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. Where applicable, this five-volume commentary has also been consulted.

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.

By Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra), Second Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community

Translated by Murtaza Ahmad

Edited by The Review of Religions Translation Team

There is another point with regards to this prayer that is worth remembering which the companions also kept in mind, setting such an excellent example to the world that the like of it cannot be found in any other nation. And if the Muslims who came afterwards had also remembered this point, they too would have certainly demonstrated such an excellent example that their names would have forever been etched in the annals of history. Alas, the Muslims forgot this golden guidance, which was laid down in this verse, and they fell short of reaching the standard which Allah wished for them to achieve. Even today, if the Muslims set this guidance as their objective, all their problems could immediately be resolved, and they could attain unparalleled honour and prestige.

The lesson one draws from this verse is that every nation has a goal towards which it strives and makes efforts to achieve. Similarly, there is also a purpose for the creation of the world. Only that nation which achieves this goal deserves to be regarded as having fulfilled the true purporse of the world’s creation. Adam (as) came to the world to teach it some virtues. For the people of his time this comprised of the loftiest teachings. By acting on these virtues, the people of that time brought about a tremendous spiritual and moral revolution, and their intellectual faculties greatly surpassed previous generations. Yet even then, man had not reached that perfection for which he was created. Therefore, there remained a continuous quest for progress to the point that Noah (as) was born, who enabled man to advance a stage further by achieving new heights of progress. And while through Noah (as) man progressed spiritually, morally and intellectually, he still had not attained the purpose for which he had been created. Therefore, after Noah (as) came another prophet, and then another, and then yet another, and this continued until the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) appeared, who revealed all the hidden secrets which hitherto had remained concealed from man. He explained all the important matters that were necessary for making religious, intellectual and moral progress, and brought religion to its intellectual pinnacle. It was then that Allah Almighty proclaimed:

الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِي


However, the purpose of its revelation would not have been fulfilled and the advent of the Holy Prophet (sa) could not have been deemed a complete success, until this lofty teaching was put into practice. To this end, in Sūrah al-Fātiḥah, Allah the Almighty has taught the Muslims the prayer

اهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ* صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ


and stated that one should always keep this goal in view: to reach that Exalted Stage [al-Maqām al-Maḥmūd] which has always been in sight of mankind since the start of its spiritual journey, in which various prophets have led mankind to varying levels of spiritual progress, and whose final stage has been delegated to the Holy Prophet (sa). Therefore, the prayer ‘Grant us a share of each and every reward of the favoured ones’ means ‘O God! Enable us to perform those good deeds which were carried out by the People of Adam (as); to make intellectual progress like the People of Noah (as); to reach the station of the People of Abraham (as); and bestow upon us the excellences of the followers of Moses (as); and then grant us a share of the spiritual impact of the Messiah (as); and ultimately raise us to the station of Muhammad (sa), so that he may succeed in reaching his goal and reaching in the Exalted Station’. In short, صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ signifies the final stage of human perfection towards which mankind has been advancing since time immemorial. The guidance through the various stages was delegated to the prophets of different eras and the Holy Prophet (sa) was entrusted with the task of guiding mankind to the highest stage. And by means of this prayer, the followers of Muhammad (sa) implore, ‘O my Lord! You have already perfected religion through the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa). All that remains now is for our actions to also be in accordance with this religion, and that we manifest all those hidden and most sublime faculties which have been nurtured through various prophets, and whose cultivation is the ultimate and highest purpose behind the creation of mankind. We are ready for this task. O Lord help and enable us now to traverse all those stages of knowledge of the divine [‘irfān] which different nations have crossed individually with various prophets so that the purpose of man’s creation is fulfilled through the followers of Muhammad (sa).’ The companions of the Prophet (sa) kept this goal at the forefront and, by collectively inculcating the morals of all of the past nations within themselves, demonstrated an unparalleled example to the world. Today, if our Community also keeps this purpose in mind, then the time of the Holy Prophet (sa) being elevated to the Exalted Station will draw even nearer, and the world will be safeguarded from its troubling and restless state.

Every individual or nation that incites the Wrath of Allah Almighty by displeasing Him is counted among those who have incurred His displeasure [Maghḍūb ‘Alaihim]. Similarly, all those who are lost in the love of all things other than Allah Almighty and have forgotten Him are misguided [Ḍāll]. However, the Holy Prophet (sa) has also designated specific meanings to these two Arabic words [Maghdūb and Ḍāll]. In his Musnad, Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal cites a lengthy narration on the authority of ‘Adī bin Ḥātim which ends with the Holy Prophet (sa) saying:

إِنَّ الْمَغْضُوبَ عَلَيْهِمِ الْيَهُودُ، وَإِنَّ الْضَالِّينَ الْنَصَارَى


That is, Maghḍūb ‘Alaihim refers to the Jews, and Ḍāllīn refers to the Christians. Likewise, at-Tirmidhī also records this narration and categorises this tradition as ḥasan [4] and gharīb [5]. Ibn Mardawiyyah narrates the following hadīth on the authority of Abū Dharr al-Ghaffāri (ra):

سَأَلْتُ رَسُولَ اللهِ ﷺ عَنِ الْمَغْضُوْبِ عَلَيْهِمْ؟ قَالَ: الْيَهُوْدُ وقُلْتُ: الضَّالِّيْنَ؟ قَالَ: النَّصَارَى.

