By Maulana Abul Kalam Azad
Al-Fatiha: The Opening
Revealed at Mecca ---- 7 Verses
IN THE NAME OF ALLAH, THE COMPASSIONATE, THE MERCIFUL
1. Praise is for Allah only -- The Lord of All Being !
2. The Benevolent, the Merciful!
3. Master on the Day of Recompense!
4. Thee only do we serve and Thee only do we ask for help.
5. Direct us to the Straight Path ---
6. The path of those to whom Thou has been gracious, ---
7. Not of those who have incurred Thy displeasure, nor of those who have gone astray.
Let us, for a moment, look at the Surat-ul-Fatiha as a whole and see what type of mind it reflects or tries to build.
Here is a person singing the praise of his Lord. But the Lord he praises is not the Lord of any particular race or community or religious group but Lord of all the worlds, Rabb ul-Aalameen, the source of sustenance and mercy uniformly for all mankind. The devotee invokes God in the name of His attributes. But of all His attributes, those of mercy and justice particularly strike his mind, as if Divinity manifests itself for him wholly in Divine justice and mercy, and that all that he knows of his God is nothing except that his God is just and merciful. And then he bows down his head in supplication and admits of his entire dependence on his Lord. He utters: “ Thee alone do I worship, and from thee alone do I seek help ”.
The devotee thus thinks of his Lord as an abiding source of all help to him in life and discards every thought of dependence on any other. Thus strengthened in spirit, he thinks of his duty in life. He feels that he must pursue his life in a manner pleasing to his Lord. He therefore asks of God to give him the urge to pursue his life. This is his primary prayer. He therefore asks of his Lord to show and keep him to the path which is straight – the path trodden by those with whom God was always pleased.
That is his concept of the Straight Path. The path that he wishes to walk on is not the path devised by any particular race or by any particular community or by any particular religious group. The path that he has in view is that royal road, the Straight Path which the founders of all religions and all truthful people have walked on, whatever the age or country they belonged to. In his anxiety to keep to his path, he seeks the protection of God. He wants to be saved from either straying away from that straight path or from taking to the paths which wayward people have pursued, and while so wishing, he does not refer to the communities or religious groups to which such wayward people have belonged.
What he asks for is the privilege to walk on a path which has meant the happiness of all mankind, and not on a path which has led to their ruin.
Think it over. What type of mind does this all argue or aim to build? Whatever view one may take, this is clear that the mind which the Surat-ul-Fatiha depicts is a type of mind which reflects the beauty and mercy of God or universal humanity, the mind which the Qur’an aims to build.
An extract from ‘THE TARJUMAN AL-QUR’AN’ Vol. 1 AL-FATIHA, by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad
Edited and rendered into English by Syed Abdul Latif