Let us consider the internal coherence in the sūrah.
Before taking up that, however, I would like to uncover some of the facts
implied in this sūrah, the full extent of which none other than God can fully
know. Some of this knowledge escapes like rays emanating from a concealed body.
A very careful and keen observer can be led by these rays, which are delicate
textual indicators and allusions to their source: implied knowledge. Since,
however, they are not based on clear and explicit textual statements, it is not
necessary for common people to have faith in them.
I have decided to explain these points of wisdom buried in
the sūrah only because I see that in the present day a new sect has arisen
seeking to interpret the Qur’ān without knowing the art of interpretation after
the example of a sect emerging with the claims of the esoteric. Prominent
figures and leaders among this latter group claimed to be the heads of state at
the time that they were “the guarded and infallible leaders”. This was in spite
of the fact that the scholars among them stated, in no unclear terms, that they
based their conclusions on the books of the Prophets and the philosophers. In a
similar fashion, a group in our times has claimed that God has sent to them a
messenger. He has, they claim, revealed to them the secrets of the Qur’ān. Thus
this new Prophet, or rather impostor, put those, who lacked the knowledge I
intend to give here, in great tribulation. He created divisions in the Muslims.
He decreed that those who did not believe in him and his revelations would
When I saw that people faced with the test of this claim
which mixes truth and falsehood, needed guidance, I decided to uncover some of
the realities buried in the sūrah so that they could learn the truth and follow
it. They would then be able to understand that the revelation and the status of
a divine messenger are beyond and superior to what the party believing in the
imposter have assumed. I intend to explain that we must not rely on anything
other than the Qur’ān or the books of the Prophets (the scriptures). Whereas, in
this discussion, I have followed the method of the people of symbolisms and
figurations, yet I have not followed any absurd argumentation. At the same time
I have not abandoned the obvious meaning of the words for esoteric meanings.
This is enough for a preface. Now I proceed to uncover the treasure of knowledge
buried in the sūrah with the help of God and His blessings.
The First Screen
It would be useful to know that the number of verses of
the sūrahs of the Qur’ān has not been clearly mentioned in the Book. This sūrah,
however, is an exception. The Almighty has given it a name, which develops on
the number of its verses. This means that God intends us to ponder over the
number of its verses. We know that numbers are given extraordinary importance in
the divine books. Similarly the philosophers too hold that all the matters of
the world are determined through numbers. A similar statement is found in the
Qur’ān where the Almighty says: “We have created everything under a decreed
measure,” (Q 54:49) and again “to God everything is in a set proportion,” (Q
13:8). The issue concerning the importance of numbers will be explained in my
book al-Taqdīr wa al-Ḥisbān.
When we contemplate on the role of and correspondence between numbers and what
they indicate, we are not actually following baseless superstitions.
Furthermore, the Qur’ān has told us that there will be
eight carriers of the divine throne on the Day of Judgment. God says: “And eight
(angels) will carry above them the throne of your Lord that day,” (Q 69:17).
Scholars have believed, as do I that the number of the angels holding the throne
shall increase on the Day of Judgment. Presently there are only four angels to
carry out this duty. This has been mentioned in a prophetic tradition, though
not in great detail. We can, however, find the details in the books of the
biblical Prophets. It has been mentioned in the Bible that the Prophet Dhū al-Kifl
(sws) and the Prophet Yaḥyā (sws) saw seven spirits under the throne of God and
four angels engaged in glorifying God. I interpret the tradition in the light of
these biblical statements.
We learn from the Qur’ān that there is al-rūḥ (spirit)
which is special and more important than the angels, just as a human being is
superior to an animal. God almighty says: “On the day when al-rūḥ and the
angels shall stand arrayed,” (Q 78:38) and again “al-rūḥ and the angels ascend
in it,” (Q 97:4). Notice how the Almighty mentioned al-rūḥ before the angels
while referring to their standing before God, and then He reversed the order
while mentioning their descent. This indicates the superiority and high status
of al-rūḥ. Then, in the mention of the holding up of the throne of God, both
have been mentioned in a general manner. However, God has here again,
differentiated between those who hold the throne and those who surround it. He
says: “Those who hold the throne and the ones who surround it,” (Q 40:7). At
another place He says: “You shall see the angels surround the environs of the
throne,” (Q 39:75). From these verses we learn that those who hold the throne
are the seven superior al-rūḥs and surrounding it are angels.
