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 Bashirrudin Mahmud Ahmad (ra)
Second Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
Translated by Murtaza Ahmad
Edited by The Review of Religions Translation Team
This verse contains an extremely grand prophecy which can increase the faith of all those who reflect. And this is that when this chapter was revealed, the Holy Prophet (sa) was being opposed, not by the Jews and Christians, but by the disbelievers of Makkah the [population of] Jews and Christians in Makkah was like a drop in the ocean, and they had no say in its governance. So, why is it that this chapter did not instruct us to pray that Allah Almighty save us from becoming idolaters again? Instead, we have been taught to pray that Allah Almighty safeguard us from walking down the paths of the Jews and the Christians. Any mention of the idolaters of Makkah has been omitted, and thus it has been prophesied that their religion will forever be destroyed. Hence, there was no need to pray for God to safeguard the Muslims from becoming like the idolaters of Makkah. However, the religion of the Jews and the Christians would continue to exist, therefore it would still be necessary to pray that Allah safeguard the Muslims from becoming Jews and Christians.
In this verse, it is also noteworthy that since the Christians do accept Muslim converts, this prayer appears to be necessary so that Allah Almighty protect the Muslims from the evils of the Christians. However, the Jews generally do not take in new converts from other religions, why was it necessary to pray that God Almighty protect the Muslims from turning into Jews? The Word of God Almighty can never be guilty of teaching a meaningless and futile prayer. Nor is it conceivable that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa), under the command of God Almighty, would instruct us to recite such a needless prayer thirty to forty times a day. Thus, Muslims ought to pay heed: could it not be the case that the trial of the Jews has come upon them in some other form? Is it not possible that, on account of rejecting the awaited Messiah, the state of the Muslims would become similar to that of the Jews? And this will be the state of the Muslims at the same time that the Christian attacks on Islam will be at their full force. Thus, on the one hand, by rejecting the one who has appeared in the likeness of the Messiah, they will resemble the Jews and be deprived of the succour of God Almighty.
On the other hand, by attacking the Muslims, Christianity will snatch away many thousands of their beloved Muslim brothers. Does this verse not constitute a grand prophecy? Can the Muslims not draw a lesson from this and be saved from the fire of these two trials?
Through close study of this chapter, we learn of another subtle quality which God Almighty has imbued in these verses. That is, the mention of divine attributes and the prayers mentioned therein is a reflection of one another. Therefore, الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ (all praise belongs to Allah) is a reflection of the prayer إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ (Thee alone do we worship) which indicates that as soon as man understands that Allah Almighty is the paragon of all excellences, he exclaims involuntarily, ‘Thee alone do we worship.’ Then, the attribute رَبّ الْعَالَمِينَ (Lord of all the worlds) is a counterpart to the prayer إِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ (Thee alone do we implore for help) because when man becomes certain that his Lord is the Creator and Benefactor of each and every particle, he exclaims that, ‘Thee alone do we implore for help.’ Similarly, الرَّحمن, which means to give unconditionally, irrespective of one’s efforts, is paired with the prayer اهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ [guide us on the right path]. This is because when man observes that God Almighty has fulfilled all his needs, regardless of any of his deeds, he spontaneously cries out, ‘My ultimate desire is to commune with You, so I ask Thee to create the conditions to make this possible.’ Then الرَّحِيم (that is the One Who generously rewards one’s efforts) is juxtaposed with the prayer صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ [the path of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy blessings]. That is, show us the path of those individuals on whom You have bestowed Your blessings. This means, by leading me upon the straight path, make me the recipient of those favours which were attained by people in previous times; for raḥīmiyyah [Oft-repeating Mercy] necessitates that no effort should go to waste. Then the attribute مَالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ [Master of the day of judgement] finds its counterpart in the words غَيْرِ الْمَغْضُوبِ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلا الضَّالِّينَ [The path of those who have not incurred displeasure and those who have not gone astray]; for when man is certain that he will be taken to account for his deeds, his heart is immediately overcome by the fear of failure. Therefore, by pondering over the attribute of Master of the Day of Judgement, man prays to be safeguarded from the wrath of Allah Almighty.