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THE OPENING CHAPTER OF THE QUR’AN

There are 114 chapters in the Qur’an, some long and some short. The opening chapter, Al-Fatihah (The Opening), which serves as a preface to the Qur’an, comprises only six short verses. The translation of this chapter is as follows: All praise is due to God, the Lord of the Universe; the Beneficent, the Merciful; Lord of the Day of Judgement. You alone we worship, and to You alone, we turn for help. Guide us to the straight path: the path of those You have blessed; not of those who have incurred Your wrath, nor of those who have gone astray. (1:1-6)

The first verse of this chapter is: “All praise is due to God, the Lord of the Universe.” This is the gist of the Qur’an. The basic message of the Qur’an is that man must be grateful to God, man must acknowledge God Almighty. Man must adopt a life that is God-oriented. ALHAMDULILLAH covers all these spiritual values. God Almighty has created man as the superior form of life. He has provided him with all those favorite things that form the life-support system. He created the earth, which is the only planet favorable to human life. He gave the man a mind with enormous potential. It is the miracle of the mind that man was able to create a civilization. All the sciences are but a product of the workings of the mind. In such a situation, it is but natural that man must acknowledge the Creator by saying, ALHAMDULILLAH. Without this acknowledgment, man has no right to live on this planet earth. It is this acknowledgment that gives one legitimacy to live on the planet earth and enjoy all the bounties created by God in this world.

Then the second verse calls God “the Beneficent, the Merciful.” These are also words of acknowledgment. When a man discovers the fact that the whole world is so favorable to him that it seems that it was created solely for him, he is compelled to believe that the Creator is not simply a creator: he is a benevolent creator in the complete sense of the word. This discovery only increases the spirit of ALHAMDULILLAH. This discovery imbues him with the spirit of love for God. Not only does he become a believer, but his supreme concern becomes God. It is the miracle of the mind that man was able to create a civilization. All the sciences are but a product of the workings of the mind.

The third verse of this chapter refers to God as: “Lord of the Day of Judgement.” This expression is a natural part of man’s belief in God. When God created man and provided him with so many good things, it was but natural that man should become accountable to his Creator. Those who misuse their freedom will be punished by God and those who use their freedom properly will be rewarded. Every blessing entails responsibility and man is certainly no exception to this rule.

The fourth verse of this chapter reads: “You alone we worship, and to You alone, we turn for help.” This is the real response by man to his Creator. Man must worship God. When man tries to acknowledge his Lord he automatically bows before Him, that is, he surrenders. And his realization of God compels him to seek God’s assistance because He is a giver and man is a taker in this world. This is the essence of the equation between man and God.

The fifth verse of this chapter reads: “Guide us to the straight path.” This is also an automatic response from man to his God. Man’s grasp of reality tells him that the greatest blessing that he may ask from God is right guidance. Right guidance is a must for man. And it is God alone who can set man’s foot on the right path. Overwhelmed with his feelings of obligation to his Maker, he says: “O God, show me the right path.”

The sixth verse of this chapter reads: “The path of those You have blessed; not of those who have incurred Your wrath, nor of those who have gone astray.” This verse is an elaboration of the above verses of the chapter.

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