Tafseer of Surah al-Faatihah: vs. 2

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The saying of the Exalted, “All Praises and thanks are due to Allah, the Lord of the Universe”:

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The meaning of hamd is praise and extolling. It also carries the meaning of ridaa, or pleasure and is the opposite of dhamm, or blame. Its meaning is more general and inclusive than that of shukr, or giving thanks, because it encompasses this as well as giving the meaning of praise. Similarly shukr is only expressed as a response to a favour whereas hamd is expressed both as a response to a favour as well as a spontaneous action of dhikr. It is in this respect that ibn Abbaas (RA) said, “al-Hamdulillaah is the statement of every thankful [servant].”

Hence it is due to the comprehensiveness of this word that we find the Prophets showing gratitude in the Qur`aan by expressing hamd. Allah commanded Nuh (AS) saying,

  “Say: All praises and thanks are due to Allah Who saved us from an oppressive people.” [Al-Mu`minoon (23): 28]

Ibraaheem (AS) said,

  “All praises and thanks are due to Allah Who gave me Ismaa`eel and Ishaaq in my old age.” [Ibraaheem (14): 39]

Daawood (AS) and Sulaymaan (AS) said,

  “All praises and thanks are due to Allah Who has preferred us above many of His believing servants.” [An-Naml (27): 15]

Allah commanded our Prophet ﷺ saying,

  “Say: All praises and thanks are due to Allah Who has not begotten a son…” [Al-Israa` (17): 111]

The People of Paradise will say,

It is for this reason that the word hamd has been employed in this verse of al-Faatihah.

Some of the scholars said that shukr is more encompassing than hamd because praise is expressed by the tongue whereas thanks can be expressed by the tongue, heart and limbs. Thanks with the tongue is done by praising the Bestower of Blessings. Thanks by the limbs is done by acting in obedience to Him and abandoning actions of disobedience. Thanks in the heart is done by recognising the magnitude of the blessing and knowing that it has been given by the grace of Allah and not by the servants own merit.

Both opinions are correct in their own place: hamd is more general with respect to when it is done and shukr is more general with respect to how it is done.

There are a number of ahaadeeth that show us the great virtue of expressing hamd:

1. Muslim reports from Anas bin Maalik that the Prophet ﷺ said,

  “All praises and thanks are due to Allah Who has removed from us all grief.” [Faatir (35): 34]

“And the close of their supplication will be: All praises and thanks are due to Allah, the Lord of the Universe.” [Yunus (10): 10]

 “ Indeed Allah is Pleased at His servant when he eats some food and praises Him for it or when he drinks a drink and praises Him for it. [1]

Al-Hasan said, “there is no blessing except that [saying] al-Hamdulillaah is better and more virtuous than it.”

2. Ibn Maajah reports from Anas bin Maalik that the Prophet ﷺ said,

 “ Allah does not grant a servant a favour for which he says al-Hamdulillaah except that what he offered [of praising] is better and more virtuous than what he took [of the favour]. [2]

Al-Bayhaqee commented on this by saying,

This is because the servant does not attain [the station] of praising and thanking Allah except by His tawfeeq. Therefore the greater excellence [of his praising Allah as compared to the initial blessing that Allah bestowed upon him] is by virtue of his being blessed with the [ability to] praise Allah and extol him and this did not exist in the initial blessing. [3]

3. Al-Hakeem at-Tirmidhee reports in ‘Nawaadir al-Usul’ from Anas bin Maalik that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said,

If the entire world along with its contents were to be in the hand of a man from my nation and then he were to say al-Hamdulillaah, then al-Hamdulillaah would be better than [what his hand contained]. [4]

Al-Qurtobee commented upon this by saying,

In our view the meaning is that he has been given the world, then after this he has been given this statement and utters it. Therefore this statement is better than the world because the world is soon to perish whereas the statement will endure for it is from those righteous deeds that remain. Allah said,

  “The righteous deeds that last are better in the Sight of your Lord, for reward and better for resort.” [Maryam (19): 76]

