Al Fatiha - Verse 2
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It has been said that“al- hamd” (الحمد) is to praise someone for a good acquired by his own intention, “al-madh”( المَدح = also translated as praise) is more general - it is used to praise even that good which someone is given without his will and power.
If you praise someone for his benevolence, you may use either word - al-hamd or al-madh but if you want to praise a pearl for its lustre, you may use the verbal-madh, but not al-hamd because the pearl has not acquired that lustre by its own will and power.“al ”( االْ = translated here as “all”) in “al-hamd” denotes either species or praise, or each and every praise. The end-result is the same in either case; that is why it has been translated here as “all”. Allah says:
That is Allah, your Lord, the Creator of every thing (40:62).
Whatever there is, is created by Allah. Again He says:
. . Who made good everything that He has created (32: 7).
Everything is good because it has been created by Allah and is attributed to Him.
In other words, a thing becomes good because it is created by Allah; and everything created by Him is good. Every creature is good and beautiful
because Allah has made it so; and every good and beautiful thing is created by Allah, attributed to Him. Allah says:
He is Allah, the One, the Subduer (of all) (39:4);
And the faces are humbled before the Living, the Self-subsistent God . (20:111).
In other words, He has created the creatures by His own knowledge, power and will, and not because He was compelled by someone else to do so. Therefore, everything is His own good work, done by His own will.
The above discourse was about Allah's action. Coming to His names, He has said:
Allah is He besides Whom there is no god; His are the very best names (20:8) ;
And Allah's are the best names; therefore call on Him thereby, and leave alone those who violate the sanctity of His names (7:180).
It is clear that Allah is good in His names and good in His actions; and that every good and beauty emanates from Him.
Therefore, Allah is praised for His good names as He is praised for His good actions. Every praise, uttered by any speaker for any good deed is in reality addressed to Allah only; because every good (which is the object of praise) emanates from Him only. In short, to Him belongs the species of the praise and all and every praise.
The verse: “Thee do we worship”, shows that the whole chapter is revealed on behalf of man. Allah teaches him in this chapter how to praise his Lord and how to show his allegiance to, and humility towards, Him. And the phrase, “All praise is due to Allah”, further strengthens this inference, as will be seen in the next paragraph.
The praise means to attribute, to ascribe; and Allah has declared that He is above all that His servants ascribe to Him. He has said:
Hallowed be Allah (for freedom) from what they ascribe, except the servants of Allah, freed (from sins) (37:159 -160).
This declaration is general and unconditional; and it is further proved by the fact that not a single verse in the Qur'an ascribes the action of “praise” to anyone except Allah and some of the prophets (who were doubtlessly freed from sins).
Allah addresses Nuh (Noah -a.s.) in these words:
. . Say: “All praise is due to Allah who delivered us from the unjust people” (23:28).
And He quotes Ibrahim (Abraham -a.s.) as saying:
“Praise be to Allah, Who gave me in old age Isma'il and Ishaq . .” (14:39).
Also, He told His Prophet, Muhammad (s.a.w.a.), in several places,
And say: “Praise be to Allah. . “ (27:93).
Further, he says about Dawūd and Sulayman (peace be on both of them):
. . and they both said: “Praise be to Allah. . “ (27:15).
Another exception is of the people of the Paradise -and they also are freed from spite and rancour as well as from vain and sinful words:
. . and the last of their cry shall be: “Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds” (10:10).
As for other creatures, the Qur'an never says that they “praise” Allah - they always “glorify Allah with His praise”. Allah says:
. . and the angels declare His glory with the praise of their Lord . (42:5);
and the thunder declares His glory with His praise . (13:13);
and there is not a single thing but glorifies Him with His praise . (17:44).
In all these verses “praise” is preceded by glorifying; rather “glorifying” is the main verb and “with praise” is only a clause, attached to it. None except Allah may comprehend the beauty and perfection of His work, nor can anyone else understand the beauty and perfection of His names and attributes. Allah says:
. they do not comprehend Him in knowledge . (20 :110).
In this background, if they were to praise Him it would mean that they had comprehended Him in their knowledge; in other words, Allah would be surrounded by their limited understanding, confined within the boundary of their comprehension. Therefore, they were careful enough to first declare His glory from all the limits of their comprehension, before starting His praise. Allah says:
. .surely Allah knows and you do not know (16:74).
So far as His purified servants are concerned, He treats their utterance of praise as though He Himself has said it, because they are free from sins and defects.
From the above discourse, it becomes crystal-clear what the good manner of servitude demands: The servant should praise his Lord in exactly the same words the Lord Himself has chosen for Himself; no deviation from it would be tolerable, as the Prophet has said in an universally accepted tradition; “I do not enumerate Thy praise; Thou art as Thou Thyself hast praised Thyself . .”
Therefore, the divine word, “All praise is due to Allah”, is a sort of a training to the servant - a training without which he could not know how to declare the praise of Allah.