbit (according to Law).”

Al-Qur’an 36:40

This verse mentions an essential fact discovered by modern astronomy, i.e. the existence of the individual orbits of the Sun and the Moon, and their journey through space with their own motion. The ‘fixed place’ towards, which the sun travels, carrying with it the solar system, has been located exactly by modern astronomy. It has been given a name, the Solar Apex. The solar system is indeed moving in space towards a point situated in the constellation of Hercules (alpha Layer) whose exact location is firmly established.

The moon rotates around its axis in the same duration that it takes to revolve around the earth. It takes approximately 29½ days to complete one rotation. One cannot help but be amazed at the scientific accuracy of the Qur’anic verses. Should we not ponder over the question: “What was the source of knowledge contained in the Qur’an?”

(vi) The Sun Will Extinguish After a Certain Period

The light of the sun is due to a chemical process on its surface that has been taking place continuously for the past five billion years. It will come to an end at some point of time in the future when the sun will be totally extinguished leading to extinction of all life on earth. Regarding the impermanence of the sun’s existence the Qur’an says: “And the Sun Runs its course For a period determined For it; that is The decree of (Him) The exalted in Might, The All-Knowing.” [Al-Qur’an 36:38] [A similar message is conveyed in the Qur’an in 13:2, 35:13, 39:5 and 39:21]

The Arabic word used here is mustaqarr, which means a place or time that is determined. Thus the Qur’an says that the sun runs towards a determined place, and will do so only up to a pre-determined period of time – meaning that it will end or extinguish.

(vii) The Presence of Interstellar Matter

Space outside organized astronomical systems was earlier assumed to be a vacuum . Astrophysicists later discovered the presence of bridges of matter in this interstellar space. These bridges of matter are called plasma, and consist of completely ionized gas containing equal number of free electrons and positive ions. Plasma is sometimes called the fourth state of matter (besides the three known states viz. solid, liquid and gas). The Qur’an mentions the presence of this interstellar material in the following verse: “He Who created the heavens And the earth and all That is between.” [Al-Qur’an 25:59]

It would be ridiculous, for anybody to even suggest that the presence of interstellar galactic material was known 1400 years ago.

(viii) The Expanding Universe

In 1925, an American astronomer by the name of Edwin Hubble, provided observational evidence that all galaxies are receding from one another, which implies that the universe is expanding. The expansion of the universe is now an established scientific fact. This is what Al-Qur’an says regarding the nature of the universe: “With the power and skill did We construct the firmament: For it is We who create the vastness of Space.” [Al-Qur’an 51:47]

The Arabic word musi’un is correctly translated as ‘expanding it’, and it refers to the creation of the expanding vastness of the universe. Stephen Hawking, in his book, ‘A Brief History of Time‘, says, “The discovery that the universe is expanding was one of the great intellectual revolutions of the 20th century.”

The Qur’an mentioned the expansion of the universe, before man even learnt to build a telescope! Some may say that the presence of astronomical facts in the Qur’an is not surprising since the Arabs were advanced in the field of astronomy. They are correct in acknowledging the advancement of the Arabs in the field of astronomy. However they fail to realize that the Qur’an was revealed centuries before the Arabs excelled in astronomy. Moreover many of the scientific facts mentioned above regarding astronomy, such as the origin of the universe with a Big Bang, were not known to the Arabs even at the peak of their scientific advancement. The scientific facts mentioned in the Qur’an are therefore not due to the Arabs’ advancement in astronomy. Indeed, the reverse is true. The Arabs advanced in astronomy, because astronomy occupies a place in the Qur’an.

Physics

(i) The Existence of Subatomic Particles

In ancient times a well-known theory by the name of ‘Theory of Atomism’ was widely accepted. This theory was originally proposed by the Greeks, in particular by a man called Democritus, who lived about 23 centuries ago. Democritus and the people that came after him, assumed that the smallest unit of matter was the atom. The Arabs used to believe the same. The Arabic word dharrah most commonly meant an atom. In recent times modern science has discovered that it is possible to split even an atom. That the atom can be split further is a development of the 20th century. Fourteen centuries ago this concept would have appeared unusual even to an Arab. For him the dharrah was the limit beyond which one could not go. The following Qur’anic verse however, refuses to acknowledge this limit: “The Unbelievers say, ‘Never to us will come The Hour’: say, ‘Nay! But most surely, By my Lord, it will come upon you – by Him Who knows the unseen – from Whom is not hidden the least little atom in the heavens or on earth: nor is there anything less than that, or greater, but is in the Record Perspicuous.’ “ [Al-Qur’an 34:3] [A similar message is conveyed in the Qur’an in 10:61]

This verse refers to the Omniscience of God, His knowledge of all things, hidden or apparent. It then goes further and says that God is aware of everything, including what is smaller or bigger than the atom. Thus the verse clearly shows that it is possible for something smaller than the atom to exist, a fact discovered only recently by modern science.

Geography

(i) The Water Cycle

In 1580, Bernard Palissy was the first man to describe the present day concept of ‘water cycle’. He described how water evaporates from the oceans and cools to form clouds. The clouds move inland where they rise, condense and fall as rain. This water gathers as lakes and streams and flows back to the ocean in a continuous cycle. In the 7th century BC, Thales of Miletus believed that surface spray of the oceans was picked up by the wind and carried inland to fall as rain. In earlier times people did not know the source of underground water. They thought the water of the oceans, under the effect of winds, was thrust towards the interior of the continents. They also believed that the water returned by a secret passage, or the Great Abyss. This passage is connected to the oceans and has been called the ‘Tartarus’, since Plato’s time. Even Descartes, a great thinker of the eighteenth century, subscribed to this view. Till the nineteenth century, Aristotle’s theory was prevalent. According to this theory, water was condensed in cool mountain caverns and formed underground lakes that fed springs. Today, we know that the rainwater that seeps into the cracks of the ground is responsible for this.

The water cycle is described by the Qur’an in the following verses:

“Seest thou not that Allah sends down rain from the sky, and leads it through springs in the earth? Then He causes to grow, therewith, produce of various colours.”

Al-Qur’an 39:21

“He sends down rain From the sky And with it gives life to The earth after it is dead: Verily in that are Signs For those who are wise.”

Al-Qur’an 30:24

“And We send down water from the sky according to (due) measure, and We cause it to soak in the soil; And We certainly are able to drain it off (with ease).”

Al-Qur’an 23:18

No other text dating back 1400 years ago gives such an accurate description of the water cycle.

(ii) Winds Impregnate the Clouds

“And We send the fecundating winds, Then cause the rain to descend From the sky, therewith providing You with water (in abundance).”

Al-Qur’an 15:22

The Arabic word used here is lawaqih, which is the plural of laqih from laqaha, which means to impregnate or fecundate. In this context, impregnate means that the wind pushes the clouds together increasing the condensation that causes lightning and thus rain. A similar description is found in the Qur’an: “It is Allah Who sends the winds, and they raise the clouds: then does He spread them in the sky as He wills, and break them into fragments, until thou seest raindrops issue from the midst thereof: then when He has made them reach such of His servants as He wills, behold, they do rejoice!” [Al-Qur’an 30:48]

The Qur’anic descriptions are absolutely accurate and agree perfectly with modern data on hydrology. The water cycle is described in several verses of the Glorious Qur’an, including 3:9, 7:57, 13:17, 25:48- 49, 36:34, 50:9-11, 56:68-70, 67:30 and 86:11.

Geology

(i) Mountains are Like Pegs (Stakes)

In Geology, the phenomenon of ‘folding’ is a recently discovered fact. Folding is responsible for the formation of mountain ranges. The earth’s crust, on which we live, is like a solid shell, while the deeper layers are hot and fluid, and thus inhospitable to any form of life. It is also known that the stability of the mountains is linked to the phenomenon of folding, for it was the folds that were to provide foundations for the reliefs that constitute the mountains. Geologists tell us that the radius of the Earth is about 3,750 miles and the crust on which we live is very thin, ranging between 1 to 30 miles. Since the crust is thin, it has a high possibility of shaking. Mountains act like stakes or tent pegs that hold the earth’s crust and give it stability. The Qur’an contains exactly such a description in the following verse: “Have We not made the earth as a wide expanse, and the mountains as pegs?” [Al-Qur’an 78:6-7]

The word awtad means stakes or pegs (like those used to anchor a tent); they are the deep foundations of geological folds. A book named ‘Earth’ is considered as a basic reference textbook on geology in many universities around the world. One of the authors of this book is Frank Press, who was the President of the Academy of Sciences in the USA for 12 years and was the Science Advisor to former US President Jimmy Carter. In this book he illustrates the mountain in a wedge-shape and the mountain itself as a small part of the whole, whose root is deeply entrenched in the ground. [Earth, Press and Siever, p. 435. Also see Earth Science, Tarbuck and Lutgens, p. 157] According to Dr. Press, the mountains play an important role in stabilizing the crust of the earth.

The Qur’an clearly mentions the function of the mountains in preventing the earth from shaking: “And We have set on the earth mountains standing firm, lest it should shake with them.” [Al-Qur’an 21:31]

The Qur’anic descriptions are in perfect agreement with modern geological data.

(ii) Mountains Firmly Fixed

The surface of the earth is broken into many rigid plates that are about 100km in thickness. These plates float on a partially molten region called aesthenosphere. Mountain formations occur at the boundary of the plates. The earth’s crust is 5km thick below oceans, about 35km thick below flat continental surfaces and almost 80km thick below great mountain ranges. These are the strong foundations on which mountains stand. The Qur’an also speaks about the strong mountain foundations in the following verse: “And the mountains Hath He firmly fixed.” [Al-Qur’an 79:32] [A similar message is contained in the Qur’an in 88:19, 31:10 and 16:15]

Oceanology

(i) Barrier between Sweet and Salt Waters

Consider the following Qur’anic verses: “He has let free the two bodies of flowing water, meeting together: between them is a barrier which they do not transgress.” [Al-Qur’an 55:19-20]

In the Arabic text the word barzakh means a barrier or a partition. This barrier is not a physical partition. The Arabic word maraja literally means ‘they both meet and mix with each other’. Early commentators of the Qur’an were unable to explain the two opposite meanings for the two bodies of water, i.e. they meet and mix, and at the same time, there is a barrier between them. Modern Science has discovered that in the places where two different seas meet, there is a barrier between them. This barrier divides the two seas so that each sea has its own temperature, salinity and density. [Principles of Oceanography, Davis, pp. 92-93] Oceanologists are now in a better position to explain this verse. There is a slanted unseen water barrier between the two seas through which water from one sea passes to the other.

But when the water from one sea enters the other sea, it loses its distinctive characteristic and becomes homogenized with the other water. In a way this barrier serves as a transitional homogenizing area for the two waters. This scientific phenomenon mentioned in the Qur’an was also confirmed by Dr. William Hay who is a well-known marine scientist and Professor of Geological Sciences at the University of Colorado, USA. The Qur’an mentions this phenomenon also in the following verse: “And made a separating bar between the two bodies of flowing water?” [Al-Qur’an 27:61]

This phenomenon occurs in several places, including the divider between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean at Gibralter. But when the Qur’an speaks about the divider between fresh and salt water, it mentions the existence of “a forbidding partition” with the barrier.

“It is He Who has let free the two bodies of flowing water: one palatable and sweet, and the other salty and bitter; Yet has He made a barrier between them, and a partition that is forbidden to be passed.”

Al-Qur’an 25:53

Modern science has discovered that in estuaries, where fresh (sweet) and salt-water meet, the situation is somewhat different from that found in places where two seas meet. It has been discovered that what distinguishes fresh water from salt water in estuaries is a “pycnocline zone with a marked density discontinuity separating the two layers.” [Oceanography, Gross, p. 242. Also see Introductory Oceanography, Thurman, pp. 300-301.] This partition (zone of separation) has salinity different from both the fresh water and the salt water. [Oceanography, Gross, p. 244 and Introductory Oceanography, Thurman, pp. 300-301]

This phenomenon occurs in several places, including Egypt, where the river Nile flows into the Mediterranean Sea.

(ii) Darkness in the Depths of the Ocean

Prof. Durga Rao is an expert in the field of Marine Geology and was a professor at King ‘Abdul-‘Aziz University in Jeddah. He was asked to comment on the following verse: “Or (the unbelievers’ state) is like the depths of darkness in a vast deep ocean, overwhelmed with billow topped by billow, topped by (dark) clouds: depths of darkness, one above another: if a man stretches out his hand, he can hardly see it! For any to whom Allah giveth not light, there is no light!” [Al-Qur’an 24:40]

Prof. Rao said that scientists have only now been able to confirm, with the help of modern equipment that there is darkness in the depths of the ocean. Humans are unable to dive unaided underwater for more than 20 to 30 meters, and cannot survive in the deep oceanic regions at a depth of more than 200 meters. This verse does not refer to all seas because not every sea can be described as having accumulated darkness layered one over another. It refers especially to a deep sea or deep ocean, as the Qur’an says, “darkness in a vast deep ocean”. This layered darkness in a deep ocean is the result of two causes:

  1. A light ray is composed of seven colours. These seven colours are Violet, Indigo, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange and Red (VIBGYOR). The light ray undergoes refraction when it hits water. The upper 10 to 15 metres of water absorb the red colour. Therefore if a diver is 25 metres under water and gets wounded, he would not be able to see the red colour of his blood, because the red colour does not reach this depth. Similarly orange rays are absorbed at 30 to 50 metres, yellow at 50 to 100 metres, green at 100 to 200 metres, and finally, blue beyond 200 metres and violet and indigo above 200 metres. Due to successive disappearance of colour, one layer after another, the ocean progressively becomes darker, i.e. darkness takes place in layers of light. Below a depth of 1000 meters there is complete darkness. [Oceans, Elder and Pernetta, p. 27]
  2. The sun’s rays are absorbed by clouds, which in turn scatter light rays thus causing a layer of darkness under the clouds. This is the first layer of darkness. When light rays reach the surface of the ocean they are reflected by the wave surface giving it a shiny appearance. Therefore it is the waves which reflect light and cause darkness. The unreflected light penetrates into the depths of the ocean. Therefore the ocean has two parts. The surface characterized by light and warmth and the depth characterized by darkness. The surface is further separated from the deep part of the ocean by waves. The internal waves cover the deep waters of seas and oceans because the deep waters have a higher density than the waters above them. The darkness begins below the internal waves. Even the fish in the depths of the ocean cannot see; their only source of light is from their own bodies.

The Qur’an rightly mentions: “Darkness in a vast deep ocean overwhelmed with waves topped by waves …

In other words, above these waves there are more types of waves, i.e. those found on the surface of the ocean. The Qur’anic verse continues, ” … topped by (dark) clouds; depths of darkness, one above another.”

These clouds as explained are barriers one over the other that further cause darkness by absorption of colours at different levels.

Prof. Durga Rao concluded by saying, “1400 years ago a normal human being could not explain this phenomenon in so much detail. Thus the information must have come from a supernatural source.”

Biology

(i) Every Living Thing is Made from Water

Consider the following Qur’anic verse: “Do not the unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together (as one unit of creation), before We clove them asunder? We made from water every living thing. Will they not then believe?” [Al-Qur’an 21:30]

Only after advances have been made in science, do we now know that cytoplasm, the basic substance of the cell is made up of 80% water. Modern research has also revealed that most organisms consist of 50% to 90% water and that every living entity requires water for its existence. Was it possible 14 centuries ago for any human-being to guess that every living being was made of water? Moreover would such a guess be conceivable by a human being in the deserts of Arabia where there has always been scarcity of water? The following verse refers to the creation of animals from water: “And Allah has created every animal from water.” [Al-Qur’an 24:45]

The following verse refers to the creation of human beings from water: “It is He who has created man from water: then has He established relationships of lineage and marriage: for thy Lord Has power (over all things).” [Al-Qur’an 25:54]

Botany

(i) Plants Created in Pairs – Male and Female

Previously humans did not know that plants too have male and female gender distinctions. Botany states that every plant has a male and female gender. Even the plants that are unisexual have distinct elements of both male and female. “And has sent down water from the sky. With it have We produced diverse pairs of plants each separate from the others.” [Al-Qur’an 20:53]

(ii) Fruits Created in Pairs – Male and Female

“And fruit of every kind He made in pairs, two and two.”

Al-Qur’an 13:3

Fruit is the end product of reproduction of the superior plants. The stage preceding fruit is the flower, which has male and female organs (stamens and ovules). Once pollen has been carried to the flower, they bear fruit, which in turn matures and frees its seed. All fruits therefore imply the existence of male and female organs; a fact that is mentioned in the Qur’an.

In certain species, fruit can come from non-fertilized flowers (parthenocarpic fruit) e.g. bananas, certain types of pineapple, fig, orange, vine, etc. They also have definite sexual characteristics.

(iii) Everything Made in Pairs

“And of everything We have created pairs.”

Al-Qur’an 51:49

This refers to things other than humans, animals, plants and fruits. It may also be referring to a phenomenon like electricity in which the atoms consist of negatively – and positively – charged electrons and protons.

“Glory to Allah, Who created in pairs all things that the earth produces, as well as their own (human) kind and (other) things of which they have no knowledge.”

Al-Qur’an 36:36

The Qur’an here says that everything is created in pairs, including things that the humans do not know at present and may discover later.

Zoology

(i) Animals and Birds Live in Communties

“There is not an animal (that lives) on the earth, nor a being that flies on its wings, but (forms part of) communities like you.”

Al-Qur’an 6:38

Research has shown that animals and birds live in communities, i.e. they organize, and live and work together.

(ii) The Flight of Birds

Regarding the flight of birds the Qur’an says: “Do they not look at the birds, held poised in the midst of (the air and) the sky? Nothing holds them up but (the power of) Allah. Verily in this are signs for those who believe.” [Al-Qur’an 16:79]

A similar message is repeated in the Qur’an in the verse: “Do they not observe the birds above them, spreading their wings and folding them in? None can uphold them except (Allah) Most Gracious: truly it is He that watches over all things.” [Al-Qur’an 67:19]

The Arabic word amsaka literally means, ‘to put one’s hand on, seize, hold, hold someone back,’ which expresses the idea that Allah holds the bird up in His power. These verses stress the extremely close dependence of the birds’ behaviour on Divine order. Modern scientific data has shown the degree of perfection attained by certain species of birds with regard to the programming of their movements. It is only the existence of a migratory programme in the genetic code of the birds that can explain the long and complicated journey that very young birds, without any prior experience and without any guide, are able to accomplish. They are also able to return to the departure point on a definite date.

Prof. Hamburger in his book ‘Power and Fragility‘ gives the example of ‘mutton-bird’ that lives in the Pacific with its journey of over 15,000 miles in the shape of figure ‘8’. It makes this journey over a period of 6 months and comes back to its departure point wit a maximum delay of one week. The highly complicated instructions for such a journey have to be contained in the birds’ nervous cells. They are definitely programmed. Should we not reflect on the identity of this ‘Programmer’?

(iii) The Bee

“And thy Lord taught the bee to build its cells in hills, on trees, and in (men’s) habitations; then to eat of all the produce (of the earth), And find with skill the spacious paths of its Lord.”

Al-Qur’an 16:68-69

Von-Frisch received the Nobel Prize in 1973 for his research on the behaviour and communication of the bees. The bee, after discovering any new garden or flower, goes back and tells its fellow bees the exact direction and map to get there, which is known as ‘bee dance’. The meanings of this insect’s movements that are intended to transmit information between worker bees have been discovered scientifically using photography and other methods. The Qur’an mentions in the above verse how the bee finds with skill the spacious paths of its Lord.

The worker bee or the soldier bee is a female bee. In Surah an-Nahl chapter no. 16, verses 68 and 69 the gender used for the bee is the female gender (fa’sluki and kuli), indicating that the bee that leaves its home for gathering food is a female bee. In other words the soldier or worker bee is a female bee. In fact, in Shakespeare’s play, “Henry the Fourth“, some of the characters speak about bees and mention that the bees are soldiers and that they have a king. That is what people thought in Shakespearean times. They thought that the worker bees are male bees and they go home and are answerable to a king bee. This, however, is not true. The worker bees are females and they do not report to a king bee but to a queen bee. But it took modern investigations in the last 300 years to discover this.

