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Lesson - 5
| Bis-mil-laa-hir Rah-maa-nir Ra-heem.
|| In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
|Al-ham-du lil-laa-hi Rab-bil aa-la-meen.
||All Praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the worlds,
||The Beneficent, the Merciful,
||Master of the Day of Requital.
|Ee-yaa-ka na -bu-du wa ee-yaa-ka nas-ta-
||Thee do we serve and Thee do we beseech
|Ih-di nas si-raa-tal mus-ta-qeem
||Guide us on the right path,
|Si-raa-tal la-zee-na an- am-ta a-lay-him.
||The path of those upon whom Thou hast bestowed favours,
|Ghay-ril magh-doo-bi a-lay-him wa-lad-daal-leen.
||Not those upon whom wrath is brought down, nor those who
Master of the Day of Requital
In the previous four lessons we had a brief glimpse of the profound
knowledge and wisdom contained in the verses, Bis-mil-laa-hir Rah-maa-nir
Ra-heem (In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful) and
Al-ham-du-lil-laa-hi Rab-bil aa-la-meen (all praise is
due to Allah, the Lord of the worlds). Today we shall, by the grace
of Allah, contemplate on the meaning of the verses: Maa-li-ki yau-mid-deen
(Master of the Day of Requital) and Ee-yaa-ka na-bu-du
(Thee do we serve). The word yaum is ordinarily translated
as day, i.e., the time between sunrise and sunset; however,
in the Arabic language and also in the Holy Quran, it has been used
to specify a time or period which may be very small or large. For
example, the Holy Quran states:
"Kul-la yau-min Huwa fee shaan"
Every moment He is in a state (of glory) (55:29).
In this verse, the word yaum stands for a moment of time.
Compare this with:
"yau-min kana miq-daro-hu kham-seena alfa sana-tin"
in the day the measure of which is fifty thousand years" (70:4).
In this verse, yaum represents fifty thousand years as stated.
What then is the meaning of Maa-li-ki yau-mid-deen (Master
of the Day of Requital)? There is no doubt that a day will come
when mankind is to be judged and recompensed for all his actions,
good or evil, including the secrets hidden deep down within his
bosom. That day can either be a single day, the whole time during
which a person is rewarded for his good actions, or the extended
period during which he faces the consequences of his evil deeds
and internal detriment. The Day of Requital also stands for every
passing moment of time in which the reward or punishment for every
good or evil action is being recorded, though most people do not
have true knowledge of it. Thus we observe that a good action immediately
leads to a feeling of contentment and joy, while an evil one causes
restlessness, worry and anxiety in ones mind. An honest person
may go hungry, but he has the peace of mind and consequently a restful
sleep at night. A dishonest person, on the other hand, is fearful
of impending doom, and is uneasy and anxious. The reward and punishment
for good and evil actions are therefore immediate, though man remains
in denial in this life.
Concept of paradise and hell
The two types of paradise that are mentioned in the Holy Quran for
those who guard against evil (muttaqi) are, by consensus, the
paradise of this world and the Hereafter. The possessions of a righteous
person in this world seldom include gardens with streams of running
water (metaphorical language used in the Holy Quran for describing
paradise); however, he is surely guaranteed peace and tranquillity
of mind. On the contrary, an evil person may own a garden with streams
of flowing water, but he is void of inner peace and serenity, and
his heart is always burning with the desire to acquire more material
wealth. A person having thousands is worried about making millions,
and a millionaire is likewise eager to reach the billion mark. After
death, the burning desire and greed of a worldly person manifests
itself as the external fire of hell, as the Holy Quran tells us:
"It is the fire kindled by Allah, which rises over
the hearts. Surely it is closed in on them, in extended columns"
On the other hand, the one whose heart is a recipient of internal
peace and tranquillity, i.e., the paradise of this world, will after
his death enter the external blessings of heavenly paradise as the
Holy Quran states:
"O soul thou that art at rest, return to thy Lord,
well-pleased, well pleasing, so enter among My servants, and enter
My Garden" (89:27-30).
The reward of heaven and the punishment of hell begin in this life,
but are hidden from the physical eye. They assume a more apparent
and palpable form in the life Hereafter. In both situations, that
is in this life or the life Hereafter, this reward and punishment
is not under mans control, otherwise he could easily manipulate
it to suit his advantage. The power to control this lies in the hands
of One Who has been called "Master of the Day of Requital,"
in the chapter Al-Fatiha, and how very true it is!
The verses: "All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the worlds;
the Beneficent, the Merciful," draw mans attention towards
Allah, the Source of all goodness, the One Who guides and nurtures
man from the lower to the higher stages of his development. Mercy
is so preponderant in His nature that He provides for our physical
needs before, and after, our coming into existence. He has also
provided for our spiritual sustenance, by revelation of a complete
and excellent guidance, the Holy Quran. If we act upon this guidance,
His mercy will reward us manifold not only in this life, but also
in the Hereafter. In the verse, "Master of the Day of Requital,"
mankind has been informed (which was very essential) that the way
he spends his life in this world is his own responsibility. Whatever
he thinks, speaks, or acts upon, the compensation for it starts
in this very life; although in the Hereafter it assumes a more perceptible
form. Thus, mankind is in need of Allahs guidance and help
for his existence and well being not only in this life, but also
for the success and comfort of the life which occurs as a result
Only Allah is to be served with humility
After becoming aware of these attributes of the Divine Being, the
soul of the suppliant cries out spontaneously, "Ee-yaa-ka-
na-bu-du wa ee-yaa-ka nas-ta-een"
Thee do we serve and Thee do we beseech for help. These being the
verses of Al-Fatiha that follow. I have translated na-bu-du
as to serve or obey, although most people
misunderstand its meaning to be recitation of prayers. In fact the
Arabic word salaat has been used for prayer in the Holy Quran.
