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Lessons on Interpretation of the Hamd Surah

First Session

(part 4)


We must believe that the backbiter will be called to account, and that paradise awaits the believer and the doer of charitable deeds. We must believe this, not read it in a book or comprehend it with our reason, because there is a great deference between rational perception and belief with the heart (by heart, of course, I do not mean this physical heart).

Men may rationally perceive something to be true, but since they do not believe in it, they will not act in a according with it. Only when they believe in it will they act in accordance with it. Faith consists of this form of belief that impels man to action. Merely knowing about the Prophet is of no use; one must believe in  him.  Likewise  with  God:  establishing  proofs  of  God’s existence is not enough; man must have faith, must believe in his heart and submit to Him. Once faith comes, everything else follows. If man believes that a certain being originated this world, that man will be called to account at a later stage, that death is not the end of all things, but a transition from a deficient realm to a perfect one, such belief will protect him all sin. The only question remaining is: how should he believe? The answer is indicated in the Qur’an: “In the Name of God, praise belongs to God.”‌

Again let me stress that the sense I am discussing is possible, not certain; and part of the possible meaning I am suggesting is that if man believes that all expressions and instances of praise belong to God, shirk2 will not penetrate his heart.

As an example, if you hold to this belief, and wish to compose a panegyric for a prince, you will understand that it really pertains to God, because the prince is a manifestation of God. You will be praising that manifestation, because all praiseworthy qualities belong to God. If the prince arrogantly beats the drum of kingship, it will be because he does not know himself; he does not know that he is nothing. “One who knows himself knows also his Lord.”‌1 If a person understands and believes that he is nothing, that all that exists is He, he will have come to know his Lord.

Our fundamental problem is that we know neither God, nor ourselves and we believe neither in ourselves nor in God. That is to say, we do not believe that we are nothing and that everything is from Him. As long as this belief is not operative, all that the Qur’an has sought to establish will be ineffective.

In our egoistic obstinacy and mutual enmity, we still say, “I possess such-and-such qualities, but you do not.”‌ All the empty claims to leadership and so on arise out of enmity, and enmity can exist only when man has his attention fixed on himself. All the desaters that afflict man derive from his love of self, but if he were to perceive the truth of the matter, he would understand that his, self does not belong to him. True love of self, therefore, is love of other-than-self, but is has been mistakenly regarded as self-love. This error destroys man; all the miseries we suffer arise from this misguided love of the self and desire for its exaltation. This desire leads men to death and destruction; it carries them off to hellfire, and it is the source of all sin. When man fixes his attention on himself and desired everything for himself, he becomes the enemy of anyone who stands in his way, and grants others no rights. That is the source of all our miseries. It may be for this reason” to make it clear that everything is God’s and that man had nothing in and of himself” that God begin the Qur’an by saying, “Praise belongs of God.”‌ In other words, we cannot say that only some praise belongs to God and not other praise; I cannot praise you without praising God. “Praise belongs to God”‌ means that all expressions of praise, together with the very essence and notion of praise, belong to God and are His. You may imagine that you are praising something other than Him, but this verse removes the veil from this question and many others that are related.

The whole point is to believe in this verse; if one believes that all forms of praise belong to God, all forms of shirk will be negated within the heart.

When he said, “Throughout my entire life I have never committed shirk,”‌ that was because he had intuitively perceived the truth, had experienced it with his conscience; it was not something he had been taught, but a truth he had experienced. Proofs are not very effective. They are good, of course, and even necessary, but they are a means by which you are able to perceives something with your reason, as a preliminary to believing in it by means of inner exertion.

Philosophy itself is a means, not and end; a means for you to convey truths and forms of knowledge to your reason to your reason through proofs. That is its sole scope. It has been said, “Those who seek proofs have wooden legs.”‌ This means that the leg of rational proof is wooden, while the leg that conveys man and actually enables him to walk is his knowledge of himself as a manifestation of God; it is the faith that enters his heart and his conscience. When a man achieves such belief, he should always be aware that there are higher degrees of belief still for him to attain.

Let us not be satisfied merely to read the Qur’an and study its interpretation. Let us read every topic and every word of the Qur’an with faith. For the Qur’an is a book that purposes to reform men, to restore them to the state in which God created them by means of His Supreme Name. God is everything in man, although he does not understand that. The Qur’an wished to advance man from the defective state in which he finds himself to the higher state that befits him. This is the purpose for which the Qur’an had been revealed and a all the prophets have been sent: to take man by the hand and deliver him from the deep pit into which he has fallen””the pit of egohhod, the deepest of all pits””and to show him the manifestations of God, that he may forget all other-than-God.

May God grant that we attain such a state. And may peace be upon you, and also God’s mercy and blessings.


A Commentary on the Chapter of ‘Praise’ 

Witten by: Imam Khomeini(R.A)

Translator: Bahram Afrasiabi

Other Links:

A Commentary on the Hamd Surah: part 17

A Commentary on the Hamd Surah: part 18

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