Ahmadiyyat Back Issues The Holy Qur'an

The Holy Qur’an



The Promised Messiah(as) wrote over 80 books in Arabic, Urdu, and Persian. Excerpts of his collected works have been translated into English and organised by topic. The Review of Religions is pleased to present these excerpts as part of a monthly feature. Here, the Promised Messiahas continues his discussion on the internal and external qualities of Surah Fatihah.

Extracts from The Essence of Islam, Vol. I, 439-450. This is the eighth part of a multi-part series.

The second verity which is contained in:


is that this verse has been revealed for the commencement of the Holy Qur’an and the purpose of its recitation is to seek help from the Being Who comprehends in Himself all perfect attributes, one of which is that He is rahman and out of His pure benevolence He provides the means of cultivating good and blessing and guidance for a seeker after truth; and another of Whose attributes is that He is rahim, Who does not let go to waste anyone’s effort and blesses it with good results and bestows the fruit of his diligence upon him. These two attributes are such that without their help no design, whether secular or religious, can be carried to its goal.

Reflection would show that these two attributes are in operation all the time to bring about the fulfilment of all designs. The rahmaniyyat of God began to manifest itself before man came into being, and it provides such resources for man as are beyond his power and which he cannot acquire through any design or planning. These resources are not bestowed as a consequence of any action but only out of grace and benevolence, as, for instance, the advent of prophets, the revelation of books, the provision of rain, the performance of their functions by the sun and the moon and air and clouds, and the appearance in the world of man himself equipped with diverse types of faculties and capacities and his being granted a term of life in health, peace and leisure. All these are matters that manifest themselves in consequence of the attribute of rahmaniyyat. In the same way, the rahimiyyat of God is manifested when, possessing all faculties, man employs those God-given faculties to accomplish something and puts forth his strength and effort, then it is the way of the divine that He does not let his effort go waste and blesses it with good results. It is His rahimiyyat which quickens his dead effort.

The purpose of the verse is that when beginning the study of the Holy Qur’an, help and blessing should be sought from the rahmaniyyat  and rahimiyyat of God Almighty Who comprehends all perfect attributes. The object of seeking blessings from rahmaniyyat is that God, of His bounty and beneficence, might provide all those means which are needed before an effort is put forth in following divine revelation. For instance, the granting of life and leisure and appropriate opportunity, and the possession of faculties and strength, and the prevention of anything that might disturb comfort and peace or might prevent the heart from paying full attention, and to be bestowed the needed capacity; all these are achieved through the attribute of rahmaniyyat . The purpose of seeking blessings through rahimiyyat is that the Perfect Being should bless one’s efforts with good results, and should safeguard one’s hard work against being wasted and should bless it in consequence of the struggle and effort put forth. Thus when beginning the study of the divine word, and indeed at the beginning of every great effort, it is a high verity to seek blessings and help from the rahmaniyyat and rahimiyyat of God Almighty. In this way, man learns the reality of the unity of God, and becoming certain of his own ignorance and unawareness, stupidity and error, and helplessness and contemptibility, his mind is fixed upon the greatness and glory of the Source of all grace. Considering himself wholly poor and indigent and as nothing, man seeks the blessings of rahmaniyyat  and rahimiyyat from the All-Powerful. These divine attributes are in operation of themselves but the All-Wise has made it a law of nature from the beginning that man’s prayer and seeking help have a great share in success. Divine grace addresses itself to resolving the difficulties of those who supplicate earnestly for success in their undertakings and whose supplications arrive at the full degree of sincerity. A person who considers his own weaknesses and observes his own defaults does not commence any enterprise freely and optimistically because his condition of servitude instructs him that he should seek the help of God Almighty Who is the Absolute Controller. This eagerness of true servitude is found in every heart which retains its natural simplicity and is aware of its weakness. A sincere person whose soul is not afflicted with any pride or arrogance and who is well aware of his weakness and nothingness, and does not find himself competent to perform anything successfully, and finds no power or strength in himself when he begins an enterprise, naturally supplicates for heavenly strength. He beholds the Powerful Being of God in His Perfection and Glory all the time and he perceives that success in any endeavour depends upon rahmaniyyat  and rahimiyyat. Then forthwith before putting forth his defective and worthless effort, he seeks divine help through the supplication:


Through such humility he becomes worthy to be bestowed power out of God’s power, and strength out of His strength, and knowledge out of His knowledge, and to be successful in his designs. For proof of this no arguments of logic or philosophy are needed, for the soul of every person possesses the capacity to realize this and the personal experiences of a true man of understanding constantly bear witness to its truth. There is nothing artificial about a creature seeking help from God, nor is it the result of idle thinking, nor is it without substantial result. This verity has been established by the eternal way of God Almighty, Who is truly the support of the world and with Whose support the ark of this universe constantly moves, that He lends His support to those who, deeming themselves low and contemptible, seek His support and begin their enterprise with His name. When they turn to God truly out of their humility and servitude, they are helped by His support. To seek the help of the name of that Fountainhead of Grace, Who is Rahman and Rahim, before commencing any substantial enterprise, is a way of respect and servitude and nothingness and indigence. This is the way which is the first step towards the acknowledgement of the unity of God in one’s actions. By adopting it, a person takes on the humility of children and is purified of the arrogance which fills the hearts of the proud people of the world. By being convinced of his own weakness and the effectiveness of divine help, he partakes of that understanding which is bestowed on the special men of God.

Without doubt, to the degree to which a person adopts this way, and makes it his duty to act upon it, and perceives his ruin in leaving it out, to that degree his faith in the unity of God is established, and to that degree he is cleansed of arrogance and self-importance, and to that degree the darkness of artificiality is removed from his countenance, and the light of sincerity begins to shine on his face. This is the verity which gradually leads a person to the stage of his losing himself in God, till he realizes that he receives everything from God and nothing is his own. Whenever anyone adopts this way, the fragrance of the unity of God begins to reach him at once, and his heart and brain are perfumed thereby, provided his sense of smell is not corrupted. In adopting this verity a seeker after truth has to confess his own nothingness, and has to testify to God the Glorious being the Absolute Controller and the Fountainhead of grace. These two are the goal of the seekers after truth and are a necessary condition for the acquisition of the stage of being lost in God. To understand this necessary condition it is enough to know that even when there is widespread rain it falls only on the one who takes his stand at the place where rain is falling. Only those find who seek, and those are bestowed who ask.

Those, who at the beginning of an enterprise, rely upon their skill, intelligence or strength, and do not put their trust in God Almighty, do not value properly the All-Powerful Who comprehends the whole world in His support. Their faith is like the dry branch which has no longer any relationship with its flourishing and green parent tree, and which has no part in its freshness and its flowers and its fruits. It has only an apparent connection with the tree which can be disrupted by the slightest stir of the wind, or by being shaken by someone. Such is the faith of the dry philosophers who do not rely on the Supporter of the universe and do not realize their dependence during every moment upon Allah Who is the Fountainhead of all grace. These people are as far from the unity of God as darkness is from light. They do not understand that to submit oneself to the great power of the All-Powerful, realizing one’s own nothingness, is the last stage of servitude and is the extreme point of the unity of God, which makes the spring of total annihilation gush forth, and in which one is lost altogether to one’s ego and its designs, and believes truly in the complete control of God. One should disregard the argument of the philosophers that there is no need to seek divine help in beginning an enterprise, inasmuch as God has already invested our nature with appropriate powers and it would be an act of supererogation to supplicate Him again for those powers. It is true that God Almighty has invested us with some powers for the doing of certain acts, but this does not mean that we are thereby freed from the governance of the Supporter of the universe and that He has separated Himself from us and has drawn away His support and has deprived us of His limitless grace. Whatever He has bestowed on us is limited, and what we demand from Him is without limit. Besides, we have not been given any power to accomplish that which is beyond our strength. Indeed reflection would show that we have not been given any power in its perfection. For instance, our physical powers depend upon our health, and our health depends on causes, some of which are heavenly and some are earthly, and all of which are beyond our power. In truth, the Supporter of the universe, by virtue of His being the Cause of causes, so comprehends our external conditions and our internal conditions and our first and our last, and our above and our below, and our right and our left, and our hearts and our souls, and all the faculties of our souls, that it is a very fine problem, which is beyond the reach of human reason. It is not necessary to go further into the matter, for what we have said so far is enough to refute the objection of our opponents.