(iv) Spider’s Web / Home is Fragile

The Qur’an mentions in Surah al-‘Ankabut, “The parable of those who take protectors other than Allah is that of the spider, who builds (to itself) a house; but truly the flimsiest of houses is the Spider’s house – if they but knew.” [Al-Qur’an 29:41]

Besides giving the physical description of the spider’s web as being very flimsy, delicate and weak, the Qur’an also stresses on the flimsiness of the relationship in the spider’s house, where the female spider many a times kills its mate, the male spider.

(v) Lifestyle and Communication of Ants

Consider the following Qur’anic verse: “And before Solomon were marshaled His hosts – of jinn and men and birds, and they were all kept in order and ranks. At length, when they came to a (lowly) valley of ants, one of the ants said: ‘O ye ants, get into your habitations, lest Solomon and his hosts crush you (under foot) without knowing it.’ “ [Al-Qur’an 27:17-18]

In the past, some people would have probably mocked at the Qur’an, taking it to be a fairy tale book in which ants talk to each other and communicate sophisticated messages. In recent times, research has shown us several facts about the lifestyle of ants, which were not known earlier to humankind. Research has shown that the animals or insects whose lifestyle is closest in resemblance to the lifestyle of human beings are the ants. This can be seen from the following findings regarding ants:

  1. The ants bury their dead in a manner similar to the humans.
  2. They have a sophisticated system of division of labour, whereby they have managers, supervisors, foremen, workers, etc.
  3. Once in a while they meet among themselves to have a ‘chat’.
  4. They have an advanced method of communication among themselves.
  5. They hold regular markets wherein they exchange goods.
  6. They store grains for long periods in winter and if the grain begins to bud, they cut the roots, as if they understand that if they leave it to grow, it will rot. If the grains stored by them get wet due to rains, they take these grains out into the sunlight to dry, and once these are dry, they take them back inside as though they know that humidity will cause development of root systems and thereafter rotting of the grain.

Medicine

(i) Honey has Healing Properties

The bee assimilates juices of various kinds of flowers and fruit and forms within its body the honey, which it stores in its cells of wax. Only a couple of centuries ago man came to know that honey comes from the belly of the bee. This fact was mentioned in the Qur’an 1,400 years ago in the following verse: “There issues from within their bodies a drink of varying colours, wherein is healing for men.” [Al-Qur’an 16:69]

We are now aware that honey has a healing property and also a mild antiseptic property. The Russians used honey to cover their wounds in World War II. The wound would retain moisture and would leave very little scar tissue. Due to the density of honey, no fungus or bacteria would grow in the wound. A person suffering from an allergy of a particular plant may be given honey from that plant so that the person develops resistance to that allergy. Honey is rich in fructose and vitamin K. Thus the knowledge contained in the Qur’an regarding honey, its origin and properties, was far ahead of the time it was revealed.

Physiology

(i) Blood Circulation and the Production of Milk

The Qur’an was revealed 600 years before the Muslim scientist Ibn Nafis described the circulation of the blood and 1,000 years before William Harwey brought this understanding to the Western world. Roughly thirteen centuries before it was known what happens in the intestines to ensure that organs are nourished by the process of digestive absorption, a verse in the Qur’an described the source of the constituents of milk, in conformity with these notions.

To understand the Qur’anic verse concerning the above concepts, it is important to know that chemical reactions occur in the intestines and that, from there, substances extracted from food pass into the blood stream via a complex system; sometimes by way of the liver, depending on their chemical nature. The blood transports them to all the organs of the body, among which are the milk-producing mammary glands.

In simple terms, certain substances from the contents of the intestines enter into the vessels of the intestinal wall itself, and these substances are transported by the blood stream to the various organs.

This concept must be fully appreciated if we wish to understand the following verse in the Qur’an: “And verily in cattle there is a lesson for you. We give you to drink of what is inside their bodies, coming from a conjunction between the contents of the intestine and the blood, A milk pure and pleasant for those who drink it.” [Al-Qur’an 16:66] [Translation of this Qur’anic verse is from the book “The Bible, the Qur’an and Science” by Dr. Maurice Bucaille]

“And in cattle (too) ye have an instructive example: from within their bodies We produce (milk) for you to drink; there are, in them, (besides), numerous (other) benefits for you; and of their (meat) ye eat.”

Al-Qur’an 23:21

The Qur’anic description of the production of milk in cattle is strikingly similar to what modern physiology has discovered.

Embryology

(i) Man is Created from Alaq, A Leech-Like Substance

A few years ago a group of Arabs collected all information concerning embryology from the Qur’an, and followed the instruction of the Qur’an: “If ye realise this not, ask of those who possess the Message.” [Al-Qur’an 16:43 & 21:7]

All the information from the Qur’an so gathered, was translated into English and presented to Prof. (Dr.) Keith Moore, who was the Professor of Embryology and Chairman of the Department of Anatomy at the University of Toronto, in Canada. At present he is one of the highest authorities in the field of Embryology. He was asked to give his opinion regarding the information present in the Qur’an concerning the field of embryology. After carefully examining the translation of the Qur’anic verses presented to him, Dr. Moore said that most of the information concerning embryology mentioned in the Qur’an is in perfect conformity with modern discoveries in the field of embryology and does not conflict with them in any way. He added that there were however a few verses, on whose scientific accuracy he could not comment. He could not say whether the statements were true or false, since he himself was not aware of the information contained therein.

There was also no mention of this information in modern writings and studies on embryology. One such verse is: “Proclaim! (or read!) In the name of thy Lord and Cherisher, Who created – created man, out of a (mere) clot of congealed blood.” [Al-Qur’an 96:1-2]

The word alaq besides meaning a congealed clot of blood also means something that clings, a leech-like substance. Dr. Keith Moore had no knowledge whether an embryo in the initial stages appears like a leech. To check this out he studied the initial stage of the embryo under a very powerful microscope in his laboratory and compared what he observed with a diagram of a leech and he was astonished at the striking resemblance between the two!

In the same manner, he acquired more information on embryology that was hitherto not known to him, from the Qur’an. Dr. Keith Moore answered about eighty questions dealing with embryological data mentioned in the Qur’an and Hadith. Noting that the information contained in the Qur’an and Hadith was in full agreement with the latest discoveries in the field of embryology, Prof. Moore said, “If I was asked these questions thirty years ago, I would not have been able to answer half of them for lack of scientific information.”

Dr. Keith Moore had earlier authored the book, ‘The Developing Human‘. After acquiring new knowledge from the Qur’an, he wrote, in 1982, the 3rd edition of the same book, ‘The Developing Human‘. The book was the recipient of an award for the best medical book written by a single author. This book has been translated into several major languages of the world and is used as a textbook of embryology in the first year of medical studies.

In 1981, during the Seventh Medical Conference in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, Dr. Moore said, “It has been a great pleasure for me to help clarify statements in the Qur’an about human development. It is clear to me that these statements must have come to Muhammad from God or Allah, because almost all of this knowledge was not discovered until many centuries later. This proves to me that Muhammad must have been a messenger of God or Allah.” [The reference for this statement is the video tape titled ‘This is the Truth‘. For a copy of this video tape contact the Islamic Research Foundation]

Dr. Joe Leigh Simpson, Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, at the Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, U.S.A., proclaims: ” … these Hadiths, sayings of Muhammad peace be upon him could not have been obtained on the basis of the scientific knowledge that was available at the time of the writer (7th century). It follows that not only is there no conflict between genetics and religion (Islam) but in fact religion (Islam) may guide science by adding revelation to some of the traditional scientific approaches … there exist statements in the Qur’an shown centuries later to be valid which support knowledge in the Qur’an having been derived from God.”

(ii) Man Created from a Drop Emitted from Between the Backbone and the Ribs

“Now let man but think from what he is created! He is created from a drop emitted – proceeding from between the backbone and the ribs.”

Al-Qur’an 86:5-7

In embryonic stages, the reproductive organs of the male and female, i.e. the testicles and the ovaries, begin their development near the kidney between the spinal column and the eleventh and twelfth ribs. Later they descend; the female gonads (ovaries) stop in the pelvis while the male gonads (testicles) continue their descent before birth to reach the scrotum through the inguinal canal. Even in the adult after the descent of the reproductive organ, these organs receive their nerve supply and blood supply from the Abdominal Aorta, which is in the area between the backbone (spinal column) and the ribs. Even the lymphatic drainage and the venous return goes to the same area.

(iii) Human Beings Created from Nutfah (Minute Quantity of Liquid)

The Glorious Qur’an mentions no less than eleven times that the human being is created from nutfah, which means a minute quantity of liquid or a trickle of liquid which remains after emptying a cup. This is mentioned in several verses of the Qur’an including 22:5 and 23:13. [The same is also mentioned in the Qur’an in 16:4, 18:37, 35:11, 36:77, 40:67, 53:46, 75:37, 76:2 and 80:19]

Science has confirmed in recent times that only one out of an average of three million sperms is required for fertilising the ovum. This means that only a 1/three millionth part or 0.00003% of the quantity of sperms that are emitted is required for fertilisation.

(iv) Human Beings Created Sulalah (Quintessence of Liquid)

“And made his progeny from a quintessence of the nature of a fluid despised.”

Al-Qur’an 32:8

The Arabic word sulalah means quintessence or the best part of a whole. We have come to know now that only one single spermatozoon that penetrates the ovum is required for fertilization, out of the several millions produced by man. That one spermatozoon out of several millions, is referred to in the Qur’an as sulalah. Sulalah also means gentle extraction from a fluid. The fluid refers to both male and female germinal fluids containing gametes. Both ovum and sperm are gently extracted from their environments in the process of fertilization.

(v) Man Created from Nutfatun Amshaj (Mingled Liquids)

Consider the following Qur’anic verse: “Verily We created Man from a drop of mingled sperm.” [Al-Qur’an 76:2]

The Arabic word nutfatin amshajin means mingled liquids. According to some commentators of the Qur’an, mingled liquids refers to the male or female agents or liquids. After mixture of male and female gamete, the zygote still remains nutfah. Mingled liquids can also refer to spermatic fluid that is formed of various secretions that come from various glands. Therefore nutfatin amsaj, i.e. a minute quantity of mingled fluids refers to the male and female gametes (germinal fluids or cells) and part of the surrounding fluids.

(vi) Sex Determination

The sex of a fetus is determined by the nature of the sperm and not the ovum. The sex of the child, whether female or male, depends on whether the 23rd pair of chromosomes is XX or XY respectively. Primarily sex determination occurs at fertilization and depends upon the type of sex chromosome in the sperm that fertilizes an ovum. If it is an ‘X’ bearing sperm that fertilizes the ovum, the fetus is a female and if it is a ‘Y’ bearing sperm then the fetus is a male.

“That He did create in pairs – male and female, from a seed when lodged (in its place).”

Al-Qur’an 53:45-46

The Arabic word nutfah means a minute quantity of liquid and tumna means ejaculated or planted. Therefore nutfah specifically refers to sperm because it is ejaculated. The Qur’an says: “Was he not a drop of sperm emitted (in lowly form)? Then did he become a clinging clot; then did (Allah) make and fashion (him) in due proportion. And of him He made two sexes, male and female.” [Al-Qur’an 75:37-39]

Here again it is mentioned that a small quantity (drop) of sperm (indicated by the word nutfatan min maniyyin) which comes from the man is responsible for the sex of the fetus.

Mothers-in-law in the Indian subcontinent, by and large prefer having male grandchildren and often blame their daughters-in-law if the child is not of the desired sex. If only they knew that the determining factor is the nature of the male sperm and not the female ovum! If they were to blame anybody, they should blame their sons and not their daughters-in-law since both the Qur’an and Science hold that it is the male fluid that is responsible for the sex of the child!

(vii) Foetus Protected by Three Veils of Darkness

“He makes you, in the wombs of your mothers, in stages, one after another, in three veils of darkness.”

Al-Qur’an 39:6

According to Prof. Keith Moore these three veils of darkness in the Qur’an refer to:

  1. anterior abdominal wall of the mother
  2. the uterine wall
  3. the amnio-chorionic membrane.

(viii) Embryonic Stages

“Man We did create from a quintessence (of clay); then We placed him as (a drop of) sperm in a place of rest, firmly fixed; then we made the sperm into a clot of congealed blood; then of that clot We made a (foetus) lump; then We made out of that lump bones and clothed the bones with flesh; then We developed out of it another creature. So blessed be Allah, the best to create!”

Al-Qur’an 23:12-14

In this verse Allah states that man is created from a small quantity of liquid which is placed in a place of rest, firmly fixed (well established or lodged) for which the Arabic word qararin makin is used.

The uterus is well protected from the posterior by the spinal column supported firmly by the back muscles. The embryo is further protected by the amniotic sac containing the amniotic fluid. Thus the foetus has a well protected dwelling place. This small quantity of fluid is made into alaqah, meaning something which clings. It also means a leech-like substance. Both descriptions are scientifically acceptable as in the very early stages the foetus clings to the wall and also appears to resemble the leech in shape. It also behaves like a leech (blood sucker) and acquires its blood supply from the mother through the placenta. The third meaning of the word alaqah is a blood clot. During this alaqah stage, which spans the third and fourth week of pregnancy, the blood clots within closed vessels. Hence the embryo acquires the appearance of a blood clot in addition to acquiring the appearance of a leech. In 1677, Hamm and Leeuwenhoek were the first scientists to observe human sperm cells (spermatozoa) using a microscope. They thought that a sperm cell contained a miniature human being which grew in the uterus to form a newborn. This was known as the perforation theory. When scientists discovered that the ovum was bigger than the sperm, it was thought by De Graf and others that the foetus existed in a miniature form in the ovum. Later, in the 18th century Maupertuis propagated the theory of biparental inheritance. The alaqah is transformed into mudghah which means ‘something that is chewed (having teeth marks)’ and also something that is tacky and small which can be put in the mouth like gum. Both these explanations are scientifically correct. Prof. Keith Moore took a piece of plaster seal and made it into the size and shape of the early stage of foetus and chewed it between the teeth to make it into a ‘Mudgha‘. He compared this with the photographs of the early stage of foetus. The teeth marks resembled the ‘somites’ which is the early formation of the spinal column.

This mudghah is transformed into bones (izam). The bones are clothed with intact flesh or muscles (lahm). Then Allah makes it into another creature.

Prof. Marshall Johnson is one of the leading scientists in US, and is the head of the Department of Anatomy and Director of the Daniel Institute at the Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia in US. He was asked to comment on the verses of the Qur’an dealing with embryology. He said that the verses of the Qur’an describing the embryological stages cannot be a coincidence. He said it was probable that Muhammad (peace be upon him) had a powerful microscope. On being reminded that the Qur’an was revealed 1,400 years ago, and microscopes were invented centuries after the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), Prof. Johnson laughed and admitted that the first microscope invented could not magnify more than 10 times and could not show a clear picture. Later he said: “I see nothing here in conflict with the concept that Divine intervention was involved when Muhammad (peace be upon him) recited the Qur’an.”

According to Dr. Keith Moore, the modern classification of embryonic development stages which is adopted throughout the world, is not easily comprehensible, since it identifies stages on a numerical basis i.e. stage I, stage II, etc. The divisions revealed in the Qur’an are based on distinct and easily identifiable forms or shapes, which the embryo passes through. These are based on different phases of prenatal development and provide elegant scientific descriptions that are comprehensible and practical.

Similar embryological stages of human development have been described in the following verses:

“Was he not a drop of sperm emitted (in lowly form)? Then did he become a clinging clot; then did (Allah) make and fashion (him) in due proportion. And of him He made two sexes, male and female.”

Al-Qur’an 75:37-39

“Him Who created thee, fashioned thee in due proportion, and gave thee a just bias; in whatever form He wills, does He put thee together.”

Al-Qur’an 82:7-8

(ix) Embryo Partly Formed and Partly Unformed

At the mugdhah stage, if an incision is made in the embryo and the internal organ is dissected, it will be seen that most of them are formed while the others are not yet completely formed. According to Prof. Johnson, if we describe the embryo as a complete creation, then we are only describing that part which is already created. If we describe it as an incomplete creation, then we are only describing that part which is not yet created. So, is it a complete creation or an incomplete creation? There is no better description of this stage of embryogenesis than the Qur’anic description, “partly formed and partly unformed”, as in the following verse: “We created you out of dust, then out of sperm, then out of a leech-like clot, then out of a morsel of flesh, partly formed and partly unformed.” [Al-Qur’an 22:5]

Scientifically we know that at this early stage of development there are some cells which are differentiated and there are some cells that are undifferentiated – some organs are formed and yet others unformed.

(x) Sense of Hearing and Sight

The first sense to develop in a developing human embryo is hearing. The foetus can hear sounds after the 24th week. Subsequently, the sense of sight is developed and by the 28th week, the retina becomes sensitive to light. Consider the following Qur’anic verses related to the development of the senses in the embryo: “And He gave you (the faculties of) hearing and sight and feeling (and understanding).” [Al-Qur’an 32:9]

“Verily We created man from a drop of mingled sperm, in order to try him: So We gave him (the gifts), of hearing and sight.”

Al-Qur’an 76:2

“It is He Who has created for you (the faculties of) hearing, sight, feeling and understanding: little thanks It is ye give!”

Al-Qur’an 23:78

In all these verses the sense of hearing is mentioned before that of sight. Thus the Qur’anic description matches with the discoveries in modern embryology.

General Science

(i) Fingerprints

“Does man think that We cannot assemble his bones? Nay, We are able to put together in perfect order the very tips of his fingers.”

Al-Qur’an 75:3-4

Unbelievers argue regarding resurrection taking place after bones of dead people have disintegrated in the earth and how each individual would be identified on the Day of Judgement. Almighty Allah answers that He can not only assemble our bones but can also reconstruct perfectly our very fingertips.

Why does the Qur’an, while speaking about determination of the identity of the individual, speak specifically about fingertips? In 1880, fingerprinting became the scientific method of identification, after research done by Sir Francis Golt. No two persons in the world can ever have exactly the same fingerprint pattern. That is the reason why police forces worldwide use fingerprints to identify the criminal. 1,400 years ago, who could have known the uniqueness of each human’s fingerprint? Surely it could have been none other than the Creator Himself!

(ii) Pain Receptors in the Skin

It was thought that the sense of feeling and pain was only dependent on the brain. Recent discoveries prove that there are pain receptors present in the skin without which a person would not be able to feel pain. When a doctor examines a patient suffering from burn injuries, he verifies the degree of burns by a pinprick. If the patient feels pain, the doctor is happy, because it indicates that the burns are superficial and the pain receptors are intact. On the other hand if the patient does not feel any pain, it indicates that it is a deep burn and the pain receptors have been destroyed. The Qur’an gives an indication of the existence of pain receptors in the following verse: “Those who reject our signs, We shall soon cast into the Fire; as often as their skins are roasted through, We shall change them for fresh skins, that they may taste the penalty: for Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise.” [Al-Qur’an 4:56]

Prof. Tagatat Tejasen, Chairman of the Department of Anatomy at Chiang Mai University in Thailand, has spent a great amount of time on research of pain receptors. Initially he could not believe that the Qur’an mentioned this scientific fact 1,400 years ago. He later verified the translation of this particular Qur’anic verse. Prof. Tejasen was so impressed by the scientific accuracy of the Qur’anic verse, that at the 8th Saudi Medical Conference held in Riyadh on the Scientific Signs of Qur’an and Sunnah he proclaimed in public: “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger.”

Conclusion

To attribute the presence of scientific facts in the Qur’an to coincidence would be against common sense and a true scientific approach. The Qur’an invites all humans to reflect on the Creation of this universe in the verse: “Behold! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day – there are indeed signs for men of understanding.” [Al-Qur’an 3:190]

The scientific evidences of the Qur’an clearly prove its Divine Origin. No human could have produced a book, fourteen hundred years ago, that would contain profound scientific facts, to be discovered by humankind centuries later. The Qur’an, however, is not a book of Science but a book of ‘Signs’. These signs invite Man to realize the purpose of his existence on earth, and to live in harmony with Nature. The Qur’an is truly a message from Allah, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. It contains the same message of the Oneness of God, that was preached by all prophets, right from Adam, Moses, Jesus to Muhammad (peace be upon them).