4. Ibn Maajah reports from ibn Umar that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said,

 “ A servant from amongst the servants of Allah said. ‘O my Lord! To You belongs all praise and thanks as is required due to the magnificence of Your Face and greatness of Your Authority.’ This confused the two [recording] Angels and they did not know how to record it. So they ascended to the heaven and said, ‘O our Lord! Your servant has said a statement and we do not know how to record it.’ Allah, the Mighty and Magnificent asked, despite the fact that He already knows what His servant said, ‘what did my servant say?’ They reply, ‘O Lord! He said: O my Lord! To You belongs all praise and thanks as is required due to the magnificence of Your Face and greatness of Your Authority.’ Allah then said to them, ‘record it for my servant as he said it, then when He meets Me, I will reward him for it.’ [5] ]

5. Muslim reports from Abu Musaa al-Ash`aree that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said,

 “ Purity is half of faith. [The statement] al-Hamdulillaah fills the scales and [the statement] SubhaanAllah wal-Hamdulillaah fills what is between the heaven and the earth. [6]

6. At-Tirmidhee reports from Jaabir bin Abdullaah that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said,

 “ The most excellent dhikr is [the statement] laa ilaaha illAllah and the most excellent supplication is [the statement] al-Hamdulillaah [7]

8. Ahmad reports from Aswad bin Saree` who said,

 “ I asked the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, “should I not recite to you words of praise that I praised my Lord, the Blessed and Exalted, with?” He replied, “of course! Indeed your Lord loves praise.” [8]

In the verse the word hamd has been preceded by the definite article al, the reason for this is to include all the different manners of praise and specify them to Him, and it is an extolling with which Allah has praised Himself and ordered His servants to praise Him with. This meaning is further expressed in the hadeeth in which the Prophet ﷺ said,

 “ O Allah! To You belongs all praise and thanks in its entirety, to you belongs the dominion in its entirety, in Your hand is all goodness in its entirety and to You returns the affair in its entirety. [9]

Therefore by saying al-Hamdulillaah, the servant is praising and thanking Allah Alone due to His greatness, unity, perfection, His Beautiful Names and Attributes and His innumerable favours and blessings that none can encompass save He. It is indeed an amazing statement that encompasses something that volumes would be unable to express and created intellects unable to enumerate! All praise belongs to Allah!

Also there is no mention in this verse as to the adverb denoting when this praise is said (dharf az-zamaan) or from where this praise comes from (dharf al-makaan). However in Surah Rum there is mention that from amongst the ‘where’s’ are the heavens and the earth – in His saying,

  ‘And His is all the praises and thanks in the heavens and the earth.’ [Rum (30): 18]

And in Surah Qasas there is mention that from amongst the ‘when’s’ are in this world and in the Hereafter – in His sayings,

  ‘And He is Allah, none has the right to be worshipped besides Him. To Him belongs all praise in the beginning (i.e. this world) and in the end (i.e. the Hereafter).’ [Qasas (28): 70]

And He said in the beginning of Surah Saba`a,

  ‘His is all the praise in the Hereafter, and He is the All-Wise, All-Aware.’ [Saba`a (34): 1]

Linguistically the word rabb means master, owner or one who sets about correcting and purifying. When used in a possessive or conjunctive (idaafah) structure it can be applied to other than Allah, for example it is said rabb ad-daar or the master of the house, similarly in the Qur`aan it is mentioned that Yusuf (AS) said to one of the inmates of prison,

  “Mention me in the presence of your master.” [Yusuf (12): 42]

Likewise it is mentioned in the famous hadeeth of Jibreel, when the Prophet ﷺ listed some of the signs of the Hour,

 “ …When the slave-girl gives birth to her master (rabbatahaa) [10]

However the word ar-Rabb can only ever be applied to Allah. It is one of the Names of Allah and means the One Who nurtures and sustains all of His servants through regulating the affairs and granting all types of favours and blessings. More specifically He is the One Who nurtures and sustains his sincere friends by correcting and purifying their hearts, souls and manners. This is why their supplications are frequently made with this Noble Name because they seek this specific nurturing. [11]

As-Sa`dee said,

  The Lord is the One Who nourishes and sustains the whole of the Creation, meaning everything aside from Allah, by the very fact of His creating them, and His preparing for them all that they need and His favouring them with great blessings which if removed would also remove any possibility of the creation surviving. Therefore every blessing they possess then it is from Him, the Exalted.

