All Praise is Due to Allah for His Glorious Ability and Great Power
Ayah 1 begins with “Alhumdulillah” because praising and glorifying Allah is the etiquette of beginning something that is important. In Islamic lectures and khutbahs we have seen the speaker utter a few words of praise for Allah before beginning his speech. In the same manner Qur’an begins. Surah al-Fatihah is the first Surah of the Qur’an in terms of order. The first ayah of the Surah begins with the praise of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
In this ayah, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,
الْحَمْدُ للَّهِ الَّذِى خَلَقَ السَّمَـوَتِ وَالاٌّرْضَ وَجَعَلَ الظُّلُمَـتِ وَالنُّورَ ثْمَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ بِرَبِّهِمْ يَعْدِلُونَ
“All praise is for Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth, and originated the darkness and the light, yet those who disbelieve hold others as equal with their Lord.”
The noun “hamd” [حَمْد] means “to describe someone in good terms or praise”. Such a praise is out of love and respect. We often praise people but usually it is not from our hearts. It is more of a formailty whereas for Allah, it is out of true love and reverence for Him.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala praises and glorifies His Most Honorable Self. Why? It is because He is the Creator of the heavens and the earth, and to a human eye heavens and earth are the biggest creation of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Any other creation has not been mentioned because it is smaller in comparison. Further, He is the One who made darkness and the light.
Note that in the ayah, darkness has been mentioned in the plural form “zulumaat” [ظُّلُمَـت] instead of the singular form “zulmah”. It is because there are many forms of darkness; there is hypocrisy, ignorance, disbelief whereas there is only one Noor [light] and i.e. the sirat-e-mustaqeem [straight path].
The word “thumma” [ثْمَّ] is used as a conjunction. Over here it expresses amazement, disgust and shock that look at these people Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala created the heavens and earth, and originated darkness and light yet they are associating partners?
The word “yadiloon” [يَعْدِلُون] is a verb from the root letters ayn-dal-laam. It has two meanings -“to equate or keep two things at the same level, and to deviate from the right part or turn aside.” So there are people who associate partners with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, and there are also people who ignore Him and pay no attention to Him.
The addresses over here are the Arab idolators. The Arab idolators while acknowledging that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is the Creator of the heavens and the earth continued worshipping their false gods. However, in general terms it is for everyone who associates partners with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
The Magians [Majus] believe in two creators – Yazdan and Ahriman. One being the creator of the good while the other being the creator of evil. The polytheists have an incredibly high number of gods as partners in the divinity of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. The Christians have raised the standard of a human [Prophet Eesa/Jesus] to Godhood. Grave worshippers ask from their dead saints instead of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
So the human being for whose servitude the entire creation was created has gone astray from the right path. He is prostrating to and worshipping stars, moons, rocks, fire, and even humans like himself.
This ayah helps us in getting our perspectives right, and serves as an admonition that, “O foolish people, when you yourself admit that the Creator of the heavens and earth is Allah, why do you, then present your needs before false gods and invoke them for help?”
– Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is the Most Deserving of praise. For this reason, it doesn’t suit a person to praise himself, to consider himself exalted or to show off. This is the reason riya or showing off is despised. We want to be praised on every little thing, but we should remember that Al-Hamd is for Allah.
– Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala being the Creator of the heavens and the earth, and the originator of darkness and light deserves to be praised and worshipped. He is the only Khaliq and Maalik.
– We learn about the foolishness of those who associate partners with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala as well as those who turn away from His path. When we offer our Salah, what is the condition of our mind? We’re concentrating on everything other than the Salah. We don’t have time to read His Book? We don’t have two extra minutes to sit down after Salah and complete our tasbeehat? We depend more on people than Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala protect us from committing shirk [associating partners with Allah], bestow us with the correct knowledge of the Deen, and help us in staying firm on the sirat-e-mustaqeem, aameen.