Meaning of the Verse
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious,
the Ever Merciful.
Historical Status of the Verse
A study of the Qur’an reveals
that since ancient times there has always been a mention of the meanings
encompassed by this verse in revealed scriptures in one form or another.
It may be the first time that these meanings are framed in such a sublime
diction in the Qur’an, yet what they convey is so close to human
nature that one strongly feels that the Almighty must also have revealed
them in the very beginning. The Prophet Noah (sws), when his followers
were boarding the ark, said something quite similar, as has been mentioned
in the Qur’an:
And he said: Embark therein! In the name of Allah
will it sail and cast anchor. Indeed, my Lord is Forgiving and Merciful.
Similarly, the Prophet Solomon (sws) began
his letter, addressed to the Queen of Sheeba, with these blessed words,
as has been quoted by the Qur’an:
It is from Solomon and it [begins] in the name
of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Ever Merciful. (27:30)
Prayer Nature of the Verse
The verse is not an informative statement,
and, like Surah Fatihah, is actually a prayer. It is a voice which
emanates from the heart of every upright person. A more beautiful expression
of emotions in words so akin to human nature could not have been imagined.
If a person consciously utters this prayer before any piece of work or
routine, it makes him aware that what he is about to undertake must not
be against the Almighty’s liking; on the contrary, it must be in accordance
with the way of life prescribed by Him. Also, by virtue of this prayer
he seeks help from two great attributes of God – Rahman and Rahim.
Both these attributes secure him the blessings and help of the Almighty:
he is protected from the ill-effects of his undertaking and receives strength
and courage to carry out his task to completion; he is shielded from the
onslaughts of Satan, and his work becomes beneficial for him in the world
and a means to please the Almighty in the Hereafter. Anything done without
this prayer certainly fails to reap all these blessings, as the Prophet
(sws) himself is reported to have said.
Attributes of the Almighty in the Verse
Three attributes of the Almighty have
been mentioned in the verse: Allah, Rahman and Rahim. We
shall briefly explain them.
Allah: The word Allah has been
made by prefixing the article alif-lam to the word ilah.
From the earliest times, this name has always been used for the Almighty
specifically as the Creator of the Universe and of every living being.
This connotation of the word existed in pre-Islamic times as well in Arabia.
The people of Arabia practised polytheism, yet they never equated any of
their deities with the Almighty. They always acknowledged Him as the sole
Creator of this world. They worshipped other deities only because they
wrongly believed that these deities were close to God and could intercede
for them. Their views have been stated in detail in the Qur’an:
We worship them only that they may bring us nearer
to God. (39:3)
And if you ask them: who has created the heavens and
the earth and subjected the sun and the moon [to His law]? They will reply:
Allah. How are they then deluded away [from the truth]. It is Allah who
gives abundantly to whom He pleases and gives sparingly [to whom He pleases].
Allah has knowledge of all things. If you ask them: who it is that sent
down-rain from the clouds and therewith revived the earth after it became
dead. They will say: Allah. (29: 61-63)
Ask them: who is it that sustains you from the sky and
the earth, or who is it that has power over your hearing and sight and
who brings forth the living from the dead and the dead from the living
and who directs all affairs? They will say: Allah. Then ask: Are you not
afraid of Him? (10:31)
Rahman and Rahim:
The noun Rahman is the intensive form of Fa‘lan (eg: Sakran
and Gadban), while the noun Rahim is an adjective of the form
Fa‘il (eg: ‘Alim and Karim). A look at the usage of
the Arabic language shows that the form Fa‘lan expresses great fervency
and enthusiasm, while the form Fa‘il expresses steadiness and perpetuity.
In other words, the first depicts vigour and the second constancy in God’s
mercy. A little deliberation shows that the Almighty’s mercy on His creation
possesses both these characteristics. The enthusiasm and warmth is complemented
by permanence. It is not that His attribute of Rahman induced Him to
create, and He later forgot to foster and sustain His creation. Indeed,
He is nourishing and taking proper care of them because He is Rahim
as well. Whenever a person invokes His help, He hears his calls and
accepts his prayers. Also, His blessings are not confined to this world
only. Those who lead their lives according to the path prescribed by Him,
shall be blessed with eternal life and joy. It must be conceded that all
these aspects cannot be comprehended without an integrated understanding
of these attributes.
(Translated and Adapted from Tadabbur-i-Qur’an
by Shehzad Saleem)