Tafseer Surah Al-Fatiha: مالِكِ يَومِ الدّينِ

The following is a translation of Dr Fadhel al Samarrai’s Tafseer of Surah Fatiha. Sub-headings have been added for ease of reading. This tafseer gives an insight in to the miraculous nature of the Qur’anic Arabic.

  1. Is it recited: مالِكِ يَومِ الدّينِ or ملِكِ يَومِ الدّينِ ?

The meaning of this verse is Owner of the day of recompense (مالك يوم الجزاء). مَلِك is also recited instead of مالِكِ and it is a mutawatir (continuous) recitation. There is difference of opinion in the first of the two recitations. Some scholars preferred the recitation of مالك and some of them preferred the recitation of ملِك.

The truth is that there is no contention for preference or preponderance between the two recitations. Both recitations are mutawatir (continuous) from the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. Indeed Jibreel (as) brought down both of them from The Merciful (الرحمن), but we say that indeed every recitation has a meaning and such a matter is known. Every recitation necessitates certain matters that perhaps other recitations do not.

The Owner (المالك) may be a Sovereign (ملكاً) and he may not be, and the Sovereign may be an Owner and he may not be. The right of disposal of the Owner is different to the right of disposal of the Sovereign. From this it was mentioned that there is a difference between the two.

  1. Ownership (المالكيةَ) is a reason for the complete right of disposal. Therefore, the Owner (المالك) disposes of that which he controls, and the Owner disposes of that which the Sovereign does not dispose of from selling, gifting or renting and so forth, because the Sovereign cannot sell his subjects (رعايا).


  1. The Sovereign (الملك) controls the subjects and the Owner (مالك) owns slaves. The slave is lesser in position than the subject, so it is necessary for coercion to exist in Ownership (المالكية) more than in domination (الملكية). Therefore, it is necessary that the Owner is more superior than the Sovereign. The creation is dependent upon Allah, and His slaves are not His subjects (citizens).


  1. Indeed it is possible for the subjects to leave from being a subject by their own choice, because of the Sovereign. As for the slave, it is not possible for him to leave from bondage by his own choice, because of the Owner. Therefore, coercion in Ownership is more complete than in domination.


  1. Indeed the Sovereign is obliged to provide guardianship and protection for the subject. He ﷺ said:

كلُّكم راعٍ وكلكم مسؤولٌ عن رعيته

“Each of you is a guardian and each of you is questioned over his subjects.”

(Agreed Upon)

It is not an obligation upon the subject to serve the Sovereign. As for the slave, he is obliged to serve the Owner and he is not independent in any matter, expect by the permission of his master.


  1. Indeed the recitation of المالك is demanding more than the recitation of الملك because the most of which is sought from the Sovereign الملكِ is justice and fairness and rescuing of the human by him without distinction. As for the Owner المالك, the slave will seek from him clothes, food, mercy and education, as if He (swt) is saying: “I am your Sovereign so upon me is your food, clothes, reward and your protection.”


  1. It was said, that مالك is more admirable, because it adds to that which الملك does not. For instance, the Owner of humans, birds, animals and Owner of inanimate things is more expansive in order to include those with intellect and other than them and it will not be said he is a Sovereignملك‫ .


  1. The Owner has more authority and power to act in that which he controls than the Sovereign with respect to the subject. This means that Ownership remains in the hands of the Owner when he disposes of that which he controls by way of justice or aggression or excess, and no one is able to remove the possession from its Owner.


  1. Indeed the Owner is more courteous with that which he controls than the Sovereign. This means that the Owner considers carefully matters that he controls, and he looks after his matters and he repairs their defects. Therefore, whoever from them will be sick he will cure him, and whoever is weak he will support him, and whoever is hungry he will feed him, and whoever falls into difficulty he will reduce it. Indeed, the Owner defends that which he controls and will protect and preserve it from aggression, and that is something the Sovereign will not do.


The utmost which the Sovereign will do when difficulties happen, will be to rise to establish some obligations, and if someone under his authority was sick he will wish him well and he will not take responsibility because of an obligation. As for the Owner, he will deal with it and put it right by his command.

Therefore, the recitation which is appropriate with mercy in His (swt) saying: الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيـمِ and appropriate for the day of judgement (يَومِ الدّينِ) when the creation will be neediest at that time for the Owner of their affairs, who will protect them and show them mercy. Therefore, the recitation of مالك just as the author of Ruhu Al Maani said: “He is the most courteous with the guilty like me and it is appropriate with what was before it, and it (مالك) is added to the day of judgement in order to break its intensity.”

