Faith, Spirituality

The Day of Judgment in Surah al-Fatiha

Continuing our discussion about the infinite general and specific mercy of Allah (swt) and how we should also exhibit such compassion to those around us, the following verse places the human being between fear and hope (Khawf wa Raja’). Up to this verse, the individual becomes hopeful in the mercy of Allah (swt); but before he gains assurance from this mercy, this part of the chapter reminds us that He (swt) is also ‘The Master of the Day of Judgment’. This is in order to keep the balance, i.e. although the mercy of Allah (swt) is all-encompassing, there is, however, a day of judgment in which we will all be held accountable for our deeds thus we must be watchful of our behaviour.

Mālek (The Owner) and Malik (The Ruler) are both permitted recitations of this verse. Mālek is from the root word Melk and Malik is from the root word Mulk.[1]

There are different types of ownership[2] which exist; here we shall explain which one this verse is referring to:

  • Conventional ownership (Malekiyyat ‘Itibari): This type of ownership is not real, i.e. individuals can agree to pass on their ownership of objects to other individuals. For example, the owner of an item of clothing can transfer ownership of this item to another individual.
  • Real limited ownership (Malekiyyat Haqiqiye Mahdud): This type of ownership is higher than the previous one. This is a real form ownership, however, it is limited. For example, an individual has limited ownership over his limbs. He is the owner of his limbs, but this ownership is still limited and there is no full control.
  • Real absolute ownership (Malekiyyat Haqiqiye Mahdud): This is the type of ownership which belongs to Allah (swt) and is higher than the previous types. In fact, the other forms of ownership are initiated from this real ownership. Therefore when we speak about the ownership of Allah (swt), this real type of ownership is that which is spoken about.

Therefore, Mālek is the one who owns an object itself, and Malik is the one who has authority over something. Someone might be an owner; however, that does not necessarily mean that the owner has full authority. For example a school is owned by an owner; however, the principle of the school that is in charge of running it might not necessarily be the owner.

On the other hand, when it comes to Allah (swt), He is the absolute owner of creation and He is also the ultimate ruler and master. He then gives some of this ownership and sovereignty to some of His creation, though it is still under His control and possession. Not only does the creation belong to Him, rather a sovereignty is also owned by Allah (swt). Thus both Mālek and Malik apply to Him. This is one of the reasons why both recitations are correct as the Qur’an states:

“Say, “O Allah, Owner of Sovereignty, You give sovereignty to whom You will and You take sovereignty away from whom You will…” (3: 26)

Yawm al-din, has been interpreted as the Day of Recompense or Judgment.[3] This does not mean Allah (swt) is not the master of this world; it does, however, mean that the authority and ownership of Allah (swt) is manifested on that day. This could be one of the reasons why the ‘Day’ of judgment is mentioned, as the concept of day and night does not exist in the immaterial realm. However since during the day, things become clear and evident, similarly in that realm, the realities of faith and truth become clear. As stated in the Qur’an:

“Again, what will explain to thee what the Day of Judgment is? 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.” (82:18 – 19)

It becomes clear then that in reality all ownerships and sovereignties belong to Allah (swt) and what we see in the creation are merely means and His agents.

Not only this but any good which reaches the creation, Allah (swt) is the originator, as the Qur’an mentions:

“What comes to you of good is from Allah…” (4:79)

Therefore, a believer always sees the origin of all goodness in the world from Allah (swt). He is the absolute perfection, thus whatever perfection exists in creation is initiated and given by Him. In another verse, the Qur’an states:

“And whatever you have of favour – it is from Allah…” (16:53)

Although the truth becomes clear for everyone in the hereafter, sincere servants of Allah (swt) are able to reach certain positions in this realm where everything becomes clear for them. They recognise and see the ugliness of wrong doings as well as the beauty behind good deeds. An example of this is the commander of the faithful (Imam Ali (as)) who in a narration is reported to have said: ‘Even if the veil between the seen and the Unseen were to lift, my certainty would not increase.’[4] This, of course, requires striving hard to remove the veils between an individual and Allah (swt). These veils are sins which we are attached to that need to be removed in order for us to elevate our souls.

The need to be reminded that Allah (swt) is the real Owner and Master, will remove arguments and grudges which may arise at times due to financial matters. It will allow the believer to not let go of their principles because of financial gains and so on. Furthermore, always being conscious that everyone will be held accountable for their deeds and actions on the Day of Judgment will make the individuals more observant of their behaviour and the way they conduct themselves in life.

In our next article, we will continue our discussion addressing the concept of worship and only seeking help from Allah (swt).

by Mohammad Ehsan Rangiha for Voice of Unity


[1] Tasnim, V1

[2] Tasnim, V1

[3] Tafsir al-Amthal, v.1, p.31

[4] Abu Nu’aym, Hilyatu’l-Awliya’, 10: 203; ‘Alliyu’l-Qari, al-Asraru’l- Marfu’a, 193.

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