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Tafsīr Sūrah al-Fātiḥah (1:5): Remaining in a State of Worship and Servitude Even After Death

Imam Ibn al-Qayyim

An explanation of the acts of servitude the servant of Allāh will be subjected to after his death.

Allāh says:

إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ

“You (Alone) we worship, and you (Alone) we ask for help (for each and everything).”
(Al-Fātiḥah, 1:5)

Imām Ibn al-Qayyim comments:

Allāh—the Most High—said to His messengers:

وَاعْبُدْ رَبَّكَ حَتَّىٰ يَأْتِيَكَ الْيَقِينُ

“And worship your Lord until there comes unto you the certainty (i.e. death).”
(Al-Ḥijr, 15:99)

The people of the Fire said:

وَكُنَّا نُكَذِّبُ بِيَوْمِ الدِّينِ ‎﴿٤٦﴾‏ حَتَّىٰ أَتَانَا الْيَقِينُ

“”And we used to belie the Day of Recompense. Until there came to us (the death) that is certain.””
(Al-Muddathir, 74:46-47)

“Certainty” here refers to death according to the consensus of the mufassirīn. In an authentic narration, in the story of the death of ʿUthmān ibn Maẓʿūn (رضي الله عنه), the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “As for ʿUthmān, certainty has indeed reached him from his Lord.”1 That is, death and what it entails.

A servant shall never extricate himself from his state of servitude as long as he remains in the home of responsibilities [this dunyá]. Even in his grave he will be tasked with another form of servitude when the two angels will ask him: “Who did you used to worship? What did you used to say regarding the Messenger of Allāh (صلى الله عليه وسلم)?” Seeking from him an answer to their queries.

Then, he is subjected to another form of servitude on the Day of Judgement. The day wherein Allāh will call all of the creation to prostrate. The believers will prostrate, while the hypocrites and disbelievers shall find themselves unable to do so. Then, when they finally enter the dwellings of either reward or punishment (Paradise or Hell), then their religious responsibilities will finally be concluded. The only servitude the people of reward will be subjected to will be performing tasbīḥ [saying ‘سبحان الله’] which will be said in attachment to their breathing such that they find no weariness or listlessness in it.

Whoever claims to have reached a station in which they have been absolved of all forms of worship is an unbeliever. For he has disbelieved in Allāh and His Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم). The only station he has reached in actuality is one of disbelief in Allāh, complete extrication from His religion.

Endnotes:
1. Authentic: narrated by al-Bukhārī: 1243.

Source: Tafsīr al-Qayyim: 98-99
Translated by: Riyāḍ al-Kanadī

Published: December 26, 2023
Edited: December 26, 2023

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