Tafseer Surah al-Faatihah: vs. 5



Brother Abû Rumaysah



The saying of the Exalted, "You Alone we worship": This verse points to the actualisation of the meaning of Laa ilaaha illaa Allaah (there is none worthy of worship except for Allaah) for its meaning is comprised of two matters: negation and affirmation. So the negation aspect, contained in the words laa ilaaha, means to remove every single object of worship apart from Allaah in all the actions of worship. The affirmation aspect, contained in the words illaa Allaah, means to single out the Lord of the heavens and the earth Alone for all matters of worship in the way that has been legislated by the Sharee`ah.

This negation in the laa ilaaha illaa Allaah was indicated by placing the object of worship first in the verse such that it reads "You Alone..." It is established in the rules of the Arabic language that placing the object first in a sentence is one of the ways of confining the meaning of the verb to the object alone.

The affirmation part of the kalima was indicated in His saying, 'we worship'.

Allaah, the Exalted, has explained this meaning which is indicated here in detail elsewhere. For example His saying,


'O Mankind! Worship your Lord who created you.' [Al-Baqarah (2): 21]


Clarifying the affirmation aspect with his words, 'worship your Lord' and the negation aspect at the end of this noble verse with His words,


'So do not set up rivals with Allaah while you know.' [Al-Baqarah (2): 22]


And for example His saying,


'We have indeed sent a Messenger to every people saying: worship Allaah and leave all that is worshipped besides Him' [An-Nahl (16): 36]


Clarifying the affirmation with His words, 'worship Allaah' and the negation with His words, 'and leave all that is worshipped besides Allaah'. And for example His saying,


'And whosoever rejects all that is worshipped besides Allaah and believes in Allaah has held onto the most trustworthy handhold' [Al-Baqarah (2): 256]


Clarifying the negation with his words, 'whosoever rejects all that is worshipped besides Allaah' and the affirmation with His words, 'and believes in Allaah'. And for example His sayings,


'And when Abraham said to his father and his people: Indeed I am free of what you worship except He who created me' [Az-Zukhruf (43): 26-27]

'And We did not send a Messenger before you except that We revealed to him: that there is none worthy of worship but Me, so worship Me' [Al-Anbiyaa (21): 25]

'Ask those of Our Messengers whom We sent before you: Did We ever appoint gods to be worshipped besides Allaah' [Az-Zukhruf (43): 45]


Linguistically ibaadah is derived from abada which means to be subservient and to subjugate. In Islaam, the word ibaadah, or worship is a comprehensive term referring to everything, inward and outward that Allaah Loves and is Pleased with.{1} Its pillars are love, hope, fear, submission and humility.

Worship can only be considered to be true worship when the way of performing it is taken from the Messenger (SAW) seeking only the Face of Allaah. So these two conditions have to be present for the action to be considered worship and hence acceptable to Allaah.

These two conditions are proven by the hadeeth reported by Bukhaaree and Muslim from Umar bin al-Khattaab that the Messenger of Allaah (SAW) said,


Verily actions are by intentions, and for every person is what he intended. So the one whose hijrah was to Allaah and His Messenger, then his hijrah was to Allaah and His Messenger. And the one whose hijrah was for the world to gain from it, or a woman to marry her, then his hijrah was to what he made hijrah for. [ 2]

And by the hadeeth reported in Saheeh Muslim from Aa`ishah that the Prophet (SAW) said,


Whosoever does an action that we have not commanded then it must be rejected. [3]

Allaah says,


'[He] Who created death and life that he may test which of you is best in action.' [Al-Mulk (67): 2]


Fudayl bin Ayaadh commented on this by saying,


Who is sincere in [his action] and correct in it. The action, if it is sincere but not correct then it is not accepted. If it is correct but not sincere then it is not accepted. It is only accepted when it is both sincere and correct. It is sincere when it is for the sake of Allaah and correct when it is done according to the Sunnah. [4]

The proof of what Fudayl said lies in the verse,


"So whosoever hopes for the meeting with His Lord, let him work righteousness and associate none as a partner in the worship of His Lord " [Al-Kahf (18): 110]


It is in this respect that Imaam Ahmad said that the foundation of the religion is built upon three ahaadeeth:

"Verily actions are by intention."

"Whosoever introduces into this affair of ours that which is not part of it then it is rejected."

"The halaal is clear and the haraam is clear."

For the whole religion is based upon doing the commanded actions and staying away from the forbidden actions and stopping at the doubtful matters as is contained in the hadeeth of Nu`maan bin Basheer. Fulfilling two matters perfects all of this: That outwardly the action be done as taught by the Sunnah, and this is to be found in the hadeeth of Aa`ishah, "whosoever introduces into this affair of ours that which is not part of it then it is rejected." That inwardly the action be done seeking the Face of Allaah, as is contained in the hadeeth, "verily actions are by intention." [5]

The saying of the Exalted, 'You Alone we ask for help': Meaning that we do not seek aid from anyone but You because the affair in its totality is under Your control Alone, no one else has even an atoms weight of control over it. Again the object of the verb has been brought before the verb to stress this fact. In this statement's following His saying, 'You Alone we worship' lies an indication that it is not permissible to put our trust in anyone except the One Whodeserves worship because no one else has control over the affairs. This meaning which is indicated here is clearly explained in other verses, like His sayings,


