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Sh Muhammad al-Amin al-Shanqiti’s Tafsir of the Fatiha

Aḍwāʾ al-Bayān, Muḥammad al-Amīn al-Shanqīṭī

  1. With the Name of Allāh, the All-Merciful, the Most Merciful.
  2. All praise (and thanks) belong to Allāh, the Lord of the worlds.
  3. The All-Merciful, the Most Merciful.
  4. Master of the Day of Judgment.
  5. You (alone) we worship, and to You (alone) we turn for help.
  6. Guide us (to and on) the Straight Path.
  7. The Path of those You have blessed, not of those upon whom there is anger, nor of those who wander astray.

All praise (and thanks) belong to Allāh

There is no mention here as to when this praise is said or from where this praise comes from. However, Sūrah Rūm mentions that amongst the wheres are the heavens and earth, ‘and His is all praise and thanks in the heavens and earth.’ (30:18). Sūrah Qaṣaṣ mentions that amongst the whens are in this world and in the Hereafter,

‘He is Allāh, none has the right to be worshipped besides Him. To Him belongs all praise in the first world and the next.’ (28:70)

He said in the beginning of Sūrah Sabaʾ,

‘All praise belongs to Him in the Hereafter, and He is the All-Wise, All-Aware.’ (34:1)

The definite article prefix, al, in the word, al-Hamd is used to subsume all the different manners of praise; it is a method of eulogy that Allāh has employed to praise Himself and ordered His servants to use as well.

The Lord of the worlds

There is no further explanation here as to what al-ʿālamīn, the worlds, actually means, but this is explained in another place with His saying,

‘Pharaoh said, “And what is the Lord of the ʿālamīn?” He (Moses) said, “The Lord of the heavens and the earth and everything between them…”’ (26:23-24)

Some of the scholars stated that al-ʿālam (world, pl. ʿālamīn) is derived from al-ʿallāmah (sign) because the existence of the world is a sign, without doubt, of the existence of its Creator who is described with perfect and magnificent Attributes. Allāh, Most High, says,

‘In the creation of the heavens and the earth and the change of the night and day are Signs (āyāt) for the people of understanding.’

Linguistically, āyah means ʿallāmah.

The All-Merciful (al-Raḥmān), the Most Merciful (al-Raḥīm)

These Names depict two qualities of Allāh, Most High, and are two of His Beautiful and Perfect Names. They are derived from the word, al-raḥmah (mercy) in a way that expresses an intense and emphatic meaning.

Grammatically, the construct of al-Raḥmān is more emphatic than al-Raḥīm. al-Raḥmān is the One endowed with mercy which extends to all of creation in this world and to the believers in the Hereafter; al-Raḥīm is the One endowed with mercy which extends only to the believers on the Day of Judgment. This is the understanding of the majority of the scholars and the discussion of ibn Jarīr alludes to the fact that there is an agreement on this; moreover, ibn Kathīr said that the exegesis of some of the Salaf lends weight to this understanding. Further evidence for this position is adduced from the narration of ʿĪsā, mentioned by ibn Kathīr and others, in which he (upon him and our Prophet be peace and blessings) said, ‘al-Raḥmān: the One who shows mercy in this world and the Hereafter. al-Raḥīm: the One who shows mercy in the Hereafter.’ [1]

Allāh, Most High, also alludes to this meaning with His words, ‘Then He rose over the Throne, al-Raḥmān’ (25:59), ‘al-Raḥmān rose over the Throne.’ (20:5) Here, He mentioned the istawā (Rising over the Throne) with His Name, al-Raḥmān so as to embrace the whole of His creation with his mercy as stated by ibn Kathīr. [2]

He also says, ‘Do they not see the birds above them, with wings outspread and folding back? Nothing holds them up but al-Raḥmān’ (67:19) i.e. part His mercy to creation is His kindness to the birds and His holding them in the sky while they are spreading out their wings and folding them in.

One of the clearest evidences pertaining to this is His saying, ‘al-Raḥmān. He taught the Qur’ān…so which of the favours of your Lord will you two deny?’ (55:1-13)

He said, “He is Most Merciful (Raḥīm) to the believers” (33:43) and hence particularised His Name, al-Raḥīm to them.