Several detailed tomes have been written on the subject of Qur’an and modern science and further research in this field is on. Insha’Allah, this research will help mankind to come closer to the Word of the Almighty. This booklet contains only a few of the scientific facts present in the Qur’an. I cannot claim to have done full justice to the subject. Prof. Tejasen accepted Islam on the strength of just one scientific ‘sign’ mentioned in the Qur’an. Some people may require ten signs while some may require hundred signs to be convinced about the Divine Origin of the Qur’an. Some would be unwilling to accept the Truth even after being shown a thousand signs. The Qur’an condemns such a closed mentality in the verse: “Deaf, dumb and blind, they will not return (to the path).” [Al-Qur’an 2:18]

The Qur’an contains a complete code of life for the individual and society. Alhamdulillah (Praise be to Allah), the Qur’anic way of life is far superior to the ‘isms’ that modern man has invented out of sheer ignorance. Who can give better guidance than the Creator Himself?

I pray that this humble effort is accepted by Allah, to whom I pray for mercy and guidance (Amin).

 Published by Islamic Research Foundation, via Ahya

Assalamu Alaikom Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuho

Another blessed Day of the weekend …

First Share ✒✒✒✒

REASONS FOR THE REVELATION IN STAGES OF THE QUR’AN

REASON # 1 –

TO STRENGTHEN THE HEART OF THE PROPHET (SAWS)

Thus (it is sent down in parts), that We may strengthen your heart thereby. (Al-Furqan 25:32)

And We have revealed it to you gradually, in stages. (It was revealed to the Prophet SAW in 23 years.). (Al-Furqan 25:32)

– In the Year of Grief, the Prophet (Saws) faced three calamities

– His Wife Khadija died, His Uncle Abu Talib died and He was Stoned out of TAIF until his shoes were filled with blood

Allāh burdens not a person beyond his scope. He gets reward for that (good) which he has earned, and he is punished for that (evil) which he has earned. “Our Lord! Punish us not if we forget or fall into error, our Lord! Lay not on us a burden like that which You did lay on those before us (Jews and Christians); our Lord! Put not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear. Pardon us and grant us Forgiveness. Have mercy on us. You are our Maulā (Patron, Suppor-ter and Protector, etc.) and give us victory over the disbelieving people.” (Al-Baqarah 2:286)

– Then Allah sent the Prophet (saws) on his NIGHT JOURNEY ( AL ISRA WAL MIRAJ)

And whenever there comes down a Sûrah (chapter from the Qur’ān), some of them (hypocrites) say: “Which of you has had his Faith increased by it?” As for those who believe, it has increased their Faith, and they rejoice. (At-Tawbah 9:124)

– Each time a Quranic verse would be revealed, it would cause the Sahabas to grow in Emaan and they rejoiced

And seek help in patience and as-salat (the prayer) and truly, it is extremely heavy and hard except for al-khashi’un. (They are those) who are certain that they are going to meet their Lord, and that unto Him they are going to return.”

[Al-Qur’an 2:45-46]

Allah commanded His servants to use patience and prayer to acquire the good of this life and the Hereafter. Muqatil ibn Hayan said that this ayah means, “Utilize patience and the obligatory prayer in seeking the Hereafter. As for patience (here), they say that it means fasting.” There are similar texts reported from Mujahid. Al-Qurtubi and other scholars commented, “This is why Ramadhan is called the month of patience,” as is mentioned in the hadith literature. It was also said that patience in the ayah means, refraining from evil, and this is why patience was mentioned along with practicing acts of worship, especially and foremost, the prayer. Also, Ibn Abi Hatim narrated that ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab said, “There are two types of patience: good patience when the disaster strikes, and a better patience while avoiding the prohibitions of Allah.” Ibn Abi Hatim said that Al-Hasan al-Basri was reported to have said similarly.

Allah then said, “And as-salat … “

The prayer is one of the best means of assistance for firmly adhering to Allah’s orders, just as Allah said:

“Recite (O Muhammad) what has been revealed to you of the Book (the Qur’an), and perform as-salah. Verily, as-salah (the prayer) prevents al-fahsha’ (i.e. great sins of every kind), and al-munkar and the remembrance of (praising) of (you by) Allah is greater indeed.”

[Al-Qur’an 29:45]

The personal pronoun in the ayah, ” … and truly, it is extremely heavy and hard … “ refers to prayer, as Mujahid is reported to have said, and it was also the choice of Ibn Jarir. It is possible that the pronoun might be referring to the advice – to observe patience and the prayer – mentioned in the same ayah. Similarly, Allah said about Qarun (Korah):

“But those who had been given (religious) knowledge said: ‘Woe to you! The reward of Allah (in the Hereafter) is better for those who believe and do righteous good deeds, and this, none shall attain except as-sabirun(the patient).'”

[Al-Qur’an 28:80]

Also, Allah said:

“The good deed and the evil deed cannot be equal. Repel (the evil) with one which is better then verily he, between whom and you there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a close friend. But none is granted it (the above quality) except those who are patient ـ and none is granted it except the owner of the great portion (of happiness in the Hereafter and) in this world.”

[Al-Qur’an 41:34-35]

Meaning, this advice is only implemented by those who are patient and the fortunate. In any case, Allah’s statement here means, prayer is ‘heavy and burdensome’.

Allah then said, ” … except for al-khashi’in.”

Ibn Abi Talhah reported that Ibn ‘Abbas commented on this ayah, “They (al-khashi’in) are those who believe in what Allah has revealed.”

Allah’s statement:

“They are those who are certain that they are going to meet their Lord, and that unto Him they are going to return.”

… continues the subject that was started in the previous ayah. Therefore, the prayer, or the advice to observe it is heavy, ” … except for al-khashi’in. (They are those) who are certain (yazunnuna) that they are going to meet their Lord … “, meaning, they know that they will be gathered and face their Lord on the Day of Resurrection, ” … and that unto Him they are going to return”, meaning, their affairs are all subject to His will and He justly decides what He wills. Since they are certain that they will be returned to Allah and be reckoned, it is easy for them to perform the acts of obedience and refrain from the prohibitions. Ibn Jarir commented on Allah’s statement:

Yazunnuna that they are going to meet their Lord … “

Ibn Jarir said, “The Arabs call certainty as well as doubt, dhann. There are similar instances in the Arabic language where a subject as well as its opposite share the same name. For instance, Allah said, ‘And the mujrimun (criminals, polytheists, sinners), shall see the Fire and dhannu (apprehend) that they have to fall therein.’ [Al-Qur’an 18:53]. It is recorded in the Sahih that on the Day of Resurrection, Allah will say to a servant, ‘Have I not allowed you to marry, honoured you, made the horses and camels subservient to you and allowed you to become a chief and a master,’ He will say, ‘Yes.’ Allah will say, ‘Did you have dhann (think) that you will meet Me,’ He will say, ‘No.’ Allah will say, ‘This Day, I will forget you, just as you forgot Me.'”

(s) Tafsir Ibn Kathir (summarised), published by Dar us-Salam

Introduction

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

  1. Tafsir At-Tabari
  2. Tafsir Al-Qurtubi (Jami’ lil Ahkam al-Qur’an)
  3. Tafsir Ibn Kathir
  4. Tafsir Ash-Shawkani (Fath al-Qadir)
  5. Tafsir As-Sa’di (Taysir al-Karim ar-Rahman)
  6. Tafsir Ash-Shanqiti (Adwa ul-Bayan fi Idah al-Qur’an bi’l-Qur’an)

In compiling this article I have endeavored to adhere to the following methodology:

  1. Where all or the majority of the above commentators agreed on a particular point, I just mentioned the point and did not mention from whom I took the point.
  2. Where all or the majority of the above commentators agreed on a point, but some mentioned additional information related to it, again I just merely quoted the information without mentioning which book it was taken from.
  3. Where the commentators differed, I tried to avoid mentioning the issue altogether unless absolutely necessary in which case I either mentioned all of the different opinions, or the name of the commentator from whom I took the opinion.
  4. Where I mentioned a commentary that only a minority of the above mentioned, but did not contradict anything that the rest mentioned I ascribed this opinion back to its proponent.
  5. I have quoted from a number of books external to the above six, especially the works of Ibn al-Qayyim, in every such case I have fully referenced the quotes.
  6. Most of the tafsir books do not provide authenticating or disparaging remarks concerning the ahadith they quote. I have endeavoured to provide comments to each hadith quoted mainly drawing from the various works of Al-Albani.

I ask Allah that He count this effort amongst the scales of my good works and forgive me for any errors contained therein.

Its Name

It is named Al-Fatihah, the Opening – because it opens the Book and by it the recitation in prayer commences.

It is also named Umm al-Qur’an, the Mother of the Qur’an, and Umm al-Kitab, the Mother of the Book, according to the opinion of the majority. This was mentioned by Anas, however Al-Hasan and Ibn Sirin disliked this appellation reasoning that this was the most fitting description for the Preserved Tablet. Al-Hasan also said that the unequivocal verses of the Qur’an comprised the Mother of the Book. However, it is established in Sahih At-Tirmidhi from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) who said:

The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “[The chapter commencing with] ‘All praises and thanks are due to Allah the Lord of the Universe’ is the Mother of the Qur’an, the Mother of the Book, the Seven Oft Repeated Verses and the Great Qur’an.” (i.e. Umm al-Qur’an, Umm al-Kitab, Sab’ul-Mathani and Al-Qur’an al-Adhim)

At-Tirmidhi declared the hadith to be sahih. Al-Bukhari said in the beginning of the Book of Tafsir in his Sahih:

“It is named Umm al-Qur’an because it is the first chapter written in the Qur’anic texts and the recitation in prayer commences with it.”

Sahih Al-Bukhari (Eng. Trans. 6/1 chpt. 1)

Ibn Jarir at-Tabari said that it was named so because the meaning of the entire Qur’an is summarised therein. The Arabs named anything that concisely summarises something or comprises the most important part of something Umm, or Mother.

For similar reasons it is also named Al-Qur’an al-Adhim, the Great Qur’an.

It is also named Sab’ul-Mathani, the Seven Oft Repeated Verses, because they are frequently recited and indeed recited in every rak’ah of the prayer.

It is also named Al-Hamd, the Praise because it contains mention of hamd just as Al-Baqarah is named so because it contains mention of the cow. Some scholars also gave the reasoning that Al-Hamd constitutes the heart of Al-Fatihah. [1]

It is also named As-Salah, the Prayer due to his (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) saying while reporting from his Lord:

“I have divided the prayer between Myself and my servant equally. Therefore when the servant says, ‘all praises and thanks are due to Allah, the Lord of the universe,’ Allah says, ‘My servant has praised Me.’ … “

The sources for this hadith shall follow in the section concerning the virtues of Al-Fatihah insha’Allah

It is named the Prayer because its recitation is a condition for the validity of the prayer.

It is also named Ash-Shifa’, the Cure, due to what Ad-Darimi reports from Abu Sa’id (may Allah be pleased with him) from the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam):

“The Opening of the Book is a cure to every poison.”

It is also named Ar-Ruqya, the Spiritual Cure due to the hadith of Abu Sa’id (may Allah be pleased with him) reported in Sahih Al-Bukhari that after he had recited it to cure a person who had been bitten by a scorpion, the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said to him:

“And what made you to know that it was a ruqya?”

Sahih Al-Bukhari (Eng. Trans. 3/264 no. 476)

Ash-Sha’bi reports from Ibn Abbas that he named it Asas al-Qur’an, the Foundation of the Qur’an, and that he said, “The foundation of Al-Fatihah is, ‘with the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.’

Sufyan bin Uyaynah named it Al-Waqiyah, the Protector.

Yahya ibn Abu Kathir named it Al-Kafiyah, the Sufficient, because it suffices from everything other than it but anything else does not suffice it, as occurs in the mursal hadith:

“The Mother of the Book suffices for other than it but nothing else suffices it.”

It is also named Surat as-Salah, the Chapter of the Prayer, and Al-Kanz, the Treasure, as mentioned by Az-Zamakshari in Kashshaf.

Its Revelation

It was revealed in Makkah as stated by Ibn Abbas, Qatadah and Abu’l-Aliyah.

It is also postulated that it was revealed in Madinah as stated by Abu Hurayrah, Mujahid, ‘Ata ibn Yasar and Az-Zuhri. It is also said that it was revealed on two separate occasions – once in Makkah and once in Madinah. However the first opinion is the most likely due to His saying:

“We have sent to you the Seven Oft Repeated Verses.”

Al-Qur’an 15:87

This verse was revealed in Makkah by agreement of the exegetes.

Abu’l-Layth as-Samarqandi relates that half of it was revealed in Makkah and the remaining half in Madinah as quoted from him by Al-Qurtubi but this is an extremely strange position.

It is said that this chapter was the first thing revealed of the Qur’an as mentioned in the hadith reported by Al-Bayhaqi in ‘Dala’il an-Nubuwwa‘. Al-Baqilani quoted this as one of three opinions. It is also said that the first revelation comprised the verses of Surah Al-Muddaththir but the correct opinion is that the first revelation consisted of the beginning verses of Surah Al-‘Alaq.

Its Composition

It consists of seven verses and there is no difference concerning this. ‘Amr ibn ‘Ubayd said that it consists of eight verses and Husayn al-Ju’afi said that it consists of six verses but both of these opinions are irregular and rejected.

They have differed concerning the statement ‘with the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent,the Most Merciful.’ The majority of the reciters of Kufa postulate that it comprises an independent verse of Al-Fatihah and this is also the opinion of a group of the Sahabah, Tabi’in and a large group of the later scholars. However the reciters and jurists of Madinah regard it to be part of a verse, and not an independent verse, or not a verse at all.

Those who postulate that it is not a verse of Al-Fatihah state that the seventh verse commences with the words, “not the path of those who have earned [Your] Anger … “

They said, “Al-Fatihah consists of twenty-five words and one hundred and thirteen letters.”

The Virtues of Surah Al-Fatihah

There are a number of ahadith explaining to us the great virtue of this chapter:

1. Muslim reports from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) who said that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“Allah, the Glorious and Exalted, said, ‘I have divided the prayer between Myself and my servant equally and My servant shall be granted what he asked for.’ Therefore when the servant says, ‘all praises and thanks are due to Allah, the Lord of the universe’, Allah says, ‘My servant has praised Me.’ When he says, ‘the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful,’ Allah says, ‘My servant has extolled Me.’ When he says, ‘Master of the Day of Judgement,’ Allah says, ‘My servant has glorified Me.’ When he says, ‘You Alone we worship and Your aid Alone do we seek,’ Allah says, ‘this is between Me and My servant and My servant shall have what he requested.’ When he says, ‘guide us to the Straight Path, the Path of those whom You have favoured, not of those who have incurred [Your] wrath, neither of those who have gone astray,’ Allah says, ‘this is for My servant and My servant shall have what he asked for.’ “

Sahih Muslim (Eng. Trans. 1/215 no. 775)

2. At-Tirmidhi reports from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) who said that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“[The chapter commencing with], “All praises and thanks are due to Allah the Lord of the Universe” is the Mother of the Qur’an, the Mother of the Book, the Seven Oft Repeated Verses and the Great Qur’an.”

i.e. Umm al-Qur’an, Umm al-Kitab, Sab’ul-Mathani and Al-Qur’an al-Adhim. Reported by At-Tirmidhi (no. 3344) and it is sahih as stated by Al-Albani in Sahih Sunan at-Tirmidhi (no. 2498)

3. Ahmad reports from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) who said:

“The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) named Ubayy ibn Ka’b while he was praying in the Mosque saying, ‘O Ubayy!’ Ubayy turned his head towards him but did not reply. The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) named him again saying, ‘O Ubayy!’ So Ubayy shortened his prayer and turned towards the Prophet and said, “As-salamu alaykum O Messenger of Allah.’ The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) replied, ‘Wa alaykum as-salam. What prevented you from replying to me when I named you?’ Ubayy said, ‘O Messenger of Allah I was praying!’ He said, ‘Does Allah not say, ‘Respond to Allah and the Messenger when he calls you to that which gives you life.’ [Al-Qur’an 8:24]?’

“Ubayy replied, ‘Yes O Messenger of Allah! I will not do this again.’ The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) asked, ‘Would you like me to teach you a Surah the likes of which is not to be found in the Tawrah, Injil, Zabur or the [rest of the] Qur’an?’ He said, ‘Yes O Messenger of Allah.’ The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, ‘I hope that I will not leave this door until you know it.’

“Ubayy said, ‘Then he took hold of my hand and talked to me while I slowed down fearing that we may reach the door before he finished talking. When we did reach it I asked him, ‘What is the Surah you promised me, O Messenger of Allah?’ He said, ‘What is the Surah you recite in prayer?’ So I recited the Mother of the Qur’an upon which he said, ‘By the One in Whose Hand is my soul, Allah has not revealed the likes of it in the Tawrah, Injil, Zabur or the [rest of the] Qur’an. It is the Seven Oft-Repeated verses.’

Ahmad (5/114), Ibn Khuzaymah (1/252 no. 500) and others. Its isnad was declared sahih by Mustafa al-A’dhami in his takhrij to Ibn Khuzaymah

4. Ahmad reports from Abu Sa’ad ibn Al-Mu’alla (may Allah be pleased with him) who said:

“The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) named me while I was praying in the Mosque but I did not respond until I had completed the prayer. I went to him and he asked, ‘What prevented you from coming to me [earlier]?’ I replied, ‘I was praying O Messenger of Allah.’ He said, ‘Does Allah not say, ‘Respond to Allah and the Messenger when he calls you to that which gives you life.’ [Al-Qur’an 8:24]?’

“He then said, ‘I will teach a Surah which is the greatest Surah in the Qur’an before you leave the Mosque.’ Then he grasped hold of my hand and when he intended to leave [the Mosque], I asked him, ‘Did you not say that you would teach me a Surah which is the greatest Surah in the Qur’an?’ He replied, ‘Yes. It is [the Surah commencing with], ‘All praise and thanks are due to Allah.’ It is the Seven Oft-Repeated verses and the Great Qur’an that has been given to me.’

Sahih Al-Bukhari (Eng. Trans. 6/1 no.1), Ahmad (3/450) and the wording is his

5. Muslim reports from Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) who said:

“While the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was sitting with Jibril he heard a creaking sound above him. Jibril looked up and said, ‘This is [the sound of] a gate that has been opened in heaven today and has never been previously opened.’ Then an Angel descended through it and came to the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and said, ‘Rejoice in the good news of two lights that have been given to you such as no prophet before you has been given. [They are] Surah Al-Fatihah and the concluding [two] verses of Surah Al-Baqarah. You will never recite a word from them without being given the blessings they contain.’ ”

Sahih Muslim (Eng. Trans. 2/586 no. 1759)

This hadith has led some scholars to suggest that Jibril did not convey the revelation of Surah Al-Fatihah and the last two verses of Al-Baqarah, rather it was the Angel mentioned in this hadith. However the correct opinion is that Jibril did indeed convey the revelation of these verses as he was enjoined by Allah to convey the entire Qur’an to the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). The Angel that descended as mentioned in this hadith descended only to convey the reward of these verses.

The Ruling of Reciting Al-Fatihah in Prayer

The opinion of the majority of the scholars, amongst them Malik, Ash-Shafi’i and Ahmad, is that it is obligatory to recite Al-Fatihah in the prayer and that the prayer is not valid without it. Their opinion is based upon many proofs; from amongst them the sayings of the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam):

“There is no prayer for the one who does not recite the Opening of the Book.”

Sahih Al-Bukhari (Eng. Trans. 1/404 no. 723), Sahih Muslim (Eng. Trans. 1/214 no. 771)

“Whosoever performs a prayer in which he does not recite the Mother of the Book then it is deficient, it is deficient, it is deficient, it is incomplete.”

Sahih Muslim (Eng. Trans. 1/215 no. 775)

“The prayer is not valid in which the Mother of the Qur’an is not recited.”

