Dr. Firoz Mahboob Kamal
The most important issue
Supplication (dowa) in prayers works as a key that connects with the Almighty Creator and opens the door of Divine blessings. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) described supplication as the ‘mukh ul ibadah’ which means brain of ibadah. Brain directs body’s movements and supplication directs the soul and humans’ deeds. In this regard, sura Fatiha has special importance. Not only it sets the most important subject of the supplication, but also prescribes the most important priority of the life. “We do slavery only to You (O Allah) and seek assistance only from You” –as incorporated in sura Fatiha, tells about the crucial mission and “guide us in siratul mustaqeem” tells about the most important supplication and the highest priority in life.
The prophet (peace be upon him) labelled sura Fatiha as the best surah in the holy Qur’an. It is also called as “ummul Qur’an” (the mother of Qur’an), “ummul Kitab” (the mother of the Book) and also “Qur’anul azeem” (the best recitation). If anyone fails to understand the message and main philosophy of surah Fatiha, he definitely fails to understand the message and teachings of the whole Qur’an. To keep alive the adherence to siratul mustaqeem, it has been made compulsory to recite sura Fatiha in every unit (rakah) of salah. Therefore, a Muslim recites this sura at least 17 times in his or her compulsory prayers. The number is much bigger if sunna and nafal prayers are also included. This is indeed the most important element of the Qur’anic methodology to mould the aim of life, the way of life and the priority of life to make people competent to please Allah SWT and to become blessed with the paradise. Only with the full compliance, a believer remains constantly focussed on the Qur’anic right path till his or her death.
Since loss of memory on important information leads to awful catastrophes, the same fate can happen when one forgets siratul mustaqeem. Deviation to the wrong way owes not only to ignorance of the right way, but also to non-adherence to it. Mere faith doesn’t work; adherence to the right path is crucial. Hence, revelation of Divine guidance or True path is not the only issue, issue of staying focused on that path is more vital. An obligation to read sura Fatiha 17 times a day in prayers is indeed a Divine strategy to help people stay glued to it.
Belief (iman) in Allah SWT has its own connotation; it is the total submission to His commands. Hence, mere recitation of the holy Qur’an -the road-map doesn’t help; it needs to be properly understood and fully followed. The real problem is not in the disbelief in the holy Qur’an; in fact, it is in the deliberate non-compliance. While driving a car, failure to follow the road signs lead to wrong destination or accidents. The holy Qur’an tells not only about the road signs for paradise, but also inspires hearts and minds to understand its teachings. Without such inspiration one can’t sustain adherence to the road map, therefore runs the risk of slipping away to the road of hellfire. The early Muslims felt such a risk so strongly that they did their best effort to understand the language of the holy Qur’an. They considered understanding Qur’an as the most important issue in life. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) also emphasised the point by saying: “Those who learn Qur’an and teach Qur’an are the best among all.” Because of such a strong belief, they even ignored keeping alive their mother tongue that didn’t help understand the Qur’an -Allah SWT’s greatest blessing. As a result the non-Arab people of Egypt, Syria, Sudan, Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Iraq, Tunisia, Mali and many other countries learnt Arabic over a short period of time. But such an urge for seeking knowledge from Al Qur’an is missing among today’s Muslims. Even the people of the Arab World show spectacular failures. As a consequence, the holy Qur’an survives only as a book of mere recitation; a very people study this great Book to take the guidance. Instead, the Muslims take nationalists, fascists, secularists, socialists, atheists and other deviants as the guide. What could be worst betrayal of Islam than this? As a result, the people designated as the khalifa (viceroy) of Allah and assigned to show the right path to others, have become deviants themselves. They have become the camp-followers of the established wrongdoers. Hence the project of guiding the people by the Qur’anic road map has been frustrated by the Muslims themselves. The people who are supposed to show the Qur’anic light to others, themselves stand as a strong barrier in front of the light.
The disastrous gaps
To reach a destination, it needs to travel the whole length of the road without any gap. The road may have beautiful segments through green plains and valleys; may also have awful parts through rough mountains, deserts, forests, rivers and seas. Those who stay steadfast in journey amidst all the hardships can only attain the success. The Qur’anic road map also test the depth of belief and perseverance of the believers; hence the road to paradise does not stay restricted only within the premises of five time prayers, month-long fasting, charity and haj. The crucial part of the journey passes through field of jihad. Jihad is the ultimate testing ground of Allah (SWT). So Allah (SWT) says, “Do men think that they will be left alone on saying that we believe, and not be tried? And certainly we tried those before them, so Allah will certainly know those who are true and He will certainly know the liars.”(sura Ankaboot, Verse 2-3).
In early days of Islam there was no misunderstanding on this issue of passing through the whole length of siratul mustaqeem. Hence, their journey was not confined within few segments of the road map. Whereas today, siratul mustaqeem is considered to be a path only of salah, fasting, haj and giving charity. Therefore it doesn’t generate any desire to engage in dawah, jihad, establishment of Islamic state and many other indispensable segments of the Divine path. Some people call people only to some selected few like salah; but disregard many crucial ones like jihad and formation of Islamic state. They suffer from foolish complacency that these are enough to please Allah (SWT).
Iman, salah, fasting, haj and jakah are the five pillars of Islam. But the pillars –as in a house, can’t protect people from torching heat, freezing cold, heavy rain or storms. For full protection, it needs to build a strong house. And for protecting the Muslim ummah and Islam, the job is much harder. It requires building a strong Islamic state. Such relentless efforts in the pursuit of establishing an Islamic state and protecting the Muslims from enemies is called jihad. Such a difficult part is also an indispensable part of siratul mustaqeem. The early Muslims crossed that part too. In fact, more than 70% of the companions of the prophet (peace be upon him) needed to sacrifice their lives while covering such a bloody part. And those who were alive, they were no less ready to make similar sacrifices either. But today, this is the most forgotten and rejected part of the Divine road-map. So it mostly stays uncovered. Therefore, Muslims have more than 50 states, but don’t have a single Islamic state.
The deviation and the promised punishment
Absence of an Islamic state and non-implementation of sharia in the Muslim World is indeed an eye-catching marker of deviation from the siratul mustaqeem. Whenever there is an adherence to siratul mustaqeem, there must come jihad, establishment of Islamic state and implementation of sharia. These are important and indispensable milestones. In fact, there exists no siratul mustaqeem without those milestones. Neither there exists any road map to paradise without those segments. If these are missing -despite all its Islamic names or colours, makes the muslimness undoubtedly fake. But where are those milestones in the Muslim life today? Does it require further evidence that they are pursuing none-else but the way of the proven deviants? This way, they indeed betray their own prayer. Whereas, in each unit of salah –as they recite surah Fatiha, not only they pray to be blessed with siratul mustaqeem, but also seek protection from the deviation onto the path of the deviants.
But, having been arrogant on adhering to the way of the established deviants, how can they expect the blessing from Allah here and in the hereafter? Adherence to the path of the deviants doesn’t run alone; it also brings the promised punishments. The terrible stories of the people of Pharoes, Israil, Ad, Samud, Lut and Madayen -as repeatedly revealed in the holy Qur’an, indeed provide ample evidences on that. Even today’s Muslims -with so many enemy occupations and so much deaths, rapes, sufferings and defenceless humiliation also stand as the perfect living examples. (27.10.2019)
The writer works as a consultant in medicine; writes articles, newspaper columns & books on various social, political, educational and human rights issues; presented research papers at international conferences of IUSSP (International Union of Scientific Studies of Population) at Beijing in 1997 and in Brazil in 1998.