If it asked, ‘How is it possible to reconcile what you have thus far established with his (SAW) saying in the supplication, ‘The Raḥmān of the world and the Hereafter and the Raḥīm of them’?[3] It would seem clear – and Allāh knows best – that al-Raḥīm is specific to the believers as we have mentioned, but it is not specific to them in the Hereafter alone, rather His mercy extends to them in this world as well. Therefore, the meaning of ‘The Raḥīm of them’ would be ‘His mercy to the believers in them.’ The evidence that He is Raḥīm to the believers in this world as well (as the Hereafter) is that this is the ostensive sense of His saying,

‘It is He who sends down His blessings (ṣalāh) on you, as do His Angels, to bring you out of the darkness into the light, and He is Most Merciful (Raḥīm) to the believers.’ (33:43)

His ṣalāh upon them, the ṣalāh of His Angels and His leading them out of the darkness to the light is mercy endowed to them in this world, even though it be the reason for His mercy in the Hereafter as well. Similar to this in meaning is His saying,

‘Allāh has turned towards the Prophet, the Muhājirūn and the Anṣār who followed him at the time of distress, after the hearts of a group of them had almost deviated. Then He turned towards them, He is All-Gentle, Most Merciful (Raḥīm) to them.’ (9:117)

The Mercy is linked to the event that befell the Prophet, the Muhājirūn and the Anṣār, and also His forgiving them was mercy endowed them in this world, even though it be the reason for mercy in the Hereafter as well. The Knowledge (of what is correct) lies with Allāh.

Master of the Day of Judgment (dīn)

There is no explanation here (as to what the Day of Dīn is), but this is explained in His saying,

‘And what will make you comprehend what the Day of Dīn is? Again! What will make you comprehend what the Day of Dīn is? It is the Day when a person will have no power to help another person in any way.’ (83:17-19).

The meaning of Dīn in the verse is recompense, as can be seen in His saying, ‘on that Day Allāh will pay them their dīn in truth’ (24:25) i.e. the recompense of their actions with complete justice.

You (alone) we worship

This noble verse points to the meaning of Lā ilāha illAllāh (there is none worthy of worship except for Allāh) and actualises it. The statement comprises negation and affirmation: every single object of worship besides Allāh is negated in all acts of servitude, and these, in turn are singled out for the Lord of the heavens and earth in the manner legislated by the Sharīʿah.

The negation found in the statement, lā ilāha illAllāh is implemented here by placing the object of (the verb) worship ahead of the actual verb itself, hence, “You (alone).” It is established in the science of Usul under the discussion on Dalīl al-Khiṭāb alladhī huwa Mafhūm al-Mukhālafa, and in the subject of al-Maʿānī under the discussion of al-Qaṣr that placing the object first (in a sentence) is a method of confining (the meaning of the verb to the object alone). 

The affirmation part of the kalima is implemented in His saying, “we worship.”

This meaning indicated here has been mentioned in details elsewhere such as,

‘Mankind! Worship your Lord who created you’ (2:21)

The affirmation is found in His words, ‘worship your Lord’ and the negation at the end of this noble verse with His words, ‘do not, then, knowingly make others equal to Allāh.’ (2:22). Allāh, Most High, says,

‘We sent a Messenger to every people saying: ‘Worship Allāh and keep clear of all false gods.’ (16:36)

The affirmation is mentioned in His words, ‘worship Allāh’ and the negation in His words, ‘and keep clear of all false gods.’ Allāh, Most High, says

‘Anyone who rejects false gods and has faith in Allāh has grasped the Firmest Handhold.’ (2:256)

The negation is stated in, ‘Anyone who rejects false gods’ and the affirmation in, ‘and has faith in Allāh.’ Allāh, Most High, says,

‘When Ibrāhīm said to his father and his people, “I am free of everything you worship except for Him who brought me into being…”’ (43:26-27)

‘We sent no Messenger without revealing to him, “There is none worthy of worship but Me, so worship Me.”’ (21:25)

‘Ask those of Our Messengers whom We sent before you, “Have We ever designated gods to be worshipped besides the All-Merciful?”’ (43:45)

You (alone) we turn to for help

i.e. We do not seek help from anyone but You because the affair in its totality is under Your control alone, no one else has even an atoms weight of control over it. In this statement’s following His saying, ‘You (alone) we worship’ lies an indication that it is not permissible to put our trust in anyone except the One who deserves worship since no one else has control over the affair. This meaning, indicated here, is clearly explained in other verses, like His sayings,