Note that the total number of al-rūḥs and the angels
mentioned in this reference is seven. It also needs to be appreciated that al-rūḥ
deals with souls and spirits, while the angels are entrusted the affairs of
bodies. The Almighty says: “The angels and al-rūḥ descend in it with the
permission of their Lord, with all decrees,” (Q 97:4). This shows that there is
no issue regarding which the angels and al-rūḥ do not descend with divine
decrees. The Almighty says: “To him ascend the angels and al-rūḥ in a day the
measure of which is fifty thousand years,” (Q 70:4). In the book of the Prophet
Dū al-Kifl (sws) and in the revelations of the Prophet Yaḥyā (sws), we learn
that the angels appeared to them in the form of a man, lion, bull and eagle.
These make four. The fifth was an animal they did not recognize for they had not
seen it before. He was the one already expelled. He was previously included
among them. He is Satan, the chief of the lowly, in the form of a serpent. This
is why he has been named Satan. Similarly they (Dū al-Kifl and Yaḥyā) did not
mention two more angels who are in charge of vegetation. Both of them are below
that place near the Sidrah al-Muntahā. These angels of the second cadre are
junior in status to the seven holding ones. The latter also are seven in number
as has been mentioned earlier. It has also been explicitly mentioned in the
books of the prophets.
The Holy Qur’ān has informed us of issues regarding the
Spirits and the angels which were not told in the books of the earlier prophets.
Conversely, there are issues which the books of the earlier prophets detail for
us and which the Qur’ān does not speak about, for general human beings did not
need to know about them. The holy Qur’ān merely referred to them in allusion.
They are, however, discernable by those granted understanding which they employ
and obtain additional grandeur. Thus the Almighty initially mentioned in the
holy Qur’ān that He commanded the angels to prostrate before Adam (sws) blowing
His spirit into him.
We have learnt that al-rūḥ is an entity superior to the
other servants of God. It shows that God commanded the angels to obey the Sacred
Spirit (al-rūḥ al-qudus). The Book clearly states that al-rūḥ al-qudus is
distinguished and obeys the will of the Lord. The implication is that the angels
must be obliged to following al-rūḥ al-qudus.
We know that every creature in this world is made to serve
man. It is obliged to serve him. This fact leads us to the thought that man
partakes of the spirit of al-rūḥ al-qudus which is the obeyed one (al-mutā‘).
To whatever degree a man goes higher in worship of God and purifies himself from
the contamination of his flesh, to the same measure God increases his share in
the qualities of al-rūḥ and more creatures surrender before him with the
permission of God even when he does not intend to subjugate them to his will.
Such a believer grows into a perfect worshipper, who is satisfied with his fate.
God too is pleased with him. It has been mentioned in the holy Qur’ān concerning
the dignified servants of God. It has also been mentioned in the sound ḥadīths
that (God says): “[….] until I become his ears and his eyes […..].” Thus the
creatures obey him and he obeys his Lord. This means that following him is in
fact following God. The Qur'ān says: [Tell them O Prophet], “If you love God
follow me, God will love you,” (Q 2:31). Being obeyed in this way, he does not
become a partner to God nor a deity. Rather, he is a perfect servant of God who
has obtained perfection in worshipping Him. He is to God as a command, pen, and
the law are to a king. Whoever obeys laws issuing from a king is deemed to have
followed the king himself.
In the Holy Qur’ān, the Prophet Abraham (sws) is reported
to have said: “Except the Lord of the worlds, Who has created me (in love and
passion), for He shall guide me (to his presence). It is He who feeds me and
waters me (in this worldly life from beyond the screens). When I fall ill He
cures me (from the physical ailments. Will He not then cure the one suffering
from burning thirst of the soul in this worldly life?) The one Who gives me life
and gives me death (just as He cures someone after he is weak and ailing). The
one Who, I hope, will forgive my mistakes on the Last Judgment (for He is dayyān,
the retributer, and just so it is only appropriate to hope that He would cover
me with His mercy on the Day of Judgment). O Lord, (now Abraham (sws) calls
Almighty Allah in this manner as he started in the beginning by referring to the
divine attributes, the Lord of the worlds, in a profound sense of nearness)
grant me wisdom and annex me to the virtuous ones (those who are Your party and
those of our forefathers who have obtained access to Your presence). And create
for me a tongue of truth in the last ones (i.e. raise from among my successor
generations people who fulfill my word and who join me). Make me one of those
who shall possess station in the paradise of blessings (where I shall mix with
those who are Your party and where You will feed and water me just as You gave
me sustenance in this world and so that You forgive me and place me under Your
mercy.” (Q 26:77-85)
These verses indicate that all virtuous people shall
reside in the same paradise, in spite of the fact that there would be many
paradises for people of different religious and moral status. Consider, for
example, that we have been blessed with many faculties. Some of us are superior
to others in spite of the fact that a single spirit runs through all of us.
