Tafsir Zone - Surah 1: al-Fatihah (The Opening)

Tafsir Zone

Surah al-Fatihah 1:4

Overview (Verse 4)

Master of the Day of Judgement. (Verse 4)

This verse states a fundamental Islamic principle that has a most profound influence on human life: belief in the hereafter. The Qur’ān comments on the curious fact that people have often believed in God as Creator but have failed to believe in a Day of Judgement, in a life to come, when reward and punishment are meted out to restore the balance of justice. It is in reference to these that the Qur’ān says: “If you ask them, ‘Who is it that created the heavens and the earth?’ they will surely answer, ‘God’” (31:25) Elsewhere the Qur’ān says of such people: “They deem it strange that a warner should have come to them from their own midst. Thus, the unbelievers say, A strange thing is this! [Are we to be resurrected] after we have died and become mere dust? Such a return seems far-fetched indeed!’“ (50: 2-3)

Belief in the hereafter is essential because it engages the human soul and mind and concentrates man’s attention on a future existence. This in turn helps to rein in man’s obsession with the present life, and to transcend his immediate earthly desires. He is no longer anxious to reap all his rewards here and now; he can conquer his selfishness and develop altruistic feelings and interests. Man is able to go through life as a motivated, tolerant, confident and optimistic being.

This central Islamic belief distinguishes clearly between aspiring to gain the moral and intellectual freedom that man needs and deserves, and capitulation to worldly and selfish desires and pleasures. It marks the difference between a well-balanced and conscientious humanity and an egotistic, self-seeking one.

Human life can never be balanced and equitable until people believe that what they earn in this transient life is not the be-all and the end- all. Man needs to have the incentive of a confident belief that another life awaits him,  which is worth the struggle and the sacrifices and the effort he may have to make here in this short one. This belief brings a fundamental difference in the feelings, attitudes and behaviour of those who uphold it.