The only way of obtaining the grace of the Supporter of the universe is to supplicate with all one’s faculties and force and strength. This is not a new way but has been inherent from the beginning in man’s nature. A person who desires to tread along the path of servitude adopts this way, and the person who seeks the grace of God follows this path, and the person who seeks divine mercy obeys these eternal laws. These laws are not new like the god of the Christians, but are firm laws which are eternal and are the practice of Allah which has been in operation all the time, the truth of which is apparent to every sincere seeker on account of the multiplicity of his experience…Every blessing proceeds in this way that the Being Who is the Absolute Controller and the Cause of causes and is the Fountainhead of all grace, whose name in the idiom of the Qur’an is Allah, first displays His attribute of rahmaniyyat  and brings into existence whatever is needed, before one’s own effort, out of His pure grace and beneficence without the intervention of any action on our part. When the attribute of rahmaniyyat  has done this work to perfection, and man having been bestowed the power exerts himself to the limit, then it is for God Almighty to display His attribute of rahimiyyat, and to bring about a good result from the effort and diligence of His servant and safeguarding his industry from going to waste, to bestow his object upon him. It is on account of this second attribute that it is said that he who seeks finds and he who asks is given, and he who knocks it is opened for him…

It is a misunderstanding of a verity to think that sometimes this seeking of help proves of no avail and the rahmaniyyat  and rahimiyyat of God do not make themselves manifest on all occasions. Indeed God Almighty hears the supplications which are made in sincerity, and helps in an appropriate manner those who seek His help. Sometimes it happens that a person’s prayer seeking help is not inspired by sincerity and humility, nor is his spiritual condition in order so that while his lips utter the prayer, his heart is heedless, or only makes a show. Sometimes it happens that God hears the prayer and bestows whatever He considers appropriate and best in His Perfect Wisdom, but an ignorant person does not recognize the hidden beneficence of God and on account of his ignorance and unawareness begins to complain, ignoring the subject matter of the verse:


It may be that you dislike a thing and it is in reality better for you, and it may be that you like a thing and it is in fact harmful for you. Allah knows the true reality of things and you know it not.

So far it is clear that the verse:


comprehends the grand verity which comprises the excellent means of making progress in faith in the Unity of God and in servitude and sincerity, which is not matched in any other book. If anyone claims that it is so matched elsewhere, let him set forth this verity along with the other verities which we shall expound below.

Some short-sighted and ignorant opponents of Islam have raised an objection to the proper composition of Bismillah. One of them is the Rev. Mr. ‘Imad-ud-Din, who has set forth the objection in his book Hidayat-ul-Muslimin. Another one is Bawa Narayan Singh, a lawyer of Amritsar, who, deeming the objection of the reverend gentleman as having substance, has, out of the rancour of his heart, repeated it in his journal Viddya Parkashak. We now proceed to set forth the objection together with its answer so that every just person should realize to what degree of inner blindness bigotry has driven our opponents so that bright light appears as darkness to them and excellent perfume smells vile in their nostrils. The objection by these critics raised against the profound and deeper meaning of the verse:


is that the sequence of rahman and rahim in this verse is not proper and that the proper sequence should have been rahim and rahman, inasmuch as rahman signifies that mercy of the divine which is general and comprehensive and rahim signifies the mercy of the divine which is limited and special, and the rules of composition require that that which is limited should precede that which is general and unlimited and not vice versa.