Similarly the residents of Paradise shall be placed in a single garden with
varying blessings. This is also evident from the following Qur’āinc verse
wherein the Almighty says: “And we remove whatever rancor may be in their
breasts. As brethren, face to face, they rest on couches raised,” (Q 15:47). In
regards to the invocation of Abraham (sws) mentioned above, we refer to what he
(sws) said following the above mentioned supplication. He mentions the dwellers
of Hell and says: “They shall be thrown headlong into it and with them the
erring ones (just as they fell upon their faces in this very world. Satan is
their perfect example who walks on his belly) and also the armies of Iblīs, all
of them (that is all such people as have adopted to fall on their faces with
regards to facing the truth and walk prostrated on their bellies),” (Q 26:
If you ponder over these verses, you will notice that two
groups have been mentioned in contrast to each other, as has been briefly
mentioned elsewhere, where God says: “A party shall be in Heaven and another
party in Hell,” (Q 26:7). God mentioned the characteristics of both in the
following verses: “Is he who goes prone upon his face better guided or he who
walks upright upon a straight path,” (Q 67:22). Man thus represents an
independent world. He shall reside with those similar to him. The Prophet (sws)
therefore uttered before his death: “God, but with the most superior company.”
He meant to say that the purpose of his prophethood had been fulfilled and the
divine teachings had been perfected, therefore he could not bear to stay away
from His blessed company. He did not say: “the companions”. Rather he said “the
company” in order to stress the perfect unity of the members of the company.
Only those who intend to understand may comprehend that these companions
(desired by the Prophet (sws)) are none other than those who followed the right
path of leading a servant to his Lord (ṣirāṭ al-mustaqīm). This has been
alluded to in the following verse saying: “My Lord is on the straight path (that
is he can be found by pursuing the right path),” (Q 11:56).
This is the path all the prophets, the virtuous ones, the witnesses to the
truth, and the righteous ones followed. The details of this you shall learn
Paradise is the place of meeting and union of pure souls.
It is the place where the countenance of God shines upon the perfect man,
according to the measure of perfection he has obtained. The perfect man is the
one who covers the traits of the seven rūḥs. It is, in fact, the eighth rūḥ
which is lost under the dazzling light of the greatest name of God. Seven verses
of Sūrah al-Fātiḥah, thus, represent the seven stations and degrees. These
seven verses are crowned by the verse, bismillāh al-raḥmān al-raḥīm. This
verse assumes the eighth stage. Upon it shine the rays emanating from the divine
light, which has been termed the throne of God. This (that the throne of God is
in fact the divine presence) I understand in the light of the following verse:
“The God-fearing people shall reside in the gardens and the canal in the station
of the truth near the powerful owner,” (Q 54-5). We
shall return to explanation of this eighth stage in...
So this sūrah, just as it is a brief mention of the Qur’ānic themes,
comprehensively covers the worlds of the spirits and the carriers of the throne
The Second Screen
The sūrah also removes the screens from the facts
regarding degrees and status of men. God has said: “The path of those You have
blessed, not those Who earned Your wrath nor those who went astray,”(Q 1:7). In
Sūrah Nisā’, the Almighty says: “And we did not send any messenger but that he
should be obeyed by Allah’s permission; and had they after having wronged
themselves come to you and asked forgiveness of Allah and the Messenger had also
asked His forgiveness for them, they would have found Allah Oft-relenting and
Merciful. But no! By your Lord! they do not truly believe unless they make you a
judge of that which has become a matter of disagreement among them, whereas they
did not find any straightness in their hearts as to your decision and fully
submitted. And if We had commanded them to lay down their lives (as we had
previously prescribed for them through Moses (sws)) or go forth from their homes
(as Moses (sws) had expelled their forefathers previously), they would not have
done it except a few of them; and if they had done what they were admonished
for, it would have certainly been better for them and best in strengthening
them; and then We would certainly have given them from Ourselves a great reward
(as I promised them great reward if they obeyed this unlettered Prophet). And We
would certainly have guided them in the right path. Whoever obeys Allah and the
Messenger, these are with those upon whom Allah has bestowed favors from among
the prophets and the truthful and the witnesses (to the truth) and the good, and
a goodly company are they! This is grace from Allah, and sufficient is Allah as
the Knower.” (Q 4:64-70)
Most part of the meaning and implication of these verses
was not lost upon the commentators. They all agree that these verses explicate
the “mun‘am ‘alayhim” (the blessed ones) mentioned briefly in Sūrah al-Fātiḥah.
They hold that these people are of four degrees of status: the prophets, the
truthful, the witnesses to the truth and the pious. Now I proceed to explain
this matter in light of what has been mentioned earlier and what is related to
the above mentioned verse of Sūrah Nisā’, which contains the details of the four
degrees of excellence.
