Chapter 1, Verse 1
The Review of Religions continues the serialisation of At-Tafsīr Ul Kabīr: The Grand Exegesis in English, written by Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad(ra), the second head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. This is one of the most insightful and in-depth commentaries of the Holy Qur’an ever written, brought to English readers for the first time.
Translated by Murtaza Ahmad
Summary of Sūrah al-Fātiḥah’s Subject Matter
The topics mentioned in Sūrah al-Fātiḥah, as is apparent from its name, serve as an introduction to the Holy Qur’an. The subjects of the Holy Qur’an have been covered in a concise manner within this chapter. From the very outset of the Qur’an, the reader is able to understand the summary of its topics that are to be covered in the subsequent chapters. The Holy Qur’an begins with bismillāh [in the name of Allah], which clearly shows that a Muslim:
1. Possesses firm faith in God Almighty as the words used are bismillāh
2. Possesses firm faith that God Almighty is not only the First Cause of the universe, as is believed by some philosophers, but He is also the One through Whose command and orders the universe continues to function. It is for this reason that His help and succour is of immense benefit to man. This is also inferred by the words bismillāh.
3.Believes that God is not merely a subconscious being; rather, He is eternal, and has the everlasting name Allah. He possesses various attributes such as the Most Gracious, the Ever Merciful.
4. Believes that Allah is the source of all progress, and He controls all means through which the world can make progress as manifested by the attribute of the Most Gracious.
5. Believes that Allah has created man to attain the highest stages of progress. When man correctly uses the means that Allah has created, his efforts bring about the best results, which in turn make him deserving of ever more divine bounties. This is evident from the attribute of the Ever-Merciful.
6. Believes that there is comprehensiveness and perfection in all the works of Allah, and that He possesses all forms of beauty. He also believes that God alone is deserving of all praise as all that exists besides Him is created by Him. This is expressed through the words, ‘All praise belongs to Allah alone, Lord of all the worlds’.
7. Believes that, besides Allah, everything which has been created has continuously evolved. All creation began from an inferior being and developed gradually to reach perfection. Thus, Allah the Almighty is the Creator of all things, and except Him, nothing else is self-existing. This alludes in the words, ‘Lord of all the worlds’.
8. Believes that the world, which is diverse, has thousands of species of varying dispositions. Hence, to understand the individual species, one must investigate that species alone as opposed to comparing different species to one another. Allah the Almighty deals with every species according to their nature. Therefore, we should not be misled if we find any difference in the dealing of Allah between His creations, as such difference is due to the diversity between species and not due to injustice and lack of attention on God’s part. This notion can be understood from the words, ‘Lord of all the worlds’.
9. Believes that as Allah the Almighty is the Creator of all means, He is also the creator of those that utilise these means. Thus, all things at all times, stand in need of His Help. This alludes to the attribute of ‘The Most Gracious’.
10. Believes that just as God Almighty is the Creator of all means, and is also the creator of all those that utilise these means, similarly, He also governs the outcome of those means that have been utilised. For example, He has created man and also created the sustenance that is necessary for his survival. Furthermore, the healthy and unhealthy blood which is produced in man’s body as a result of the sustenance is also owing to His divine command. This is expressed through God’s attribute of ‘The Ever Merciful’.
11. Moreover, God Almighty has also established the system of reward and punishment. A day comes when everything, in accordance with its circumstances, witnesses the full consequences of its good or evil actions. In other words, the consequences of actions are of two types: firstly, those intermediary consequences which follow all actions to some extent, and secondly, the final consequence which is the cumulative effect of them all. Hence, Allah the Almighty has not only ordained that every action should have a reaction, which God’s attribute ‘The Ever Merciful’ indicates, but He has also ordained that all actions lead to a cumulative consequence. This is why He is called ‘The Master of the Day of Judgement’.
12. Hence, only such a Being is worthy to be worshipped and deserving of one’s love. This is expressed in the words ‘Thee alone do we worship and Thee alone do we implore for help’.
13. Further, it is mentioned that human progress depends upon two factors: actions of the body and actions of the heart (the latter signifying contemplation, thought, belief and intention etcetera). It is necessary to reform both the actions of the body and the heart. However, this reformation cannot come to be without the guidance of Allah. Hence the words used are, ‘Thee alone do we worship and Thee alone do we implore for help’.
14. Then, it is said that God Almighty Himself desires that He should meet with His servants and reform them. The only condition is that the servant should incline towards Him, and beg to have communion with Him. This is alluded to in the words, ‘Guide us on the right path’.
15. Furthermore, it is said that there are many apparent paths which lead to God. However, it is not sufficient to merely have knowledge of this path. Rather, it is also necessary that firstly, the path ought to be the shortest, so that man should not perish during his struggle to find ‘the right way’ [i.e., God]. Secondly, this path should be well-known that the past servants that had tread upon this could testify that they had encountered God. As a result of this, the servant may be apprised of the dangers that lay ahead on their journey and be acquainted with the remedies to these hurdles. In this manner, the heart will remain content and will not lose hope, benefiting from the company of these virtuous servants. Thus, such a path ought to be sought from Allah Almighty in the following words, ‘The path of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy blessings’.
16. When man progresses in any field, his heart can be tainted with arrogance and egotism, resulting in his downfall. Hence, one ought to safeguard themselves against these evils. One’s progress should not lead them to oppression and disorder, rather, it should be a means of establishing peace and serving humanity. One should also continuously supplicate to Allah the Almighty for safeguarding against the evil of arrogance. This is alluded to in the words, ‘Those who have not incurred Thy displeasure’.
17. Just as man can use his position of higher authority to commit injustices, so can he, on account of sympathy and excessive love, unjustly attribute greater status to inferior beings. This should not just be avoided, instead one should supplicate to Allah Almighty to achieve the exalted status of those who He has rewarded. This is to be found in the words, ‘Those who have not gone astray’.
This serialisation will continue in the next edition of The Review of Religions.