Lesson - 1
| Bis-mil-laa-hir Rah-maa-nir Ra-heem.
|| In the name of Allah, the Beneficent,
|Al-ham-du lil-laa-hi Rab-bil aa-la-meen.
||All Praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the worlds,
||The Beneficent, the Merciful,
||Master of the Day of Requital.
|Ee-yaa-ka na -bu-du wa ee-yaa-ka nas-ta- een.
||Thee do we serve and Thee do we beseech for help.
|Ih-di nas si-raa-tal mus-ta-qeem
||Guide us on the right path,
|Si-raa-tal la-zee-na an- am-ta a-lay-him.
||The path of those upon whom Thou hast bestowed favours,
|Ghay-ril magh-doo-bi a-lay-him wa-lad-daal-leen.
||Not those upon whom wrath is brought down, nor those who
This is my first lesson of the Holy Quran. I have started it with
the same pure and sublime verses that mark the beginning of the
Holy Quran. I have chosen these verses not only for the purpose
of prayer and blessing, but it is my intent if Allah gives me the
opportunity, to discuss those portions of the Holy Quran which are
recited by Muslims in their daily lives and prayers. I also hope
to comment on those verses that Allah has blessed me to understand.
I have started this series of Quranic teaching sessions at the request
of one of my friends who lives in another country. He has his own
radio station and wants to broadcast, every week, a tutorial which
should be of about fifteen minutes duration, and in simple language.
Altogether there will be fifty-two sessions so that this program,
with the grace of Allah, can continue all year round.
Attributes of Allah
Let us begin:
"In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful."
With the exception of one, this verse is at the beginning of each
chapter of the Holy Quran. It is not numerically included in the total
verses of each chapter, because it contains a complete text in itself.
It has been placed at the commencement of each chapter just like an
imperial proclamation displaying the seal of an emperor giving his
name and title. It is essential for a book to have the name of its
author on its title page. Similarly it should be the first undertaking
of any revealed scripture to give us the identity of one who has revealed
it. Holy Quran is the only scripture, in the beginning of which is
declared that it has been revealed by Allah. It is thus proclaimed
in the Holy Quran, "Bis-mil-laa-hir Rah-maa-nir Ra-heem",
in the name of Allah the Beneficent, the Merciful. Indicating that
this Book is from the Being whose name is Allah, and Who is Al-Rahman
(the Beneficent) and Al-Raheem (the Merciful). Allah is the
proper name meaning One Who is perfect in excellence and goodness'.
By His excellence is meant His attributes which have reached their
perfection in His Being. This is further on stated in the first chapter
(Surah Fatiha) as: "All praise is for Allah, the Lord
of the worlds (Rabb --- One who brings everything to perfection).
By the 'perfection of goodness' in the name of Allah is meant that
it is not confined to His own person, but all His creation benefits
from it every moment. If, for example, someone possesses knowledge
or wealth but its benefit is limited to his own person, and it contributes
to the well-being of no one else, then that attribute is flawed. The
goodness of Allah manifested by His attributes of:
(Bis-mil-laa-hir Rah-maa-nir Ra-heem).
provides benefit for all creation at every moment in this world and
- Rab-bil aa-la-meen (Lord of the worlds),
- Al-Rahman (the Beneficent),
- Al-Raheem (the Merciful),
- Maa-li-ki yaw-mid-deen (Master of the Day of Requital),
There are numerous attributes of Allah; I will now elaborate on
the reasons why the two attributes of Al-Rahman (the Beneficent)
and Al-Raheem (the Merciful) are mentioned here. First let
us understand the meaning of Al-Rahman and Al-Raheem.
