Islamic Garden

Islamic Garden
Islamic Garden in Lausanne, Switzerland

Friday, June 8, 2007

Ideals and Realities of al-Fatiha

According to Seyyed Hossein Nasr, author of "Ideals and Realities of Islam:"

"The basmalah opens every chapter of the Quran except one which is
really the continuation of the previous chapter. It also opens the
Surat al-fatihah, the opening chapter of the Qur'an, which is recited
over and over again in the daily canonical prayers, and which
contains the essence of the Qur'anic message. This chapter expresses the primordial relation between God and man. It consists of seven verses, three concerning God, three man, and one the relation between the two. In reciting its verses man stands in the primordial state before God, and prays in the name of all creatures and for all creatures. That is why its verbs are all in the first person plural and not the singular. It is the prayer of man as the conscious centre of all creation before the Creator and as such it contains symbolically the total message of the Quran.

The basmalah begins the Surat al fatihah and therefore the whole of the Quran. It thus comes at the beginning of the prophetic message which is itself revealed because of God's mercy towards men. It is in reference to the inner meaning of this formula that 'Ali, the
representative par excellence of esotericism in Islam, said that 'all
the Qur'an is contained in the Surat al-fatihah, all this Surat is
contained in the basmalah, all of the basmalah in the letter ba'
with which it begins, all of the letter ba' in the diacritical point
under it and I am that diacritical point.'

The beautiful symbolism indicated in this saying refers to Ali's 'supreme identity' as the perfect saint who is inwardly in union with God. This point with which the basmalah begins is according to another Hadith the first drop from the Divine Pen. It thus marks the beginning of things as it is also the beginning of the Quran. Like the point which generates all geometric space, this point is the symbol of the Origin of all creation, as the basmalah itself marks the beginning of things. Its recitation at the beginning of an act relates that act to God and sanctifies it. Even if every Muslim is not aware of the metaphysical implications of the formula, yet its sanctifying power is known and felt by all and for that reason every act which is necessary and legitimate in life should begin with the basmalah, such as eating a meal or beginning a journey. In fact that act is illicit at whose commencement a devout Muslim cannot pronounce the formula. Otherwise all that is acceptable before the eyes of God can be sanctified by it. Through the basmalah the Divine joy and bliss enters into human life to bless and sanctify it." (pp. 62-63).

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