As I have contemplated and reflected on the sixth verse of al-Fatiha over the years, I have been concerned over how this particular Face of Allah can be so misinterpreted. There was a moment when I felt the need to "soften" the translation to make it more palatable to recite. This was out of a sense of fear as well as out of a tentative theological position. Isn't God all good and great? Rahman and Rahim? So, what's up with His Anger? Is this really the angry and violent God of Islam? Are we willing to face this question about the religious expressions of our faith?
The troubling image that comes to mind is of my mother who was very vigilant and devoted in her spiritual practice. Yet, when she was suffering from excruciating pain from the cancer which had spread to her bones, she pleaded with Allah: "What have I done to deserve such pain?" She was convinced that some how she was experiencing some form of Divine Retribution.
This is a sensitive topic, so I ask my readers to indulge me in some critical reflections.
Where did my mother get this idea? Was it self-evident? Was this her understanding of "karma?" Did she really believe that she had been so bad, strayed off the path so far, that Allah would treat her with such condemnation and suffering? If this is the consequence of her pure and moral life, what can we expect for our mistakes and errors of judgment?
For years, I have been unable to hold the notion that Allah could actually "curse" anyone or any thing of His Own Creation. The translations that do not use the words Divine Wrath, allude to the "cursed ones." So, this implies that these unfortunates have been cursed by Allah. Were they cursed because they were wilful in their errant deviations from the straight path? Is it not possible that they were just not capable of reaching a level of awakening and consciousness that could have informed their ethical decisions? Is there only a religious and moral basis for pathology? Could they not have stolen because they had no where else to turn to for nourishment?
I have consulted various sources on this topic and will post specific commentaries that I believe actually politicize al-Fatiha to the point of perverting the essence of Islam. In the meantime, I wanted to leave my readers with some time for reflection on this "loaded" topic. Let's all sit with this for a while...