Both these words are derived from the root word rahmat, signifying
tenderness requiring the exercise of beneficence. Al-Rahman and
Al-Raheem are both active participle nouns of different measures
denoting intensiveness of significance; al-Rahman being of
the measure of fa`lan in Arabic and indicating the greatest
preponderance of the quality of mercy. In other words, there is
so much predominance of mercy in Allah that He has created the whole
universe and its wonders. In fact, He has created the means of subsistence
for all His creation, guided it towards the purpose of its existence,
and the means of obtaining this objective. Raheem is the
measure of fa'il in the Arabic being expressive of the constant
repetition and manifestation of the attribute, thus Allah's mercy
is undergoing constant repetition. When proper use is made of the
means which Allah has given us by His beneficence, His mercy flows
in abundance and results in excellent reward of our effort again
The Human Soul
I will explain further the meaning of Al-Rahman and Al-Raheem
in the commentary of the first chapter Al-Fatiha. At
this point I would like to point out the special reason why the
attributes of Al-Rahman and Al-Raheem are mentioned
at the very beginning of the Holy Quran. It is because Allah has
blessed mankind with something He has blessed none of His other
creation with, and that is the spirit (Ruh) which the Holy
Quran mentions further on as:
"So when I have made him complete and breathed into
him My spirit." (15:29)
This material world with all that is in it including the human body
will one day cease to exist, what remains behind is the human spirit
which Allah has given to mankind. This spirit, while in the human
body, shares all the circumstances, good and evil actions, experienced
by the body, forming a personality of its own, and has been called
the Nafs (soul) by the Holy Quran. This Nafs (soul)
is taken at the time of death and goes into the world Hereafter to
exist forever. It is the real essence of mankind. What, one may ask,
is the Divine program for the nurturing, reformation, protection,
and the realization of purpose, for which this precious entity has
been granted? Mankind is unable to see his spirit although awareness
of its existence is there. Where does this spirit go after it departs
from the body at the time of death? What is the nature of that spiritual
cosmos, and the circumstances encountering it? Our physical existence
ends over here, but the spirit has to remain forever, what should
one do to maintain its health and growth to realize the objective
it has been given for? How has Allah's attribute of Beneficence fulfilled
this urgent and most essential need? The Holy Quran states:
"The Beneficent, taught the Quran" (55:1-2)
indicating that in order to give this most excellent knowledge the
Beneficence of Allah has made full provision in the Holy Quran. When
a person utilizing this knowledge acts upon it, then according to
the Holy Quran, "And He is Merciful to the believers." (33:43).
That is, for those who believe and act upon the Holy Quran, Allah
is often returning to mercy and rewards mankind with those fine moral
and spiritual blessings called the gifts of paradise. It thus becomes
apparent how splendid and profoundly meaningful the verse "Bis-mil-laa-hir-Rah-maa
nir-Raheem." (In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful)
is at the beginning of the Holy Quran.
Knowledge of the Holy Quran
One of the meanings of the letter ba in Bis-mil-laah
is seeking the help of. The reader of the Holy Quran is thus
taught to ask the help of Allah, Whose beneficence has granted us
a blessing like the Holy Quran. We beg of His Mercy that He may
give us all the blessings spiritual, moral, temporal, and those
pertaining to the Hereafter, and award us with His pleasure and
content which can only be attained by following the Holy Quran.
Included in this also is the prayer imploring the Beneficent, Who
has given us the Holy Quran, to create all the conditions and circumstances
conducive to our satisfactory completion of its study. These would
include a healthy body, a mind free of worries, and inclined towards
the Holy Quran. Also required would be presence of mind and its
inclination towards obedience, and absence of any circumstances
that would disturb the peace and comfort of the reader.
Appealing to Allah's attribute of Mercy involves supplication
before the One Who possesses infinite goodness, so that His mercy
opens up one's mind towards Divine guidance and complete submission.
It also safeguards human effort from being wasted and protects him
from the temptations and whisperings of the devil. Besides commencing
the recitation of the Holy Quran, the Holy Prophet (may peace and
the blessings of Allah be upon him) has encouraged the Muslims to
say Bis-mil-laah-hir-Rah-maa-nir-Ra-heem (in the name of
Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful) at the beginning of every task,
in the following words:
"Any task that is not started with the recitation
of Bis-mil-laa-hir-Rah-maa-nir-Ra-heem is devoid of blessing."
Thus when a person recites it in this manner he pleads with Allah,
for His Beneficence to improvise for every task to be accomplished
and completed, and to turn towards the suppliant with His Mercy. His
quality of Mercy thus invoked, rewards human endeavor with results
only He is capable of bestowing.
It is noticeable that the Holy Prophet has used the word blessing
in his statement above. The Arabic word for blessing is barkat,
which means goodness that lasts forever. A person who recites
Bis-mil-laah-hir-Rahman-nir-Raheem with any of his undertaking,
by invoking the name of Allah, dedicates it to Allah. If he then
meets with success or failure in its accomplishments, he is still
rewarded by Allah for his effort. The rewards of this life are,
of course, temporary, for one whose work is for Allah, the real
bonus will be in the Hereafter which is everlasting.
By commanding the recitation of Bis-mil-laah-hir-Rahman-nir-Raheem
a great reformation of mankind is also desired. A person who
before beginning a task, thoughtfully and with understanding recites,
"In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful",
will abstain from any such action that is evil or displeasing to
Allah. This is Taqwa (abstaining from evil, keeping one's
duty), which is mentioned repeatedly in the Holy Quran and Hadith.