Islam and Civilization by Nadwi

Islam and Civilization

By Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi

Scope and Significance

Islam and civilisation is a realistic and living issue which relates not only to the prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the teachings of Islam, but also to the reality of life itself, the present and future of mankind and the historic role played by Muslims in the development of culture and the building up of a flourishing civilisation. This is a subject important enough to receive the attention of an academic body instead of by just a single individual. In its depth and scope, it can compare with any discipline of thought pertaining to the life of man. It covers an immense area in time and space, from the first century of the Islamic era to this day and from one corner of the world to the other. In its immanence, it encompasses everything from creed to morals and behaviour, individual as well as social, and is linked with diverse phenomena, whether if be law, political, international relations, arts, letters, poetics, architecture, cultural refinement, etc. Each of these aspects of human life are indeed many-sided and, hence, an academic body composed of scholars of different disciplines is required to study them so that each may undertake objective research and present his detailed findings courageously, without fear or favour. Each of these scholars, specialist in his own field, can discuss the issues in greater detail as, for example, one can study the creed and religious thought of Islam, another sociology and culture, a third Islamic law, a fourth the equality and dignity of man, a fifth the position of women, and so on. Detailed discussions on each such subject can indeed cover an encyclopaedia instead of being dealt with by an individual like me who has little time to spare for literary pursuits. But as the saying goes, the thing which cannot be owned completely should not be given up altogether. I have, in working on this subject, kept in mind the Qur’nic verse which says: And if no torrent falls on it, then even a gentle rain (Al Baqarah: 265).


The Angel of Mountains Was Ready to Crush

`Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: I asked the Prophet (PBUH) "Have you ever experienced a day harder than the day of the battle of Uhud?'' He replied, "Indeed, I experienced them (dangers) at the hands of your people (i.e., the disbelievers from amongst the Quraish tribe). The hardest treatment I met from them was on the Day of `Aqabah when I went to Ibn `Abd Yalil bin `Abd Kulal (who was one of the chiefs of Ta'if) with the purpose of inviting him to Islam, but he made no response (to my call). So I departed with deep distress. I did not recover until I arrived at Qarn ath-Tha`alib. There, I raised my head and saw a cloud which had cast its shadow on me. I saw in it Jibril (Gabriel) (PBUH) who called me and said: `Indeed, Allah, the Exalted, heard what your people said to you and the response they made to you. And He has sent you the angel in charge of the mountains to order him to do to them what you wish.' Then the angel of the mountains called me, greeted me and said: `O Muhammad, Allah listened to what your people had said to you. I am the angel of the mountains, and my Rubb has sent me to you so that you may give me your orders. (I will carry out your orders). If you wish I will bring together the two mountains that stand opposite to each other at the extremities of Makkah to crush them in between.''' But Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "I rather hope that Allah will raise from among their descendants people as will worship Allah the One, and will not ascribe partners to Him (in worship).''
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

Al-Fatihah Tafseer by Dr. Israr Ahmad

User Rating:  / 24


Tafseer by Dr Israr Ahmad


Surah Al-Fatihah is one of the very earliest revelations. Infact, we learn from

authentic traditions that it was the first complete surah revealed to the Prophet

(Peace be upon him). Before this, only a few miscellaneous verses were revealed

which form parts of surah Al-Alaq, Al-Muzzammil and Al-Muddathir.

This surah is called Al-Fatihah; the Opener of the Book, and the surah with

which prayers are begun. It is the greatest surah in the Qur’an, and it is also

called Umm Al-Kitab (Mother of the Book), because it contains the meanings of

the entire Qur’an. Other names for this surah are; Salah, Al-hamd, Umm al-

Qur'an, Al-Sab al-Mathani, As-Shifa, Ar-Ruqya, and so on. Infact more than fifty

names have been enumerated by Jalal Al-Din Al-Suyuti [12], in his famous book

"Al Itqan fi Ulum al Qur'an”.

Number of Ayat

There is consensus of majority of the scholars; from early generations that

surah Al-Fatihah contains seven ayat. However, they disagree over whether

Bismillah is a part of Al-Fatihah, and likewise every surah, or it is a separate

ayah. The first opinion, that Bismillah is a part of every surah except surah Al-

Tauba, is attributed to some Companions (May Allah be pleased with them all),

Imam Az-Zuhri, Imam As-Shafi, and Abdullah bin Al-Mubarak. They state that

Bismillah is a part of Al-Fatihah and the last ayat; “The Way of those whom You

have favored” and “not of those who have earned Your wrath, or of those who

have lost The Way.” are not separate ayat but a single ayah. On the other

hand, Imam Malik, Imam Abu Hanifa and their followers say that Bismillah is

not an ayah in Al-Fatihah or any other surah, and it is a separate ayah in the

beginning of every ayah. But there is no disagreement over the matter that Al-

Fatihah has seven ayat. Those who consider last two ayat as one ayah, include

Bismillah in it, and those who consider the last two as separate say Bismillah is

not a part of it.