It is to be noted that these verses address the People of
the Book and that the hypocrites also belonged to them. These verses call them
to true submission, and perfect and unconditional following of the Prophet (sws).
It informs them that if those who have wronged themselves by sin came to the
Prophet (sws), and also seek God’s forgiveness through intercession by the
Prophet (sws), they would find God oft-relenting and merciful. He would forgive
their previous sins. Then if they remained firm on this repentant attitude
through proper obedience, they would be granted more reward. He would then
bestow them with guidance to the straight path, the path followed by those whom
God has blessed. We thus learn that below and yet next to the above mentioned
four degrees of status, there lies a fifth degree which is that of those who
seek God’s forgiveness after having wronged themselves. They too would join
these four groups of people. This can be clearly gleaned from the following
divine statement: “These are with those upon whom Allah has bestowed favors.” (Q
Repentance after error, therefore, awards a believer a
degree of excellence. It is an attitude which has frequently been praised both
in the Qur’ān and the Gospels. We know that the characteristics of the Prophets
include first inābah (turning to God in repentance), second, al-ṣalah
(righteousness), third, al-shahādah (bearing witness to the truth), fourth,
ṣiddāqiyyah (uprightness) and fifth, the nubuwwah (prophethood). The Prophets
combine all characteristics of ‘ubūdiyyah (bondage/servitude to God) and its
associated beauties. All these excellences mediate between two other degrees of
distinction, as you shall soon learn.
Know that the first of these levels of excellence
resulting from servitude to God is repentance (tawbah) and the last one is
gratitude. Some of the Prophets attain perfection in some of these levels of
excellence. The same is the case of their followers. You know that the highest
blessing of God in this world has been bestowed in the form of His last covenant
with humans, the Holy Qur’ān. In contrast, the best form of blessing humans
shall be awarded in the Afterlife is meeting with Him and returning to Him. It
is therefore understandable why the Last Prophet (sws) was awarded the station
of ḥamd (praise) i.e. he is the praised one. The holy Qur’ān says: “It may be
that your Lord will raise you to a praised status,” (Q 17:79). It is to this
characteristic that the names (Aḥmad and Muḥammad) of the Last Prophet
indicate, as has been said in a ḥadīth that the flag of ḥamd (praise) is in
his hands and he is the leader of the white footed with white-foreheads.
This point is the key to understanding the levels of
excellence of the Prophets. For we see that Adam (sws) is the model for the
repentant. He fell into error, repented and was subsequently chosen as a guide.
Those with firm knowledge of religion do not condemn a wrong committed out of
ignorance. Falling into error out of ignorance is the initial level of a being
human. It is only because of his impetuousness that man opted for being
entrusted with the amānah.
If man did not have this characteristic , he too would have refused to take this
trust like the heavens and the earth. This is not the proper place to explain
this point fully. There is no doubt that Adam (sws) is placed on the initial
level of excellence. You shall soon learn that he partakes of the last level too
in a certain way.
As you have learnt the first and the last level of
excellence, I deem it appropriate to inform you of some of the secrets of all
the levels. One should be aware that the prophets have seven different levels
corresponding to the seven verses of this sūrah (al-Fātiḥah). Therefore, the
first verse, al-ḥamdu lillāhi rabb al-‘ālamīn (all gratitude is due to the Lord
of the worlds) refers to the status of Muhammad (sws). This has just been
explained. The second verse, al-raḥmān al-raḥīm (the Compassionate the
ever-Merciful) refers to the status of Jesus Christ (sws), for he was an epitome
of mercy. This is based on some clear and implicit textual proofs. Regarding the
implicit basis, we know that the word raḥmān mostly occurs in the sūrahs which
specially mention Jesus (sws). This point has not been raised by any of the
earlier commentators of the Qur’ān as far as I know. As for the clear proof of
my assertion, it is based on the fact that God has mentioned that mercy is the
characteristic of Jesus’s (sws) followers. God Almighty says: “And (we) placed
compassion and mercy in the hearts of those who followed him (i.e. Jesus),” (Q
57:27). The third verse, māliki yawm al-dīn (the master of the Day of Judgment),
reminds us of the status of Moses (sws). This is because he exhibited perfect
justice and enjoined virtue and forbade evil. God did not bestow upon any of the
Prophets coming before or after him detailed laws in the manner in which he was
given them. This has been affirmed by the Holy Qur’ān. He also exemplified the
Last Judgment in its miniature form in this very world. During his prophetic
mission, God behaved as though He was a ruler over them. He showed them His
signs so that they might believe in the Judgment Day and its ruler. Consider the
verse: “Then, We gave the Book to Moses to complete Our blessings on him who
would do righteous actions, and in which was a detail of all things and a
guidance and a mercy, so that they should believe in the meeting of their Lord,”
A student of the Torah with sound knowledge of the
circumstances of rule of the Israelites, from Moses (sws) to David (sws), would
know this fact. For it was during this period that God refreshed His covenant
with the Israelites and made them build the Sacred House (bayt al-maqdis). If we
consider these and other related facts, it becomes evident that the rule of God
was clearly discernable among the Israelites.
