Few days after the passing of my Mushfique Ustaz Sheikh-ul-Hadeeth Darul Uloom Deoband Hazrat Aqdas Moulana Mufti Saeed Aḥmad Palanpuri (RA) the Imam of Masjid-e-Quba Moulana Abdus Salam Lajpuri Sahib contacted me. Moulana is the Imam of the very Masjid in north London that Hazrat-ul-Ustaz spent several Ramadhan and had a long connection that spanned a few decades.
The respected Imām Sahib wanted to inquire if I remembered the response (جواب) of Hazrat-ul-Ustaz to the question (سؤال) I had asked (during the 2016 Ramadhan visit of Hazrat-ul-Ustaz at their masjid) in regards to a Verse in Surat Al-Fatiha. On the call I could not recollect and I said to the Moulana to let me try to recollect after the call as I was confident it will come to me. Anyway after the call I did what I had to (where my confidence was stemming from) and turned to Allah Ta’ala if He could remind me and lo and behold through the mercy and grace of Allah Ta’ala the response came to me within 15-20 mins. And I then shared the response with the Imām Sahib which he responded that it was exactly the same words (ہو بہو) Hazrat-ul-Ustaz had used. الحمد لله حمداً كثيراً
The Imām Sahib had kindly reminded me the happiness and joy Hazrat-ul-Ustaz had expressed from the face and words at my question and the words of praise that were said. Hazrat-ul-Ustaz had said no one had asked him this question and no one will either. Also, what he was about to say (quoting Hazrat Allahmah Anwar Shah Kashmiri (RA)) he had read a long time ago and never had the opportunity to share it. This was the first time, he had just recalled it now and he was happy to share and pass on this piece of valuable knowledge and insight.
I am grateful to the Imām Sahib for reminding me of this incident (question and answer with my respected and learned Ustaz) as it was not on the forefront of my mind. Also, the Imām Sahib has kindly shared the incident via the Masjid addresses and speech too in the Urdu language.
However, I would like to share the question in English in my words too (with some introduction to put context to the question for the benefit of the wider audience) and then the response so it is preserved and the scholarly fraternity and students of knowledge can benefit from this valuable rule of Fasahat (فصاحت) and Balaghat (بلاغت) and keep it in mind when studying the beautiful Quran.
Fasahat in easy terms usually relates to the beauty of the words and Balaghat relates to the depths of the meanings. These two are a key component in the overall I’ajaz (اعجاز) of the Holy Quran i.e. in its ability to defeat (مُعجِز) anyone to produce anything remotely similar (مُعجِز) to the text of the Holy Quran. It is a complex and an in depth topic which requires at minimum a good level of knowledge and understanding of the various Arabic sciences and subjects. Hence, every word in the Holy Quran is in the right place and is perfect to convey the message in that context.
The Holy Quran consists of 114 Surat (Chapters). Surat Al-Fatiha is the first Surat, the opener of the Holy Quran, hence, the name Al-Fatiha. It is unique and it’s significance is clear from the fact that it is an integral part of every Rakat of Salah. No Salah is complete or valid without its recitation. So it is recited (verbally or heard or read in the mind) a minimum of 20 times in the 20 rakats of Fara’iz and Wajibaat (فرائض و واجبات) and 12 times in 12 Sunnah Muakkadah rakats during the day. It should also be noted that Salah is the best and complete form of worship (Ibadat / عِبادة).
Surat Al-Fatiha consists of seven (7) Verses (Aayats / آيات) and each one holds immense treasures and beauties. However, the question was related to the 5th Verse of Surat Al-Fatiha (or the 6th Verse according to those scholars who regard Tasmiyah (تسمية) i.e. بسم الله الرحمٰن الرحيم a part of every Surat and by default Surat Al-Fatiha too). The Verse is:
اهدنا الصراط المستقيم
Translation: (O Allah, Rabb Al-Aalameen, Ar-Rahman, Ar-Raheem, Maliki Yawm-ud-Deen) Take us on the straight path.
The question was that in the Holy Quran to convey the meaning of path, etc words like Sabeel (سبيل) and Tareeq (طريق) are also used so why is the word الصراط (As-Sirat) used in this significant Surat and in this significant Verse which is in essence the crux of Surat Al-Fatiha. Supplication and supplication of guidance is the core (مغز) of worship.
Hazrat-ul-Ustaz didn’t actually reply to the specific question (after the expressing of happiness and joy) but actually went further by providing me with a rule that can be employed in the entire Holy Quran. Hazrat-ul-Ustaz quoted Allahmah Anwar Shah Kashmiri (RA) by saying that “Hazrat Shah Sahib has said to understand the Fasahat (فصاحت) and Balaghat (بلاغت) of a Word in the Holy Quran try replacing it with a similar word in its place and then see if the same level of Fasahat (فصاحت) and Balaghat (بلاغت) is produced”. (اگر اس لفظ کی جگہ وہ دوسرا لفظ رکھ دیا جاۓ تو اس سے اسی درجہ کی فصاحت اور بلاغت ادا ہوتی ہے یا نہی).
It wont and it will give you the reason why it was used. So in this case try placing the other two words that have the meaning of path in them and see and analyse the difference.
Also, additionally to the above reflection as part of my personal reflections (Tafakkur / تفكّر and Tadabbur / تدبَر) on the beauties of the Holy Quran and to gain further insights I have studied during my recitations the usage of those two words (Sabeel (سبيل) and Tareeq (طريق)) too throughout the Holy Quran.
When I was in my Daurat-ul-Hadeeth (دورة الحديث) year at Darul Uloom Deoband I studied فيض البارى - the dictates (امالى) and commentary of Allahmah Anwar Shah Kashmiri (RA)) on Saheeh Bukhari. If I recall correctly it is in there somewhere that Hazrat Shah Sahib mentions that “in the past history 4 people (great scholars - از راقم) have reached the heights and pinnacle of this subject of Balaghat (بلاغت) and he was one of them”. I have no doubt on this observation of Hazrat Shah Sahib.
I asked this same question some years later to a Mufassir of the Holy Quran from India who has written a Tafseer and the response I was given was that he had not thought on this Verse from this perspective. The point is the question was not something many would dwell on or their minds would wander towards.
I have hinted to some hacks as part of my article titled “Power of Surat Ar-Rahman to Instil Gratitude through Repetition“. Those hacks can go a long way in developing insight into the Fasahat (فصاحت) and Balaghat (بلاغت) of the Holy Quran with less effort for anyone who has decent knowledge on the various pre-requisite sciences to the study of the Holy Quran. Those hacks are good starting points. I suggest reading the article and applying the hacks.
O Allah Ta’ala! Continue to keep us with steadfastness on the straight path till we meet You.
O Allah Ta’ala! Continue to shower us with the blessings of your intense and immense mercies, guidance, knowledge and recognition of You.
O Allah Ta’ala! Grant us all the deep understanding of the Holy Quran and open our hearts and minds to the knowledge (Uloom / علوم) and insights (Ma’aarif / معارف) in the Holy Quran related to both its words (Alfaaz /ألفاظ) and meanings (Ma’aani / معانى). Aameen Ya Rahman, Ya Raheem, Ya Kareem!
(After Fajar Friday 29th May 2020 – 6th Shawwal Al-Mukarrram 1441 A.H)