Sura Al-Fatiha (Tafseer-ul-Maariful Quran), Part-10

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Man, again, is composed of two parts, spirit and body, of which the spirit is obviously superior in value, while the body is subservient to it. In this inferior part alone, there are thousands of anatomical and biological wonders. There are supposed to be more than three hundred joints, but Allah has made each of them so strong that during the sixty or sevenfy years of an average man's life they are in perpetual motion and yet do not need repairs. Of this Allah himself has reminded us:

نَّحْنُ خَلَقْنَاهُمْ وَشَدَدْنَا أَسْرَهُمْ
It is We Who created them, and it is We Who endowed their joints with strength (76:28).
Or, take the example of the eye. One may spend a life-time and yet not fully know the manifestations of divine wisdom present in it. Or, take a single movement of the eye, and see how many blessings of Allah are involved in its functioning. Before the eye can see, internally it requires physical energy which in its turn is provided by food, air, water etc. And externally it requires the light of the sun which in its turn depends on a thousand other factors. That is to say, all the forces of the universe join together to make it possible for the eye to see even once. Now, try to calculate how many times does the eye see in a day, in .a year, in a man's life-time. Similarly, the functions of the ears, the tongue, the hands and the feet, each brings into action the forces of the whole universe.

This is a kind of blessing which is equally available to every living man, be he a king or a beggar. In fact, all the greatest blessings of Allah are the common property of every living creature -- for example, air, water, light, the sun, the moon, the stars, in fact, everything that exists in the heavens and the earth, or between them, offers its benefits to all without distinction.
Then there are special blessings which divine wisdom has chosen to distribute unequally among men, some getting more and others less. This category includes wealth, honour, health, peace, knowledge and other acquisitions. Although the general blessings are obviously much more important and essdntial for human life than the special blessings, yet man in his naivete takes them for granted and never realizes what great gifts they are in spite of being common.

Now, human nature itself requires that in recognition of the innu- merable blessings that keep descending on him at every moment of his life, man should, as far as he can, praise and continue to praise his Benefactor. It is to indicate this basic need of human nature that the Holy Qur'an employs the word الْحَمْدُ  ' 'Al-hamdu' (Praise) as the first word of the very first Surah. Thus, the praise of Allah has been accorded a very high rank among the acts of worship. The Holy Prophet (SM) has said that when, on receiving some kind of a blessing from Allah, His servant says الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ : (Praise belongs to Allah), it is like giving some- thing better in return for what he has taken (Qurtubi;, from Ibn Majah, as nar-rated by Anas (Ra)). ). According to another had;th if a man, on receiving all possible blessings of the world, says: الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ (Al-hamdulillih), his act is superior to all those blessings. Commenting on this hadith and cit-ing certain scholars, al-Qurtubi says, the ability to repeat the phrase 'Al-hamdulillih' with one's tongue is in itself a blessing of Allah. According to another authentic had&, saying this phrase fills half the scale on the side of good deeds in the Balance. As to what praising Al- lah should actually mean, Shaqiq ibn Ibrahim explains that when one receives some gift from Allah, one should first of all recognize the Ben- efactor, then be content with what He has given, and finally never dis- obey Him as long as one has some strength left in the body, which again is a gift from Allah. (See Qurtubi )

The second element in the phrase is Lillah, which is compssed of the preposition Lam (Arabic equivalent of the letter L) and the noun 'Allah'. This preposition means 'for' and is used for particularization, showing the exclusive possession of a thing or quality. So, the phrase implies that not only is it the duty ,of man to praise Allah, but in reality all praise belongs exclusively to Him, and no one else in the universe is worthy of it. At the same time, and by way of a further blessing, Allah has, for the purpose of teaching man how to behave with his fellow beings, commanded him to thank those too through whom the gifts of Allah come to him, for one who does not see the need of thanking his human benefactor would not thank Allah too.

Self-praise is not permitted
It is not permissible for a created being sue) as man to praise himself. The Holy Qur'an says: فَلَا تُزَكُّوا أَنفُسَكُمْ ۖ هُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِمَنِ اتَّقَىٰ Do not pretend to be pure; He knows best who is really God-fearing) (53:32). That is to say, a man can be praised only if he fears Allah, but Allah alone knows to what degree a particular man possesses this quality, known as Taqwii. As for Allah praising Himself, the reason is that man is not capable of praising the glory and greatness of Allah in a befitting manner. Not to speak of others, the Holy Prophet (SM) has exclaimed: (I cannot properly praise You!). Therefore, Allah Himself has taught man the mode of praising Him.

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