The fourth verse, iyyāka na‘budu wa iyyāka nasta‘īn (you
alone we worship and you alone we ask for help), reminds us of the time of David
(sws). For during his times, the armies of God visited the Israelites
continuously. God had helped them another time. He granted them a great empire.
He caused them to build a sanctuary for Himself in their land so that they could
worship Him in it and seek blessings through this House. This can be learnt from
the history of the Israelites, as mentioned in the books of their prophets. The
holy Qur’ān too narrates the story of David (sws) in the second sūrah. The
Almighty specially mentions His help for the Israelites. He tells us that the
purpose of it was nothing other than the fact that they were made to worship God
and to purify the House of God. Details can be found in the commentary on the
verse: “And David slew Goliath and God gave him rule and wisdom and taught him
of whatever knowledge He desired. And had God not repelled one people through
another, the earth would indeed be full of mischief, but God is extremely
graceful upon the people of the world,” (Q 2:251). In the referred to
commentary, you shall learn the essence of worship and jihād. David (sws) was
the first king among and over the Israelites. Ṭalūt was sent before David (sws)
in order to pave the way for David (sws). He was a king for the time being. He
had snatched the rule (from tyrants). The task of building the Sacred House too
was delayed till the rule of Solomon (sws) for certain reasons and under a great
wisdom. In fact, it was David (sws) himself who decided to build the House and
he asked God’s permission to do so. God Almighty did not allow him to do so for
certain reasons residing in His wisdom. God, however, promised him that his son,
Solomon (sws), would be performing this blessed service.
It is not difficult for a serious student of the
scriptures to discern that David (sws) is the head of all Israelite kings. It is
for this very reason that Jesus (sws) has been termed an “heir to David” (sws)
in the Gospels. And it is precisely for the same reason that, in the Scriptures,
the kingdom of the Israelites is mentioned by way of parable as “the throne of
David (sws)”. David (sws) is the servant of God who sought God’s help. Just
read through the Psalms to learn how earnestly he supplicates God for help and
how humbly he asks Him to grant him, and also his followers, the power and the
ability to curb the power of the wicked and remove them from the land. This is
why God has selected the Psalms for mention of the glad tidings regarding those
who would be granted rule of the land. God says: “We have written in the Psalms,
following the reminder, that my righteous servants shall inherit the land,”(Q
21:105). Similar statements abound in the sayings of the Prophet Solomon (sws).
The fifth verse, ihdinā ṣirāt al-mustaq̣īm (guide us to
the straight path), clearly refers to the station of Abraham (sws). For the
straight path is that of tawḥīd and God-orientedness. There is no doubt that
all the Prophets of God adhered to this very path but:
1. Abraham (sws) is the leader of the monotheists. A great
number of Qur’ānic verses term the path of Abraham (sws) as the straight path.
2. He is the first who broke the idols.
3. He is the one who laid the foundations of the House of
the one God, just as David (sws) had built the Sacred House of sacrificial
offerings. For a detailed discussion, see my commentary on Sūrah al-Fīl (Q 105).
4. He is the first to have quickly adopted the religion of
God and to have fled to Him immediately. This makes him the leader of the
emigrants in the way of Allah. This is why the Prophet (sws) of Islam has been
commanded by God to follow him. The circumstances of both were similar.
5. He is the one who named us muslimīn (submitters to the
truth) previously. Muslims are, therefore, more rightfully related to Abraham (sws).
Consider the following verse: “Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian. He was
a plain Muslim. And he was not of those who associate partners with Allah.
Surely the nearest of people to Abraham are those who followed him and they are
this Prophet and those who have believed. And Allah is the friend to the
believers,” (Q 3:67-8).
Notice the way the verse concludes with remarks that God
is the friend of the believers. Thus we learn that Abraham (sws) set the path of
friendship to God. He showed us how to meet God by following the straight path.
Now consider the following verse: “Declare: ‘My Lord has indeed guided me to the
right path; a most right religion, the faith of Abraham, the upright one. And he
was not of the polytheists’. Declare, ‘Indeed my prayer and my sacrifice and my
life and my death are all for Allah, the Lord of the worlds,’” (Q 6:161-2).
