Imagine there is an athiest, living in a remote location, someone who pondered all his life about a 'higher purpose', and the existence of God. Someone who always thought to himself, if only there was some way to reach out to God, or to know what He thinks. Then one day, a foreign looking man comes along, and there is something really mysterious about him. He comes up to the athiest, and says, Hi how are you doing? and briefly introduces himself. He tells the athiest, you know me not, but I am well aware of you. Naturally, the man is very intrigued and listens to every word carefully. This mysterious travellor speaks with a certain clarity, and catches every attention... and he says, listen! my time is very short here, I have come to give you something, and you must guard it with your life. It is a book, he says, but this is not any ordinary book... it is not a tale, or a thing for amusement. This book contains dark prophecies, and knowledge of the Unseen. It has a message for you, and it comes from your Lord, the Creator. Know then, that it is a blessing to you... because you have been addressed... and this is no small call on you, it is not like the Queen of England sends you a telegram when you reach a 100 years of age, no no! this is a Message from the King of kings, the One who appoints every leader on the earth, so pay attention, this is no less than a mighty message which causes the mountains to crumble beneath it! When you begin by opening it's covers, seek refuge and read in the name of your Lord. By now, the athiest's legs were trembling, and his heart in commotion. He peeked down to open the Book, and when his eyes returned to meet the travellor, he was nowhere to be seen.
The story ends here... or has it really just begun? Is this an athiest who thinks the man to be a crackpot? Or does he follow through, believing the man to be sincere? How do you think he will look at this book? Will he skim through the text, as if it was a utility bill? or something more, Sacred?
I know a few who think reading the Book is a sort of chore, like you would finish up your work, read a little as fast as you could, get it over with, and start playing a game on the computer or some other leisurely activity. I speak from personal experience. I don't give it the respect it deserves. I don't comprehend the awe in which it is to be held, or how magnificent the implications are. I don't approach it with the heart of a servant, and I lose out so so much. and I will probably never realize the extent of my loss, until it really gets taken away from me, and I get discharged from the duty i have been entrusted with. I keep forgetting that I will be asked about every minute of my life with these gifts, and what I did with them.
002.121 Those to whom We have sent the Book study it as it should be studied: They are the ones that believe therein: Those who reject faith therein,- the loss is their own.
So I ask for your help, to teach me the Book, to show me it's inner wisdom. If I read it, and think to myself that I know everything there is to know about it, I will never learn anymore. Take me out of my arrogance.. beat me with a stick to get me on my knees, if that's what it takes, but don't turn away from my ignorance, because I cannot cure it by myself. Simple belief or faith alone is not enough... it needs perfecting. If my mind or beliefs have changed by Islam, but my state of being hasn't transformed, then it was pointless, ..a corruption of the self, neither here nor there.
Al-Qur'an, 001.001-007 (Al-Fatiha [The Opening])
001.001 بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ
001.001 In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
001.002 الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ
001.002 Praise be to Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds;
001.003 الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ
001.003 Most Gracious, Most Merciful;
001.004 مَالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ
001.004 Master of the Day of Judgment.
001.005 إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ
001.005 Thee do we worship, and Thine aid we seek.
001.006 اهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ
001.006 Show us the straight way,
001.007 صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ غَيْرِ الْمَغْضُوبِ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلا الضَّالِّينَ
001.007 The way of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy Grace, those whose (portion) is not wrath, and who go not astray.
I know there are commentaries from famous scholars, but I am more interested in hearing from your own understanding of these verses. I can easily read an explanation which I find online, but I don't want to read from a paper or a computer screen, I want to read these verses from your heart, and what it means to you.
I encourage everyone to offer their insight, even if you are a non-muslim and what impression you get. May be God wants me to know something from you, which I can't quite see.
If God answers my prayer, and sends someone to teach me His Book, then we can move on to the other verses, in due time.
God bless you all.