بســــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــم الله الرحمن الرحــيــم

السلام عليكم و رحمة الله وبركاته

Now that Allah made clear to us where we have to go, Allah makes us describe the previous people who were successful in crossing the straight, long, difficult journey upwards to Allah.This is important even in our worldly dealings when we look up to the experiences of people who have been successful in fields that we have questions in. When you are in college, you ask for advice from senior students or graduates, because they have successfully been through the hurdles of academic life. Likewise, in this ayah we ask for the path of those people upon whom Allah has already showered His blessings. A side-note, this is in past tense, which subtly shows that the real role models of Islam are not the ones who are still alive, rather the ones who are gone. The ones who are alive are as volatile as us and as prone to the dangers of the shaytaan. The graduation ceremony is death…

We ask Allah to show us the path of those who have graduated from this life successfully. Also note that we say ‘anamta alayhim’, again associating guidance with Allah, that only Allah owns guidance and only Allah can bestow upon whom He wills and take away from whom He wills. The word an’ama comes from nu’uma, which refers to softness/relaxed state. It is no coincidence that cows and sheep are called an’aam in Arabic. The relation is that cows and sheep when they move are very relaxed, unlike a tense animal such as a cat. Remember that Allah described this path as a hard path and the tasks as difficult task, and that the higher up the ladder one goes, the harder it becomes to stay there and keep climbing. But Allah then says that the ones who succeed this stage are those upon whom relaxation is bestowed, they are now calm.

The next part, ‘ghayri almaghdubi alayhim’ is interesting. It is commonly translated as, ‘not the path of those who earn your wrath’ or the like. However this phrase doesn’t even contain the pronoun ‘your’, and that has greater implications than just a grammatical pattern. To understand this, know that in Arabic when you want to say that everyone is mad at someone, you call that person, ‘maghdub alayhi’, which basically means that the one upon whom the anger descends. So the people referred to in this phrase means that these are the people upon whom anger is being hurled at, it is being thrown at them. When such a statement is mentioned, and the doer is not mentioned for the action, is it not possible that there might be more than one doer? So not only is Allah angry at them, but the angels are angry at them, the believers are angry at them, the previous and later generations are angry at them, to such an extent that such are the people upon whom anger is thrown.

Another reason why Allah may not be mentioned in this phrase may be that these people receive so much anger that Allah does not want His name mentioned anywhere near them. And Allah knows best. Then Allah adds another description of these failed people, ad-daalleen. This is usually translated as, ‘those who go astray’. Perhaps a more common contextual translation would describe them as people who are lost. While this is a lesser degree of failure than having everyone’s anger flung at you, it is still failure as they did not get Allah’s guidance. An interesting relationship in this ayah is between the two types of failed people. To understand it, imagine that you have two children playing in a room, and there is a cookie jar on a table. You tell only the older of the two children that neither him, nor his brother is to eat any of the cookies  while you are gone. You return to the room after a while and both children have finished the cookie jar. How would you feel towards both children? The older one, the one that you instructed, clearly disobeyed you, while the younger one didn’t know any better and just followed his brother’s actions. You would be angry at the older one but not so much at the younger one. The older one disobeyed while the younger one was merely lost and not guided. So, the maghdubi alayhim are those who knew what was right and wrong, yet they still chose to disobey Allah, while the daalleen were the ones who were lost. However, ignorance is not equal to innocence. And according to some ahaadith, the maghdubi alayhim are the Jews, while the daalleen are the Christians. Even in the Quran, certain behaviours of the Jews are highlighted that show how they were at times arrogant despite being knowledgeable, and disobedient as a result. While many times when the Christians are mentioned, they exhibit behaviours of peoplewho didn’t really know any better and were lost. And the Quran is a teaching for us to not become like either of them (this doesn’t mean we start calling random people on the street as the ‘receivers of anger’, or the ‘lost’).

Also, by leaving the description open-ended, this category could include anyone, even from the Muslims. This is why we ask Allah for guidance and safety from being amongst the failures.

These notes were taken from LinguisticMiracle.com. You can find notes for other Surahs too inshaAllah!

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