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Part 8: An Analysis of Surah Al-Fatiha – The Concept of Bounty

13Nov 2015
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Part 8: An Analysis of Surah Al-Fatiha – The Concept of Bounty

The last verse of Surah Al-Fatiha categorises mankind into three different groups. After having asked Allah (swt) to be guided to the right path, verse 7 elaborates on this path and mentions: “The path of those upon whom You have bestowed favour, not of those who have evoked [Your] anger or of those who are astray” (Quran, 1:7).

Therefore, guided are those who have been bestowed bounties, of course all of us want to be amongst this category of people, thus the question to be asked is who are these people who have been given favours?

One of the methods for tafsir (interpretation) of the Qur’an to understand its verses is to refer to the Qur’an itself, as our traditions state that, “parts of the Qur’an explain the other parts”. Therefore to understand what Ni’ma (Bounty) means in this verse, we refer to the Qur’an itself. Allah (swt) in chapter 4, verse 69 of the Noble Qu’ran explains who the people whom He has bestowed His bounty upon are:

“And whoever obeys Allah and the Messenger – those will be with the ones upon whom Allah has bestowed favour of the prophets, the steadfast affirmers of truth, those who witness and the righteous. And excellent are those as companions”. (Quran, 4:69).

So according to this verse, there are 4 main categories of people whom Allah (swt) has bestowed favours upon[1].

  1. Nabiyyin (The messengers/ prophets) – These are the divinely appointed messengers of Allah (swt). According to some traditions, they are estimated to be 124,000.
  2. Sidiqqin (The truthful) – Siddiq is an individual that not only is truthful in his speech, but his actions also conform to his speech. It is a higher level of truthfulness which is related to the speech as well as the action.
  3. Shuhada (Those who witness) – The saints whom Allah (swt) has elevated their souls and have transcended beyond the material realm such that they witness everything. They witness the realities of existence; they witness the actions of human beings and so on.
  4. Salehin (The good doers) – The Qur’an always accompanies having belief with doing good. Salehin are individuals who have not only believed with their heart, but they translate this belief to action and perform good deeds.

Unlike the prevailing idea that bounty is seen as external blessing and physical comfort, many of the individuals in the above categories did not have physical comfort or a luxurious lifestyle. This shows that the Ni’ma which these groups of people have been bestowed with and that we are seeking in the Qur’an does not refer to physical comfort and luxury.

Therefore Ni’ma can be of two kinds[2]:

  1. Ni’ma al-Dhahiriyya (Outer bounty) – These are the physical external blessings which Allah (swt) bestows upon His creation. Bounties such as wealth, kingdom, health and so on are examples of this type of bounty. Many people in this life benefit from these type of bounties.


  1. Ni’ma al-Batiniyya (Inner bounty) – This category of blessing is related to the guidance and spiritual growth of the individual. It is the faith of the believer and those meta-physical aspects which are related to the soul of the human being. Wilayah (Guardianship) is also of this type of mercy and is one of the greatest bounties of Allah (swt) as the Qur’an mentions: …This day have I perfected for you your religion and completed My favour on you and chosen for you Islam as a religion… (Qur’an, 5:3)

Although we should be asking Allah (swt) for both types of blessing, and He (swt) bestows both types of blessings as the Qur’an mentions:

“Do you not see that Allah has made what is in the heavens and what is in the earth subservient to you, and made complete to you His favours outwardly and inwardly?” (Qur’an, 30:20)

However, the spiritual favour is what we should strive to achieve and work hard for. This is the type of blessing which ensures the salvation of the human being and assists him to reach the purpose behind his creation and existence. Of course, those who are bestowed blessings, are not all on the same level, some are closer than others and benefit from a higher degree of inner blessing. Therefore the blessing and bounty which is being asked for in this verse is the favour of guidance, intellect, faith and spiritual growth which has many degrees. The human being is always in need of this.

The continuation of this verse refers to other categories of people who have gone astray and not accepted the bounties of Allah (swt). It is evident that there is a direct relationship between guidance and bounty, indicating that the real blessing we need to seek is not only material reward, rather it is to benefit from the guidance of Allah (swt), communicated to us mainly through the external messengers (the prophets and Imams), the internal messenger (the intellect) and the signs (Ayat) of Allah (swt) which are found in the creation and in the divinely revealed scriptures.

Furthermore, it is important to recognise the bounties of the Creator and be thankful for what we have been given and utilise them in the correct way. This will prepare the grounds for the individual to benefit from further blessings of Allah (swt) as the Qur’an states:

“… If you are grateful, I would certainly give to you more, and if you are ungrateful…” (Qur’an, 14:7)

The favours of Allah (swt) however are so abundant that no one is able to count them or give their due thanks and appreciation to the Creator.

The Qur’an mentions:

“And if you would count Allah’s favours, you will not be able to number them; most surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.” (Qur’an, 6:18)

Some of these favours have been mentioned in the holy Qur’an; blessings such as mercy and kindness[3], prophethood[4], forgiveness[5], reward and paradise[6], compassion and love[7], assistance and help[8], rain[9], comfort, wealth and goodness[10],[11] and anything which is bestowed and gifted by Allah (swt) is considered one of His favours.

In the next article of this series we will analyse the next two categories of people which the verse mentions: “…those who have evoked [Your] anger or of those who are astray” (Quran, 1:7).

Written by Mohammad Ehsan Rangiha

[1] Tasnim, v1

[2] Ibid.

[3] Qur’an 2: 178

[4] Qur’an 2: 105

[5] Qur’an 2: 64

[6] Qur’an 3: 107

[7] Qur’an 3: 159

[8] Qur’an 4: 102

[9] Qur’an 7: 57

[10] Qur’an 10 21

[11] Qur’an 17:28

Previously in this series:

Part 7: An Analysis of Surah Al-Fatiha – The Concept of Guidance

Part 6: An Analysis of Surah Al-Fatiha – Exclusivity of Worship and Seeking from Allah (swt)

Part 5: An Analysis of Surah Al-Fatiha – The Day of Judgment

Part 4: An Analysis of Surah Al-Fatiha – Mercy and Compassion in Islam

Part 3: An Analysis of Surah Al-Fatiha – The concept of Praise

Part 2: An Analysis of Surah Al-Fatiha – The concept of Mercy

Part 1: An Analysis of Surah Al-Fatiha 

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