Ibn Kathir’s brief remarks on the contents of Surah al-Fatihah

After completing his individual explanations of each of the verses of surah al-Fatihah, al-Hafidh Abu’l-Fidaa’ Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir made the following brief remarks about the contents of the surah as a whole:

اشتملت هذه السورة الكريمة وهي سبع آيات فضلها ، على حمد الله وتمجيده والثناء عليه ، بذكر أسمائه الحسنى المستلزمة لصفاته العليا ، وعلى ذكر المعاد وهو يوم الدين ، وعلى إرشاده عبيده إلى سؤاله والتضرع إليه ، والتبرؤ من حولهم وقوتهم ، وإلى إخلاص العبادة له وتوحيده بالألوهية تبارك وتعالى ، وتنزيهه أن يكون له شريك أو نظير أو مماثل ، وإلى سؤالهم إياه الهداية إلى الصراط المستقيم ، وهو الدين القويم ، وتثبيتهم عليه حتى يفضي بهم ذلك إلى جواز الصراط الحسي يوم القيامة ، المفضي بهم إلى جنات النعيم في جوار النبيين ، والصديقين ، والشهداء ، والصالحين . واشتملت على الترغيب في الأعمال الصالحة ، ليكونوا مع أهلها يوم القيامة ، والتحذير من مسالك الباطل ؛ لئلا يحشروا مع سالكيها يوم القيامة ، وهم المغضوب عليهم والضالون . ـ

This noble surah – while being only seven ayaat – contains many virtues. These include containing praise, glorification and extolling of Allah by mentioning His beautiful names which necessarily entail His lofty attributes.

And it contains mention of the ultimate destination, which is the Day of Recompense.

And it contains Allah’s guidance to His slaves to ask Him and supplicate to Him, and to disassociate themselves from any claim of possessing might or power.

It contains Allah’s guidance to have sincerity in worshiping Him and singling Him out in deity – exalted is He – , and declaring Him free from having any partners, equals or peers.

And it contains His direction for them to ask Him and Him alone for guidance to the Straight Path, which is the upright religion, and to ask Him to fortify them upon it until it leads them to crossing the actual Siraat on the Day of Judgement, that which leads them unto Gardens of Bliss in the company of the prophets, the truthful ones, the martyrs and the righteous ones.

And it includes incitement to perform righteous good deeds, in order that one may be among the people of righteous deeds on the Day of Judgement.

And it also contains caution against the paths of falsehood, lest one be gathered with those who traversed them on the Day of Judgement, and they are those upon whom there is anger and the misguided ones.

 وما أحسن ما جاء إسناد الإنعام إليه في قوله تعالى : ( صراط الذين أنعمت عليهم ) وحذف الفاعل في الغضب في قوله تعالى : ( غير المغضوب عليهم ) وإن كان هو الفاعل لذلك في الحقيقة ، كما قال تعالى : ( ألم تر إلى الذين تولوا قوما غضب الله عليهم ) الآية [ المجادلة : 14 ] ، [ ص: 144 ] وكذلك إسناد الضلال إلى من قام به ، وإن كان هو الذي أضلهم بقدره ، كما قال تعالى : ( من يهد الله فهو المهتدي ومن يضلل فلن تجد له وليا مرشدا ) [ الكهف : 17 ] . وقال : ( من يضلل الله فلا هادي له ويذرهم في طغيانهم يعمهون ) [ الأعراف : 186 ] . ـ

And what is better than how the attribution of blessings goes directly to Allah in His statement:

صِرَ‌اطَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ

The path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor

while the subject of the anger is concealed in His statement:

غَيْرِ‌ الْمَغْضُوبِ عَلَيْهِمْ

not of those who have evoked anger

even though Allah is the actual doer of that, just as He said:

أَلَمْ تَرَ‌ إِلَى الَّذِينَ تَوَلَّوْا قَوْمًا غَضِبَ اللَّـهُ عَلَيْهِم

Have you not considered those who make allies of a people with whom Allah has become angry? [58:14]

And likewise the attribution of misguidance is to those who enacted that misguidance, even though Allah is the One who misguided them by His decree. This is just as He said:

مَن يَهْدِ اللَّـهُ فَهُوَ الْمُهْتَدِ ۖ وَمَن يُضْلِلْ فَلَن تَجِدَ لَهُ وَلِيًّا مُّرْ‌شِدًا

He whom Allah guides is the [rightly] guided, but he whom He leaves astray – never will you find for him a protecting guide. [18:17]

And He said:

مَن يُضْلِلِ اللَّـهُ فَلَا هَادِيَ لَهُ ۚ وَيَذَرُ‌هُمْ فِي طُغْيَانِهِمْ يَعْمَهُونَ

Whoever Allah sends astray – there is no guide for him. And He leaves them in their transgression, wandering blindly. [7:186]

إلى غير ذلك من الآيات الدالة على أنه سبحانه هو المنفرد بالهداية والإضلال ، لا كما تقوله الفرقة القدرية ومن حذا حذوهم ، من أن العباد هم الذين يختارون ذلك ويفعلونه ، ويحتجون على بدعتهم بمتشابه من القرآن ، ويتركون ما يكون فيه صريح في الرد عليهم ، وهذا حال أهل الضلال والغي ، وقد ورد في الحديث الصحيح : إذا رأيتم الذين يتبعون ما تشابه منه ، فأولئك الذين سمى الله فاحذروهم . يعني في قوله تعالى : ( فأما الذين في قلوبهم زيغ فيتبعون ما تشابه منه ) [ آل عمران : 7 ] ، فليس – بحمد الله – لمبتدع في القرآن حجة صحيحة ؛ لأن القرآن جاء ليفصل الحق من الباطل مفرقا بين الهدى والضلال ، وليس فيه تناقض ولا اختلاف ؛ لأنه من عند الله تنزيل من حكيم حميد . ـ

As well as other ayaat than these which show that He is alone in guiding and misguiding, contrary to what the Qadariyyah sect and those who follow their example say about the slaves being the ones who choose what they do and then perform their actions. And they try to support this innovated belief of theirs by means of the ambiguous passages of the Qur’an while leaving what the Qur’an contains of clear refutations against them.

Thus is the condition of the people of misguidance and transgression, and it has been narrated in an authentic hadeeth, “When you see those who follow what is ambiguous in the Qur’an, then these are the ones whom Allah has named, so beware of them” – meaning, those whom He has named in His statement:

فَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ زَيْغٌ فَيَتَّبِعُونَ مَا تَشَابَهَ مِنْهُ

As for those in whose hearts is deviation [from truth], they will follow that of it which is ambiguous… [3:7]

For – alhamdulillaah – the Qur’an does not contain any authentic proofs for the innovators’ positions, because the Qur’an came in order to delineate the truth from the falsehood, separating guidance from misguidance. And the Qur’an does not contain any contradictions or discrepancies, for it is from Allah, a revelation from the Most Wise, the Praiseworthy.

[Tafsir ibn Kathir 1/144-145]

For more on posts regarding this surah, we have translated three complete explanations of it, including:

For more information about each of these explanations, please see: Tafsir of Surah al-Fatihah Guide.

See also: The Arrangement of the Final Chapters of the Qur’an: Ibn Taymiyah

See also: The Names and Revelation of Surah al-Fatihah: Tafsir al-Baghawi

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6 thoughts on “Ibn Kathir’s brief remarks on the contents of Surah al-Fatihah

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