It was said, indeed the Sovereign is not only greater and more supreme than the people. And there is only one (sovereign) while everyone from the people of the country is an owner. So the Sovereign is more noble than the Owner.

What is apparent, is that the two recitations were revealed in order to combine between the two meanings of Owner and Sovereign, so He (swt) is an Owner and a Sovereign, and that is like His (swt) saying:

مَالِكَ ٱلْمُلْكِ

“Owner of all dominion”

(Aal-Imran, 3:26)

All the dominion (ٱلْمُلْكِ) is only for the Sovereign and not for the Owner, just as He (swt) said upon the tongue of Firawn (Pharaoh):

أَلَيْسَ لِي مُلْكُ مِصْرَ وَهَـٰذِهِ ٱلأَنْهَارُ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِيۤ

“Does not the Kingdom of Egypt belong to me, and these rivers flowing beneath me”

(Al-Zukhruf, 43:51)

Here it combines the Owner and the Sovereign, and it informed that the dominion is only for Him (swt) and that does not happen with one reading alone.


  1. Why did He (swt) restrict dominion to the day of judgement and not mention the worldly life?

The answer is that He said before this verse, رَبِّ ٱلْعَالَمِينَ which included the worldly life. يوم الدين means day of recompense, and there is no doubt that He (swt) is the Owner of the day of recompense. He is the Owner of that which was prior to the day from the days of action, otherwise how can He recompense for that which does not belong to Him?


  1. Why did He (swt) say: يوم الدين instead of: يوم القيامة ?

The answer is because الدين with the meaning of recompense includes all the circumstances of the resurrection from the beginning of resurrection to the lasting eternity. In fact, it will start first with the entire creation. يوم القيامة does not give this understanding like يوم الدين.

الدين has several meanings such as recompense, accountability, obedience and coercion. So He (swt) gathered these in the meaning, so that the day is the day of recompense entirely. Therefore it is a day of accountability, a day of recompense, a day of obedience and submission to Allah. It is a day in which the people of obedience will be strengthened and the people of disobedience will be subjugated. It is a day of recompense, i.e. day of raising of the deen when its affairs will be manifest just as it is said: ‘today is your day’ i.e. you are its Owner and manifest therein and ‘today is the painstaking day’, to other than that from the meanings which the word deen will carry. ‘day of resurrection’ will not include these meanings.

It came in Ruhu Al Maani: “Also, popular meanings of deen which are used are obedience and law. Therefore the mind of the person will go towards every acceptable opinion. It was said, some of them are from these two meanings, and the meaning at that time will be according to the estimation of the mudaf. So according to the first, the day of recompense is existing for the deen (obedience) and according to the second the day of recompense is remaining constant in the deen. It intended in the first for absolute submission in order that the day manifests outwardly and inwardly. He (swt) made the addition of يوم to the deen in the second, because between them are a close association with the word of recompense, so it did not require estimation.”

There is another issue and it is that يوم الدين is more appropriate because it is linked to His (swt) saying: رب العالمين which is for the worlds of the legally responsible as discussed previously. يوم الدين is definitely more appropriate linked to the legally responsible which the sura mentions from those who were favoured, those who are the object of anger, and those who are misguided, because the meaning of الدين is recompense, accountability, obedience and subjugation, and all of this will only happen to those who are legally responsible. Therefore, deen it is more appropriate than the day of resurrection which cannot be understood from its meaning. The language is what gives the meaning from the day of deen and its inclusions upon things which are not connected with recompense. So deen is more suitable than the day of resurrection from every angle.


  1. Why did he add Owner/Sovereign to the day while on that day there will be no dominion and, in fact that which occurs on it will be dominated?

The answer is that this was for the purpose of generality. So the Sovereign of the day is Sovereign for whatever is in it and whoever is in it. Then His Ownership is an Ownership which includes the materialistic and non-materialistic matters. So the Ownership of the day is the Ownership of everything that has happened and will occur on that day, and of everything of which exists that day, and for everyone on that day.

It came in Ruhu Al Maani: specifying the day with the idafa despite the fact He (swt) is the Owner and Sovereign of everything in all times, is either for veneration or because Dominion and Ownership are two occurrences in the worldly life for some people. It is apparent that they will disappear, and the creator will separate them with a visible separation in the hereafter:

وَكُلُّهُمْ آتِيهِ يَوْمَ ٱلْقِيَامَةِ فَرْداً

“And all of them are coming to Him on the Day of Resurrection alone.”

