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Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Teachings of the Qur`aan

B i s m i l l a a h i r R a h m a a n i r R a h e e m

Bismillaahi walhamdulillaahi wassalaatu wassalaamu ‘alaa rasoolillaahi
Assalaamu `Alaykum wa Rahmatullaahi wa Barakaatuhu


Teachings of the Qur`aan

Al-Faatihah
The Opener
Soorah 1
Bismillaahir-Rahmaanir-Raheem

by Ayub A. Hamid

The First Verse

The Holy Qur-aan starts with the following very concise but extremely profound statement:

Bismillaahir-Rahmaanir-Raheem
"In the name of Allaah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful."

Commentary

This verse contains Allaah’s name and two of his attributes: Rahmaan (the Most Gracious) and Raheem (the Most Merciful). People usually refer to it by its first word, i.e. Bismillaah.

Allaah is the special, personal name of the One and Only True God
Who created the universe and everything in it including human beings.
He is the God of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad and all
other prophets[1] and messengers, peace be upon all of them. It is He Who
sent His revelations (Torah, Psalms and Gospels) to the prophets and
messengers and Who revealed this Qur-aan in His own Words to Muhammad,
the last of the prophets and messengers. This personal name, Allaah, was
always used by the Arabs only for the one True God and never for any
false gods or idols. As Ahmed Deedat has shown[2], according to the older
manuscripts of the Torah and the Gospels, it was also the name that was
used for God by earlier prophets and messengers.

Both of the attributes are derivatives from an Arabic root word
that connotes mercy, kindness and grace. Both of the attributes are
superlatives indicating the utmost degree of different aspects of mercy:

Rahmaan implies abundance and intensity of mercy and grace, the
outpouring of which is unstoppable. The abundance of mercy indicated by
the attribute ‘Rahmaan’ manifested itself in the creation of human
beings as the best of all the creations, endowment of consciousness and
eloquence to them and ensuring that they are appropriately guided through
revelations such as the Qur-aan. The tremendous system of nature set up
to ensure survival and sustenance of all species in general and human
beings in particular is another manifestation of His bountiful Grace.

Raheem indicates the eternity of the attribute emphasizing the
constancy and permanence of mercy that never diminishes or fades. It
emphasizes its continuity and indicates that He did not just stop after
creating and setting up a system of nature optimal for our sustenance and
revealing guidance for our benefit. – He is continuously taking care
of the universe and His obedient servants and will continue to do in the
hereafter as well.

Use of both superlative adjectives indicates that His mercy is so
boundless that no one word can describe all its aspects and its extent.

Out of all the wonderful attributes of Allaah, the mention of
these two attributes at the very outset clearly establishes the tone of
Allaah’s relationship with us; i.e., Allaah relates to His creations,
especially human beings, with mercy, kindness and grace. Although He is
the Greatest beyond all our images of greatness, and although He is
Almighty and infinitely powerful, He is immensely kind to his creations. As
He Himself has said in the Qur-aan, “My Mercy extends over
everything[3].”

This verse occurs at the start of 113 out of 114 soorahs
(Chapters) of the Qur-aan, except for soorah Towbah. Some scholars take it to
be part and parcel of all those 113 Chapters. Others think that it is
part of soorah Faatihah, but for other soorahs, it is just a means of
demarcation. Most of the scholars, however, consider it as an independent
verse of the Qur-aan that is used as a separator between chapters. It
also occurs as a part of the 30th verse of soorah An-Naml (Ch. 27). It
really does not matter whether it is considered part of a soorah or not.
What really matters is that the text of the Holy Qur-aan, including
this verse, is preserved perfectly and exactly as was taught and dictated
by the Prophet[4]. When reciting the Qur-aan, Muslims continue to write
and recite Bismillaah exactly at the places where the Prophet used to
do.

Starting the recitation with this verse implies: I recite in the
name of Allaah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful Who has revealed
this Qur-aan in His own exact words as a special act of kindness, mercy
and grace for our guidance.

Although Prophet Muhammad recited this verse and all the other
contents of revelations exactly as they were revealed to him, doing just
as he was told, the people with knowledge of the Torah found that this
was a fulfillment of a prophecy, a promise and a warning made by Allaah
to Moses and to the Israelites[5] in response to their request and
supplication mentioned in the Book of Deuteronomy, where they were told by
Allaah:

“I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their
brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them
everything I command him. If anyone does not listen to my words that the
prophet speaks in my Name, I myself will call him to account.”[6]

It also fulfills the command that was given in the very first
revelation to Prophet Muhammad when he was commanded to,

“Proclaim in the name of your Lord who created – Who created man
from a clinging clot. Proclaim! As your Lord is the Most Generous Who
taught with the pen – taught man what he did not know.”[7]

Muslims are taught to recite this verse (Bismillaah) before doing
anything, taking any action or embarking on any project. This recital
becomes a reminder, a statement of intention and a supplication. As a
reminder, it helps the reciter avoid any action that is disapproved by
Allaah. After consciously saying “In the name of Allaah…”, it is not
possible for a person to do something that cannot be done in Allaah’s name.
As a statement of intention, it helps the reciter do the right action
with the right spirit, the right intent and right attitude – all for the
sake of Allaah. As a supplication or prayer, it invokes the Gracious
Lord’s mercy, help, support and blessings for the action being
undertaken. When it is recited with deliberate consciousness keeping all three
aspects in mind, it delivers all the aforementioned benefits. If the
words of this verse are recited just mechanically without much thought or
consciousness, the reciter will naturally fail to attain the benefits
described.

____________________________



[1] In Islamic terminology, a prophet does not necessarily mean a
person who tells about futuristic events of this world, but a person
appointed by Allaah to call people to Islam and to tell them about unseen
things such as Allaah, hereafter, paradise, hell, angels, Satan, etc.
He works on reviving the existing Islamic teachings in the society. A
messenger is a prophet who also brings new teachings from Allaah.

[2] ‘What is His Name’ by Ahmed Deedat

[3] Soorah Al-A’raaf 7:156

[4] A capitalized “Prophet” or “Messenger” will always represent
Muhammad in this document. A lower case prophet or messenger will
represent any other prophet or messenger.

[5] Israelites are the descendent of Jacob whose title was Israel
(Israaeel). It is used commonly as another name for the Jews.

[6] NIV Deut 18:18-19

[7] Soorah Al-‘Alaq 96:1-5

Next: Al-Faatihah - Verses 2 - 7

Copyright ?2003, Ayub A. Hamid

Permission is granted to circulate among private individuals and groups, to post on Internet sites and to publish in full in not-for-profit publications.
Contact author for all other rights, which are reserved



Please Note: This series is providing the teachings of the Qur'aan, not a literal translation.
Instead of literal translation, it gives interpretive meanings of the verses, along with their contextual details.
Please remember that any translation of the Holy Qur'aan is in fact only an expression of the translator's understanding of the Word of Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta'aala, and hence cannot be equated with the Qur'aan itself.
Only the original Arabic text can be called the Holy Qur'aan.

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