'So worship Him and put your trust in Him' [Yusuf (12): 123]

'But if they turn away, say: Allaah is sufficient for me, none has the right to be worshipped but Him, in Him I put my trust' [Tawbah (9): 129]

'The Lord of the East and the West, none deserves to be worshipped but Him, so take Him as the Disposer of your affairs' [Al-Muzzammil (73): 9]

'Say: He is the Most Beneficent, we have believed in Him and put our trust in Him' [Al-Mulk (67): 29]


The whole of the religion of Islaam revolves around these two principles: we do not worship except Allaah and we do not put our trust in anyone or anything except Allaah. These are the means to everlasting bliss and security from all evils - so there is no path to victory except by establishing these two pillars. It is for this reason that some of the Salaf said,

The secret of the Qur`aan lies in al-Faatihah and its secret is the verse, 'You Alone do we worship and You Alone we ask for help.'

'You Alone do we worship' has been mentioned before 'You Alone do we ask for help' because worship is the intended goal and the Aid of Allaah is the route to attaining that goal, hence the most important thing has been mentioned first. Another reason given is that the wording is by way of mentioning the general before the specific, and to show that attention should be given to His, Exalted is He, Right over the right of His servant.

Know that this verse employs an address in the second person and this is most fitting at such an occasion because when one praises and supplicates to Allaah, then He is near and responsive. Allaah says,


"When My servants asks you concerning Me then I am close. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me." [Al-Baqarah (2): 186]


The previous verses were in the third person as they were informing us about Allaah. Another explanation given is that the style of the verses has changed from the third person to second person in order to stimulate and awaken the reciter such that his attention is drawn to the content of the verse.

If it is asked: why does the verse state 'we worship' when there is only one person reciting it?

The answer lies in the fact that the wise Sharee`ah has legislated many actions of worship to be done in congregation and it has also recommended the servant of Allaah to supplicate for his brother Muslims. Shaykh Saalih bin Ghaanim as-Sadlaan writes while discussing the virtue of congregational prayer, which is quoted here due to its being generally applicable to all congregational actions of worship.

From amongst the lofty qualities of the Islaamic Sharee`ah is that it has legislated many actions of worship be done in congregation. The Muslims gather that they may keep in contact with each other, come to know each other, seek advice from one another, seek help in removing any difficulties that they may be in and discuss various issues with each other. This contains great benefit and many desirable points which cannot be enumerated such as teaching the ignorant, helping the needy, softening the hearts and manifesting the greatness of Islaam. The Heavenly Revelation endorses this understanding for when it prohibits and commands it does not direct this prohibition to any specific individual but to the congregation as a whole. Allaah says,


"O you who believe! Bow, prostrate and worship your Lord. Perform the good so that you may be successful and perform Jihaad in the way of Allaah as it should be done..." [al-Hajj (22):77-78]


When the Muslim stands before Allaah, intimately conversing with Him and humbling himself before Him he does not speak as an individual rather he speaks as one part of the whole. He says,


"It is only you we worship and it is only Your Aid we seek." [al-Faatihah (1):5]


He does not say, "it is only You I worship and it is only Your Aid I seek." Then he asks Him from His goodness and guidance but he does not ask for himself only, instead he says,


"Guide us to the Straight Path. The Path of those whom You have guided, not the path of those who have earned Your Anger nor those who have gone astray." [al-Faatihah (1):6-7]


Indeed the congregational prayer is from the greatest of means to removing sectarian differences and racism based upon ones colour, race or land. Through the congregational prayer the Muslims attain mutual love, respect and brotherhood. This because the elders become known and are thereby respected, the poor and needy become known and are thereby helped, the scholars become known and are thereby asked, and the ignorant become known and are thereby taught. [6] Muslim reports from Abu ad-Dardaa` that the Messenger of Allaah (SAW) said,


There is no Muslim who supplicates for his brother in his absence except that the Angels say: the same for you as well [7]

Muslim also reports from Abu ad-Dardaa that the Messenger of Allaah (SAW) said,


The supplication of a Muslim for his brother in his absence is answered. At his head is the Angel commissioned [for conveying the supplication to Allaah], whenever he supplicates for good for his brother the Angel says: and for you is the same. [8]

In conclusion, Abdullaah bin Abbaas said in explanation to this verse,

O our Lord! It is You Alone that we single out for belief, fear and hope. It Your aid Alone that we seek to obey You and indeed in all of our affairs


{1} Ibn Taymiyyah, 'al-Ubudiyyah' [pg. 1]

{2} Saheeh Bukhaaree [Eng. Trans. 1/1 no. 1], Saheeh Muslim [Eng. Trans. 3/1056 no. 4692]

{3} Saheeh Muslim [Eng. Trans. 3/931 no. 4266]

{4} Ibn Rajab, 'Jaami` al-Uloom wal Hikam' [1/29]

{5} Ibn Rajab, 'Jaami al-Ulum wal Hikam' [1/29]

{6} Saalih as-Sadlaan, 'Salaatul Jamaa`ah Hukmuhaa wa Ahkaamuhaa' [pp. 23-24]

{7} Saheeh Muslim [Eng. Trans. 4/1429 no. 6588]

{8} Saheeh Muslim [Eng. Trans. 4/1429 no. 6590]



Source: http://www.islaam.net/main/display.php?id=280&category=29





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