The above discussion, it is hoped, has made it clear that
the straight path contains a special reference to the station of Abraham (sws),
because of his initiative to prepare himself to tread this path, and because of
the extraordinary perseverance he showed in this way. I shall, by the will of
God, add to the discussion on the vast and profound meanings that this
expression contains in the following discussions.
Since you have learnt the correspondence and affinity of
these five verses to the status of five great messengers of God, it is time to
refer to the correspondence and relation of four of the qualities of nubuwwah (prophethood),
ṣiddīqiyyah (uprightness), al-shahādah (witnessing to the truth/martyrdom) and
al-ṣalah (righteousness) with four Prophets. I will resume explanation of the
remaining three qualities afterwards.
Note that the first of these qualities, nubuwwah, is
specifically the characteristic of the status of the Prophet Muhammad (sws). The
Torah has specifically called him ‘al-nabī”. The particle AL signifies
distinctiveness. It serves to indicate that a particular nabī is being referred
to. The second quality, ṣiddīqiyyah, is particularly attributed to the Prophet
Jesus (sws), the ṣiddīq. The Qur’ān has ascribed the attribute ṣiddīq to many
prophets, including Abraham (sws), Isma‘īl (sws), Idrīs (sws) and to Maryam, in
a general sense. Generally, every such person showing truthfulness in faith can
be called by this appellation. The verse: “Those who believed in Allah and His
Messengers, they are the truthful (ṣiddīq) and the witnesses (al-shuhadā’) in
the sight of their Lord,” (Q 57:19) uses this word in this general sense. Thus
all the prophets are truthful (ṣiddīq), as well as witnesses to the truth (shahīd).
Besides, we see that truthfulness is a flower which grows out of purification
(ṭ@ahārah). Ṭahārah has not been attributed to any prophet except for Jesus (sws).
While referring to his attributes the Almighty says: “(I am) going to raise you
to Me and purify you,” (Q 3:55). Concerning his mother Mary, He says: “God has
selected and purified you and has chosen you above all the women of the world,”
Purification of a servant of God denotes that he devotes
himself to the service of God. I see that this quality is glaringly obvious in
Abraham (sws). He abandoned his personal desires and needs, including his
wealth, father and nation. He migrated to a barren land. Similar is the case
with Ismā‘īl and Maryam. Both of them devoted themselves to the service of the
House of God. Thus a ṣiddīq is a person who is truly devout and obedient. This
is why the king of Egypt called the Prophet Joseph a ṣiddīq. Joseph was, in the
sight of the king, purified from all blemishes. He was a true slave. This is
reflected from the following saying attributed to him in the holy Qur’ān: “You
are this day a person of established position and trust with us.” (Joseph) said:
"Appoint me over the treasures of the land, for I am a good and knowing
custodian,” (Q 12:54-5).
A ṣiddīq, thus, is a man who deserves to be trusted with,
first and foremost, the position of vicegerent. This is precisely why the
Almighty Allah made the Prophet Jesus (sws) leader of all the Israelites. He was
perfectly devout and truthful to God. He dedicated himself on the command of the
Almighty. This entitled him to the kingship over the entire nation of
Israelites. This has been indicated in the Qur’ān and the Gospels.
Once God had placed Jesus (sws) at this high position of
purity, trust and kingship, He made him a giver of glad tidings of the advent of
the Prophet Aḥmad (sws) (another name of Muḥammad), the seal of the Prophets
and the completer of the religion. This was because such a prophecy coming
through Jesus (sws) would be the most perfect and the soundest one. It meant
that the Israelites did not have a valid excuse to deny the Last Prophet (sws).
They had to believe in the prophesied one. That is why, prior to the advent of
Muḥammad (sws), they sought God’s help and victory through him over those who
wronged them. This prophesy by Jesus (sws) was fulfilled. No one could deny it.
The world saw that the Prophet Muḥammad (sws) was victorious in a very short
period of time. He wiped out the three great empires of Rome, Egypt and Persia,
who had previously subjugated the Israelites. He obtained victory for the
progeny of Abraham (sws) and his own brethren. We know that these three defeated
nations were once the most exalted nations on the earth. This incident has no
parallel in human history. (For details, see my commentary on Sūrah al-Baqarah.)