His sustaining His creation is of two types: General and Specific. As for the general then it is His creating the Creation and granting them provisions, and guiding them to that which would benefit them in order to have them survive in this world. As for the specific then it is His sustaining His friends with faith and making them conform to it, perfecting and completing it for them, repressing all that would make them turn away from it, bridling any hindering factors that may be set up between them and Him, and safe-guarding them from all evil. It is possible that the reason behind the fact that most of the supplications made by the Prophets employed the word ‘Lord’ was due to it carrying this meaning, for indeed all of the things they desired through their supplications fell under His Specific Lordship. [12]

There is a great deal of difference concerning the meaning of the word aalameen. It is the plural of aalam which is itself a plural – it has no singular. Al-Faraa` and Abu Ubaydah said,

Al-Aalam is a term referring to anything that possesses an intellect and these fall into four categories: Mankind, Jinn, Angels and Satans. The term aalam does not refer to the animal kingdom because this plural refers to those who possess an intellect specifically.

It is also said that it refers to every race or species of creation and to each generation of that race as stated by Qataadah and at-Tabaree. Therefore mankind is an aalam and likewise every individual race amongst them would be an aalam also, just as each generation of that race would be an aalam. Similarly the Jinn are an aalam etc…

Some of the scholars stated that al-aalam{13} is derived from al-allaamah or sign because the existence of the world is a sign, without doubt, of the existence of its Creator who is described with perfect and magnificent Attributes. The Exalted said,

  ‘Indeed in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the change of the night and day are signs (aayaat) for the people of understanding.’

And in the language aayah means allaamah.

However in another place in the Qur`aan, Allah Himself has indicated its meaning,

  ‘Pharaoh said: and what is the Lord of the Aalameen? He (Moses) said: the Lord of the heavens and the earth and what is between them.’ [Ash-Shu`araa (26): 23-24]

Ibn Abbaas (RA) said in explanation to this verse of al-Faatihah,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, to Whom belongs the creation in its entirety, the heavens and the earth and whosoever is in them and whatsoever is between them – that which is known and unknown.

He also said that al-aalameen refers to everything possessing a soul that walks on the earth.

Qataadah said,

Al-Aalamoon is the plural of aalam and it refers to everything in existence besides Allah

Another essential point that we learn from this latter part of the verse, essential to our understanding of Tawheed, is that the Lord, Blessed and Exalted, is distinct from His creation and not everywhere. [14] This is an issue which the Salaf of this nation were unanimously agreed upon and is clearly proven by a multitude of texts from the Book and Sunnah.

Also we learn that that He Alone is the Creator and that all the affairs are under His disposition, just as are all blessings. He is completely Self-Sufficient, and the creation is in total need of Him Alone for everything.


Footnotes

{1} Saheeh Muslim [Eng. Trans. 4/1429 no. 6592]

{2} Ibn Maajah [no. 3805] and it was declared hasan by al-Albaanee in ‘Saheeh ibn Maajah’ [no. 3067]

{3} ‘Sharh as-Sindee `alaa ibn Maajah’ [no. 3795]

{4}

{5} Sunan ibn Maajah [no. 3801]. Albaanee ruled it to be da`eef as in ‘Da`eef ibn Maajah’ [no. 829]. Al-Busayree said in ‘az-Zawaa`id,’ “Its isnaad contains Qudaamah bin Ibraaheem whom ibn Hibbaan mentioned in ‘ath-Thiqaat’. It also contains Sadaqah bin Basheer and I have seen no one who disparaged him or authenticated him.”

{6} Saheeh Muslim [Eng. Trans. 1/147 no. 432]

{7} Sunan at-Tirmidhee [no. 3623]. It was declared hasan by Al-Albaanee in ‘Saheeh at-Tirmidhee’ [no. 2694]

{8} Muqbil bin Haadee ruled the isnaad to be munqati` in his ‘Takhreej `alaa Tafseer ibn Katheer’ [1/47]

{9} Ibn Abee ad-Dunya from the hadeeth of Anas. Al-Bayhaqee from the hadeeth of Sa`d bin Abee Waqqaas and Abu Sa`eed al-Khudree.

{10} Saheeh Muslim [Eng. Trans. 1/1 no. 1]

{11} A-Sa`dee, ‘Tayseer al-Kareem ar-Rahmaan’ [pg. 16 ]

{12} Ibid. [pg. 22]

{13} world, pl. aalameen

{14} Ibn al-Qayyim, ‘Madaarij as-Saalikeen’ [1/84]

(NOTE: If you want to build a strong and powerful relationship with Allah, check out Islamia TV, where you can watch Islamic speakers from across the globe deliver inspiring and motivational courses. Learn more at www.islamia.tv.)



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