Sahih Muslim (Eng. Trans. 1/215 no. 772)

However according to Abu Hanifah, those of his companions who agreed with him, Al-Awza’i and Ath-Thawri, it is not obligatory to recite Al-Fatihah, rather any portion of the Qur’an would be sufficient. They based this upon the saying of Allah:

“And recite what is easy [for you] from the Qur’an.”

Al-Qur’an 73:20

And the saying of the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) to the man who prayed badly:

“When you stand for pray, say the takbeer and then recite what is easy for you from the Qur’an.”

Sahih Al-Bukhari (Eng. Trans. 1/404 no. 724)

On top of this, according to Ash-Shafi’i and a group of the People of Knowledge it is obligatory to recite Al-Fatihah in every rak’ah of the prayer. However, another group were of the opinion that it is sufficient to recite it in the majority of the raka’at and yet another group, from amongst them Al-Hasan and the majority of the scholars of Basrah, were of the opinion that it is sufficient just to recite it in one rak’ah. This latter group took to the literal sense of the hadith:

“There is no prayer for the one who does not recite the Opening of the Book.”

In the case where one is a follower in a congregational prayer then the scholars fell into three opinions with regards to the follower’s reciting Al-Fatihah:

  1. It is obligatory upon him to recite it in all prayers.
  2. It is upon him not to recite it in all prayers.
  3. He should recite it in those prayers in which the recitation is silent, but not in those prayers in which the recitation is loud.

The point here is not to discuss which is the strongest opinion but to show that Al-Fatihah has specific rulings to it that are not shared by any other chapter of the Qur’an. Allah knows best.

The Ruling of Isti’adhah (Seeking Refuge)

Allah says:

“Show forgiveness, enjoin what is good and turn away from the foolish. And if an evil suggestion comes to you from Shaytan then seek refuge with Allah. Indeed He is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.”

Al-Qur’an 7:199-200

“Repel evil by means of what is best. We are best Acquainted with the things that they utter. And say, ‘My Lord! I seek refuge with you from the whisperings of the devils and I seek refuge with you my Lord lest they come near me.’ “

Al-Qur’an 23:96-98

“Repel [evil] with that which is better then indeed the one, between whom and you there was enmity, [will become] as though he was a devoted friend. But none is granted [this quality] except those who are patient and none is granted it save one who possesses a great portion [of high moral character]. And if an evil suggestion comes to you from Shaytan then seek refuge with Allah. Indeed He is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.”

Al-Qur’an 41:34-46

These verses command the servant of Allah to seek refuge with Him from the accursed Shaytan due to the severe enmity he displays towards mankind and displayed towards their father, Adam. Allah says:

“O Children of Adam! Let not Shaytan deceive you, as he removed your parents out of Paradise.”

Al-Qur’an 7:27

Ibn Al-Jawzi said:

“Servants of Allah! Contemplate on the removal of your father, Adam from Paradise, the home of security and his descent to the home of disgrace and abasement. The reason for this was none other than the accursed Shaytan. Your Master has prohibited you from obeying him and ordered you to disobey him. Indeed in his obedience lies the Displeasure of Ar-Rahman and disobeying him necessitates residing in Paradise and the descent of Pleasure.

“Allah, Glorified and Exalted, said, ‘Shaytan threatens you with poverty and orders you to immorality.’ [Al-Baqarah 2:268]

“So whosoever obeys him, he forsakes him and diverts him from the guidance and opens in his heart the doors to misguidance and ignominy.”

Ibn Al-Jawzi, Bustan al-Wa’idhin (pg. 27)

Allah further explains to us the extreme enmity of Shaytan with His Words:

“Indeed Shaytan is an open enemy to you so take him as an enemy. He invites his followers only that they may become the denizens of the blazing Fire.”

Al-Qur’an 35:6

“Will you then take him and his offspring as friends and protectors besides Him while they are open enemies to you? Wretched it is as an exchange for the wrong-doers.”

Al-Qur’an 18:50

Indeed Shaytan took an oath saying:

“By Your Might! I will surely misguide them all, except Your chosen slaves amongst them.”

Al-Qur’an 38:82-83

It is for this reason that we have been encouraged to seek refuge with Allah from the accursed Shaytan. With regards to reciting the Qur’an, Allah says:

“When you wish to read [lit: have read] the Qur’an then seek refuge with Allah from the accursed Shaytan. Indeed he has no power over those who believe and put their trust only in their Lord. His power is only over those who follow him and join partners with Him.”

Al-Qur’an 16:99-100

A group of the reciters and scholars, from amongst them Hamza, Ibn Sirin, Ibrahim an-Nakha’i and Dawud adh-Dhahiri, were of the opinion that one seeks refuge after the completion of recitation, taking to the literal sense of this verse. They also stated that the reason for doing so would be to repress self-astonishment at the completion of an action of worship.

A second opinion voiced is that one seeks refuge before and after ones recitation. However the famous, well-known opinion, which is the opinion of the majority is that one seeks refuge before recitation in order to safeguard oneself from the whisperings of Shaytan. This groups understood the meaning of the verse to be, “when you wish to read the Qur’an … “ in the same sense as the verse:

“When you intend to stand for prayer [lit: have stood for prayer], then wash your faces and forearms … “

Al-Qur’an 5:6

Abu Dawud reports from Abu Sa’id al-Khudri that:

“When the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) stood at night [for prayer, he would commence the prayer] by saying the takbir and then saying, ‘Subhanakallahumma wa bihamdika, wa tabarrakasmuka, wa ta’ala jadduka, wa la ilaha ghayruk.’ (You are glorified O Allah and praised! Your Name is Blessed; Your Majesty is Exalted and none has the right to be worshipped save You.) Then he would say, ‘La ilaha illallah’ (There is none worthy of worship save You) three times, then he would say, ‘Allahu Akbar’ three times and then he would say, ‘Audhu billahi As-Sami’ Al-Alim min Ash-Shaytan ar-Rajim – min hamzihi wa nafkhihi wa nafthihi.’ (I take refuge with Allah, the All-Seeing, the All-Knowing from the accursed Shaytan: from his madness, arrogance and poetry).”

The hadith is reported by Abu Dawud (Eng. Trans. 1/198 no. 774) and others and it is in Sahih Abu Dawud (no. 701)

Abu Dawud reports from Nafi’ ibn Jubayr from his father who said:

“I saw the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) saying when he entered into prayer, ‘Allahu Akbar Kabira’ (Allah is the Greatest, very great) three times, ‘Alhamdulillahi Kathira’ (Praise and thanks be to Allah, again and again) three times and ‘Subhanallahi Bukratan wa Asila’ (Glorified is Allah, morning and evening) three times. Then he said, ‘Allahumma inni a’udhubika mina Ash-Shaytan, min hamzihi wa nafkhihi wa nafathi.’ (O Allah! I take refuge with You from Shaytan – from his madness, arrogance and poetry).”

The majority of scholars are of the opinion of that isti’adha is recommended and not obligatory. However it is reported from ‘Ata ibn Abi Rabah that it is obligatory to say it within the prayer and outside the prayer when one desires to recite the Book of Allah. Ar-Razi stated that the proof for this opinion was that the verse, “seek protection with Allah” is mentioned in the imperative, that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) persisted in uttering it throughout his life and that it serves as a protective barrier from Shaytan – therefore if an obligation can only be fulfilled by a particular means then that means also becomes an obligation.

Isti’adha is for the recitation in prayer – this being the opinion of Abu Hanifah and Muhammad. As such it is to be said before one starts reciting Al-Fatihah. Shaykh Mashur Hasan Salman said:

“It is clear that isti’adha is legislated in every rak’ah [of prayer]. This due to the generality of His saying, ‘When you wish to read the Qur’an then seek refuge with Allah from the accursed Shaytan.’

“This is the most correct opinion of the Shafi’i school and declared to be the strongest opinion by Ibn Hazm.”

Mashur Hasan Salman, Al-Qawl al-Mubin fi Akhta’i al-Musallin (pg. 109). Refer also to An-Nawawi, Al-Majmu’ (3/323); Al-Albani, Tamam al-Minnah (pp. 176-177)

“I take refuge … “

Al-Hafidh Ibn al-Qayyim, may Allah have mercy upon him, explained the meaning of a’udhu (I take refuge) in a beautiful way. He said:

“Know that the verb ‘adha and its derivatives carry the meaning of being careful and wary, guarding and fortifying, being rescued and victorious. Its essential meaning is to flee from that which you fear will harm you to that which will safeguard you from it. This is why the one you seek refuge with is named m’adh and malja’ (the source of refuge and recourse).

“In the hadith there occurs, ‘When the daughter of Al-Jawn entered upon the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) [after their marriage] he moved his hand [to touch her] and she said, ‘I take refuge with Allah from you.’ He said, ‘Indeed you have sought refuge with the Ma’adh, return and rejoin your family.’{qluetip title=[20]}Sahih Al-Bukhari (Eng. Trans. 7/181 no. 181, 182){/qluetip}

“Therefore the meaning of a’udhu is: I take refuge, guard myself and take precaution. There are two opinions concerning the basis of this verb. The first is that it is derived from the meaning of as-satar, covering or protection, and the second is that it is derived from the meaning of luzum al-mujawara, firmly adhering to that which adjoins it.

As for the first opinion then the Arabs used to say with regards to a house that is in the shade of a tree – ‘uwwadha. Therefore when this house did ‘adha with this tree by being built under its shade the Arabs named it ‘uwwadh. The same applies to the one who takes refuge for he seeks protection and cover from his enemy with the one he seeks refuge with.

As for the second opinion then the Arabs used to say regarding flesh that was stuck to a bone and could not be removed, ‘uwwadha, because of its refusal to be dislodged from the bone. The same applies to the one taking refuge for he sticks firmly to the one he is seeking refuge with and refuses to be distanced.

Both of these opinions are correct for seeking refuge includes both. The one taking refuge seeks protection with the one he is seeking refuge with and sticks firmly to him. His heart attaches itself to him and holds firm just as the child sticks close to its father when threatened by an enemy. Thsame applies to the one taking refuge for he flees from his enemy who desires his destruction to his Lord, throwing himself between His Hands, holding firmly to Him, sticking close to Him and resorting to Him.

Now, know that the reality of seeking refuge that is established in the heart of the believer surpasses and is beyond these descriptions, for these serve only as examples and representations. As for that which is established in the heart in its taking refuge, holding fast to and its throwing itself before its Lord, its need of Him and its submission and humility before Him, then all of this is beyond description.

In a similar vein, love of Him and fear of Him can only be described in a deficient way for they cannot truly be understood except through experiencing them. This is similar to the case of one trying to describe the pleasure of sexual intercourse to one who is impotent and feels no sexual urges. No matter how much you describe it and how many examples you give, never will he truly understand it. However if you were to describe it to one who does have these urges and has had intercourse then he will understand your descriptions completely.

“If it is asked: When one is commanded to take refuge with Allah why does the form of the command carry a sin and ta’? For example in His saying:

‘Seek protection (fasta’idh) with Allah from the Accursed Shaytan.’ [Al-Qur’an (16):98]

“Yet one says, ‘I take refuge (a’udhu)’ and ‘I took refuge (ta’awwadhtu)’ without including the sin and ta’?

“The reply is: the sin and ta’ are grammatically used to denote a person’s seeking something. Therefore when one says, ‘asta’idhu with Allah’ he is saying, ‘I seek refuge with Him.’ When he says, ‘astaghfirullah‘ he is saying, ‘I seek the forgiveness of Allah.’

Hence when the person says, ‘I take refuge (a’udhu) with Allah’ he is actually implementing and realising what he seeks because he sought refuge and protection with Allah. There is a clear difference between actually taking refuge and seeking refuge. Therefore when the one who is seeking refuge is actually recoursing to Allah and holding firmly to Him then he says the verb that denotes this rather than saying the verb that denotes that he only seeks this.

The opposite is true for the saying, ‘astaghfirullah‘ (I seek the forgiveness of Allah) for in this case the person is asking Allah to forgive him. Therefore when he says, ‘astaghfirullah‘ he is implementing what he desires because the meaning of this statement is, ‘I ask Allah that He forgive me.’

This then is the best way of seeking refuge and it was for this reason that the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) used to say, ‘I take refuge with Allah from the Accursed Shaytan’ and, ‘I take refuge with Allah’s perfect words’ and, ‘I take refuge with the Might and Power of Allah’ saying, ‘a’udhu‘ rather than ‘asta’idhu.’

Indeed this is what Allah taught him to say with His words:

‘Say: I take refuge with the Lord of Daybreak.’ [Al-Qur’an 113:1]

‘Say: I take refuge with the Lord of Mankind.’ [Al-Qur’an 114:1]

“Employing the word ‘a’udhu‘ rather than ‘ast’idhu.’ “{qluetip title=[21]}Ibn al-Qayyim, Bada’i al-Fawa’id (1/439-441); Tafsir Al-Qayyim (pp. 538-541){/qluetip}

Ibn Al-Jawzi said:

“Know that the one who is taking refuge with Allah, the Great from the accursed Shaytan has clung to the firm Rope of Allah. I take refuge with Allah from all sins and actions of transgression! I take refuge with Allah from misguidance and treachery! I take refuge with Allah from the Displeasure of Ar-Rahman!

“O My brother! Know that when the servant clings to the rope of the created king he is saved from the evil of the oppressors. Therefore it far more befitting and appropriate for the one who takes refuge with the Lord of the Universe from the accursed enemy, Shaytan, that he be saved.”{qluetip title=[22]}Ibn Al-Jawzi, Bustan al-Wa’idhin (pg. 26){/qluetip}

There are a number of texts showing us the virtue of isti’adha:

1. Bukhari reports from Sulayman ibn Sarad (may Allah be pleased with him) that:

“Two men abused each other in the presence of the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) while we were sitting with him. One of the two abused the other while in a state of rage, his face red. The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, ‘I know a statement that if he were to say, what he is experiencing would leave him. If only he were to say, ‘I take refuge with Allah from the accursed Shaytan.’ “{qluetip title=[23]}Sahih Al-Bukhari (Eng. Trans. 8/87 no. 136){/qluetip}

2. Ahmad reports from Abu Dharr (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“O Abu Dharr! Take refuge with Allah from the satans from amongst men and jinn.” I said, “Are their satans amongst men?” He replied, “Yes.” {qluetip title=[24]}Ahmad (5/178). The hadith has two routes of narration both which are weak as mentioned in Muqbil ibn Hadi, Takhrij Tafsir Ibn Kathir (1/98){/qluetip}

3. Abu Dawud reports from Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“If anyone seeks refuge with [you] for the sake of Allah then grant him refuge. If any asks of you for the sake of Allah then grant his request.” {qluetip title=[25]}Abu Dawud (Eng. Trans. 3/1416 no. 5089). It is sahih. Refer to Al-Albani, As-Sahihah (no. 253); Sahih Abu Dawud (no. 4260), Al-Irwa (no. 1617); Sahih al-Jami’ (no. 6021){/qluetip}

Shaytan

It is said that the word Shaytan is derived from shatana which means to be distanced, and indeed Shaytan is far removed from any good whatsoever. It is also said that the name is derived from shata, which means to burn because he is made from fire. Others said that both meanings are correct. However, the first meaning is most correct and is proven by the language.

“With the Name of Allah, The Most Beneficent, The Most Merciful”

From the manners that Islam has taught us is to begin all of our actions by mentioning the Name of Allah first. The purpose behind this far-reaching and manifold:

  1. It brings Allah to mind before one does the action.
  2. It prevents one from doing evil actions.
  3. He will attain Allah’s support and succour in that action.
  4. It reminds one of the purpose, the source of fulfillment of that need, the source of blessings for that action and its final destination.

Ibn al-Qayyim explained this final point further in Al-Fawa’id:

“Allah says, ‘There is not a single thing except that its depositories and treasures are with Us.’ [Al-Qur’an 15:21]

“This verse comprises a [great] treasure from the treasures [of the Qur’an], this being that nothing is sought except from the One Who possesses its depositories and treasures, the One in Whose Hands lie the keys to these treasures. Seeking [things] from anyone else is seeking something from one who does not possess them or possess any authority over them.

“The saying of Allah, ‘And that to your Lord is the final goal.’ [Al-Qur’an 53:42]

“Comprises an immense treasure, this being that every desired objective that is not desired for His sake and is not connected [in any form or fashion] to Him then it is temporary and soon to disappear for its final goal is not with Him. The final goal lies only with the One to Whom all matters find their conclusion, terminating at His creation, Will, Wisdom and Knowledge. Therefore He is the source of every desired matter.

“Everything that is loved – if it is not loved for His sake then this love is nothing but distress and punishment. Every action that is not performed for His sake then it is wasted and severed. Every heart that does not reach Him is wretched, veiled from achieving its success and happiness.

“Therefore Allah has gathered everything that could be desired from Him in His saying, ‘There is not a single thing except that its depositories and treasures are with Us.’ [Al-Qur’an 15:21]

“And He has gathered everything that is done for His sake in His saying, ‘And that to your Lord is the final goal.’ [Al-Qur’an 53:42]

“Therefore there is nothing beyond Allah that deserves to be sought and nothing finds its conclusion with other than Him.”

The ba (with) is known as the ba of isti’anah or seeking help and support, meaning that the servant is seeking the aid of Allah in the action he is about to perform.

“With the Name of Allah” meaning I start with every name that belongs to Allah, the Exalted. This is because the word ‘name’ is singular and in the genitive form and therefore it includes all of the Beautiful Names.

“Allah” He is the Lord and the One Who is worshipped, the One deserving of being singled out for worship due to the Perfect Godly Attributes that He is described with. Ibn ‘Uthaymin states:

“This is the Name of His from which all other Names follow on from as occurs in His saying, Alif Lam Ra. This is a Book which We sent down to you in order that you might lead mankind out of darkness into the light by the permission of their Lord, to the Path of the All-Mighty, the one worthy of all praise: Allah, to who belongs everything that is in the heavens and the earth.’ [Al-Qur’an 14:1-2]

“So in this saying of Allah, the Most High, the noun which is the name of the Majestic Lord, Alla’ is not a descriptive attribute, rather it is a word which follows as an explanation and clarification of what has preceded.” {qluetip title=[26]}Ibn ‘Uthaymin, Explanation of the Three Fundamental Principles of Islam (pg. 36){/qluetip}

The action that the servant intends to do has been omitted in the sentence in order to generalise the statement (known as the basmallah). Hence no matter what the servant intends to do, the basmallah is applicable to it. We also understand that the action is to come at the end of the sentence for two vital reasons:

  1. To seek blessings by beginning with the name of Allah.
  2. To express the fact that the action is only for Allah.

Therefore it is as if the servant is saying ‘I seek the help of Allah with every Name of His, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful in the action I am about to do.’

Virtues of the Basmallah

There are a number of texts explaining to us the virtue of the basmallah:

1. Imam Ahmad reports from Abu Tamimah that:

“I was riding behind the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) when his mount stumbled and so I said, ‘May Shaytan perish!’ Upon hearing this the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, ‘Do not say may Shaytan perish for when you say this Shaytan becomes exultant and grows in stature and says, ‘It was by my power that I injured him.’ But when you say, ‘With the Name of Allah’ he becomes humiliated and grows small until he ends up the size of a fly.’ “{qluetip title=[27]}Abu Dawud (Eng. Trans. 3/1387 no. 4964), Ahmad (5/59, 365) and the wording is his. It was declared sahih by Al-Albani in Sahih Abu Dawud (no. 4168). Muqbil ibn Hadi said that the isnad of Ahmad contains the narrators of the Sahih{/qluetip}

2. Abu Dawud reports from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“There is no wudhu for the one who does not [commence] by mentioning the Name of Allah.” {qluetip title=[28]}Abu Dawud (Eng. Trans. 1/26 no. 101) and it is sahih as in Sahih Abu Dawud (no. 92){/qluetip}

3. Bukhari reports from Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“If, when one of you wishes to go to his wife [for sexual intercourse] says, ‘With the Name of Allah, O Allah! Protect us from the Shaytan and keep the Shaytan away from what You will provide us.’ Then if it is decreed that they should have a child out of that act then the Shaytan will never be able to harm him.” {qluetip title=[29]}Sahih Al-Bukhari (Eng. Trans. 1/105 no. 143), Sahih Muslim (Eng. Trans. 2/731 no. 3361){/qluetip}

4. Al-Khatib reports from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“Every important matter that is not begun with, ‘With the Name of Allah’ is deprived of good.” {qluetip title=[30]}As-Subki, Tabaqat ash-Shafi’iyyah (1/6) and others. Al-Albani ruled it to be da’if jiddan in Irwa (no. 1){/qluetip}

Ibn Mas’ud said:

“Whosoever wishes to the saved from the nineteen Angels over Hellfire then let him recite with the Name of Allah, Most Beneficient, Most Merciful.”