Notice the close relation between both of these prophets
(Jesus and Muḥammad (sws)). God called them both a mercy. Concerning Jesus (sws)
God says: “So that we made him a sign for the people and mercy from Us,” (Q
19:21). Similarly the Prophet Muḥammad (sws) has been called “Mercy for all
mankind,” (Q 21:107). Likewise, both have been called nūr (light), sirāj (lamp),
‘abd (servant) and mubārak (blessed). Since the condition of both is similar,
the stage of perfection is characteristic of the Prophet Muḥammad (sws) and the
status of the ṣiddīq is next to the status of nubuwwah (prophethood), I hope
you might be able to conclude that the Prophet Jesus (sws) is placed in status,
as far perfection is concerned, right next to the Prophet Muḥammad (sws). Later
on I will, however, explain this point further by the will of God.
The third quality (shahādah) is characteristic of the
Prophet Moses (sws). Through generally all the Prophets are shahīd along with
their followers, as has been clearly mentioned in the Qur’ān, yet the Prophet
Moses (sws) is the next most superior shahīd after the Prophet Muḥammad (sws)
and Jesus (sws). Moses (sws) witnessed the truth over his people by the most
manifest miracles and divine signs. Even today, the Torah is the clearest
evidence of the divine judgment and rule. Moses (sws) declared his people to be
witnesses over the nations. He made his people stand at the mashhad (witness
stand). He gave them the clear Book of God. He is the one who stood against the
despot king (Pharaoh). He proclaimed the truth openly before the despot. This
was because God had made him a witness to the truth and naturally its upholder.
He struck the Copt with his fist for the wrong he had committed. He directed his
people to kill themselves. He would also become furious for the sake of the
truth. No Prophet before him directed his followers to do such things. This is
the meaning of shahādah (witnessing to the truth). Moses (sws) is, thus, the
leader of shuhadā’ from among the Israelites. Whoever, thus, speaks the truth,
helps the truth, has no fear in conveying the truth, and strives hard against
the falsehood with his hands and body is a shahīd.
The Almighty Allah made Moses (sws) a perfect shahīd. He
chose him as the greatest witness to the Prophethood of Muḥammad (sws) as he
promised the Israelites that God would complete their mission through a Prophet
(sws), raised from among their brethren. He bound them in a firm covenant. He
sprinkled blood on the heads of the leaders of the twelve tribes of the
Israelites to establish the covenant. They promised to believe in the promised
Prophet (sws). They were in reciprocity of the promise that God would grant them
victory over their enemies through this promised Prophet (sws). Moses (sws) also
informed them that if, instead they chose to disbelieve in the promised Prophet
(sws), God would curse them and inflict them with great punishment. History has
proved that what Moses (sws) foretold in this regard was perfectly fulfilled.
The details of this issue can be found under the commentary of the following
verse of Sūrah al-Mā’idah. God Almighty says: “And God entered into a covenant
with the Children of Israel. And We raised among them twelve leaders. And God
said to them: “Surely, I shall be with you, if you observe the ṣalāh and pay
the zakāh, and believe in My messengers and support them,” (Q 5:12). Some part
of the discussion can be found under the following verse of Sūrah Baqarah: “And
when there came to them a Book from God confirming that which they already
possessed, and previously they used to pray for victory against those who
disbelieved,” (Q 2:89).
At the fifth level is the status of the Prophet David (sws),
the ṣāliḥ (righteous). He is indeed the person whom God chose for khilāfah as
has been clearly mentioned in the holy Qur’ān. God has, in the Qur’ān, used this
word to qualify many Prophets to teach us that they are the model in this
regard. Know that ṣalāḥ is a quality in an individual which is based on his
ability to properly deal with the people and is reflective of his social
conduct. The essence of ṣalāḥ is forgiveness, accommodating the erring,
tolerance, longanimity, and avoidance of showing disinterest in affairs,
accompanied by submission and turning to God. Ṣalāḥ, therefore, earns one
great excellence. It is based on one’s ability to engage in good dealings with
related people and the capacity of appropriate social aptitude. It is in
considering this meaning of the term that we come to learn why it is widely used
in different connotations in the holy Qur’ān. Consider a few such examples. God
says: “And arrange marriages for widows from among you, and for your male slaves
and female slaves who are fit for marriage (al-ṣāliḥīn),” (Q 24:32). At
another place it has been said: “So virtuous women (ṣāliḥāt) are devout, and
guard the secrets,” (Q 4:34). Even in the Torah and the Gospels this adjective
is frequently applied to those deserving khilāfah. Also consider the way David (sws)
deals with Saul (Ṭālūt) in Samuel 1 and his dealing with Bishalum in Samuel 2.
