This essay from Parabola by a renowned Sufi Sheikh from Turkey could almost be a commentary on the entire al-Fatiha simply because it speaks to the essence of the faith of Islam which is the journey or the path of the soul:
"TRAVELS OF THE SOUL
What is the origin of the human being? Most of us attribute our existence to the biological formation of the two cells in the mother's womb and the chromosomes in them. We explain the events of our life in terms of luck or, worse still, we attribute them to our own doing. Yet deep inside we know this is not the meaning of life. We are dissatisfied.
In order to be created, it is first necessary to have the One who creates, and that is the Essence of God. Each human being is a manifestation of the Essence of God. Secondly, the One who creates us must have the will to create us. Thirdly, He has to have the power to create.
The three divine elements of creation correspond to the three divine elements in the oneness of God that are responsible for the act of creation. The first is that the existence of a thing prior to its creation depends on an original existence, an existence within which are contained its shape, its character, its actions, its birth and death, and its destiny. That creative existence is God's Essence, the Causal Mind. The thing to be created must have the potential to receive all of this, and the acknowledgment of this is Divine Wisdom. The second is the acceptance of the created to be created, which is faith. The third is the ability of the created to be receptive to the will of God, which is submission. Thus the trinity in created things is linked with the trinity within the Unity of God, like the relationship between a mirror and the one who is reflected in the mirror.
God said in a divine tradition: "I was a hidden treasure, I loved to be known, so I created the creation." When He was a hidden treasure, He was in a state of Pure Essence which cannot be described, because this state has no words, names, attributes, or likenesses. Before creation, all was a total void, a limitless ocean of darkness which moved when God said: "I loved to be known."When the ocean of Essence moved, from its waves arose the first creation, the first manifestation of God, the light of the Causal Mind, the realm of the word, Pure Essence manifested in its divine attributes. .. .This realm contained the Total Soul, the soul of all the creation yet to come.
Then the ocean of the attributes of God containing all the souls yet to be created moved, by the power of the Pen and the Word, and from its waves were created the realm of spiritual beings, paradise, hell, death, angels, and the rewards and punishments of God. With the wind of God's wish to see Himself, the ocean of the spirits moved and the world of matter was created—the world of suns and stars, minerals and vegetables, animals and human beings. God, in His love, dressed the souls of His creation in the most beautiful shape and form, made out of fire, water, earth, and air.
The four stages of creation were not separate from each other, nor were they created at different times. They were created all at once. When God said "Be," they all became. Neither were they created from nothing, as nothing can be created from nothing, nor can a thing which exists become nothing. All existences, all incidences, come from God and return to God.
God created the human being last as His most perfect creation, in His own image. The perfect human contains all these realms. He is the microcosm, a jewel, pressed from the essence of the eighteen thousand universes. But the human being was created in two parts. God created the human soul from the light of His own Essence, and He created his body from the coarse matter of fire, water, earth, and air, and He blew his soul into him. The soul was meant to be the master, to ride the body, which was meant to serve as an animal of burden. The body yearns for the world because it is made of the same material and eventually will return to it. The soul yearns for God and will return to Him.
The soul traveled through the realm of the Causal Mind and through the realm of spirits and angels and the seven heavens down to the material realm, where it passed through the element of fire, bursting into fire, then passed through the realm of water, which put out the fire, then through earth, turning into mud, and finally exposed to air, turning into dried clay. Then, it grew into a vegetable, then it became an animal, and then it turned into the form and shape of a human being. The jewel of the soul was darkened when burnt by fire, it gathered rust when it hit the water, it was covered with mud passing through earth, and it became heavy and coarse when it came into contact with air. This is the descent, the fall of the human being; when the body dominates the soul, the horse rides the master.
Ascension is possible only when we can reach the soul imprisoned in the body of coarse matter. It cannot be seen with worldly eyes. Truth can be seen only by true eyes, perfection can be recognized only by the perfect. We must shed the weight of the flesh and its desires, attached as it is to this world which pulls us down. Our mind and senses cannot be relied on; with their associations and their imagination, they alter and hide the Truth.
That is why we have different opinions, likes and dislikes. We discuss, we get angry with the ones who do not agree with us. We fight, wage wars, condemn, kill ... sometimes even in the name of truth.
There is but one Truth, one God, one soul. The character of the soul is to love its origin, whom it yearns to meet. The eye of the heart, which can see the soul, may only be opened by love. The eye of the head sees the beautiful and the ugly; the eye of the heart sees only the beautiful. It sees the Truth. If we knew this, everybody else who opposes the Truth, who curses it, who fights against it, would be a part of the Truth. Then we would embrace those people and not condemn them. Love is the only force which can rid us of the crust hiding the jewel and weighing us down. Only it can permit our essence to rise to our original state as the best of creation, as the deputy of God, whom He created in the image of His own attributes, to whom He taught all His divine names, whom He addresses by saying: "I have created all and everything for you and you for Myself."
~Excerpted from Parabola Volume: 20.1 Earth, Air, Fire, Water
1995 Spring Issue, by Sheikh Tosun Bayrak Al Jerrahi