MAGAZINE: EDITION SEPTEMBER 2020
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The Holy Qur'an

At-Tafsīr-ul-Kabīr – The Grand Exegesis

At tafsir Ul Kabir
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The Review of Religions is pleased to continue our serialisation of the first-ever full English Translation of At-Tafsīr-ul-Kabīr – The Grand Exegesis. This is the magnum opus of Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra), Second Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and whilst parts of it have previously been published in other works, such as the five-volume Holy Qur’an with English Translation and Commentary, it has never before been translated in its entirety.

This is one of the most insightful and in-depth commentaries of the Holy Qur’an ever written, and The Review of Religions has the honour to publish it for our English readers for the first time.

Translated by Murtaza Ahmad

Edited by The Review of Religions Translation Team


{صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ غَيْرِ الْمَغْضُوبِ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا الضَّالِّينَ} 

The path of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy blessings, those who have not thereafter incurred Thy displeasure, and those who have not gone astray. [8]


(8) Key Word Analysis

 أَنْعَمْتَ– (an‘amta) –  is derived from إِنْعَام – in‘ām – which refers to the act of bestowing favours to continue to such favours in abundance [1]. This word is only used when those who have been bestowed favours [Mun‘am ‘Alayhi] are rational beings [2]. It would never be said about non-rational creatures  – such as horses or oxen – that someone bestowed a favour [إِنْعَام] on them; rather, it would be used in relation to a favour being bestowed on a person. 

– (Al-Maghḍūbi ‘Alayhim)

اَلْغَضَبُ – (al-Ghaḍab) means ثَوَرَانُ دَمِ الْقَلْبِ إِرَادَةَ الْاِنْتِقَامِ  which refers to the rush of blood in the heart when one intends to punish another for a crime [3].

The Holy Prophet (sa) said:

 اتَّقُوا الْغَضَبَ فَإِنَّهَا جَمْرَةٌ تُوقَدُ فِي قَلْبِ ابْنِ آدَمَ أَلَمْ تَرَوْا إِلَى انْتِفَاخِ أَوْدَاجِهِ وَحُمْرَةِ عَيْنَيْهِ

‘The Holy Prophet (sa) said, “Safeguard yourself from غَضَب [anger] because it is a spark which is kindled in the heart of the son of Adam [humans].’ He then continued, ‘Have you not seen that when a person gets angry, his veins swell and his eyes become red?’” [4]

وَإِذَا وُصِفَ اللهُ تَعَالَى بِهِ فَالْمُرادُ بِهِ الانْتِقَامُ دُونَ غَيْرِهِ

And when this word is used with reference to Allah the Exalted, it means only to punish a sin and it does not include the other aspects of this word [5].

Thus, الْمَغْضُوبِ عَلَيْهِم [those who have incurred Thy displeasure] refers to those individuals who Allah the Exalted decided to punish in view of their wrongdoings.

(Aḍ-ḍāllīn)

The verb  ضَلَّ– ḍalla – means to deviate from the straight path and is counter to هِدَايَة  – hidāyah [guidance]. The word ضَلَال – ḍalāl [misguidance] is used for every action that is against to truth, be it intentional or unintentional, a trivial act or an abominable crime [6].

ضَلَّ  – ḍalla also means to be engrossed in a task. It is stated in the Holy Qur’an:

الَّذِينَ ضَلَّ سَعْيُهُمْ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا

[7]

‘All their efforts are lost in search after things pertaining to the life of this world and they are completely engrossed in worldly affairs.’ This very meaning is also found in the verse [8]  وَوَجَدَكَ ضَالًّا فَهَدَى where Allah the Exalted states that He found Prophet Muhammad (sa) completely captivated and lost in His love. As a consequence, Allah guided the Prophet (sa) towards Himself. 

In Urdu, the expressions  کھویا ہوا ‘khoya howa’ and کھویا رہنا  [khoya rehna; to be lost in thought much of the time] are used in this sense. For instance, it might be said:

فلاں شخص تو آج کل کچھ کھویا کھویا سا رہتا ہے

Meaning, ‘nowadays, so-and-so appears somewhat lost in his thoughts.’ The same idiom can be found in English. I only note these references to point out that this is a natural expression and one that is closely corresponds to human nature, which is why many languages have adopted this expression.

The meaning of [9]  وَوَجَدَكَ ضَالًّا is in exact accordance to this idiom, that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa)  had become captivated by  divine love and became lost in his thoughts [of God] all the time. This act of his gained the approval of God the Exalted and, thus, this love became a means of attracting God’s love. Therefore, the lover had lost himself in the love of his Beloved. The Beloved [Allah] Himself came and brought the Prophet (sa) to His door. However, here it also ought to be remembered that the verb ضَلَّ is generally used only in a negative sense. Hence, whenever it is used in a positive sense, a context is needed as in فَهَدَى [and guided thee unto Himself] in the aforementioned verse.

Exegesis

In teaching this prayer to be shown the right path, this clause has also been included that this straight path is of those on whom ‘You have bestowed Your favours’, that is, it should not be an ordinary path. Rather, it should be the path of the most spiritual and exalted souls.

What a grand goal Islam has set for every Muslim in the very first chapter of the Holy Qur’an. In respect of virtue and good action, one should not only desire to do good; rather, they should desire to be counted among the community blessed with divine favours. The one who loves Almighty Allah cannot remain satisfied with a lower spiritual rank. Love for Almighty Allah expands the heart of man [so much] that he does not remain content with minor progress. He most surely cannot be content! For having pursued God Almighty what else could satisfy him? The one who seeks God Almighty, seeks all degrees of progress. And the one who has recognised God Almighty cannot deem any stage of progress to be the final stage. However, for a believer, there is an even greater source of joy than that this desire [to do good] has arisen in his heart, and that is that his Lord also gives him this very teaching: ‘Take heed, do not be content with a lower rank. Beseech good, but not that which is ordinary. Rather, ask for that goodness which was attained by those who, in the era in which virtue prevailed, were blessed with divine favours. And seek from Me, not just the favour that were bestowed on those of one particular time, but the favours of all those of the past who were blessed with divine favours.’


ENDNOTES

  1. ‘Aqrab-ul-mawārid fi Fusah al-‘Arabiyyah wa-al-shawārid. [Author]
  2. Imam Raghib, Mufradāt. [Author]
  3. Imam Raghib, Mufradāt. [Author]
  4. Muṣannaf Ibn Abī Shaybah. [Author]
  5. Imam Raghib, Mufradāt. [Author]
  6. Imam Raghib, Mufradāt. [Author]
  7. ‘Those whose labour is all lost in search after things pertaining to the life of this world.’ The Holy Qur’an, 18:105. [Publisher]
  8. ‘And He found thee wandering in search for Him and guided thee unto Himself.’ The Holy Qur’an: 93:8. [Publisher]
  9. Ibid