Man’s endeavours in life arise from two main capacities:
- The theoretical capacity of awareness, and
- A practical capacity of willingness to act.
Therefore his complete happiness depends on both. The perfection of the theoretical capacity of awareness comes about by knowing the Creator, and His Beautiful Names and Attributes.
It also lies in knowing the road that leads to Him and its obstacles, and by knowing his own self and flaws. By means of this things, he will attain perfection of the theoretical capacity of awareness. The most knowledgeable people are those who know them best.
The perfection of the practical capacity of willingness to act, does not occur unless the rights of Allah, the Almighty are observed by the servant. The rights of Allah are fulfilled by performing one’s obligations with sincerity, honesty, advice, kindness and acknowledging His favours upon him.
Therefore, the servant of Allah feels shy to stand before Him with the small amount of service he did for Allah because he knows that it is far below what He deserves. He also knows that there is no way to perfect any of those characteristics unless Allah helps him. So he desires to be guided to the Straight Way, to which He guides His sincere servants and helps them avoid the things that would let them stray from the Way either by an imperfection in his capacity of awareness or by an imperfection in his practical capacity.
Going astray incurs the wrath of Allah, the Almighty.
Therefore, man’s perfection and happiness cannot be complete without these things. Surat Al-Fatihah has mentioned them and has arranged them perfectly.
Allah, the Almighty says,
“All praise and thanks are due to Alalh, the Lord of the Âlamin (mankind, jinn and all that exists). The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. The Only Owner of the day of Recompense” [Al-Fatihah 1: 1-4]
These Quranic verses contain the first principle and that is to have knowledge of the Lord, Exalted be He and to have knowledge of His Beautiful Names, Attributes and Deeds.
And His statement,
“You (Alone) we worship and You (Alone) we ask for help (for each and everything)” [Al-Fatihah 1:5]
This Quranic verse contains the knowledge of the road that leads to Him, which is only found by worshipping Him Alone with that which He loves and prefers, and by asking His Help to worship Him properly.
And His statement,
“Guide us to the Straight Way” [Al-Fatihah, 1:6]
This Quranic verse declares that the servant has no way to achieve happiness except by keeping on the Straight Way, and that there is no way to this straight path without the guidance of Allah. And just as he cannot worship Him, except with His Help, he cannot stand firm on the road except with His guidance.
And the statement of Allah,
“Not (the way) of those who earned Your Anger (such as the Jews), nor of those who went astray (such as the Christians). [Al-Fatihah 1:7]
This Quranic verse declares that there are two ways to deviate from the Straight Way, and that one way is corruption of Knowledge and Belief, and the other is that concerned with the corruption of one’s Intentions and Actions.
Therefore, the beginning of the Surah speaks about Mercy, the middle speaks about Guidance and the end speaks about Favour and Blessings.
The servant receives Blessings according to his level of Guidance and the Guidance he receives is according to the level of Mercy he receives from Allah. So the whole issue returns to His Blessings and Mercy, which are the characteristics of Lordship.
Whoever complies with the meaning of Al-Fatihah in terms of Knowledge, Action and a Way of life, the person will have then successfully perfected himself, and his submission will have become the same whose degree has been raised above the common worshippers. And it in Allah whose aid is to be implored.
[Excerpt from Al-Fawaid by Imam Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah Rahimahullah]