‘So worship Him and put your trust in Him’ (12:123)

‘But if they turn away, say: “Allāh is enough for me, none has the right to be worshipped save Him, in Him I put my trust.”’ (9:129)

‘Lord of the east and west, none deserves to be worshipped save Him, so take Him as your Guardian.’ (73:9)

‘Say: He is the All-Merciful, we have believed in Him and put our trust in Him.’ (67:29)

The path of those You have blessed

There is no explanation here as to who the blessed are, but this is explained in another place with His saying,

‘Whoever obeys Allāh and the Messenger will be in the company of those whom Allāh has blessed: the Prophets, the Sincerely Truthful (ṣiddīq), the Martyrs and the Righteous – what excellent company such people are!’ (4:69)

Addendum 1: The correctness of the khalīfate of Abū Bakr al-Ṣiddīq (RA) can be derived from this noble verse because he is included amongst those that Allāh has commanded us to ask Him to guide us to their path, thus indicating that their path is the Straight Path.

This lies in His saying, ‘Guide us (to and on) the Straight Path, the Path of those You have blessed,’ and in His explanation to who these blessed were, including the Ṣiddīqīn amongst them. He (SAW) explained that Abū Bakr (RA) was one of the Ṣiddīqīn, hence it becomes clear that he is included amongst those that Allāh has blessed – those that Allāh has commanded us to ask Him to guide us to their path. Therefore, there remains no doubt that Abū Bakr al-Ṣiddīq was upon the Straight Path and that his khilāfate was correct.

Addendum 2: You have come to know that the Ṣiddīqīn are amongst those that Allāh has blessed. Allāh has made clear that Maryam, the daughter of ʿImrān, was a Ṣiddīqah in His saying, ‘And His mother was a Ṣiddīqah (5:75). So is Maryam included in His saying, ‘Those you have blessed,’ or not?

The answer: whether or not she is included amongst them is dependent upon a foundational principle which has a well known dispute over it. This is – does the sound masculine plural and it’s likes which occurs in the Qurʾān and the Sunnah include the feminine gender in all cases or only in those cases for which there is a specific evidence?

A group of scholars took to the opinion that it does – so according to them Maryam is included in the above verse. These scholars depended upon two proofs:

  • – The consensus of the people of the Arabic Language that the masculine gender takes prevalence over the feminine. [4]
  • – There a number of verses which prove that the females are included in the sound masculine plural, like His saying concerning Maryam herself, ‘she testified to the truth of the words of her Lord and His Books, and she was of those obedient to Allāh (Qānitīn – a sound masculine plural) (66:12), and His saying concerning the wife of al-ʿAzīz, ‘O Yusuf! Turn away from this! (O Woman!) Ask forgiveness for your sin, indeed your were of the sinful (khātiʾīn – a sound masculine plural) (12:29), and His saying concerning Bilqīs, ‘But what she worshipped besides Allāh impeded her, she was of a disbelieving people (qawm kāfirīn) (27:43), and His saying, ‘We said: get down (ihbiṭū) all of you from this’ (2:38) and this includes Hawāʾ by consensus.

The majority of scholars took to the opinion that the females are not included in the sound masculine plural unless there is a specific evidence, and they depended upon a number of verses like His saying, ‘Indeed the male Muslims and the female Muslims, the male believers and the female believers…Allāh has prepared for them a forgiveness and a great reward’, and His saying, ‘Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and protect their private parts. That is purer for them’ (24:30) following this with, ‘and tell the believing women to lower their gaze and protect their private parts’ (24:31). So their following the mention of the men indicates that they are not included amongst them.

They replied to the proponents of the first opinion by saying that the fact that the masculine gender takes prevalence over the feminine is not a matter of dispute. What is disputed is whether the masculine plural includes the females in every case. And they replied to the verses (the first group) used by saying that it is known by the context of these verses and the meaning of the wordings that the females are included in the male plural – and that their inclusion in the male plural in the case of their being an evidence that they are included is not contended.

So according to this opinion Maryam is not included in the verse.

