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The Wisdom Behind Associating Blessings to Allāh but Not Specifying the People Deserving of His Anger in Sūrah al-Fātiḥah

Imām Ibn al-Qayyim

From the wisdom of Allāh is associating the more perfect attribute of grace to Himself, rather than anger, and not mentioning those befitting of His anger as a means of humiliating them.

اهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ ‎﴿٦﴾‏ صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ غَيْرِ الْمَغْضُوبِ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا الضَّالِّينَ ‎﴿٧﴾‏

Guide us to the Straight Way. The Way of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace, not (the way) of those who earned Your Anger, nor of those who went astray.
(Al-Fātiḥah, 1:6-7)

Imām Ibn al-Qayyim (d. 751 AH) comments:

Allāh has associated Himself with the bestowing of grace but has not specified the ones who are deserving of anger. This is for the following reasons:

  1. Grace is representative of goodness and blessings while anger occurs as a means of vengeance and justice. Mercy overcomes and surmounts anger. Thus, Allāh associates to Himself the more complete, perfect, pre-emptive, stronger of the two. For such is the methodology employed by the Qurʾān in associating goodness and blessings to Him, while removing and not specifying the ones who are deserving of that which is contrary to these two things. Just as the believing jinns say:

    وَأَنَّا لَا نَدْرِي أَشَرٌّ أُرِيدَ بِمَن فِي الْأَرْضِ أَمْ أَرَادَ بِهِمْ رَبُّهُمْ رَشَدًا

    “And we know not whether evil is intended for those on earth, or whether their Lord intends for them a Right Path.”
    (Al-Jinn, 72:10)

    Also the saying of al-Khaḍr regarding the affair of the wall and the two orphans:

    فَأَرَادَ رَبُّكَ أَن يَبْلُغَا أَشُدَّهُمَا وَيَسْتَخْرِجَا كَنزَهُمَا رَحْمَةً مِّن رَّبِّكَ

    “Your Lord intended that they should attain their age of full strength and take out their treasure as a mercy from your Lord.”
    (Al-Kahf, 18:82)

    Then we he spoke about the ship, he said:

    فَأَرَدتُّ أَنْ أَعِيبَهَا

    “So I wished to make a defective damage in it.”
    (Al-Kahf, 18:79)

    Then, afterwards, he said:

    وَمَا فَعَلْتُهُ عَنْ أَمْرِي

    “And I did it not of my own accord.”
    (Al-Kahf, 18:82)

    Contemplate also the saying of the Most High:

    حُرِّمَتْ عَلَيْكُمُ الْمَيْتَةُ وَالدَّمُ وَلَحْمُ الْخِنزِيرِ

    “Forbidden to you (for food) are: Al-Maytatah (the dead animals – cattle-beast not slaughtered), blood, the flesh of swine.”
    (Al-Māʾidah, 5:3)

    And His saying:

    أُحِلَّ لَكُمْ لَيْلَةَ الصِّيَامِ الرَّفَثُ إِلَىٰ نِسَائِكُمْ

    “It is made lawful for you to have sexual relations with your wives on the night of al-Ṣawm (the fasts).”
    (Al-Baqarah, 2:187)

    And His saying:

    حُرِّمَتْ عَلَيْكُمْ أُمَّهَاتُكُمْ

    “Forbidden to you (for marriage) are: your mothers.”
    (Al-Nisāʾ 4:23)

    Then, He said:

    وَأُحِلَّ لَكُم مَّا وَرَاءَ ذَٰلِكُمْ

    “All others are lawful.”1
    (Al-Nisāʾ, 4:24)

    Also, in Allāh specifying the people of the straight path as being the recipients of His grace there is a proof that encompassing blessings [blessings in worldly matters and guidance to Islām] are the type that stipulates true, everlasting success. As for general blessings, they are bestowed on both the believers and the disbelievers. For all of His creation enjoy blessings from Him. This settles the debate concerning the question: “Does Allāh grant the disbelievers blessings or not?” Encompassing blessings belong to the people of īmān alone while blessings, in the general sense, have been bestowed on both categories of believers and disbelievers. As the Most High said:

    وَإِن تَعُدُّوا نِعْمَتَ اللَّهِ لَا تُحْصُوهَا

    “And if you count the Blessings of Allāh, never will you be able to count them.”
    (Ibrāhīm, 14:34)

    Blessings are all a form of showing goodness. Rather, all ways of showing goodness are a form of blessings. The Lord, the Most High, shows goodness to the pious and the sinner, to the believer and the disbeliever. However, the encompassing form of showing goodness is only for those who have fear of Him while being dutiful towards Him and engaging in acts of goodness.

  2. Allāh—the Glorified—is the one bestower of blessings:

    وَمَا بِكُم مِّن نِّعْمَةٍ فَمِنَ اللَّهِ

    “And whatever blessings and good things you have, it is from Allāh.”
    (Al-Naḥl, 16:53)

    As such, he has associated with Himself that which He alone bestows. If the bestowing of blessings is ever associated with other than Him, it is done so only to clarify this ‘other’ as a means and path towards the bestowing of His blessings. As for anger in opposition to His enemies, this is not specific to Him alone. Rather, His angels, prophets, messengers, close friends and allies are all angered at that which angers Him. So in the wording: “those who earned Your Anger” is that which indicates that all of His close friends and allies are also angered. Thus, this wording acts to prove that He alone is the bestower of blessings, that encompassing blessings are from Him alone, and that He is absolutely alone in the bestowing of these blessings. This meaning would be absent if the verse was worded: ‘the path of the recipients of grace’ instead of the wording “those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace.”

  3. Not specifying those who have earned this anger acts to humiliate their affair, labelling them as insignificant and unimportant which is not present when mentioning the bestower of grace. Conversely, the recipients of grace are honoured and mentioned with praise, their affair is elevated such that removal [of the granter of blessings] in this context is unsuitable. For example, if you were to gaze upon one who has been honoured and venerated by a king to where his station is raised, you would say: “This is the one who has been honoured by the king, awarded and granted whatever he desires”. Such a saying would be more eloquent in praise, commemoration, and showing the magnanimity of this person than simply saying: “This person has been honoured, awarded, venerated, and granted [i.e., without specifying the bestower].”

Endnotes:
1. Translator note: Reference is being made here to when a thing is stated as lawful in the Qurʾān, it is done so with the ‘أ’ (active voice) referring to Allāh that is ‘I have made lawful…’, but when something is made unlawful it is done so with the letter referring to the executor of the action removed (passive voice) in the form ‘it has been made unlawful…’ rather than ‘I have made unlawful’.

Source: Madārij al-Sālikīn 1:17-18
Translated by: Riyāḍ al-Kanadī

Published: December 29, 2023
Edited: December 29, 2023

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