The Basmallah at the Start of a Surah

The scholars are agreed that the basmallah comprises part of the verse of Surah An-Nahl wherein Allah says:

“She said: O eminent ones, indeed to me has been delivered a noble letter. Indeed it is from Sulayman and it [reads], ‘With the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.’ “ [Al-Qur’an 27:29-30]

However the scholars have differed as to whether or not this statement comprises a verse of the Qur’an when it is found in the beginning of each Surah and they have fallen into four opinions:

1. That it is a verse of every Surah except Surah At-Tawbah.

This was the opinion of ‘Abdullah ibn Abbas, Ibn ‘Umar, Ibn Az-Zubayr, Abu Hurayrah, ‘Ata, Tawus, Sa’id ibn Jubayr, Makhul, Az-Zuhri, ‘Abdullah ibn Mubarak, Ash-Shafi’i, Ahmad – in one of the reports from him, Ishaq ibn Rahwayyah and Abu ‘Ubayd al-Qasim ibn Salam.

2. That it is not a verse of any Surah of the Qur’an at all and that it is placed at the beginning of every Surah merely to distinguish it from another.

This was the opinion of Malik, Abu Hanifah and their companions. Abu Dawud reports from Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) did not use to know the beginning and end of a Surah until ‘With the Name of Allah, Most Beneficent, Most Merciful’ was revealed.{qluetip title=[31]}Abu Dawud (Eng. Trans. 1/202 no. 787). Ibn Kathir says that its isnad is sahih and it is in Sahih Abu Dawud (no. 707){/qluetip}

3. That it is a verse of Al-Fatihah but not of any other Surah or it is part of the first verse of every Surah.

This is another opinion reported from Ash-Shafi’i but it is gharib.

4. That it is an independent verse of the Qur’an heading every Surah but not actually part of that Surah.

This is the opinion of Dawud and Ahmad in the second of the two reports from him. Abu Bakr ar-Razi also relates this from Abu’l-Hasan al-Karkhi and these two are from the greatest of the Hanafi scholars.

As regard to whether one should recite it loudly in prayer then the fiqh of this branches off from the difference mentioned above.

So those who follow the second and fourth opinions are not of the view that one recites it loudly. Indeed Malik was of the opinion that one does not recite it at all, depending upon the literal sense of the following hadith and its likes:

“The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) used to commence his prayer by saying the takbir and reciting, ‘All praise and thanks are due to Allah.’ {qluetip title=[32]}Sahih Muslim (Eng. Trans. 1/258 no. 1005) from A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her){/qluetip}

As for those who follow the first opinion then they differ falling into two opinions:

1. That one recites it loudly as it is a part of Al-Fatihah and therefore it should be recited in the same way as the rest of the Surah.

This is the view of a group of the Sahabah, and a number of the scholars after them, from amongst them Ash-Shafi’i.

Al-Hakim reports from Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) that:

“The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) recited, ‘With the Name of Allah, Most Beneficent, Most Merciful’ loudly.” {qluetip title=[33]}Mustadrak (1/326 no. 750), wherein he said that it was sahih. However Az-Zayla’i said in Nasb ar-Rayah (1/345) that its isnad contains ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn Hisan about who ‘Ali ibn Al-Madini said that he used to fabricate ahadith. Adh-Dhahabi mentioned the same in his Talkhis{/qluetip}

Bukhari reports from Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) that he said in reply to one who asked him about the recitation of the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam):

“His recitation would be elongated, then he recited ‘With the Name of Allah, Most Beneficent, Most Merciful’elongating bismillah, elongating Ar-Rahman and elongating Ar-Rahim.”{qluetip title=[34]}Sahih Al-Bukhari (Eng. Trans. 6/513 no. 566){/qluetip}

Abu Dawud reports from Umm Salamah (may Allah be pleased with her) that she said:

“The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) used to cut his recitation at each verse [pausing before going on to the next. He would recite], ‘With the Name of Allah, Most Beneficent, Most Merciful’[then] ‘All praise and thanks are due to Allah the Lord of the Universe,’[then], ‘The Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful’[then], ‘Master of the Day of Judgement.’ {qluetip title=[35]}Sunan Abu Dawud (Eng. Trans. 3/1120 no. 3990). Ad-Darqutni said that it has a sahih isnad and it is in Sahih Abu Dawud (no. 3379){/qluetip}

2. That it is not to be recited loudly.

This is reported from the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) by Bukhari and Muslim, it is the view of a number of the Sahabah, and it is established from the Four Caliphs. It is also the view of a group of the scholars after them from amongst them Abu Hanifah, Ath-Thawri and Ahmad.

So this is a summary of the views of the scholars with regards it recitation and they are all close to each other, and all praise is due to Allah, for they are agreed that the prayer of the one who recites loudly or silently is valid.

“All Praises and thanks are due to Allah, the Lord of the Universe”

The meaning of hamd is praise and extolling. It also carries the meaning of rida, or pleasure and is the opposite of dhamm, or blame. Its meaning is more general and inclusive than that of shukr, or giving thanks, because it encompasses this as well as giving the meaning of praise. Similarly shukr is only expressed as a response to a favour whereas hamd is expressed both as a response to a favour as well as a spontaneous action of dhikr. It is in this respect that Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) said, Alhamdulillah is the statement of every thankful [servant].”

Hence it is due to the comprehensiveness of this word that we find the Prophets showing gratitude in the Qur’an by expressing hamd. Allah commanded Nuh (‘alayhis-salam) saying:

“Say: All praises and thanks are due to Allah Who saved us from an oppressive people.” [Al-Qur’an 23:28]

Ibrahim (‘alayhis-salam) said:

“All praises and thanks are due to Allah Who gave me Isma’il and Ishaq in my old age.” [Al-Qur’an 14:39]

Dawud (‘alayhis-salam) and Sulayman (‘alayhis-salam) said:

“All praises and thanks are due to Allah Who has preferred us above many of His believing servants.” [Al-Qur’an 27:15]

Allah commanded our Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) saying:

“Say: All praises and thanks are due to Allah Who has not begotten a son … “ [Al-Qur’an 17:111]

The People of Paradise will say:

“All praises and thanks are due to Allah Who has removed from us all grief.” [Al-Qur’an 35:34]

“And the close of their supplication will be: All praises and thanks are due to Allah, the Lord of the Universe.” [Al-Qur’an 10:10]

It is for this reason that the word hamd has been employed in this verse of Al-Fatihah.

Some of the scholars said that shukr is more encompassing than hamd because praise is expressed by the tongue whereas thanks can be expressed by the tongue, heart and limbs. Thanks with the tongue is done by praising the Bestower of Blessings. Thanks by the limbs is done by acting in obedience to Him and abandoning actions of disobedience. Thanks in the heart is done by recognising the magnitude of the blessing and knowing that it has been given by the grace of Allah and not by the servants own merit.

Both opinions are correct in their own place: hamd is more general with respect to when it is done and shukr is more general with respect to how it is done.

There are a number of ahadith that show us the great virtue of expressing hamd:

1. Muslim reports from Anas ibn Malik that the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“Indeed Allah is Pleased at His servant when he eats some food and praises Him for it or when he drinks a drink and praises Him for it.” {qluetip title=[36]}Sahih Muslim (Eng. Trans. 4/1429 no. 6592){/qluetip}

Al-Hasan said, “There is no blessing except that [saying] alhamdulillah is better and more virtuous than it.”

2. Ibn Majah reports from Anas ibn Malik that the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“Allah does not grant a servant a favour for which he says alhamdulillah except that what he offered [of praising] is better and more virtuous than what he took [of the favour].” {qluetip title=[37]}Ibn Majah (no. 3805) and it was declared hasan by Al-Albani in Sahih Ibn Majah (no. 3067){/qluetip}

Al-Bayhaqi commented on this by saying:

“This is because the servant does not attain [the station] of praising and thanking Allah except by His tawfiq. Therefore the greater excellence [of his praising Allah as compared to the initial blessing that Allah bestowed upon him] is by virtue of his being blessed with the [ability to] praise Allah and extol him and this did not exist in the initial blessing.”{qluetip title=[38]}Sharh As-Sindi ‘ala Ibn Majah (no. 3795){/qluetip}

3. Al-Hakim At-Tirmidhi reports in Nawadir al-Usul from Anas bin Malik that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“If the entire world along with its contents were to be in the hand of a man from my nation and then he were to say alhamdulillah, then alhamdulillah would be better than (what his hand contained).” {qluetip title=[39]}Footnote pending{/qluetip}

Al-Qurtubi commented upon this by saying:

“In our view the meaning is that he has been given the world, then after this he has been given this statement and utters it. Therefore this statement is better than the world because the world is soon to perish whereas the statement will endure for it is from those righteous deeds that remain. Allah said:

‘The righteous deeds that last are better in the Sight of your Lord, for reward and better for resort.’ [Al-Qur’an 19:76]

4. Ibn Majah reports from Ibn ‘Umar that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“A servant from amongst the servants of Allah said. ‘O my Lord! To You belongs all praise and thanks as is required due to the magnificence of Your Face and greatness of Your Authority.’ This confused the two [recording] Angels and they did not know how to record it. So they ascended to the heaven and said, ‘O our Lord! Your servant has said a statement and we do not know how to record it.’ Allah, the Mighty and Magnificent asked, despite the fact that He already knows what His servant said, ‘What did my servant say?’ They reply, ‘O Lord! He said: O my Lord! To You belongs all praise and thanks as is required due to the magnificence of Your Face and greatness of Your Authority.’ Allah then said to them, ‘Record it for my servant as he said it, then when He meets Me, I will reward him for it.’ “ {qluetip title=[40]}Sunan Ibn Majah (no. 3801). Al-Albani ruled it to be da’if as in Da’if Ibn Majah (no. 829). Al-Busayri said in Az-Zawa’id, “Its isnad contains Qudamah ibn Ibrahim whom Ibn Hibban mentioned in Ath-Thiqat. It also contains Sadaqah ibn Bashir and I have seen no one who disparaged him or authenticated him.”{/qluetip}

5. Muslim reports from Abu Musa al-Ash’ari that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“Purity is half of faith. (The statement) Alhamdulillah fills the scales and (the statement) subhanallah wa’l-hamdulillah fills what is between the heaven and the earth.” {qluetip title=[41]}Sahih Muslim (Eng. Trans. 1/147 no. 432){/qluetip}

6. At-Tirmidhi reports from Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“The most excellent dhikr is (the statement) la ilaha illallah and the most excellent supplication is (the statement) alhamdulillah.” {qluetip title=[42]}Sunan at-Tirmidhi (no. 3623). It was declared hasan by Al-Albani in Sahih At-Tirmidhi (no. 2694){/qluetip}

7. Ahmad reports from Aswad ibn Sari’ who said:

“I asked the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), ‘Should I not recite to you words of praise that I praised my Lord, the Blessed and Exalted, with?’ He replied, ‘Of course! Indeed your Lord loves praise.’ ” {qluetip title=[43]}Muqbil ibn Hadi ruled the isnad to be munqati’ in his Takhrij ‘ala Tafsir Ibn Kathir (1/47){/qluetip}

In the verse the word hamd has been preceded by the definite article al, the reason for this is to include all the different manners of praise and specify them to Him, and it is an extolling with which Allah has praised Himself and ordered His servants to praise Him with. This meaning is further expressed in the hadith in which the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“O Allah! To You belongs all praise and thanks in its entirety, to you belongs the dominion in its entirety, in Your hand is all goodness in its entirety and to You returns the affair in its entirety.” {qluetip title=[44]}Ibn Abi Ad-Dunya from the hadith of Anas. Al-Bayhaqi from the hadith of Sa’ad ibn Abi Waqqas and Abu Sa’id al-Khudri{/qluetip}

Therefore by saying alhamdulillah, the servant is praising and thanking Allah Alone due to His greatness, unity, perfection, His Beautiful Names and Attributes and His innumerable favours and blessings that none can encompass save He. It is indeed an amazing statement that encompasses something that volumes would be unable to express and created intellects unable to enumerate! All praise belongs to Allah!

Also there is no mention in this verse as to the adverb denoting when this praise is said (dharf az-zaman) or from where this praise comes from (dharf al-makan). However in Surah Rum there is mention that from amongst the ‘where’s’ are the heavens and the earth – in His saying:

“And His is all the praises and thanks in the heavens and the earth.” [Al-Qur’an 30:18]

And in Surah Qasas there is mention that from amongst the ‘when’s’ are in this world and in the Hereafter – in His sayings:

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

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

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

Rabb

Linguistically the word rabb means master, owner or one who sets about correcting and purifying. When used in a possessive or conjunctive (idafah) structure it can be applied to other than Allah, for example it is said rabb ad-dar or the master of the house, similarly in the Qur’an it is mentioned that Yusuf (‘alayhis-salam) said to one of the inmates of prison:

“Mention me in the presence of your master.” [Al-Qur’an 12:42]

Likewise it is mentioned in the famous hadith of Jibril, when the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) listed some of the signs of the Hour:

” … When the slave-girl gives birth to her master (rabbataha).” {qluetip title=[45]}Sahih Muslim (Eng. Trans. 1/1 no. 1){/qluetip}

However the word Ar-Rabb can only ever be applied to Allah. It is one of the Names of Allah and means the One Who nurtures and sustains all of His servants through regulating the affairs and granting all types of favours and blessings. More specifically He is the One Who nurtures and sustains his sincere friends by correcting and purifying their hearts, souls and manners. This is why their supplications are frequently made with this Noble Name because they seek this specific nurturing.{qluetip title=[46]}As-Sa’di, Taysir al-Kareem ar-Rahman (pg. 16){/qluetip}

As-Sa’di said:

“The Lord is the One Who nourishes and sustains the whole of the Creation, meaning everything aside from Allah, by the very fact of His creating them, and His preparing for them all that they need and His favouring them with great blessings which if removed would also remove any possibility of the creation surviving. Therefore every blessing they possess then it is from Him, the Exalted.

“His sustaining His creation is of two types: General and Specific. As for the general then it is His creating the Creation and granting them provisions, and guiding them to that which would benefit them in order to have them survive in this world. As for the specific then it is His sustaining His friends with faith and making them conform to it, perfecting and completing it for them, repressing all that would make them turn away from it, bridling any hindering factors that may be set up between them and Him, and safe-guarding them from all evil. It is possible that the reason behind the fact that most of the supplications made by the Prophets employed the word ‘Lord’ was due to it carrying this meaning, for indeed all of the things they desired through their supplications fell under His Specific Lordship.” {qluetip title=[47]}Ibid. (pg. 22){/qluetip}

Alamin

There is a great deal of difference concerning the meaning of the word alamin. It is the plural of alam which is itself a plural – it has no singular. Al-Fara’ and Abu Ubaydah said al-alam is a term referring to anything that possesses an intellect and these fall into four categories: Mankind, Jinn, Angels and Satans. The term alam does not refer to the animal kingdom because this plural refers to those who possess an intellect specifically.

It is also said that it refers to every race or species of creation and to each generation of that race as stated by Qatadah and At-Tabari. Therefore mankind is an alam and likewise every individual race amongst them would be an alam also, just as each generation of that race would be an alam. Similarly the Jinn are an alam etc. …

Some of the scholars stated that al-alam [world, pl. alamin] is derived from al-allamah or sign because the existence of the world is a sign, without doubt, of the existence of its Creator who is described with perfect and magnificent Attributes. The Exalted said:

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

And in the language ayah means allamah.

However in another place in the Qur’an, Allah Himself has indicated its meaning:

“Pharaoh said: ‘And what is the Lord of the alamin?’ He (Moses) said: ‘The Lord of the heavens and the earth and what is between them.’ “ [Al-Qur’an 26:23-24]

Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) said in explanation to this verse of Al-Fatihah:

“All praise and thanks are due to Allah, to Whom belongs the creation in its entirety, the heavens and the earth and whosoever is in them and whatsoever is between them – that which is known and unknown.”

He also said that al-alamin refers to everything possessing a soul that walks on the earth.

Qatadah said:

Al-Alamin is the plural of alam and it refers to everything in existence besides Allah.”

Another essential point that we learn from this latter part of the verse, essential to our understanding of Tawhid, is that the Lord, Blessed and Exalted, is distinct from His creation and not everywhere.{qluetip title=[48]}Ibn al-Qayyim, Madarij as-Salikin (1/84){/qluetip} This is an issue which the Salaf of this nation were unanimously agreed upon and is clearly proven by a multitude of texts from the Book and Sunnah.

Also we learn that that He Alone is the Creator and that all the affairs are under His disposition, just as are all blessings. He is completely Self-Sufficient, and the creation is in total need of Him Alone for everything.

“The Most Beneficent (Ar-Rahman), The Most Merciful (Ar-Rahim)”

These are two descriptions of Allah the Exalted and two of the Names from amongst His Beautiful Names derived from ar-rahma (mercy) in a way to express intense and exaggerated meanings.

Ar-Rahman is more intense than Ar-Rahim because Ar-Rahman is the one endowed with Mercy that extends to all of the creations in this world and to the believers in the Hereafter. Ar-Rahim on the other hand is the One endowed with Mercy that extends to only the believers on the Day of Judgement – this being the understanding of the majority of the scholars. From the discussion of Ibn Jarir (at-Tabari) one can understand that there is an agreement on this and the commentary of some of the Salaf lends weight to this understanding as was stated by Ibn Kathir. The narration reported from ‘Isa, as mentioned by Ibn Kathir and others, also indicates this – that he (upon him and our Prophet be peace and blessings) said:

Ar-Rahman: the One Who shows Mercy in this world and the Hereafter. Ar-Rahim: the One Who shows Mercy in the Hereafter.”{qluetip title=[49]}Footnote pending{/qluetip}

Allah, the Exalted, also points to what we have mentioned when He said:

Ar-Rahman rose over the Throne.” [Al-Qur’an 20:5]

“Then He rose over the Throne, Ar-Rahman.” [Al-Qur’an 25:59]

So he mentioned the Istawa (rising over the Throne) with His Name Ar-Rahman so as to embrace the whole of His creation with his Mercy as was stated by Ibn Kathir. Likewise is His saying:

“Do they not see the birds above them, spreading out their wings and folding them in? None upholds them except Ar-Rahman.” [Al-Qur’an 67:19] meaning: from his Mercy to His creation is his kindness to the birds and His holding them in the sky while they are spreading out their wings and folding them in. And from the clearest evidences pertaining to this is His saying:

Ar-Rahman. He taught the Qur’an … so which of the favours of your Lord will you two deny?” [Al-Qur’an 55:1-13]

And He said:

“And He is Ever Most Merciful (Rahim) to the believers.” [Al-Qur’an 33:43] and hence particularised His name Ar-Rahim to them.