This is the objection which these two gentlemen have raised with their eyes shut against a text the excellence of which has been admitted by all the learned of Arabia despite their opposition to Islam, among whom were included great poets. Great enemies of Islam were wonder-struck by the high grade of this text and many of them, who were well-versed in judging the merits of a composition and were men of justice, finding the Qur’anic composition beyond the reach of human power and esteeming it a great miracle, believed in it. Their testimonies are referred to at various places in the Holy Qur’an…This ignorant Christian does not appear to be aware that true eloquence does not demand that the small should always precede the large, and that the true rule is that a text should be the mirror of reality. Here also by making rahman take precedence over rahim, the verse has become a mirror of reality. A detailed account of this natural sequence will be set forth in the course of the discussion of the other verses of Surah Fatihah.

—Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 1, pp. 414-435, footnote 11

Spiritual Characteristics of Surah Fatihah

A spiritual characteristic of Surah Fatihah is that to recite it in one’s prayers with full attention and to establish its teaching in one’s heart, believing it to be true, brings about the illumination of one’s soul. One’s mind is expanded thereby and the darkness of humanness is dispelled and the worshipper begins to experience the grace of the Fountainhead of grace. He is encircled by the lights of being accepted by the divine and progresses towards being honoured by the converse of God and derives benefit from true visions and express revelations. He is counted among those who are close to the divine and such wonders of inspiration and acceptance of prayers and the disclosure of hidden matters and divine support proceed from him the like of which is not found among others.

For such of our opponents who deny this, the proof has been set out in this book.

Invitation to All Seekers after Truth

This humble one is ready to satisfy every seeker after truth not only from among our opponents but even to those who agree with us nominally and who are Muslims on the outside, whose faith is veiled and whose bodies are without life. In this dark age they do not believe in heavenly signs and consider revelation impossible and describe it as illusion and imagination. They have a very narrow concept of human progress which is confined to intellectual problems and conjectures. Their concept of God Almighty is that of someone extremely weak and lacking strength. This humble one submits respectfully to all these people that if they deny the effectiveness of the Holy Qur’an and adhere to their old ignorance, they should take advantage of the opportunity that this humble servant is prepared to satisfy everyone from his own experiences. It is proper, therefore, that as seekers after truth they should turn to me and should observe for themselves the characteristics of the divine word which have been mentioned above, and emerging out of gloom and darkness should enter true light.

So far this humble one is alive, but life is uncertain. It is proper, therefore, that on hearing this announcement attention should be paid to the establishment of truth and the removal of falsehood so that if my claim should not be established a reason may become available for denial; but if my claim is established then the opponents should give up their false notions and should embrace Islam so as to escape humiliation and disgrace in this life and chastisement and torment in the next. Observe, therefore, brethren and dear ones and philosophers and pundits and Christian ministers and Aryas and followers of nature and Brahmu Samajists, that I proclaim openly that if anyone doubts the characteristics of the Holy Qur’an that I have mentioned and has any hesitation in accepting them, he should turn to me without delay and by keeping company with me for some time steadfastly and sincerely, should witness the accuracy of the above statements with his own eyes, lest after my passing away someone might assert unjustly that he was not invited openly and had not become aware of my claim so that he could have followed it up and asked me for its proof. So, brethren and seekers after truth, please observe that I say it openly and, trusting in God, Whose lights I see day and night, I assume the responsibility that if you will seek the truth with sincerity of heart and will keep company with me for some time steadfastly and in good faith, it will become obvious to you that the spiritual qualities that have been mentioned are truly to be found in Surah Fatihah and the Holy Qur’an. How blessed then is the person who, emptying his heart of bigotry and rancour and being eager to embrace Islam, should pay attention to my invitation in sincerity and good faith for achieving the purpose in view, and how unfortunate is the man who should pay no attention to this open invitation and should become deliberately an object of the curse and wrath of God Almighty. Death is near and the termination of life is at the door.

—Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 1, pp. 626-635, footnote 11

[1] ‘In the name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful.’ The Holy Qur’an, 1:1. [Publisher]

[2] ‘In the name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful.’ The Holy Qur’an, 1:1. [Publisher]

[3] The Holy Qur’an, 2:217. [Publisher]

[4] ‘In the name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful.’ The Holy Qur’an, 1:1. [Publisher]

[5] ‘In the name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful.’ The Holy Qur’an, 1:1. [Publisher]