Virtues of Al-Fatihah

This is the most important surah in the Qur’an, and there are a lot of Ahadith

which narrate the virtues of this surah. In Musnad of Imam Ahmed, he

recorded that Abu Hurayrah (May Allah be pleased with him), said, “The

Messenger of Allah went out while Ubayy bin Ka‘b was praying and said, “O’

Ubayy!”, Ubayy did not answer him. The Prophet said, “O’ Ubayy!”, Ubayy

prayed faster then went to the Messenger of Allah saying, “Peace be unto you,

O’ Messenger of Allah!” He said, “Peace be unto you. O’ Ubayy, what prevented

you from answering me when I called you”, Ubayy said, “O’ Messenger of Allah! I

was praying”. He said, “Did you not read among what Allah has sent down to


‘Answer Allah and Messenger when he calls you to that which gives you life’.

He said, “Yes, O’ Messenger of Allah! I will not do it again.” the Prophet (Peace

be upon him) said; “Would you like me to teach you a surah the likes of which

nothing has been revealed in the Torah, the Injeel, the Zabur (Psalms) or the

Furqan (the Qur’an)”, He said, “Yes, O’ Messenger of Allah!”, the Messenger of

Allah said, “I hope that I will not leave through this door until you have learned

it.” He (Ubayy) said, “The Messenger of Allah held my hand while speaking to

me, meanwhile I was slowing down fearing that he might reach the door before

he finished his conversation. When we came close to the door, I said: “O’

Messenger of Allah! what is the surah that you have promised to teach me”. He

said, “What do you read in the prayer”. Ubayy said, “So I recited Umm Al-Qur’an

to him”. He said, “By Him in Whose Hand is my soul! Allah has never revealed in

the Torah, Injeel, Zabur or the Furqan a surah like it. It is the seven repeated

verses that I was given”.

Al-Fatihah and Salah

Al-Fatihah is also called Salah, because it is itself a prayer and reciting it is a

condition for the correctness of Salah-The Prayer, as recorded by Muslim that

Abu Hurayrah (May Allah be pleased with him) said, that the Prophet(Peace be

upon him) said;

“Whoever performs any prayer in which he did not read Umm Al-Qur’an (Al-

Fatihah), then his prayer is incomplete.” He said it thrice. [13]

There is another hadith, narrated by Abu Hurayrah (May Allah be pleased with

him) that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said; “Allah the exalted said, ‘I have

divided the prayer (Al-Fatihah) into two halves between Me and My servant. A

half of it is for Me and a half for My servant, and My servant shall acquire what

he asked for.

If he says, ‘All praise and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of existence’, Allah says,

‘My servant has praised Me.’

When the servant says, ‘The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.’

Allah says, ‘My servant has glorified Me.’

When he says, ‘Master of the Day of Judgment.’

Allah says, ‘My servant has glorified Me.’

When he says, ‘You (alone) we worship, and You (alone) we ask for help.’,

Allah says, ‘This is between Me and My servant, and My servant shall acquire

what he sought.’

When he says, ‘Guide us to the straight path. The way of those on whom You

have granted Your grace, not (the way) of those who earned Your anger, nor of

those who went astray’,

Allah says, ‘This is for My servant, and My servant shall acquire what he asked

for.’ ” [14]

In the above hadith, the word Salah is used in reference to the Qur’an (Al-

Fatihah), which also testifies the importance of this surah and reciting it during

every prayer, in every rak’ah.

Al-Fatihah is not merely an introduction to Qur’an, rather it is a prayer from

man and the Qur’an is the answer from his Lord. Thus it has a relationship of a

prayer and a response. If a person is an earnest seeker after truth, and

recognizes that the Lord of the Universe is the source of all knowledge, then he

prays to Allah to show him guidance and Allah places the whole of the Qur’an

before him in answer to his prayer.

All praise is for Allah, the Sustainer and Cherisher of the Worlds. Al-Fatihah

starts with the praise of Allah, who is the Lord and Creator of this world and

the Hereafter. It states that all thanks and praise are due purely to Allah alone,

and nothing is to be worshipped except Him. He is the Sustainer and Owner of

all that He has created in both Alams (Worlds).

The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. Ar-Rahman (Most Gracious) and Ar-

Raheem (Most Merciful) are two words of the same root Ar-Rahmah (the mercy).

One of them is softer than the other, meaning, it carries more implications of

mercy. Allah is Ar-Rahman for all humankind irrespective of their belief in

Allah, whether they are good-doers or evil-doers; they all obtain their

sustenance from Allah, this is because Allah is Ar-Rahman. Allah is also Ar-

Raheem for the believers in Him. They receive special blessings from Allah, that

is, happiness and contentment in this life and reward in the Hereafter.