So if it is asked: ‘How is it possible to reconcile what you have thus far established with his (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) saying in the supplication, “The Rahman of the world and the Hereafter and the Rahim of them”?'{qluetip title=[50]}Reported by Al-Hakim (1/515) and he declared it sahih. However Adh-Dhahabi criticised this by saying, “Al-Hakam (its narrator) is not trustworthy and precise.” Al-Mundhiri said about this isnad in Targhib wa’t-Tarhib (2/616), “Al-Hakam is abandoned, accused.” Refer to Muqbil ibn Hadi, Takhrij ‘ala Tafsir Ibn Kathir (1/43){/qluetip}

The obvious reply – and Allah knows best – is that Ar-Rahim is specific to the believers as we have mentioned, but it is not specified to them in the Hereafter alone, rather His Mercy to them is included in this world as well. So the meaning of “the Rahim of them” would be ‘His Mercy to the believers in them’. And the evidence that He is Rahim to the believers in this world as well [as the Hereafter] is that this is the literal meaning of the Exalted’s saying:

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

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

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

For the Mercy is linked to the event that befell the Prophet, the Muhajirun and the Ansar, and also His forgiving them was Mercy in this world even though it be the reason for Mercy in the Hereafter as well. The Knowledge [of what is correct] lies with Allah.{/qluetip}The above discussion is taken entirely from Ash-Shanqiti, Adwa ul-Bayan (1/31-32){/qluetip}

In Allah’s mentioning His Names, Ar-Rahman and Ar-Rahim, after mentioning ‘Lord of the Universe’ lies an example of encouragement following admonition such that the servant combines in himself a sense of dread as well as hope. Examples of this method are abundant in the Qur’an and Sunnah. For example His sayings:

“Inform My servants that it is I Who is the Forgiving, the Merciful and that it is My punishment that is the painful torment.” [Al-Qur’an 15:49-50]

“The forgiver of sin, acceptor of repentance, severe in punishment, owner of abundance.” [Al-Qur’an 40:3]

Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) reports that the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“If the believers knew of the punishment of Allah then none would hope to attain His Paradise. If the disbelievers knew the full extent of the Mercy of Allah then none would despair of entering His Mercy.” {qluetip title=[51]}Sahih Muslim (Eng. Trans. 4/1438 no. 6636){/qluetip}

“Master of the Day of Judgement”

The reciters have two different ways of reciting the first word of this verse, both of which have been reported via continuous (mutawatir) transmission from the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) as well as Abu Bakr and ‘Umar (as mentioned by At-Tirmidhi):

1. Reciting it as Malik, or the King.

So the meaning of the verse would be that on that Day, Kingship belongs to Allah Alone and not to any of the creation who before then used to be kings on earth, vying with each other for power and dominion, exulting in what they had, pompously boasting about their grandeur and trying their best to outdo their competitors. However on that day they will come to know with certainty that in reality they are powerless and humiliated and that Grandeur, Power and Authority belongs in its entirety to Him Alone. Allah says:

“That Day when they will all come out, nothing of them will be hidden from Allah. Whose is the kingdom this Day? It belongs to Allah, the One, the Irresistible!” [Al-Qur’an 40:16]

2. Reciting it as Malik (double a), or the Owner.

So the meaning of the verse would be that on that Day, everything would belong to Him and no one else. No one will be able to voice an opinion or enforce a ruling as they used to do on this world. Allah says:

“That Day on which the Spirit and the Angels will stand forth in rows, none shall speak except he whom the Most Beneficent allows and he will speak only that which is correct and true.” [Al-Qur’an 78:38]

“All voices will be humbled for the Most Beneficent and nothing shall you hear but the low sound of their footsteps.” [Al-Qur’an 20:108]

“They cannot intercede except for one with whom He is pleased.” [Al-Qur’an 21:28]

Both recitations, of course, carry sound and good meanings however it is possible to argue that the first reading has the most comprehensive meaning as it is not possible to have sovereignty and kingship without possession, whereas there can be ownership without kingship. Similarly it is the king who will enjoin laws upon the owner as to how he should regulate his possession. Allah also says:

“His will be the kingdom on the Day that the trumpet is blown.” [Al-Qur’an 6:73]

If it is asked: why did Allah specify his Kingship or Ownership to the Last Day when it is known that these qualities always have and always will apply to Him?

The answer lies in the fact that on that Day, it will become totally and utterly clear to mankind the completeness and perfection of His Kingship, Justice and Wisdom, just as it will become totally clear that the sovereignty of the creation has been severed to the extent that the kings, ministers, the slaves and free-born will all be made the same. All of them yielding to His Greatness, rendered in complete submission to His Magnificence, expectant of His recompense, hoping for His reward and fearing His punishment. This is why His Kingship was fortified by mentioning it in this context, otherwise He is Master of the Day of Judgement and all other days.

Al-Qurtubi and Ash-Shawkani both stated that with respect to Allah, Malik is an Attribute of the Essence whereas Malik (double a) is an Attribute of Action.

Yawm

The word yawm refers to a period of time. In common usage it refers to the time between the onset of dawn and sunset. It can also refer to a particular portion of time or hour in a day as in His saying:

“This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed my favour upon you and chosen for you Islam as your religion.” [Al-Qur’an 5:3]

It can also refer to periods of time greater than one day as in His sayings:

“He arranges each matter from the heaven to the earth; then it will ascend to Him in a Day the extent of which is a thousand years of those which you count.” [Al-Qur’an 32:5]

“The Angels and the Spirit ascend to Him during a day the extent of which is fifty thousand years.” [Al-Qur’an 70:4]

Din

The word din here means reckoning or recompense and it is in this sense that the word is employed in His saying:

“On that Day Allah will pay them their din in truth.” [Al-Qur’an 24:25]

Meaning: the recompense of their actions with complete justice. Allah also said:

“Then when we have died and become dust and bones, we will indeed be recompensed.” [Al-Qur’an 37:53]

Ibn Abbas said in explanation to the words yawm ad-din:

“The Day on which the creations are judged – the Day of Resurrection. He will recompense them for their actions, if they were good then it will be good, if they were bad then it will be bad except for that which He Forgives for indeed the only order [on that Day] will be His order, ‘Unquestionably to Him belongs the creation and the Command.’[Al-Qur’an 7:54]”

There is no further explanation in this verse of Al-Fatihah as to what the Day of Din is, but this is explained in His saying:

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

It is important to note that it is unlawful to call anyone by the name of Al-Malik or Al-Malik (double a). Bukhari and Muslim report from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“On the Day of Resurrection Allah will hold the earth and fold the heaven with His Right Hand. Then He will say: I am the King, where are the kings [who reigned] on the earth?” {qluetip title=[52]}Sahih Al-Bukhari (Eng. Trans. 9/355 no. 479), Sahih Muslim (Eng. Trans. 4/1462 no. 6703){/qluetip}

Bukhari also reports from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“Indeed the most disloyal and treacherous name in the Sight of Allah is that of a person named the King of Kings (malik ul-amlak).”

Muslim adds in his report:

“For there is no Malik except for Allah, the Mighty and Magnificent.” {qluetip title=[53]}Sahih Al-Bukhari (Eng. Trans. 8/144 no.’s 224, 225), Sahih Muslim (Eng. Trans. 3/1171 no. 5339){/qluetip}

Ahmad reports that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“The person towards whom Allah displays the most Wrath, and the most despicable on the Day of Resurrection is one who was named King of Kings (malik ul-amlak) for there is no Malik except for Allah.” {qluetip title=[54]}Ahmad (2/315). It is sahih as in ‘As-Sahihah‘ (no. 915){/qluetip}

As for describing someone as Malik or Malik (double a) then this is permissible for one who fulfils the requirements of the description. In this sense is His saying:

“Indeed Allah has sent you Saul as a king.” [Al-Qur’an 2:247]

“Moses said to his people: O my people! Remember the favour of Allah upon you when He appointed amongst you prophets and made you kings.” [Al-Qur’an 5:20]

In this verse following the verse concerning the Mercy of Allah lies a reminder that Allah is also the Judge. Therefore not only should we love Him for His nourishing and sustaining us and for His compassion and mercy to us but we should also hold Him in awe knowing that our ultimate happiness or misery rests with Him Alone.

“You Alone we worship”

This verse points to the actualisation of the meaning of La ilaha ilallah (there is none worthy of worship except for Allah) for its meaning is comprised of two matters: negation and affirmation. So the negation aspect, contained in the words la ilaha, means to remove every single object of worship apart from Allah in all the actions of worship. The affirmation aspect, contained in the words ilallah, means to single out the Lord of the heavens and the earth Alone for all matters of worship in the way that has been legislated by the Shari’ah.

This negation in the la ilaha ilallah was indicated by placing the object of worship first in the verse such that it reads “You Alone … “ It is established in the rules of the Arabic language that placing the object first in a sentence is one of the ways of confining the meaning of the verb to the object alone.

The affirmation part of the kalima was indicated in His saying, “we worship”.

Allah, the Exalted, has explained this meaning which is indicated here in detail elsewhere. For example His saying,

“O Mankind! Worship your Lord who created you.” [Al-Qur’an 2:21]

Clarifying the affirmation aspect with his words, “worship your Lord” and the negation aspect at the end of this noble verse with His words,

“So do not set up rivals with Allah while you know.” [Al-Qur’an 2:22]

And for example His saying,

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

Clarifying the affirmation with His words, “worship Allah” and the negation with His words, “and leave all that is worshipped besides Allah”. And for example His saying,

“And whosoever rejects all that is worshipped besides Allah and believes in Allah has held onto the most trustworthy handhold.” [Al-Qur’an 2:256]

Clarifying the negation with his words, “whosoever rejects all that is worshipped besides Allah” and the affirmation with His words, “and believes in Allah”. And for example His sayings,

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

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

“Ask those of Our Messengers whom We sent before you: Did We ever appoint gods to be worshipped besides Allah.” [Al-Qur’an 43:45]

Ibadah

Linguistically ibadah is derived from abada which means to be subservient and to subjugate. In Islam, the word ibadah, or worship is a comprehensive term referring to everything, inward and outward that Allah Loves and is Pleased with.{qluetip title=[55]}Ibn Taymiyyah, Al-Ubudiyyah (pg. 1){/qluetip} Its pillars are love, hope, fear, submission and humility.

Worship can only be considered to be true worship when the way of performing it is taken from the Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) seeking only the Face of Allah. So these two conditions have to be present for the action to be considered worship and hence acceptable to Allah.

These two conditions are proven by the hadith reported by Bukhari and Muslim from ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“Verily actions are by intentions, and for every person is what he intended. So the one whose hijrah was to Allah and His Messenger, then his hijrah was to Allah and His Messenger. And the one whose hijrah was for the world to gain from it, or a woman to marry her, then his hijrah was to what he made hijrah for.” {qluetip title=[56]}Sahih Al-Bukhari (Eng. Trans. 1/1 no. 1), Sahih Muslim (Eng. Trans. 3/1056 no. 4692){/qluetip}

And by the hadith reported in Sahih Muslim from A’ishah that the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“Whosoever does an action that we have not commanded then it must be rejected.” {qluetip title=[57]}Sahih Muslim (Eng. Trans. 3/931 no. 4266){/qluetip}

Allah says:

“[He] Who created death and life that he may test which of you is best in action.” [Al-Qur’an 67:2]

Fudayl ibn Iyadh commented on this by saying:

“Who is sincere in [his action] and correct in it. The action, if it is sincere but not correct then it is not accepted. If it is correct but not sincere then it is not accepted. It is only accepted when it is both sincere and correct. It is sincere when it is for the sake of Allah and correct when it is done according to the Sunnah.”{qluetip title=[58]}Ibn Rajab, Jami’ al-Ulum wa’l-Hikam (1/29){/qluetip}

The proof of what Fudayl said lies in the verse:

“So whosoever hopes for the meeting with His Lord, let him work righteousness and associate none as a partner in the worship of His Lord.” [Al-Qur’an 18:110]

It is in this respect that Imam Ahmad said that the foundation of the religion is built upon three ahadith:

  1. “Verily actions are by intention.”
  2. “Whosoever introduces into this affair of ours that which is not part of it then it is rejected.”
  3. “The halal is clear and the haram is clear.”

For the whole religion is based upon doing the commanded actions and staying away from the forbidden actions and stopping at the doubtful matters as is contained in the hadith of Nu’man ibn Bashir. Fulfilling two matters perfects all of this:

  1. That outwardly the action be done as taught by the Sunnah, and this is to be found in the hadith of A’ishah, “Whosoever introduces into this affair of ours that which is not part of it then it is rejected.”
  2. That inwardly the action be done seeking the Face of Allah, as is contained in the hadith, “Verily actions are by intention.” {qluetip title=[59]}Ibn Rajab, Jami’ al-Ulum wa’l-Hikam (1/29){/qluetip}

“You Alone we ask for help”

Meaning that we do not seek aid from anyone but You because the affair in its totality is under Your control Alone, no one else has even an atoms weight of control over it. Again the object of the verb has been brought before the verb to stress this fact. In this statement’s following His saying, “You Alone we worship” lies an indication that it is not permissible to put our trust in anyone except the One Who deserves worship because no one else has control over the affairs. This meaning which is indicated here is clearly explained in other verses, like His sayings:

“So worship Him and put your trust in Him.” [Al-Qur’an 12:123]

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

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

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

The whole of the religion of Islam revolves around these two principles: we do not worship except Allah and we do not put our trust in anyone or anything except Allah. These are the means to everlasting bliss and security from all evils – so there is no path to victory except by establishing these two pillars. It is for this reason that some of the Salaf said:

“The secret of the Qur’an lies in Al-Fatihah and its secret is the verse,‘You Alone do we worship and You Alone we ask for help.’

“You Alone do we worship” has been mentioned before “You Alone do we ask for help” because worship is the intended goal and the Aid of Allah is the route to attaining that goal, hence the most important thing has been mentioned first. Another reason given is that the wording is by way of mentioning the general before the specific, and to show that attention should be given to His, Exalted is He, Right over the right of His servant.

Know that this verse employs an address in the second person and this is most fitting at such an occasion because when one praises and supplicates to Allah, then He is near and responsive. Allah says:

“When My servants asks you concerning Me then I am close. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me.” [Al-Qur’an 2:186]

The previous verses were in the third person as they were informing us about Allah. Another explanation given is that the style of the verses has changed from the third person to second person in order to stimulate and awaken the reciter such that his attention is drawn to the content of the verse.

If it is asked: why does the verse state ‘we worship’ when there is only one person reciting it?

The answer lies in the fact that the wise Shari’ah has legislated many actions of worship to be done in congregation and it has also recommended the servant of Allah to supplicate for his brother Muslims. Shaykh Salih ibn Ghanim as-Sadlan writes while discussing the virtue of congregational prayer, which is quoted here due to its being generally applicable to all congregational actions of worship:

“From amongst the lofty qualities of the Islamic Shari’ah is that it has legislated many actions of worship be done in congregation. The Muslims gather that they may keep in contact with each other, come to know each other, seek advice from one another, seek help in removing any difficulties that they may be in and discuss various issues with each other. This contains great benefit and many desirable points which cannot be enumerated such as teaching the ignorant, helping the needy, softening the hearts and manifesting the greatness of Islam. The Heavenly Revelation endorses this understanding for when it prohibits and commands it does not direct this prohibition to any specific individual but to the congregation as a whole. Allah says:

‘O you who believe! Bow, prostrate and worship your Lord. Perform the good so that you may be successful and perform Jihad in the way of Allah as it should be done … ‘ [Al-Qur’an 22:77-78]

“When the Muslim stands before Allah, intimately conversing with Him and humbling himself before Him he does not speak as an individual rather he speaks as one part of the whole. He says:

‘It is only you we worship and it is only Your Aid we seek.’ [Al-Qur’an 1:5]

“He does not say, ‘It is only You I worship and it is only Your Aid I seek.’ Then he asks Him from His goodness and guidance but he does not ask for himself only, instead he says:

‘Guide us to the Straight Path. The Path of those whom You have guided, not the path of those who have earned Your Anger nor those who have gone astray.’ [Al-Qur’an 1:6-7]

“Indeed the congregational prayer is from the greatest of means to removing sectarian differences and racism based upon ones colour, race or land. Through the congregational prayer the Muslims attain mutual love, respect and brotherhood. This because the elders become known and are thereby respected, the poor and needy become known and are thereby helped, the scholars become known and are thereby asked, and the ignorant become known and are thereby taught.”{qluetip title=[60]}Salih as-Sadlan, Salat ul-Jama’ah Hukaha wa Ahkamuha (pp. 23-24){/qluetip}

Muslim reports from Abu’d-Darda’ that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“There is no Muslim who supplicates for his brother in his absence except that the Angels say: the same for you as well.” {qluetip title=[61]}Sahih Muslim (Eng. Trans. 4/1429 no. 6588){/qluetip}

Muslim also reports from Abu’d-Darda that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“The supplication of a Muslim for his brother in his absence is answered. At his head is the Angel commissioned [for conveying the supplication to Allah], whenever he supplicates for good for his brother the Angel says: and for you is the same.” {qluetip title=[62]}Sahih Muslim (Eng. Trans. 4/1429 no. 6590){/qluetip}

In conclusion, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas said in explanation to this verse:

“O our Lord! It is You Alone that we single out for belief, fear and hope. It Your aid Alone that we seek to obey You and indeed in all of our affairs.”

“Guide us to the Straight Path”

After praising Allah, the servant then proceeds to ask of Him from His bounty and blessings. This is the most virtuous way of asking Allah by first praising Him and then asking of Him.

Abu Dawud reports from Fudalah ibn Ubayd that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) heard a man supplicating in prayer. He did not glorify Allah and neither did he invoke blessings on the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “He made haste.” He then named him and said to him or to those around him, “If any one of you prays, he should commence by glorifying his Lord and praising Him; he should invoke peace and blessings on the Prophet and thereafter he should supplicate Allah for anything he wishes.” {qluetip title=[63]}Abu Dawud (Eng. Trans. 1/390 no. 1476}, At-Tirmidhi (no. 3476), An-Nasa’i (3/44), Ahmad (6/18) and others with a hasan isnad. Refer to the notes of F. Zamrali to At-Targhib fi’d-Du’a (pg. 11){/qluetip}

Al-Hafidh Ibn Al-Qayyim explains the causes that lead to ones supplication being answered in a beautiful way saying:

“When the servant combines in his supplication presence of the heart and its being attentive and devoting itself solely to Allah, sincerely asking Him for the desired matter, doing so at one of the six times when the supplication is more likely to answered – these being:

  1. The last third of the night.
  2. At the time of the adhan.
  3. Between the adhan and iqamah.
  4. At the ends of the prescribed prayers.
  5. From the time the Imam ascends the pulpit to the time the prayer has finished on the day of Jumu’ah.
  6. The last hour after the prayer ‘Asr.

“Alongside this the servant appends to this fear and reverence in the heart, beseeching his Lord in a state of humility and submissiveness. He faces the Qiblah and is in a state of purity, he raises his hands to Allah and begins by praising and extolling Him, then he invokes peace and blessings upon Muhammad, His servant and Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). He precedes mentioning his need by seeking forgiveness from Allah and then he earnestly and sincerely makes his request as one who is needy and impoverished, supplicating to Him out of hope and fear. He seeks the means of getting close to Him by mentioning His Names and Attributes and making the religion sincerely for Him Alone. Before making supplication he gives in charity. If all this is done then this supplication will never be rejected especially if the servant employs the supplications that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) informed us would be accepted or if his supplication includes mention of Allah’s Greatest Name.”{qluetip title=[64]}Ibn Al-Qayyim, Ad-Da’u wa’d-Dawa’u (pp. 13-14){/qluetip}

Hidayah

The word hidayah, linguistically meaning direction and guidance is used in two senses in the Qur’an.

1. Guidance of clarification and direction, not taking into account whether the person to whom it has been clarified traverses the path of guidance or not.

With this respect is the saying of Allah:

“And as for the Thamud then We guided them but they preferred blindness over guidance.” [Al-Qur’an 41:17]

Meaning: We made clear to them the True Way upon the tongue of our Prophet Salih, upon him and our Prophet be peace and blessings, despite the fact that they did not traverse this way as proven by His saying, “but they preferred blindness over guidance.”

With this respect also is His saying:

“Indeed, We guided him, whether he be grateful or ungrateful.” [Al-Qur’an 76:3]

Meaning: We have made clear to him the Way of Good and the Way of Evil as proven by His saying, “Whether he be grateful or ungrateful.”

2. The specific type of guidance which is Allah bestowing His Grace upon the servant by making him conform to the Way of Truth.