It is considering this quality of the Prophet David (sws) that God chose him for
giving the glad tiding that the ummah of the Prophet Muḥammad (sws) would
inherit the khilāfah of the land, as has been stated in the verse mentioned
When you have learnt the four degrees of the status of the
prophets (the truthful, the witnesses to the truth, the upright and the
virtuous), have grasped that all these Prophets are on the straight path, knew
that Abraham (sws) is a follower of this straight path, and discovered that all
other Prophets are his progeny and followers of the same path, it must have
become clear to you that the followers of this straight path make a spiritual
caravan. The leader of this caravan is the Prophet Muḥammad (sws). He holds the
flag of ḥamd (thankfulness to God) which flutters above all the rest. He is the
leader of the party of God. He will be the first to raise the slogan on the door
of Paradise: “all gratitude is due to God alone.” All the believers who offer
regular ṣalāh in this worldly life are his followers. This is what is meant by
the prophetic saying “I shall be the leader of the white footed ones with
white-foreheads.” It is known that this refers to those worshippers who offer
the ṣalāh. They will be easy to recognize because of the spots of wuḍū. When
he (the leader) shall say: “All gratitude is due to God alone,” they shall
return the same slogan in unison. We, the Muslims, develop this habit in this
very world, as is said that every person shall get reward of what he became
accustomed to in this world.
We know that God made Abraham (sws) a leader of the
nations in general wherein He says: “We made Abraham the leader of the nations,”
(Q 2:124). All the divine religions, Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, follow
the Prophets who belonged to his progeny. All the three monotheistic nations
consider him as their leader. He is the supreme authority. God made him issue
the most prominent prophecy regarding the advent of the Last Prophet (sws). He
mentioned the advent of Muḥammad (sws) in the clearest terms. He prayed to God
to send the promised one to the city he had built. He also asked God to make the
promised one an heir to the custodianship of the House which he himself had
built as a center of monotheism.
Resuming the discussion on the eight characteristics, each
of which is exemplified by a particular Prophet mentioned above, I will proceed
to deal with the sixth one. The sixth verse refers the station of the Prophet
Noah (sws). I base this on the fact that in the holy Qur’ān, as well as in the
Torah, no Prophet has been mentioned before Abraham (sws) except for Noah (sws).
Just as the blessed ones among the ordinary people consist of four categories,
the same is true regarding the blessed Prophets. This has been mentioned in the
following verse: “These are the people upon whom God bestowed His blessings from
among the Prophets of the posterity of Adam (sws) (1), and of the posterity of
those whom We carried in the Ark with Noah (sws) (2), and of the posterity of
Abraham and Israel (3); and of those whom We guided and chose (4),” (Q 19:58).
Here the Almighty has mentioned Noah (sws) first among
those of the Prophets who had been blessed by God. There is no doubt that the
blessing of God generally covers all creatures. However, there are extraordinary
cases. Noah (sws) is the one such Prophet who has been particularly blessed in
such a manner. Thus he became the leader of those blessed by God as mentioned in
this reference. This is how I was able to identify his station corresponding to
this verse (sixth verse of the Sūrah al-Fātiḥah). The rest of the blessed
people make up his party. God chose him particularly to give the glad tiding
that the He would bestow His greatest favor upon humans in the form of the
religion of Islam, as divulged through the Prophet Muhammad (sws). God made the
progeny of Sam the upholders of the divine religion. The rest of Noah’s (sws)
progeny obtained blessing through the progeny of Sam. Thus the progeny of Noah (sws),
with the exception of the children of Sam, could not obtain God’s blessings
except until after the advent of Muḥammad (sws). The previous Prophets were
sent only to their respective nations. They could not cover the progeny of the
children of Noah (sws), other than those from Sam. The Prophet Muhammad (sws),
on the contrary, has been sent to the entire human race. Thus the children of
Noah (sws) in addition to the progeny of Sam also become his addressees.
The seventh verse sheds light on the status of those
people who flee the company that earned God’s wrath, and also on those who
abandon the stray folk for the rightly guided ones. We have already referred to
this fact though briefly in the ninth section. These are, in fact, those who
repented from among the People of the Book besides others. The ones who earned
God’s wrath (maghḍūb ‘alayhim) are those who persist in waywardness in spite of
clearly recognizing the truth. The Jews are an example of this. The strayed one
(ḍāl) is the one who is inclined towards disobedience and persists in it.
Christians represent this group. Thus, those among these two groups who abandon
their previous position to join the earlier four categories are the ones who
have escaped the wrath of God. Such a person is one who is perfected and
complemented by the perfection of Adam (sws) (who erred and then repented).
After the entry of these groups the door of Paradise is closed. The seventh
verse, as a summary, relates to the repentant among the Jews and the Christians.
They are those who join the party blessed by God, as has been explained earlier.
Since repentance has been implanted in human nature
through which one can perpetuate oneself on the straight path, and since we know
that Adam (sws) is the leader of the repentant, we come to learn that the
seventh verse indicates his place.
(Translated by Tariq Mahmood Hashmi)