That is, Ḥaḍrat Abū Dharr (ra) states that he enquired from the Holy Prophet (sa) who are Maghdūb ‘Alaihim? The Prophet (sa) replied, ‘the Jews.’ He then asked who the Ḍāllīn were, to which he responded, ‘the Christians.’

Many companions (ra) have endorsed these meanings as well, such as Ibn ‘Abbās and ‘Abdullāh bin Mas‘ūd. Ibn Abi Ḥātim goes so far as to say that:

وَلَا أَعْلَمُ بَيْنَ الْمُفَسَّرِيْنَ فِيْ هَذَا اخْتِلَافَا

This means that all the commentators have unanimously agreed upon these meanings and I do not know of any disagreement in regards to this. [6]

These meanings can also be inferred from the verses of the Qur’an because, the word ghaḍab [wrath] has repeatedly been used with reference to the Jews in the Holy Qur’an. For instance, in Sūrah al-Baqarah, Allah states:

فَبَاءُوا بِغَضَبٍ عَلَى غَضَبٍ


The Jews incurred God’s wrath so constantly that it was as if His wrath was reserved exclusively for them. In contrast to this, the word Ḍālla [he went astray, he lost his way, he deviated from the right path] has been used for the Christians as Allah states:

الَّذِينَ ضَلَّ سَعْيُهُمْ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا


Similarly, in Sūrah al-Mā’idah, with reference to the Christians and their deification of the Messiah and his mother, Allah states:

يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ لا تَغْلُوا فِي دِينِكُمْ غَيْرَ الْحَقِّ وَلا تَتَّبِعُوا أَهْوَاءَ قَوْمٍ قَدْ ضَلُّوا مِنْ قَبْلُ وَأَضَلُّوا كَثِيرًا وَضَلُّوا عَنْ سَوَاءِ السَّبِيلِ


That is, ‘O People of the Book (i.e. the Christians for only they have been mentioned here), do not exceed the limits in your religious beliefs and do not pursue the [evil] ideas and desires of a people who became misguided before and caused many to go astray, and who have strayed away from the right path.’ That is to say that this verse informs ordinary Christians that not all of them held this idolatrous doctrine. Among them were both monotheists and polytheists. The idolatrous group who declared the Messiah to be God was itself misguided and also started spreading its own beliefs among the rest of the Christians, thereby leading the majority to believe in this erroneous doctrine [of deifying Jesus (as)]. Consequently, they abandoned the straight path of tauḥīd [belief in the unity of God]. Therefore, both the Holy Qur’an and the statements of the Holy Prophet (sa) establish that الْمَغْضُوْبِ عَلَيْهِمْ refers specifically to the Jews and الضالين refers specifically to the Christians.

This verse [i.e. the clause ghairil-maghḍūb] is grammatically in apposition [10] to الَّذِينَ [‘those who’] or to the pronoun هم [them] in أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ. It means: ‘O Allah! Guide us along the path of the favoured ones, and by the favoured ones, we mean those who did not afterwards become the object of Your wrath, nor forsake You on account of their love for someone else.’

Here, a major provision has been made available to believers so as to nurture within them the fear of Allah. It should be remembered that until man reaches the stage after which they cannot be misguided, they should never remain complacent. One should continue in this struggle so that their feet tread ever more firmly upon the paths of righteousness, lest the smallest negligence, leads them to fall from their rank and causes their destruction and ruin.


  1. The Holy Qur’an, 5:4.
  2. ‘Guide us to the right path, the path of those on whom You have bestowed Your Favours’.
  3. Musnad Ahmad bin Ḥanbal.
  4. Ḥasan hadīth is a hadīth that has a complete chain of narrators which leads back to Prophet Muhammad (sa) and all the narrators are righteous, trustworthy and truthful but there is doubt about the sound memory of one or more of the narrators. [Publisher]
  5. Gharīb hadīth refers to a hadīth which is narrated by only one narrator at any stage of its chain of narration. [Publisher]
  6. Ibn Kathīr.
  7. The Holy Qur’an, 2:91.
  8. The Holy Qur’an, 18:105.
  9. The Holy Qur’an, 5:78.
  10. Apposition (badal) in Arabic grammar is when one noun or noun phrase both refer to the same person or thing. For example,

means ‘I saw your brother Zaid’. In this sentence ‘your brother’ and the name ‘Zaid’ are referring to the same individual. In other words, the actual subject of the conversation is ‘Zaid’, and ‘your brother’ is a way of introducing him. The reason badal is used is to add stress or emphasis in a sentence in order to clarify who the subject really is. [Publisher]