Lesson 8: Commentary On Surah Hamd

بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ ﴿١﴾

الْحَمْدُ لِلَّـهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ ﴿٢﴾ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ ﴿٣﴾

مَالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ ﴿٤﴾ إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ ﴿٥﴾ اهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ ﴿٦﴾ صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ غَيْرِ الْمَغْضُوبِ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا الضَّالِّينَ ﴿٧﴾

In the Name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate; Praise belongs to God, the Lord of all Being; the All-merciful, the All-compassionate; the Master of the Day of Judgment; Thee only we serve; to Thee alone we pray for succour; Guide us in the straight path; the path of those whom Thou hast blessed, not of those against whom Thou art wrathful, nor of those who are astray. (Al Hamd 1:1-7).

{الْحَمْدُ لِلَّـهِ}Is the best form in which to thank Allahﷻ with. Anyone, anywhere, with any language, any form of praise of any perfection or beauty, is praising the source of the perfection and beauty. Of course, praising Allahﷻ is not inconsistent with praising the created on the condition that it be in the matter of Allahﷻ and in His line and path.

Allahﷻ has made it incumbent upon Himself to be merciful:

{كَتَبَ رَبُّكُمْ عَلَىٰ نَفْسِهِ الرَّحْمَةَ}

Your Lord hath inscribed for Himself (the rule of) mercy. (Al-Inaam 6:54).

And the shadow of His mercy is spread over all things.

{وَرَحْمَتِي وَسِعَتْ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ}

My mercy extends to all things. (Al Araaf 7:156)

Likewise, the Prophet (pbuh) and his book is the source of Mercy

{رَحْمَةً لِّلْعَالَمِينَ}

A Mercy to the worlds (Al Anbiya 21:107).

His creation and nourishment is based upon mercy and if punishment is given it too is from the point of view of kindness.

The pardoning of sins, acceptance of repentance and the concealment of their shortfalls and the giving of an opportunity to make up for mistakes, are all manifestations of His mercy and kindness.

Notwithstanding that Allahﷻ is the True owner of all things at all times, his ownership on the day of judgement and resurrection is of a different manifestation.

The sentence “we serve” also points to this in that prayers prayed in congregation shows that all Muslims are brothers and on the one path, in prayers, even though one person is representing all the worshippers in saying Oh Lord, not only am I but all of us are your worshippers, and not only I but all of us are in need of your kindness.

This surah introduces the straight path as the path of those who have been blessed with the Divine favors and consist of: The Prophets, the truthful ones, martyrs and pious ones1. Directing our attention to the path of those magnanimous people and our hopes being in them and inculcating this hope in ourselves, we are taken back from the deviated and dangerous paths. And after desire, we seek from Allahﷻ that He does not allow us to follow the path of those whose God’s wrath is upon or have gone astray.

The meaning of “Thou has blessed” is the blessing of Guidance. Such is way the Ayah before was with respect to guidance. As well as that there is the material blessings of the disbelievers and astray and others.

Even if we are guided, it is still a dangerous course to traverse and we must always seek from Allahﷻ the path that is not the paths of those whom God’s wrath is upon or have gone astray.

Educational Lessons From Surah Hamd

1. With بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ we cut all hope from all other than Allahﷻ.

2. With رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ and مَالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ we feel that all ownership and nourishment belongs to Allahﷻ and on that basis we should place aside all selfishness and vanity.

3. With the word الْعَالَمِينَ we see ourselves as a part of disciplined existence and far from being a solo and sequestered life.

4. With الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ we see ourselves under the shadow of His kindness.

5. With مَالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ neglect from the future is filed away.

6. By saying إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ hypocrisy and the desire for fame is disappears.

7. With وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ with nothing but the power of Allahﷻ do we seek shelter.

8. With saying أَنْعَمْتَ we acknowledge that from Him are all blessings.

9. With اهْدِنَا guidance is sought to The True and Correct Path and The Straight Path.

10. With صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ we announce our association with the followers of Truth.

11. With saying غَيْرِ الْمَغْضُوبِ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا الضَّالِّينَ disgust at and distancing oneself is expressed from falsehood and those who follow it.

The Importance Of Bismil-Lah

The Importance Of Bismil-Lah بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ

{بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ}

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ Is not only the beginning of the Qur’an, but is the start of all the Heavenly Books. The start of all of the tasks and works of the all the Prophets began with “The Name of Allahﷻ”. Prophet Sulaiman also started his letter to Queen Seba with the sentence بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ.

Imam Ali (pbuh) stated that the words بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ is the source of blessing of our work and its omission is the cause of a bead ending. The utterance of the words بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ is recommended to begin any work, when eating and sleeping and sitting, riding, travelling and many other tasks, even where an animal is slaughtered without the name of Allahﷻ, its meat become sinful to consume.

بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ is the slogan and token of Muslims and all works performed by Muslims must have a tinge of Divinity in it. Just like how the products of a manufacturer have the logo and symbols of that manufacturer imprinted on their products, whether partially or in its entirety. Or like the flag representing the country being perched on the desks and offices of administrative buildings, schools, garrisons, national ships of that country sailing the high seas.