(Maryam, 19:95)

and He (swt) will be without parallel on that day, unmatched where in there will be no secret. Because of that He (swt) said:

يَوْمَ لاَ تَمْلِكُ نَفْسٌ لِنَفْسٍ شَيْئاً وَٱلأَمْرُ يَوْمَئِذٍ لِلَّهِ

“It is the Day when a soul will not possess for another soul [power to do] a thing; and the command, that Day, is [entirely] with Allah.”

(Al-Infitar, 82:19)

لِّمَنِ ٱلْمُلْكُ ٱلْيَوْمَ لِلَّهِ ٱلْوَاحِدِ ٱلْقَهَّارِ

“To whom belongs [all] Sovereignty this Day? To Allah, the One, the Prevailing.”

(Ghaafir, 40:16)

5. Linking ٱلْحَمْدُ للَّه to these verses

The connection of the praise with these attributes is the best connection and the most beautiful. Therefore, Allah is praised with His essence and His attributes, because Allah is the name of the supreme being, described with supreme attributes, so your saying: All Praise to Allah (ٱلْحَمْدُ للَّه) means that He is deserving of all praise with His essence and all of his attributes, and He is praised for his divinity by the worlds. Indeed from the lords are those lords whose divinity is not praised. As for Allah (swt), He is praised with all meanings of divinity, and He is praised due to him being merciful and compassionate, even though every mercy is not praised. So, if mercy is placed in other than its place, then it will be a defect for its possessor. As for Allah being praised due to His mercy which he placed in its place, and he obliged it due to it being worthy, and due to that a group from the people was blessed and a group was the object of anger.

He is praised on the day of recompense and praised due to his Ownership and his authority, due to that entire day.

This praise included all times, so the praise was when Allah existed while nothing was with Him, and it is his saying All Praise to Allah (ٱلْحَمْدُ للَّه). The praise includes when He created the worlds and when He had authority over them and when He established them, and that is His saying: lord of the worlds (رَبِّ ٱلْعَالَمِينَ). The praise includes times that mercy will descend and will not be discontinued and that is his saying: The merciful and compassionate (الرَّحمٰنِ الرَّحيمِ). The praise includes the entire day of recompense, and the day of recompense will not be completed because recompense is not completed. Therefore the people of paradise will be eternally in it and the people of hell fire will be eternally in it. Recompense of every one of them will not end. Therefore that is the day of recompense (يَومِ الدّينِ). It came in the commentary of Jurjany on Al-Kashaf (حاشية الجرجاني على الكشاف) “in his saying: the Owner of the day of recompense then indeed the recompense is treatment of all the situations in the hereafter until eternity.”

Therefore, the praise was included for all times from eternity to all time, and He did not leave anything from it. So it was like His (swt) saying:

لَهُ ٱلْحَمْدُ فِي ٱلأُولَىٰ وَٱلآخِرَةِ

“To Him is [due all] praise in the first [life] and the Hereafter.”

(Qasas, 28:70)

and His (swt) saying:

وَقُضِيَ بَيْنَهُمْ بِٱلْحَقِّ وَقِيلَ ٱلْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ ٱلْعَالَمِينَ

“And it will be judged between them in truth, and it will be said, “[All] praise to Allah, Lord of the worlds.”

(Zumar, 39:75)

and His (swt) saying:

وَآخِرُ دَعْوَاهُمْ أَنِ ٱلْحَمْدُ للَّهِ رَبِّ ٱلْعَالَمِينَ

“And the last of their call will be, ‘Praise to Allah, Lord of the worlds!’”

(Yunus, 10:10)

Therefore, He did not leave anything from the praise except His remembrance, and He did not leave any moment since eternity to all time, whereby time was not interrupted except He included it. This chapter was worthy to be named the mother of the Book.

It came in tafseer Al-Qaeem: “in mentioning of these names after the praise, and the projection of the praise upon its content and its requisites is what indicates upon the fact He is praised due to his godship (Oneness of the Divine nature), praised due to His divinity (Oneness of divine Lordship), praised due to His mercifulness, praised due to His authority, and that He is a god who is praised, lord of praise and merciful who is praised and a Sovereign who is praised.”

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