With this respect is His sayings:

“They are the ones whom Allah guided, so follow their guidance.” [Al-Qur’an 6:90]

“And whosoever Allah Wills to guide, He opens his breast to Islam.” [Al-Qur’an 6:125]

When you come to understand this then any difficulties in understanding the following sayings of Allah will also be removed:

“Indeed! You [O Muhammad] cannot guide those you love, but Allah guides whom He Wills.” [Al-Qur’an 28:56]

“And indeed you [O Muhammad] are guiding [mankind] to the Straight Path.” [Al-Qur’an 42:52]

Because the aspect of guidance that has been negated is the specific guidance as this is in the Hands of Allah Alone. As for the aspect of guidance that has been affirmed then it is the general guidance which is to make clear the Way of Truth. And the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) explained this to the extent that it became like a great white plain whose night is like its day.{qluetip title=[65]}Referring to the hadith, “I have left you upon the great white plain, its night is like its day, none deviates from it except he who is destroyed.” Reported by Ibn Majah, Al-Hakim and Ahmad from the hadith of Arbadh ibn Sariyah (may Allah be pleased with him). Refer to Silsilah Ahadith as-Sahihah (2/528 no. 937) for detailed documentation.{/qluetip}

There is also a third sense to the word guidance that was mentioned by Ibn Al-Qayyim, and that is guidance on the Day of Judgement to the path to Paradise – this being the bridge leading to it. So the one who is guided in this life to the Straight Path will be guided to the straight path in the Hereafter that leads to His Paradise. His firmness on the path that Day will be dependant on how firmly he trod the Straight Path in this life.{qluetip title=[66]}Ibn Al-Qayyim, Madarij as-Salikin (1/16){/qluetip}

The Straight Path

The Straight Path is the path that the one journeying to Allah traverses and it is none other than obedience to Allah and His Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). The Salaf have described the Straight Path in various ways but all of their definitions revolve around this basic fact:

  1. The Book of Allah as stated by ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib and others.
  2. Islam as stated by Ibn ‘Abbas, Ibn Mas’ud, Ad-Dahhak and others.
  3. The Religion of Allah other than which He will not accept as stated by Ibn Al-Hanafiyyah.
  4. The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and the two Caliphs who followed him as stated by Abu’l-Aliyah and Al-Hasan al-Basri.
  5. The truth as stated by Mujahid.

All of these opinions are correct. So whosoever follows Islam has followed the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and the two Caliphs after him, i.e. Abu Bakr and ‘Umar. Whosoever has followed them has followed the Truth and whosoever has followed the truth has followed the Qur’an and whosoever has followed the Qur’an has obeyed Allah.

At-Tirmidhi reports from Nawas ibn Sam’an that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“Allah has set forth the following as a parable: There is a road that leads straight to the destination. On either side of the road there is a wall in which there are open doors with curtains hanging on them. From the remote end of the road, a voice calls, ‘Proceed straight and do not turn aside.’ Whenever someone intends to lift a curtain from the door another voice calls from above, ‘Beware! Do not lift the curtain, otherwise you will be lured inside.’ “

The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) explained the parable by saying that the straight path is Islam, the walls are the limits imposed by Allah, the open doors are the things that he has prohibited, the voice which calls from the end of the road is the Qur’an and the voice which calls from above is Allah’s monitor in the heart of every believer.{qluetip title=[67]}At-Tirmidhi (Adab, no. 76), Ahmad (4/182-183). It was declared sahih by Al-Albani in Sahih al-Jami’ (no. 3887){/qluetip}

From the above verse we also learn that the Straight Path is one path and not many and indeed that anything that deviates from it is to be regarded as misguidance. Ash-Shatibi explains this further by saying:

‘And verily, this is my Straight Path, so follow it, and follow not [other] paths, for they will separate you away from His Path. This He has ordained for you that you may become pious.’ [Al-Qur’an 6:153]

“The Straight Path is the path to which Allah has named and that is the Sunnah. The other paths are the paths of the people of disagreement who deviate from the Straight Path, and they are the People of Innovation. The intended meaning here is not the ‘paths of disobedience’ because no one makes disobedience a path that he continuously treads upon – in imitation of and resemblance to the legislation, but rather this description is specifically for the newly invented innovations.

“In what Isma’il has narrated from Sulayman ibn Harb lies evidence for this: Hammad ibn Zayd narrated to us; from ‘Asim ibn Bahdalah; from Abu Wa’il; from ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas who said:

‘One Day the Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) drew for us a long, straight line’ and then Sulayman drew for us a long, straight line, ‘and then he drew lines to its right and to its left and then said, ‘This is the Path of Allah.’ Then he drew lines to its right and to its left and said, ‘These are different paths, upon each of these ways is a devil calling to it’, and then he recited the verse:

‘And verily, this is my Straight Path, so follow it, and follow not [other] paths … ‘ [Al-Qur’an 6:153]

meaning these paths.

‘ … for they will separate you away from His Path.’ [Al-Qur’an 6:153]’

“Bikr ibn ‘Ala said, ‘He meant the devils amongst men and these [other paths] are the innovations and Allah knows best.’

“And the hadith has been reported in many ways.

“‘Umar ibn Salamah al-Hamdani said, ‘We were sitting in the circle of Ibn Mas’ud in the Mosque, which had been plain land after it had been covered with gravel. ‘Ubaydullah ibn ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab, who had just returned from an expedition asked him, ‘What is the Straight Path O Abu ‘Abdur-Rahman?’ He replied, ‘By the Lord of the Ka’bah, it is that which your father was firmly established upon until he entered Paradise’ and he swore firmly upon that three times. Then he drew a line in the ground with his hand and also drew lines to either side of it and said, ‘Your Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) left you upon this end and its other end is in Paradise. So whoever remains steadily upon it will enter Paradise and whoever takes any of these lines will be destroyed.’

“In another narration [the wording is], ‘O Abu ‘Abdur-Rahman, what is the straight path?’ He replied, ‘The Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) left us upon the nearest end of the line and its other end is in Paradise. And to its left and right are roads in which there are men who invite those who pass by them, saying, ‘Come this way! Come this way!’ So whoever is taken by them to those paths will end up in Hellfire and whoever remains steadfast upon the great path will end up, through it, in Paradise.’

“Then Ibn Mas’ud recited:

‘And verily, this is my Straight Path, so follow it, and follow not [other] paths, for they will separate you away from His Path. This He has ordained for you that you may become pious.’ [Al-Qur’an 6:153]

“Mujahid said about the saying of Allah, ‘ … and follow not [other] paths.’ [Al-Qur’an 6:153] that it refers to, ‘the innovations and doubts.’

“‘Abdur-Rahman ibn Mahdi said, ‘Malik ibn Anas had been asked about the Sunnah to which he replied, ‘It is whatever has no other name for it except the Sunnah and he recited:

‘And verily, this is my Straight Path, so follow it, and follow not [other] paths, for they will separate you away from His Path.’ [Al-Qur’an 6:153]

“Bikr ibn ‘Ala said, ‘He means – if Allah wills – the hadith of Ibn Mas’ud that the Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) drew a line … ‘ and he mentioned the hadith. And this explanation shows that the verse includes all the different paths of innovation and does not specify one innovation over others. Also amongst the verses [that are related to the censure of innovation] is the saying of Allah, the Exalted:

‘And upon Allah is the responsibility to explain the Straight Path but there are ways that turn aside. And had He willed, He would have guided you all.’ [Al-Qur’an 16:9]

“The explained path is the Path of Truth and that which is other than it, turns away from the truth – and these are the paths of innovations and misguidance – may Allah protect us, by His Excellence, from travelling upon them. It is sufficient for whatever turns away (from the Truth) that it is warned against and the verse contains a warning and a prohibition (of taking other paths that deviate from the Truth).

“Ibn Waddah mentioned that ‘Asim ibn Bahdalah was questioned: ‘O Abu Bakr, have you considered the saying of Allah, the Exalted:

‘And upon Allah is the responsibility to explain the Straight Path but there are ways that turn aside. And had He willed, He would have guided you all.’ [Al-Qur’an 16:9]?’

“He replied, ‘Abu Wa’il informed us from ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud saying, “Abdullah ibn Mas’ud drew a straight line and drew lines to its right and to its left and then said, ‘The Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) drew just like this. He said about the straight line, ‘This is the path of Allah’ and about the lines to its right and left he said, ‘These are different ways, upon each of these ways is a devil calling to it.’ Allah, the Exalted, said:

‘And verily, this is my Straight Path, so follow it …’ [Al-Qur’an 6:153] to the end of the verse.’

“At-Tustari said, ‘Explanation of the path – that is the path of the Sunnah; Ways that turn aside – meaning to the Hellfire and they are the sects and innovations.’ Mujahid said, ‘Explanation of the path – meaning the one who is justly balanced between exaggeration and negligence,’ and this shows that the one who turns aside is one who commits excesses or is negligent, and both of them are amongst the descriptions of the innovations.

“From ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him), that he used to read it the verse, ‘And amongst you is one that turns aside’. They said: ‘He means by that [from] this nation.’ So it is as if this verse along with the one before it have come with the same meaning.”{qluetip title=[68]}Ash-Shatibi, Al-I’tisam (1/40-45) translation by Br. Abu Iyadh and modified{/qluetip}

Why do we ask for the Straight Path?

If it is asked why is one supplicating for guidance to the Straight Path when a Muslim is already regarded to be on the Straight Path?

Shaykh ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah says:

“The case mentioned above is similar to what some of them ask concerning His saying, ‘Guide us to the Straight Path’ saying, ‘Allah has already guided the believer, so what benefit is there in seeking guidance?’ Then some of them reply by saying that the meaning is ‘keep us firm upon guidance’ as the Arab would say to the one who is asleep, ‘Sleep until I come to you’. Others from amongst them say that the meaning is, ‘Keep our hearts firm upon the guidance’ and that the request for firmness has been omitted. Yet others from amongst them say that it means, ‘Increase me in guidance.’

“This question really occurs due to the absence of their contemplating upon the Straight Path to which the servant seeks guidance to, for the meaning [of the verse] is [seeking guidance to] act according to what Allah ordered, and leave what He forbade in all matters.

“This is because the person, even if he has believed that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah and that the Qur’an is the truth in a general way, is commonly in need of knowledge of that which would benefit him and harm him. He is in need of knowledge concerning what he has been commanded to do and forbidden from doing in the finer aspects of the matters and in those areas of which he has no knowledge. Not only this but we find that which he does have knowledge of, he does not put the greater part of it to practice! Assuming that all of the commands and prohibitions contained in the Qur’an and Sunnah have reached him, then the Qur’an and Sunnah contain laws that are general and universal for which it is not possible to specify to every individual person – therefore the person has been commanded due to the likes of this to ask for guidance to the Straight Path.

“Guidance to the Straight Path includes all of the following matters: cognizance of what the Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) came with in detail, cognizance of what comes under his general orders and concern for acting according to ones knowledge, for indeed just having knowledge is not a cause for attaining guidance if one does not act according to his knowledge. This is why He said to His Prophet after the treaty of Hudaybiyyah:

‘Indeed We have given you a manifest victory. That Allah may forgive you your sins of the past and future, complete His Favour upon you, and guide you on a Straight Path.’ [Al-Qur’an 48:1-2]

“And He said with respect to Moses and Harun, ‘And We gave them the clear Scripture, and guided them to the Right Path.’ [Al-Qur’an 37:117-118]

“The Muslims have differed as to what Allah Willed from the textual matters – matters of knowledge, belief and action while all of them are agreed that Muhammad is the truth and the Qur’an is the truth. If all of them were to have attained guidance to the Straight Path in totality then they would never have differed. Furthermore the majority of those who know what Allah has ordered disobey Him and do not follow His Way. If they were guided to the Straight Path in these matters then they certainly would have performed what they had been commanded to do, and left what they had been forbidden from. As for those whom Allah guided from amongst this nation until they became from the God-Fearing Friends of Allah, then the greatest reason for this was their supplicating to Allah with this supplication (guide us to the Straight Path) in every prayer along with the knowledge of their continuous need of Allah that He guide them on the Straight Path. So due to their continually saying this supplication and their acknowledging their continuous need of Him they became God-Fearing Friends of Allah. Sahl ibn ‘Abdullah at-Tustori said, ‘there is not route between a servant and Allah closer to Him then need.’

“The one who has attained guidance in the past is in need of guidance in the future, this is the real meaning behind the saying of those who say that it means: ‘establish us and guide us to being firm upon the Straight Path.’ The opinion of those who say that it means: ‘increase us in guidance’ includes what has preceded. But all that has been stated refers to His guidance to the Straight Path that is to be granted in the future, for indeed action in the future is upon knowledge that is not yet attained. And the person is not considered to be one who is guided until he acts according to his knowledge in the future, but it is possible that this knowledge not be there in the future, rather it could be removed from the heart, and if it still be there it is also possible that it not be acted upon. Therefore all of mankind is in dire need of this supplication, this is why Allah made it obligatory upon them in every prayer and they are not in need of any other supplication as they are of this one. When guidance is obtained to the Straight Path then help, provision and all of the happiness that the soul seeks are obtained from Allah. Allah knows best.” {qluetip title=[69]}Ibn Taymiyyah, Diseases of the Heart and their Cures (Eng. Trans., pp. 44-47). The original text is to be found in his Majmu al-Fatawa (10/ 91-138){/qluetip}

Allah commands His servants to supplicate:

“Our Lord! Let not our hearts deviate after You have guided us and grant us mercy from Yourself. Indeed You are the Bestower.” [Al-Qur’an 3:8]

“The Path of those whom You have favoured”

After the servant has requested for guidance to the Straight Path, Allah then proceeds to clarify further what this Straight Path is, and this in turn is explained in greater detail in Surah An-Nisa:

“But no by Your Lord! They cannot have faith until they make you [O Muhammad] judge in all disputes between them and find in themselves no resistance to your decisions, and accept them with full submission. And if We had ordered them [saying]: ‘kill [the guilty ones amongst] yourselves or leave your homes’ very few of them would have done it. If they had done what they were told, it would have been better for them and would have strengthened their [faith]. And indeed we would then have bestowed upon them a great reward from Ourselves. And indeed we would have guided them to a Straight Way. And whosoever obeys Allah and the Messenger then they will be in the company of those upon whom Allah has bestowed His favour: the Prophets, the sincerely truthful, the martyrs and the righteous. What an excellent company these are!” [Al-Qur’an 4:65-69]

Ibn Abbas said in commentary to this verse:

“Those who you have favoured by making them obedient to You and worship You from the Angels, the Prophets, the sincerely truthful, the martyrs and the righteous. This is like what our Lord, the Exalted, has said, ‘They will be in the company of those upon whom Allah has bestowed His favour … ‘

Ash-Shanqiti makes the following additional observations concerning this verse:

1. The correctness of the Caliphate of Abu Bakr as-Siddiq (may Allah be pleased with him) can be derived from this noble verse.

This is because he is included amongst those whom Allah has commanded us, in the Great Qur’an and the Seven Oft-Repeated Verses – I mean Al-Fatihah, to ask Him that He guide us to their path thus indicating that their path is the Straight Path.

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

2. You have come to know that the Siddiqin are from those whom Allah has favoured. And Allah has made clear that Maryam the daughter of Imran was a Siddiqah in His saying, “And His mother was a Siddiqah.” [Al-Qur’an 5:75]. So is Maryam included in His saying, “Those whom you have favoured” or not?

The answer: whether or not she is included amongst them is dependent upon a foundational principle that has a well-known dispute over it. This is: does the sound masculine plural and its likes that occur in the Qur’an and the Sunnah include the feminine gender in all cases or only in those cases for which there is specific evidence?

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

1. The consensus of the people of the Arabic Language that the masculine gender takes prevalence over the feminine. [For example a mixed gathering of males and females would be referred to by using the male plural not the female plural even if their be more females than males.]

2. There a number of verses which prove that the females are included in the sound masculine plural, like His saying concerning Maryam herself:

“She testified to the truth of the Words of her Lord and His Books, and she was of those obedient to Allah (Qanitin – a sound masculine plural).” [Al-Qur’an 66:12]

And His saying concerning the wife of Al-Aziz:

“O Yusuf! Turn away from this! [O Woman!] Ask forgiveness for your sin, indeed your were of the sinful (Khati’in – a sound masculine plural).” [Al-Qur’an 12:29]

And His saying concerning Bilqis:

“And that which she used to worship besides Allah has prevented her [from Islam], for she was of a disbelieving people (Qawmin Kafirin).” [Al-Qur’an 27:43]

And His saying:

“We said: get down (ihbitu) all of you from this.” [Al-Qur’an 2:38] and this address includes Hawa by consensus.

The majority of scholars, however, took to the opinion that the females are not included in the sound masculine plural unless there is specific evidence. They depended upon a number of verses like His sayings:

“Indeed the male Muslims and the female Muslims, the male believers and the female believers … Allah has prepared for them a forgiveness and a great reward.” [Al-Qur’an 33:35]

“Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and protect their private parts. That is purer for them.” [Al-Qur’an 24:30]

Following this with:

“And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and protect their private parts.” [Al-Qur’an 24:31]

So their following the mention of the men indicates that they are not included amongst them.

They replied to the proponents of the first opinion by saying that the fact that the masculine gender takes prevalence over the feminine is not a matter of dispute. What is disputed is whether the masculine plural includes the females in every case. They further replied to the verses used by the first group by saying that it is known by the context of these verses and the meaning of the wordings that the females are included in the male plural – and that their inclusion in the male plural in the case of their being an evidence that they are included is not contended.

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

“Not the path of those who have earned [Your] anger, nor those who have gone astray”

Al-Ghadab linguistically means anger, it is the opposite of pleasure (rida) and one of the Attributes of Allah. Maghdub refer to the objects of Anger.

Dalal linguistically means to divert from the intended goal or to diverge from the true path and it is the opposite of guidance. It is also said ‘the milk dalla in the water’ when it is mixed such that it disappears. In this respect also is His saying:

“And they say: when we become dalal in the earth.” [Al-Qur’an 32:10]

Meaning when we die and disappear into the earth by becoming dust. Ad-Dallin refers to those who gone astray.

The Jews and the Christians

At-Tirmidhi reports from Adi ibn Hatim who said:

“I asked the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) about Allah’s saying about, ‘Those who have earned [Your] Anger’, and he said, ‘It refers to the Jews.’ I then asked about, ‘Those who have gone astray’ and he said, ‘The Christians are those who have gone astray.’ “{qluetip title=[70]}Reported by At-Tirmidhi and Ahmad and it is sahih{/qluetip}

The Jews and the Christians even though both of them are misguided and both of them have Allah’s Anger on them – the Anger is specified to the Jews, even though the Christians share this with them, because the Jews knew the truth and rejected it and deliberately came with falsehood. Therefore the Anger of Allah being upon them was the description most befitting them. The Christians were ignorant, not knowing the truth, so misguidance was the description most befitting them.

This is further proven by the sayings of Allah concerning the Jews:

“So they have drawn on themselves anger upon anger.” [Al-Qur’an 2:90]

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

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

And Allah said concerning the Christians:

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

Other opinions have been voiced concerning the meaning of this verse, but the meaning mentioned above takes precedence and is undoubtedly correct as it has been reported from the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) himself.