Imam Sadiq (pbuh) has been narrated to have stated that بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ is the crown of the Surahs. The only surah in the Holy Qur’an which does not start with this Ayah is Surah of Bara’at2 (or repentance, ninth surah), and according to Imam Ali (pbuh), this is because بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ are the words of security and mercy while the proclamation of this Surah is the disownment from disbelievers and polytheists, and is not compatible to start with the words showing affection3.

بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ causes the Satan to flee. Anyone who is accompanied by Allahﷻ, Satan will not be able to influence.

The Straight Path

صِّرَاط is the name of a bridge crossing over Hell which on the day of resurrection all people must cross over.

In the quest for being on the Straight (Path), the one and only request that every Muslim requests from Allahﷻ in every prayer, even the Prophet and his Purified Household, peace and blessings be upon them, request that they remain on the Straight Path.

The Straight Path has levels and stages:

{وَالَّذِينَ اهْتَدَوْا زَادَهُمْ هُدًى}

Those who are guided aright, them He increases in guidance (Muhammad 47:17).

Even those who are on the True Path such as the Saints of Allahﷻ (Divinely Guided), must supplicate in order to remain on that path and to further illuminate their guidance.

The Straight Path means moderation and temperance, and abstinence from any form of excessiveness and delinquency, whether it be in faith or in action.

In narrations, the Divinely Guided state that the We are the Straight Path4. Meaning they are the Divine Guides, perfect theoretical and practical examples of the Straight Path and role models in following their footsteps in that path. The provided guidance in all aspects of our life from work, pleasure, earning, feeding, spending, criticising, anger, compromise, relations with children etc., and advised us to live in moderation and temperance.5 Interestingly, it is on this very same Straight Path that Satan lies in ambush:

{لَأَقْعُدَنَّ لَهُمْ صِرَاطَكَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ}

I (Satan) shall surely sit in ambush for them on Thy straight path (Al A’raaf 7:16).

In the Holy Qur’an and narrations many examples are present with regards to emphasizing temperance on the Straight Path and abstinence from excessiveness and delinquency. Islam does not look at only one dimension that looks at only one aspect and ignores all others; but rather in every part action temperance and moderation and the straight path is recommended.

Wrath In The Holy Qur’an

In the Qur’an, people such as Pharaoh, Qaroon, Abu Lahab and such nations as Aad, Bani Israel, are identified as those who have Wrath upon them and some have been named as those who have strayed such as Satan, Pharaoh, Samiri, bad friends, deviated leaders and ancestors. In numerous Ayahs, the characteristics of those who have strayed and who have attracted wrath upon themselves and their instances have been presented.

We, in every prayer, request that we don’t end up being like those have had wrath upon them. That means we desire not to be from the people who deviate Ayahs and consume usury, nor of those who escape struggles. Likewise, we desire not to be of those who have gone astray, those who have parted from the Path of Truth and who chase the falsehood and in religion and our own beliefs, exaggerate and are extravagant, or who follow their own whims and desires or those of others.

The grow bed for deviation in the Holy Qur’an develops from

1. Fantasies and vain desires6: اتَّخَذَ إِلَـٰهَهُ هَوَاهُ وَأَضَلَّهُ اللَّـهُ

2. Idols7: وَجَعَلُوا لِلَّـهِ أَندَادًا لِّيُضِلُّوا عَن سَبِيلِهِ

3. Sins8وَمَا يُضِلُّ بِهِ إِلَّا الْفَاسِقِينَ:

4. The acceptance of false guardianship 9: أَنَّهُ مَن تَوَلَّاهُ فَأَنَّهُ يُضِلُّهُ

5. Ignorance and foolishness10: وَإِن كُنتُم مِّن قَبْلِهِ لَمِنَ الضَّالِّينَ

Mankind in this Surah testifies and expresses the passion, interest and self-navigation towards Prophets and martyrs and the pious and their path, and declares innocence and distance from the recipients of wrath and those who have strayed in history. That is the application of association and disownment.11

  • 1. وَمَن يُطِعِ اللَّـهَ وَالرَّسُولَ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ مَعَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمَ اللَّـهُ عَلَيْهِم مِّنَ النَّبِيِّينَ وَالصِّدِّيقِينَ وَالشُّهَدَاءِ وَالصَّالِحِينَ وَحَسُنَ أُولَـٰئِكَ رَفِيقًا
    (And whoever obeys Allah and the Apostle, these are with those upon whom Allah has bestowed favors from among the prophets and the truthful and the martyrs and the good, and a goodly company are they!) An Nissa 4:69.
  • 2. To declare innocence from any association with another – disownment.
  • 3. Tafsir Qartabi and Majma Albayan
  • 4. (Bihar Al Anwar بحار الأنوار‎) V87 P3
  • 5. (Al Kafi ) – Chapter of Economy and Worship
  • 6. him who has taken his caprice to be his god, and God has led him astray (Al Jathiya 45:23)
  • 7. And they set up compeers to God, that they might lead astray from His way. (Ibrahim 14:30)
  • 8. He leads none astray save the ungodly (Baqarra 2:26)
  • 9. that whosoever takes him for a friend, him he leads astray (Al Hajj 22:4)
  • 10. though formerly you were gone astray. (Baqarra 2:198)
  • 11. تولی و تبری