This difference of opinion was pointed out in Marāqī al-Suʿūd with his saying:

There is nothing untoward in including the feminine (amongst the masculine gender)

For this is a matter in which the Muslims have differed

Not of those upon whom there is anger, nor of those who wander astray

The majority of the exegetes said that ‘those upon whom there is anger’ are the Jews, and ‘those who wander astray’ are the Christians. There is a ḥadīth of the Messenger of Allāh (SAW) from ʿAdī ibn Ḥātim (RA) concerning this. [5]

Even though both the Jews and the Christians are misguided and have Allāh’s anger on them, anger is specified to the Jews, even though the Christians share this with them, because the Jews knew the truth and rejected it, deliberately choosing falsehood; therefore, the anger (of Allāh being upon them) was the description most befitting them. The Christians were ignorant, not knowing the truth, so misguidance was the description most apt for them.

The saying of Allāh, ‘so they have drawn on themselves anger upon anger’ (2:90) further clarifies that the Jews are those upon whom there is anger. Moreover, Allāh says,

‘Say: “Shall I tell you of a reward with Allāh much worse than that: that of those who incurred the curse of Allāh and His anger.’ (5:60)

“As for those who adopted the calf (for worship), anger from their Lord and humiliation will overtake them…’ (7:152)

The saying of Allāh,

‘…and do not follow the whims and desires of people who went astray previously, and misled many, and are far from the right way.’ (5:77)

clarifies that it is the Christians who wander astray.



[1] Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Mawḍūʿā 1:204, said of this ḥadīth “Its (chain of narration) contains Ismāʿīl b. ʿAyāsh who was declared ḍaʿīf by Nasāʾī. It also contains Ismāʿīl b. Yaḥyā about whom Dāruqutnī said, ‘A liar, abandoned.’ It also contains ʿAṭiyyah b. Saʿd who is a mudallis, a Shīʿī, truthful but has many mistakes. cf. Muqbil b. Hādī, Taḥqīq ibn Kathīr 1:37

[2] This is because the Throne of Allāh is far greater than the expanse of the heavens and earth, and Allāh is above the Throne. So His mentioning His Name of al-Raḥmān with respect to the Throne is implying that the effects of this name are true for the whole of creation – Muslim or non-Muslim.

[3] Hākim, al-Mustadrak 1:515 ruled it ṣaḥīḥ and Dhahabī criticised him by saying, ‘al-Ḥakam (one of the narrators) is not trustworthy.’ Ḥāfiẓ al-Mundhirī, al-Targhīb wa’l-Tarhīb 2:616, said, ‘It is recorded by Bazzār, Ḥākim and al-Aṣbahānī all via the route of al-Ḥakam b. ʿAbdullāh al-Aylī and Ḥākim said, ‘Ṣaḥīḥ isnād.’ How can this be when al-Ḥakam is abandoned and accused.’ cf. Muqbil b. Hādī, Taḥqīq ibn Kathīr 1:43

[4] For example a mixed gathering of males and females would be referred to by using the male plural not the female plural even if there be more females than males.

[5] The ḥadīth is: ʿAdī b. Ḥātim said, ‘I asked the Messenger of Allāh (SAW) about Allāh’s saying, ‘those upon whom there is anger,’ and He said, “It refers to the Jews.” I asked about, ‘those who wander astray and he replied, “The Christians are those who wander astray.”’ It is recorded by Tirmidhī and Aḥmad and it is ṣaḥīḥ.


About Shaikh Abu Rumaysah Refi Shafi

Abu Rumaysah Refi Shafi was born and brought up in High Wycombe. He currently studies with Shaykh Haitham Al-Haddad and, previously, Shaykh Abu AbdiRahman Al-Libee. He graduated from Imperial College from the faculty of Electronic Engineering. He currently works as a Software Engineer and is the chairman of WISE (Wycombe Islamic Society). He is very active in his local community, especially with his Masjid and working with youth. He has translated a number of books such as 'The Criterion between the Friends of Allah and the Friends of Shaytan,' and 'Relief from Distress (the Dua of Yunus 'alayhī al-Salām),' both by Ibn Taymiyyah as well as many others. He has also written an explanation of Surah al-Fatihah called ‘The Spiritual Cure.’ He currently gives weekly circles in High Wycombe on a variety of topics covering aqidah, fiqh, hadith, tafsir and Arabic Language. He is also a Lecturer for MRDF.

One comment

  1. Asasalamo alaikkum

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