The dictionary meaning of the word ibadat (noun of na-bu-du)
is obedience with humility. Allah has clearly differentiated between
the meaning of ibadat and salaat in the Holy Quran
"So serve Me, and keep up prayer for My remembrance
(fa-budni wa- aqi-mis-salaata li-zikri)" (20:14);
and in the verse:
"Did I not charge you, O children of Adam, that you
serve not the devil (Alam a`had ilaikum ya bani adama
an laa tabudu shaitan)?" (36:60).
In this verse tabudu (serve) from `ibadat can
certainly not mean prayer because no one performs the prayer service
before the devil assuming the traditional postures of qiyam
(standing with folded hands), ruku (bending over), or sajda
(prostration). The real meaning of ibadat in this context
is exactly what the dictionary tells us that is serving and
obeying, in this case the devil, which most human beings unfortunately
do. It is a unique ability of the Arabic language that with a choice
of a few words a very comprehensive and excellent meaning is conveyed.
This is why it has been selected by Allah as the language of His
final revealed scripture, the Holy Quran which is a book of complete
guidance. We have seen an example of this in the use of the word
Rabb (One Who nurtures unto perfection). Also we have just
seen how the extensive subject of obedience with humility is addressed
with the use of the word ibadat. It is necessary to
know all of this, because obedience can be of two kinds. One form
is accomplished under duress and with infliction of chastisement.
The other kind is purely voluntary and accomplished with humility.
Compare the example of a child, who studies because he is afraid
of being punished by his teacher with the one who considers the
teacher as his benefactor and complies with his instructions, with
enthusiasm and humility. Both of these cannot derive similar benefit
from their teacher; certainly the one who is humble and obedient
benefits the most.
The same rule applies to parental guidance for children. Allahs
mercy for mankind undoubtedly exceeds far beyond that of parents.
In fact He is responsible for inspiring mercy in the hearts of parents
for their offspring. Who can be a greater benefactor of man than
Allah? No one knows more than Him what is beneficial or harmful
for the human race. Parents, teachers and worldly leaders are liable
to human error; however, Allah is Subhan (free of all faults).
In fact according to verse, "Al-ham-du lil-laa-hi¼
.(All praise is for Allah)," He possesses all attributes
and excellence to the degree of perfection. All Praise is due to
Allah, the Lord of the worlds, the Beneficent, the Merciful, Master
of the Day of Requital. Whatever He commands for mankind to be carried
out is beneficial for him and what He forbids is harmful. Therefore,
one can only benefit from His Rabubiyat (nurture unto perfection)
by humbly submitting to His command.
Asking for Divine assistance
In spite of good intentions, mans effort may be lacking or faulty.
This may be because of forgetfulness, lassitude, or lack of knowledge
regarding Divine commandments. The devil is also continuously trying
to incite man, who is liable to fall to his temptation, particularly
so during periods of trials and tribulations. This is why the subsequent
verse is, "Thee do we beseech for help." In this verse one
begs Allah for His protection and help, and the strength required
for complete submission in order to obtain full benefit of His blessings
and save oneself from loss and deprivation.
It is worth noting that in the verses, "All praise is due
to Allah, the Lord of the worlds, the Beneficent, the Merciful,
Master of the Day of Requital," Allah is addressed in the absent
form. This is because when one starts reciting the Al-Fatiha,
Allah is absent from the minds eye. These verses with their
profound meaning and wisdom, when recited with full concentration,
bring before the minds eye the full excellence and goodness
of the Divine Being. This being the reason for addressing Allah
in the present tense in the subsequent verse, "Thee do we serve
and Thee do we beseech for help." In order to create a concept
of the Divine Being during prayer, people made idols, images or
pictures of their prophets. These devices present a very poor and
degrading concept of the Divine Being. Does this concept compare
at all with the one presented by the verses of Al-Fatiha?
the concept which defines the grandeur, power, excellence
and goodness of the Divine Being and how mankind benefits from it.
When this powerful concept is presented to the mind of the suppliant,
his heart cries out spontaneously, "Thee do we serve and Thee
do we beseech for help." In this way those true feelings which
are essential for prayer are generated in the heart.
Another point is worth noting that in the verse, "Thee do
we serve," the plural (we) is used although one
is praying individually. This is because this prayer is recited
several times in the obligatory prayers, which are enjoined to be
said in congregation whenever possible. Also when reciting non-congregational
portion (sunnah) of the prayer one is frequently in the company
of other Muslims in the mosque. Even if this is not the case one
should include his friends, relatives, and members of the congregation
in his prayer, for no other prayer excels the Al-Fatiha in
terms of blessings in this life and the Hereafter.
Another reason for using the plural in the above mentioned verse
is that man is a collective body composed of different faculties.
All of these including his eyes, ears, tongue, hands and feet, mind
etc., should submit before Allah with complete humility, then only
can one truly say, "Thee do we serve." Similarly Allahs
help is asked for in, "Thee do we beseech for help," because
without His grace these faculties can stray away from the right
path. Sometimes the eyes, ears, tongue, hands and feet are involved
in sinful behavior and the mind is frequently involved in all kinds
of detriment. May Allah protect us from these dangers. Ameen.