Chapter One: The Opening (Al Fatiha)

Verses 2 & 3......Part 2

(This session is also available in audio and video)


Session 12

Chapter 1 Verses 2 and 3, a continuation

               God created heaven and earth, air and water and all life’s necessities before he created us.  He deposited sustenance for life in earth until the Day of Resurrection.  All these bounties were already here to welcome and cradle man when he was created; and this merits our gratefulness.  Likewise, God created paradise before He created Adam (peace be upon him) so that Adam may not be fatigued or miserable.  He immediately found food, drink, life's necessities and enjoyment.  And when Adam and Eve descended to earth, the bounties had already preceded them.  They found food, drink and the necessities of life.  If these bounties did not exist, but were created -even shortly- afterwards, then man would have suffered and may have perished while waiting for them.

The divine grant has also cradled us as soon as each one of us was created.  The fetus finds a womb prepared for his reception and sustenance and exceeding his needs for the duration of the pregnancy.  At the time of birth, God places milk in the breast of the mother which emerges at the time of hunger and ceases when the baby had his fill, and then stops completely when the period of suckling is over.  He finds parents who provide for him until he is able to self-sustain.  All this happens before a person reaches the age of duty and obligation, and before he has the ability to say the phrase: (all praise is due to God).  As you see, the blessings always precede and welcome the one who is blessed.  Therefore, we must always express gratitude for all God's bounties.

There are countless things that we are unable provide for ourselves without God’s blessings.  The sun extends us life and warmth without any effort or work on our part.  Rain comes down, and water springs out of the ground for our benefit.  God provided us with night and day so we can sleep, rest and then strive for a better life.  We did not create any of these bounties that are constantly at our service.  Then isn't it befitting that we say "الحمد لله "for preparing and subjecting the universe for our comfort?  Rather, it obligates praise.

All life on earth and all the signs that God placed in the universe are here to point out to us that there is a greater power.  The sun, moon, stars, and earth transcend our capabilities.  All around us, crops grow from the ground, and despite being grown in one soil and watered by the same water, each has its own color, shape, smell and taste that differs from the next.  All these signs, ever changing and moving right before our eyes, invite us towards their study and provide us with proof of the existence of an innovative creator.  Despite all the recent advances in our knowledge in all sciences, no one can claim that he or she has created the sun or gave the earth its soil or atmosphere.  No one can claim to have created him or herself or anyone else.  And since no one person, and no group, is able to claim to be the creator of the universe, the matter is settled by default to the one who has claimed it and provided proof:  God Almighty.  All praise be to Him because He has instilled within us our inquisitive nature, and then supported it with rational intellectual evidence through His signs in the universe.   

Despite all this, we tend to praise the creation and forget the Creator! When, for example, you see a beautiful flower or an attractive gem, you say: “what a beautiful flower”; “what a fabulous gem”.  But the object that you just praised did not grant itself beauty.  The gem has no power in the fine arrangement of its crystals.  It is God who has instilled order and beauty in everything.  So let's give credit where credit is due and say " الحمد لله "   who created in this world that which reminds us his greatness.

Now, let's take a look at another key bounty that obliges our gratitude:  The bounty of God’s message to humanity.   This message, delivered through the prophets, taught us that it is Him, the Almighty, who created.  The beauty, grandeur, and precisionof creation indicated to the thoughtful mind that there is a greater power, but left the mind unable to say who that power is or what the creator might want from us.  This is why God sent His messengers.  They helped explain that the creator is Allah and helped us bridge the gap where our intellect had reached its limit in inquiring about the creator.  This bounty certainly merits our deepest gratitude and praise.

Furthermore, God's messages helped legislate and guard our way of life.  It showed us the right path and how to distance ourselves from corruption.  As we look around, we find injustice in every human made system.  In communist countries, power and luxury are the monopoly of their respective central committees.  While the entire people lead a miserable deprived life.  Such is the case in capitalist systems, where capitalists exploit resources, reap the benefits and try to give the bare minimum to others.  God, on the other hand, does not differentiate or discriminate against any of us, and he does not prefer anyone over the other except by our piety and good deeds.  He taught us that the proper way of life rests in constraining our desires in exchange for justice in this world and immense reward in the hereafter.  The laws set by people are based on self interest, and throughout time, people exploited each other because they wanted what others had, whether it was wealth, treasure, or natural resources. God, on the other hand, does not need anything that we possess.  To Him belong the depositories of everything as He states in this verse:

And there is not a thing but We have the vast treasures of it; and We do not send it down but according to a proper and prescribed measure. (Chapter 15, Verse 21)

Hence, servitude to God always grants you and does not take from you.   

More importantly, God loves when you ask from His bounties, and seek his help.  Through this, He guards you from humiliation and exploitation in this world.  Let look at an example form daily life, if you have a need from your boss or a person in authority, he or she, after many requests, may grant you an appointment of a specific duration.  During your meeting, he or she may feel irritated by your presence or your needs and hastens to stand up to end the meeting.  God's door, on the other hand, is always open.  You can stand before Him in prayer whenever you desire.  Raise your hands in supplication any time you like, and ask whatever you wish for God grants you what you want if it is in your best interest.  And He withholds from you when it is to your detriment.  God wants you to always seek him as He says in the following verse:

Your Lord says, ‘Call on Me and I will answer you; those who are too proud to serve Me will enter Hell humiliated.(40:60)

and in another verse:

When My servants ask you about Me, I am indeed nearmost. I answer the supplicant’s call when he calls Me. So let them respond to Me, and let them have faith in Me, so that they may fare rightly. (2:186)

God knows what you conceal within yourself, so he repeatedly gives you without asking.  His grants and favors upon us warrant praise and their withholding from us also warrant praise.  God relates in a Sacred Narration: "Whoever is too preoccupied by My remembrance to ask my favors, I shall give him the best I give those who ask".

God's blessings never cease and His treasures never run out.  Every time you ask from Him He has more and more to offer.  A poet once wrote:

It is sufficient pride for me that I am a servant who is

welcomed to be before my Lord without an appointment

Although He is in His divine sanctuary,

I can meet Him whenever and wherever I wish