Master of the Day of Judgment. After Allah describes that He is Ar-Rahman and

Ar-Raheem, He immediately gives a warning, that along with His mercy, He is

also the Master of the Day of Judgment. So that a person should not forget that

along with His mercy He is also Just.

You Alone we worship and You Alone we call on for help. After the person has

praised Allah and thanked Him, now he stands before Him, addressing Him

directly; O’ Allah our worship, obedience, submission and devotion is only for

You alone, and we only serve You. O’ Allah we know that You are the Lord of

the Universe and You have the power over everything, therefore, we only turn

to You for help, for our needs and requirements.

Guide us to The Right Way. i.e. Make us firm on the straight path and don’t let

us deviate. The straight path mentioned here and elsewhere in the Qur’an

refers to Islam. We already mentioned the hadith in which the servant

proclaims, ‘Guide us to The Right Way’ , and Allah says, “This is for My servant

and My servant shall acquire what he has asked for.

The Way of those whom You have favored. i.e. The servant prays to Allah to

guide him towards the straight path in every walk of life, and the path of those

upon whom You have bestowed Your mercy i.e. people who are obedient to

Allah and His Messengers.

Not of those who have earned Your wrath, or of those who have lost The Way.

A servant also prays to Allah, to help him avoid the path of those whom Allah is

angry with, whose intentions are corrupt and who know the truth, yet they

deviate. And also help us to avoid the path of those who were led astray. These

two paths are of Jews and Christians. ‘Not of those who have earned Your

wrath’, refers the Jews and “ or of those who have lost The Way” is for the


After finishing Al-Fatihah, it is recommended to say Amin, which means, ‘O’

Allah accept our invocation’, for those who are not praying and strongly

recommended for those who are praying. As the Messenger of Allah (Peace be

upon him) said:

“ When any of you says in the prayer Amin, and the angels in the heaven say,

Amin, in unison, his previous sins will be forgiven.”[15]

Foot Notes

[1] The Arabic word 'qur'an' is derived from the root qara'a, which has various meanings, such as to read, [Sura 17: 93.]

to recite, [Sura 75:18:17: 46.] etc. Qur'an is a verbal noun and hence means the 'reading' or 'recitation'. As used in the

Qur'an itself, the word refers to the revelation from Allah in the broad sense [Sura 17: 82.] and is not always restricted to

the written form in the shape of a book, as we have it before us today.

[2] Surah Al-Hijr(15) : 9.

[3]Surah Burooj(85) : 21, 22. Al-Lawh: every wide, flat surface or sheet of wood.

Al-Azhari said: al-Lawh is a flat surface of wood, and a shoulder-blade [of an animal], if it is written on, may be called a

lawh. Al-Lawh is something that is written on. Al-Lawh: al-Lawh al-Mahfooz, as in the ayah means, the place where the

decrees of Allah are kept. Every wide bone is a lawh. The plural form is alwaah.

(Lisaan al-‘Arab, 2/584).

[4] Surah Al-Waqi’ah(56) : 77, 78.

[5] (al-Tabyaan fi Aqsaam al-Qur’an, p. 62).

[6] Surah Bani Israel (17) and Surah Al-Furqan (25).

[7] The last section of the Qur'an beginning with surah Qaf, (50-114).

[8] Musnad Ahmed, Sunan Abi Dawood, Ibn Majah in his sunan.

[9] The Qur’an in a single volume.

[10] Kitab al-masahif by Ibn Abi Dawud.

[11] The Life of Muhammad, Ibn Hisham.

[12] Abd al-Rahman ibn Kamal al-Din Abi Bakr ibn Muhammad ibn Sabiq al-Din, Jalal al-Din al-Misri al-Suyuti, also

known as Ibn al-Asyuti (849-911), the mujtahid imam and renewer of the tenth Islamic century, foremost hadith master,

jurist, and historian, he authored works in virtually every Islamic science.

[13] Sahih Muslim.

[14] Sahih Muslim and Sunan An-Nisai.

[15] Sahih Muslim 1:307.

Short Quotes

Prophet for all humanity

قُلْ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنِّي رَسُولُ اللّهِ إِلَيْكُمْ جَمِيعًا الَّذِي لَهُ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ لا إِلَـهَ إِلاَّ هُوَ يُحْيِـي وَيُمِيتُ فَآمِنُواْ بِاللّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ النَّبِيِّ الأُمِّيِّ الَّذِي يُؤْمِنُ بِاللّهِ وَكَلِمَاتِهِ وَاتَّبِعُوهُ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ
(7:158) [Say, O Muhammad]: 'O men! I am Allah's Messenger to you all - of Him to Whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth. There is no god but He. He grants life and deals death. Have faith then, in Allah and in His Messenger, the ummi Prophet who believes in Allah and His words; and follow him so that you may be guided aright.'