Exposition of the Holy Quran – 01 Bismillah and Al-Faatiha (G A Parwez)
With the Name of Allah, the Benevolent, the Kind God has handed down this great book in order to fulfil His self-assumed responsibility of being the Provider to mankind (6:16; 6:54). The Provision can only be made through wahi [the Celestial Guidance] (10:57-58; 17:82).
Since, in human societies, God’s responsibility is executed through humans themselves, it is imperative that all activities by mankind are aimed at achieving that (declared) divine objective (6:163).
Surah 1: Al-Faatiha
(1-2) Reflecting upon the harmonious working of the universe, (1) it becomes manifest that everything in it is continuously receiving means of nurture, unearned, and is, thereby, enabled to actualize its potentialities. This amazing system of Rabubiyya (2) begets involuntary appreciation from all discerning persons who cry out, “O Our Sustainer! You have created nothing in this universe without purpose, or for ill use” (3:189-90). These persons with knowledge and conviction are truly engaged in the hamd (3) of Allah (9:112, 35:27-28 ).
(3) For the fulfilment of Allah’s plan, it is necessary to render ineffective oppressive forces which hinder the development of His creation. This would result in the ushering in of a system in which no one would be subservient to another. In this system, all matters will be decided in accordance with the divine laws (17:111, 43:84, 82:18-19), and it is this system which must eventually and inevitably supersede all man-made systems (9:33).
(4) Such a system will be introduced by those who will declare (and also prove in practice) “We do not accept or acknowledge any authority but that of Allah, nor do we seek alliance with any system which disregards the divine laws.”
(5-7) When these momineen (4) [the convinced Muslims] begin life’s journey, their aspirations and yearnings rise to their lips as the prayer:
“O Allah! make that path clearly apparent to us which would lead us, without fear and danger, to our destination. Blessed nations of the past following this path achieved prosperity, happiness and eminence amongst their contemporaries (through harnessing the forces of nature and utilizing them in accordance with the divine laws – 2:47, 31:20).
As long as these nations followed the path ordained by You, they were successful and happy. But when they changed their course they lost Your blessings (8:53), and suffered disgrace and ignominy (2:61, 7:152). All their efforts and actions were rendered in vain, and since the true path had become obscured from them, they became entangled in speculations. Sometimes, they blindly followed the antiquated ways of their ancestors (37:69-71), and, sometimes, they were misled by their baser desires (45:23). Dismayed by their goal-less journey, they deceived themselves by saying, “It was not Allah’s will to show us the right path (6:149).”
O Allah! We beseech You to enable us to follow the path prescribed by You so that our end is not like of those who lost their way and thus destroyed themselves. We are aware that no one can show the right path to a people who turn away from Your guidance (61:5). At the same time, we also know that the right path is discovered only by those who strive to find it (29:69). Therefore, grant us the strength for that search.”
(1) Aalameen: Any entity through which knowledge about something is gained is called aalamun (plural- Aalameen). Since knowledge about the creator of this universe can be obtained through the universe itself and human kind, these are included in the category of aalameen.
(2) Rabb: Rabubyyia is the process of nurturing something to its final stage, e.g., a child growing to his youth; a seed becoming a tree. The one carrying out this process is called Rabb.
(3) Hamd: is usually translated as Praise, but this is a very simplistic translation. In fact, hamd is the expression of the deep, intense feeling of appreciation invoked spontaneously when one sees something exceptionally beautiful and unique. The intention of uttering Hamd (i.e. to say Al Hamdulillah) is to acknowledge the greatness of whoever created the given object of admiration. See Glossary for details.
(4) Mo’min: This Arabic word, is popularly translated into English as ‘believer’, which, to the author, is not a true representation. Even ‘faithful’ does not convey fully the meaning of mo’min. This very important word springs from the root a-m-n having the basic concept of peace of mind and heart resulting from being totally convinced of something because of rational knowledge. Hence, the translation of mo’mineen as ‘the convinced’ (here-in-after called the convinced Muslims or Momineen throughout the holy Qur’an).
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