The Blessings of Allah

It is important to note that in this verse when the blessings of Allah have been mentioned they have been mentioned in the second person such that Allah is directly referred to, “The path of those whom You have favoured”. However when the Anger or punishment of Allah is mentioned it is mentioned in the third person such that Allah is not directly referred to, “Not the path of those who have earned [Your] Anger, nor of those who have gone astray”. This even though He is the One in reality Who is Angry with them, and He is the One by Whose decree they were misguided as proven by His sayings:

“Have you not considered those who make allies of a people with whom Allah has become Angry.” [Al-Qur’an 58:14]

“Whoever Allah sends astray – there is no guide for him. And He leaves them in their transgression, wandering blindly.” [Al-Qur’an 7:186]

And other verses proving that guidance and misguidance is the sole responsibility of Allah.{footnote]For more detail and explanation of decree (qadr) refer to the book Fate in Islam by Dr. Saleh as-Saleh. Website note: Please also refer to the excellent treatise by our brother, Abu ‘Abdir-Rahman Mohammad Navaid Aziz, titled A Summary of the Beliefs of Ahlus-Sunnah wa’l-Jama’ah Pertaining to Al-Qada’ and Al-Qadr that can be found on this website under Library > Beliefs and Methodology.{/qluetip}

This is a method that is used throughout the Qur’an and it is a way of showing respect to Allah and not attributing evil to Him as well as showing how belittled such people are. This was clearly expressed in the supplication of the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) when he said:

“I am completely at Your service and doing all I can to please You. All good is in Your Hands and evil does not pertain to You.” {qluetip title=[71]}Reported by Muslim (Eng. Trans. 1/373 no. 1695), Abu Dawud (Eng. Trans. 1/195 no. 759) and An-Nasa’i (2/130){/qluetip}

Ibn Al-Qayyim explains this hadith and this concept further:

“The meaning of this hadith is far greater and wider then the [explanations presented by some saying that it means], ‘evil does not come close to you’ or ‘evil [deeds] are not raised to you’. This is because these explanations only serve to absolve Him of any evil coming close to Him or evil [deeds] being raised to him, however they do not explicitly absolve Him of evil with regards His Essence, Attributes and Actions. This is not the full purport of the words of the Truthful One, the one entrusted and preserved from error for his (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) words absolve Him of any evil whatsoever being linked to His Essence, Attributes and Actions. However it is possible that evil be contained in His creation as occurs in His words:

‘Say: I take refuge with the Lord of Daybreak. From the evil of what He created.’ [Al-Qur’an 113:1-2]

“Contemplate the style of the Qur’an and see how sometimes it adjoins evil to its cause and those who enact it such as His sayings:

‘The disbelievers are [truly] the oppressors and wrong-doers.’ [Al-Qur’an 2:254]

‘And Allah does not guide a sinful, rebellious people.’ [Al-Qur’an 5:108]

‘For the wrongdoing on the part of the Jews, We made unlawful for them [certain] foods that had previously been lawful for them.’ [An-Nisa (4): 160]

‘That was Our recompense for their transgression.’ [Al-Qur’an 6:146]

‘We did no injustice to them, rather it was they who were unjust, wrong-doers.’ [Al-Qur’an 43:76]

“Sometimes the subject [of the sentence] is omitted as in His sayings:

‘And we do not know whether evil is intended for those who are on the earth, or whether their Lord desires guidance for them.’ [Al-Qur’an 72:10]

“This verse omits the one who intends the evil but explicitly states the one who intends good. In a similar vein is His saying:

‘The path of those whom You have favoured, not the path of those who have earned [Your] Anger nor those who have gone astray.’ [Al-Qur’an 1:7]

“Hence He mentioned the favour adjoined to Himself, misguidance adjoined to those who committed it and omitted the enactor of the Anger. Likewise is the saying of Khidr with regards the ship:

‘So I wished to cause a defect in it.’ [Al-Qur’an 18:79]

“And his saying with regards the orphans:

‘So your Lord intended that they reach maturity and then extract their treasure as a mercy from your Lord.’ [Al-Qur’an 18:82]

“Likewise is His saying:

‘Allah has endeared faith for you and made it pleasing in your hearts and has made hateful to you disbelief, disobedience and sins.’ [Al-Qur’an 49:7]

‘Beautified for people is the love of that which they desire.’ [Al-Qur’an 3:14]

“Omitting the one who made it beautiful for them. Ibrahim Al-Khaleel (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

‘It is He Who created me and it is He who guides me. It is he Who feeds me and gives me to drink. When I am ill it is He who cures me. It is He Who will cause me to die and then bring me back to life. I hope that He will forgive me my sin on the Day of Recompense.’ [Al-Qur’an 26:77-82]

“So he attributed all aspects of perfection to Him in these actions but attributed to himself any [seeming] deficiency – this being illness and sin.

“We have explained this matter in depth in our book, Al-Fawa’id al-Makkiyyah, and I have explained there the difference between the sayings of Allah:

‘Those who have been given the Book.’ [Al-Qur’an 2:101]

“And His sayings:

‘Those to whom We have given the Book.’ [Al-Qur’an 2:121]

“Saying that He mentioned Himself explicitly in those contexts in which He praises [the People of the Book] but omits His mention in those places that He censures them. This then, is one of the secrets of the [literary style] of the Qur’an.

“Exactly the same applies to His sayings:

‘Then We caused to inherit the Scripture those We have chosen of Our servants.’ [Al-Qur’an 35:32]

‘Indeed those who were granted inheritance of the Scripture after them are in disquieting doubt concerning it.’ [Al-Qur’an 42:14]

‘And there followed them successors who inherited the Scripture while taking unlawful gains and pleasures in this lower life.’ [Al-Qur’an 7:169]

“Therefore in conclusion only the good, wisdom and benefit is adjoined to Allah, the Exalted, whereas the evil does not pertain to him.”{qluetip title=[72]}Ibn Al-Qayyim, Bada’i al-Fawa’id (1/454-455); Tafsir Al-Qayyim (pp. 554-556){/qluetip}

The Saying of Amin After Reciting Al-Fatihah

It is recommended for the one who is reciting the Qur’an to say amin after having recited Al-Fatihah and after a short pause upon completing the word dallin so as to differentiate between that which is the Qur’an and that which is not.

The meaning of amin in the eyes of the majority is, ‘O Allah respond to our supplication.’ Maqatil said that it gives strength to the supplication and is a cause for the descent of blessings.

In Surah Yunus the following supplication of Musa (‘alayhis-salam) is mentioned:

“Musa said, ‘O Lord! You have indeed bestowed splendour and wealth upon Pharaoh and his chiefs in the life of this world, our Lord! That they may lead men astray from Your path. Our Lord! Destroy their wealth and harden their hearts so that they will not believe until they see the painful torment.’ Allah said, ‘verily the supplication of you both is answered … ‘.” [Al-Qur’an 10:88-89]

In the commentary to this verse it is stated that Musa was saying the supplication and Harun was saying amin and hence he was considered to be amongst the supplicants.{qluetip title=[73]}As stated by Abu’l-Aliyah, Abu Salih, Ikrimah, Muhammad ibn Ka’b and Ar-Rabi’ ibn Anas. Refer to Tafsir Ibn Kathir (2/565){/qluetip}

Al-Hakim At-Tirmidhi reports in Nawadir al-Usul from Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“Allah has given my nation three things that were not given to any nation before them: The salam, which is the greeting of the inhabitants of Paradise; the rows of the Angels; and the amin, which was only previously given to Musa and Harun.” {qluetip title=[74]}Footnote pending.{/qluetip}

Ibn Majah also reports from ‘A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“The Jews do not envy you for anything as much as they envy you for saying the Salam and Amin.” {qluetip title=[75]}Sunan Ibn Majah (no. 856) and it is sahih as in Sahih Ibn Majah (no. 697){/qluetip}

Abu Dawud reports from Abu Misbah al-Maqrani that he said:

“We were sitting with Abu Zuhayr an-Numayri who was one of the Companions and his speech used to be the most beautiful speech. Whenever a person from amongst us supplicated he would say, ‘Complete it by saying amin for indeed amin is like the seal on a scroll.’

“Abu Zuhayr said, ‘Shall I not inform you about this? We left with the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) one night and we came upon a person who was persistently and actively [supplicating] for something so the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) stood listening to him. Then the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, ‘It will definitely be answered if he completes it.’ A man from amongst the people [present] asked, ‘With what should he complete it?’ He replied, ‘By saying amin for if he completes it by saying amin it will definitely be answered.’ So the man who asked turned away and went to the supplicant and said, ‘O so-and-so! Complete [your supplication] and rejoice.’ “{qluetip title=[76]}Sunan Abu Dawud (Eng. Trans. 1/239 no. 938). It is da’if as in Da’if Abu Dawud (no. 199){/qluetip}

With regards to prayer then Muslim reports from Abu Musa al-Ash’ari (may Allah be pleased with him) that he said:

“The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) addressed us and explained to us our sunnah [that we should follow] and explained to us [the method of performing] our prayer. He said, ‘When you pray then straighten your rows, then let one of you lead you. When he says the takbir then say the takbir, when he says, ‘Not the path of those who have earned [Your] Anger nor those who have gone astray’ then say amin and Allah will respond to you.’ “{qluetip title=[77]}Sahih Muslim (Eng. Trans. 1/221 no. 800){/qluetip}

Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) reports from the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) that he said:

“When the Imam says amin then say amin for indeed the one whose amin coincides with the ameen of the Angels will have his previous [minor] sins forgiven.” {qluetip title=[78]}Sahih Muslim (Eng. Trans. 1/225 no. 809){/qluetip}

So this hadith shows that ones previous sins will be forgiven if four conditions are met:

  1. The Imam saying amin.
  2. The Follower saying amin.
  3. The Angels saying amin.
  4. The statements coinciding.

Abu Dawud reports from Wa’il ibn Hujr (may Allah be pleased with him) that when the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) finished reciting Al-Fatihah he would say, ‘amin‘ loudly, prolonging his voice.{qluetip title=[79]}Abu Dawud (Eng. Trans. 1/238 no. 932), Bukhari in Juz al-Qira’ah with a sahih isnad as stated by Al-Albani in The Prophet’s Prayer Described (pg. 24). Ahmad and At-Tirmidhi report it with the words, ‘prolonging his voice’. The hadith has also been reported by ‘Ali, Ibn Mas’ud and others.{/qluetip}

A Cure for the Diseases of the Heart and the Body

The disease of the heart occurs due to two basic matters:

  1. The corruption of knowledge; and
  2. The corruption of intent.

These in turn lead to two fatal illnesses: misguidance and anger, misguidance being the end result of the corruption of knowledge and anger being the end result of the corruption of intent. These two illnesses are the lords of all the diseases of the heart.

When one asks for guidance to the Straight Path then he is asking for that which will cure the disease of misguidance. This is why this Surah has been made obligatory upon every servant in every prayer.

Actualising the verse, “You Alone we worship and You Alone we ask for help” serves as a cure for the corruption of intent. This is because the intent is linked to the objectives and means of attaining them. Therefore this cure is composed of six matters:

  1. Worshipping Allah Alone;
  2. By performing what He commanded and legislated;
  3. Not by following ones own desires;
  4. Neither by following the mere opinions of people;
  5. By asking Allah for His Help to enact this; and
  6. And not relying on oneself.

Furthermore the heart is beset with two dangerous and destructive diseases and this verse serves as a cure for them. Ibn Taymiyyah said:

‘You Alone we worship’ represses ostentation and ‘You Alone we ask for help’ represses arrogance.

“As regards its curing the bodily illnesses then this can be seen in the hadith of Abu Sa’id reported in Sahih Al-Bukhari that after he had recited it to cure a person who had been bitten by a scorpion, the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said to him:

‘And what made you to know that it was a ruqya?’ {qluetip title=[80]}This discussion is summarised from Ibn Al-Qayyim, Madarij as-Salikin (1/64-66){/qluetip}

Surah Al-Fatihah Comprises the Meaning of the Entire Qur’an

As alluded to earlier, Al-Fatihah is named the Mother of the Qur’an because it succinctly summarises the whole of the Qur’an. We are now in a position to analyse this statement further.

The Surah includes affirmation of Tawhid in all of its various categories:

  1. Tawhid ar-Rububiyyah, meaning unity of Allah’s Lordship, contained in His saying, “Lord of the Universe.”
  2. Tawhid al-Uluhiyyah, meaning 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.”
  3. Tawhid al-Asma wa’s-Sifat, meaning the unity of Allah’s Names and Attributes in that they are perfect and unique to Him, contained in His saying, “All praise and thanks are due to Allah.”

Furthermore:

  • 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’an that would give aid to or encourage innovation. Hence never will the innovator be able to find evidence for his misguidance in the Qur’an.

Mawdudi states:

Al-Fatihah is actually a prayer that Allah teaches to all who embark upon the study of His Book. Its position at the beginning signifies that anyone who wants to benefit from the Book should first offer this prayer to the Lord of the Universe.

“Man naturally prays only for what his heart desires and only when he feels that the object of his desire is at the disposal of the One to Whom his prayer is addressed. The placing of this Surah at the head of the Qur’an is a sign that Allah urges man to read this Book with the aim of discovering the right course in life i.e. the Straight Way, to study it with the earnestness of a seeker after Truth, and never to forget that the real source of true knowledge is Allah Himself. The student of the Book should therefore begin by making a humble petition to Him for true guidance.

“Once this is grasped, it becomes self-evident that in relation to the Qur’an this opening Surah, Al-Fatihah is not just an introduction or foreword; the relationship is really one of prayer and response. Al-Fatihah is a prayer from man, and the rest of the Qur’an is Allah’s response to this prayer. Man prays to Allah that He may show him the Straight Way and in response to this prayer Allah offers the Qur’an as the true guidance, the Straight Way which man has sought and prayed for.” {qluetip title=[81]}Abu’l-A’la Mawdudi, Towards Understanding the Qur’an [pp. 33-34]. I have replaced the word God with Allah in the above quote.{/qluetip}

Surah Al-Fatihah Comprises a Refutation of Many of the Principle Innovations

From the amazing qualities of Al-Fatihah is that we find that despite its few words, it contains a refutation of many principle innovations. This can be seen generally in the statement, “Guide us to the Straight Path” for the Straight Path refers to the truth and giving this truth preference over ones desires. This truth is embodied in the Sunnah of the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and the way of the Companions. Any departure from this way is most definitely misguidance.

Specifically we see that Al-Fatihah:

1. Establishes the need for Prophethood

This can be seen from His words, “Lord of the Universe”, for it does not befit One with such a description that He leave His creation wondering aimlessly, without guidance.

It can also be seen from His words, “Master of the Day of Judgement”, for this is the Day on which the servants will be judged for their deeds – punished for their transgressions and rewarded for their obedience. However they are in need of knowing what is obedience and disobedience.

It can also be seen from His saying, “You Alone we worship”, for worship consists only of that which Allah Loves and is Pleased with. The servants have no way of knowing this except through the Prophets.

It can also be seen from His words, “Guide us to the Straight Path”, for guidance consists of clarification followed by the tawfeeq of enacting it. This requires Prophets.

2. It refutes the proponents of Wahdatul-Wajud (Unity of Being)

Those who state that there is no distinction between the created and Creator, that the servant is the Lord, that there is no King and subjects, that there is no worshipper and worshipped, etc.

This Surah refutes this heresy from beginning to end in words that are too clear to require further explanation.

3. It refutes the Majus and the Qadariyyah.

Those who, in effect, affirm two lords. Those who state that their actions have no link to the qadr of Allah, that actions are not created and that they arise by the complete free will of the servants. This implies that Allah is not the Lord over their actions and as such the affirmation of Lordship in this Surah refutes them.

In the words, “Your Aid Alone we seek” also lies a clear refutation of this heresy, for by saying these words we are seeking aid for performing that which must be under His control and authority.

4. It refutes the Jahmiyyah (those who deny the Attributes of Allah)

This can be seen in our praising Him for praise necessitates the affirmation of everything that He is praised for such as His Perfect Attributes.

Also it affirms the Attribute of Mercy and this further includes affirmation of Attributes that are necessary for this to exist such as Life, Will, Ability/Power, Hearing and Seeing.

It also affirms the Lordship of Allah which in turn necessitates the affirmation of His Actions. Similarly it affirms the Godship of Allah and this necessary necessitates the affirmation of Perfect descriptions both of His Essence as well as Actions.

5. It refutes those who worship others besides Allah

As can be clearly seen in the words, “You Alone we worship and Your Aid Alone we seek”.

It can also be seen in the words, “Guide us to the Straight Path” for this is the path of those who have actualised Tawhid.

6. It refutes the Jabariyyah (those who say that man is coerced).

This can be seen in our praising Him for this necessitates that He would not punish His servants for that which they have no choice in or something that is beyond their ability.

This can also been understood in the affirmation of His Mercy.

This can also be seen in the affirmation of worship and its attribution to the servants, “We worship”.

7. It refutes those who say that the creation is eternal

This can be seen in our praising Him, for this necessarily implies the affirmation of His Actions.

It can also be seen in the affirmation of His Lordship over the alam which, as has preceded, is everything besides Allah. Hence the creation is subjugated by a Lord (marbub) and anything that is subjugated must necessarily be created. Something that is created must have come into existence at some time.

It can also be seen in the affirmation of His Tawhid for this necessitates that none of His creation share in any of His specific qualities of Lordship.

8. It refutes the Rafidah.

This lies in Al-Fatihah dividing mankind into three categories: those who have been favoured, those who have earned Anger and those who have been misguided. The first category are those who traverse the Straight Path, who follow the truth and there is no doubt that the Companions of the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) fit this description better than the Rawafidah. It is impossible that the Companions be ignorant of the truth yet the Rawafidah know it, or that the Companions reject it and they take to it!

Furthermore we see the effects of these two groups showing us who is upon the truth. We see the Companions conquering the lands of the disbelievers and making them the lands of Islam. We see them conquering the hearts by the Qur’an, correct knowledge and guidance. Therefore their effects show that they are upon the Straight Path.

However we see the opposite effects in the Rawafidah in every time and place, and history is the greatest testimony to this – how they aided the enemies of Islam against the Muslim. How many tragedies amongst the Muslims they were guilty of, how many Mosques were deserted and Qur’anic texts burnt, how many Muslims and their scholars were killed due to them.

It is due to this that the Straight Path has been explained by some to be the way of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar as has preceded. {qluetip title=[82]}This whole section is taken from Ibn Al-Qayyim, Madarij as-Salikin (1/69-84) summarised{/qluetip}

And all praise and thanks are due to Allah, the Lord of the Universe.

Footnotes

  1. As-Sindi, ‘Sharh as-Sindi ‘ala Ibn Majah‘ (no. 3790) ^back
  2. Ibn Kathir referred this hadith to Ad-Darimi from the report of Abu Sa’id, however it is present there (2/445) as the mursal hadith of ‘Abdul-Malik ibn ‘Umayr. As for the hadith of Abu Sa’id then Shaykh Al-Albani referred it in Da’if al-Jami as-Saghir to Sa’id ibn Mansur and Al-Bayhaqi in Ash-Shu’ab. He also referred it to Abu Ash-Shaykh from the hadith of Abu Sa’id as well as Abu Hurayrah and ruled the hadith to be mawdu’. Refer to Muqbil ibn Hadi, Takhrij ‘ala Tafsir Ibn Kathir (1/21). Translator’s note: By this one can see the error of its being declared sahih in the English translation to Ibn Kathir (pg. 9) ^back
  3. Reported by Ad-Daruqutni (1/322). As-Suyuti, may Allah have mercy upon him, referred it to Ad-Daruqutni and Al-Hakim. Its chain of narration contains Muhammad ibn Khallad about whom Adh-Dhahabi said in Al-Mizan: “It is not known who he is … he was alone in reporting the hadith of ‘Ubadah ibn As-Samit from the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), ‘The Mother of the Book suffices for other than it but nothing else suffices it.’ He reported it from Ash-hab; from Ibn Uyaynah; from Az-Zuhri; from Mahmud ibn Ar-Rabi’; from Ubadah. Ad-Daruqutni said: ‘It was singularly reported from Ibn Khallad, however the preserved [hadith] from Az-Zuhri with this chain of narration is, ‘A prayer is not valid in which the Mother of the Book is not recited.’ ‘ ‘ Sa’id ibn Yunus said [about him]: ‘He reports rejected things, he is from Iskandria and his kunya is Abu ‘Abdullah.’ ” Refer to Muqbil ibn Hadi, Takhrij ‘ala Tafsir Ibn Kathir (1/21-22) ^back
  4. The hadith is reported by Abu Dawud (Eng. Trans. 1/196 no. 763) and Ibn Majah (no. 807). It has been ruled to be da’if with this wording by Al-Albani in Da’if Abu Dawud (no. 160), Da’if Ibn Majah (no. 173) and Irwa’ (2/54). However there is a sahih hadith reported by Ibn Majah (no. 808) from Ibn Mas’ud that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) used to say the above words of seeking refuge when he entered the prayer. Refer to Sahih Ibn Majah (no. 658) and Irwa’ (2/55). As for the supplication then it is authentically reported in Sahih Muslim that it was said without the repetitions by one of the Companions in prayer upon which the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “Wonderful for it [the supplication] is that the doors of heaven were opened for it.” ^back