The Perfection of Servitude

As for the second example, it has been put forth by Allah regarding Himself in contrast to what is worshipped besides Him – the idols that they worship besides Him are at the station of a dumb mute who neither understands nor speaks – in fact he is “mute” in the heart and the tongue; incapable of manifesting thoughts or expressing words. In addition to this he is helpless and incapable of anything at all; and also wherever you send him he does not bring you any benefit and does not fulfil any need. In contrast, Allah is the Living, All-Capable Who speaks and Commands justice and to Him leads the Straight Path, and this description for Him is most perfect and full of praise; His Command is just and He is the Truth, implying that He has complete knowledge of him (man) and is teaching him and is pleased with him, instructing His slaves with it (justice) and loves those who apply justice. He only Commands justice and in fact refrains from anything contrary to it; such as oppression, injustice, impudence and falsehood.

His Command and His Law are all just and the people of justice are His allies and His beloved, and they are those who will be near Him, to His right on pulpits of light. His Command to act justly incorporates both the commandments of the religion that constitute His Law, and His Decrees in the natural world (i.e. existence). Both of these are just without any deviation or injustice whatsoever, as has been narrated in the authentic hadith,

“O Allah, I am Your slave and the son of Your male slave, the son of Your female-slave, My forehead is in Your Hand, Your Judgement upon me is assured and Your Decree concerning me is just…” (Reported by Ahmad)

His Decrees are His Commands in the natural world – His Command is such that is He intends a matter, He only has to say to it, “Be!” and it is. Thus, He does not Command except what is truthful and just, and His Judgement and Predestination are all truthful and just.

He then informs (us) that He is on the Straight Path. This is like Shu’ayb’s, peace be upon him, statement,

“Verily, I have put my trust in Allah, my Lord and your Lord. There is not a beast (living creature) but He has grasp of it by the forelock! Verily my Lord is on a Straight Path.” (Surah Hud:56)

His statement: “…not a beast but He has grasp of it by the forelock!” corresponds to the phrase “My forelock is in Your Hand” – and His saying “my Lord is on a Straight Path” corresponds to the phrase “Your Decree is just”. The first is His dominion and the second is His praise, for Him, Exalted is He, is the dominion and all praise, and His being on the straight path necessitates that He says nothing except the truth and Command nothing except what is just, and that He does nothing except that has benefit, wisdom and justice. For indeed He is Truthful in His statements and actions, so He does not take a person into account for an action that was decreed upon him but did not take place, and does not hold him accountable for sins he did not commit or did not act as a factor in, and (He) does not do anything at all that is not praiseworthy or commendable even if they lead to praiseworthy ends and desirable objectives, for His being on the Straight Path negates all this.

Tafsir of ibn Jarir al-Tabari on the Meaning of Sirat (Path) 

Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari said, “His statement, ‘My Lord is on the right path’; he (Shu’ayb) says: My Lord is on the way of the truth, He recompenses the good doer from His creation with good and the evil doer with evil, he does not do injustice to anyone at all, and does not accept from them except Islam and Iman (true faith)”. He then narrated from Mujahid by way of Sha’bi from Ibn Abi Nujayh – ‘My Lord is on the Right Path’, meaning the truth. Some people (of knowledge) said, this is like His statement, “Lo! Your Lord is constantly observing the deeds of His slaves to reward them for what they do.” (Surah Al-Fajr:14) And this is just a different form of expression since His being in this state is for paying back the good doer for his good action and the evil doer for his evil. Another group said, the statement has a meaning which is implicit (i.e. even though the words have not been explicitly mentioned) that is, my Lord urges you and encourages you to the Straight Path, and those people, if they intended by their statement that this was the only meaning intended by the ayah, then why they claimed is not true and there are no evidences for their appraisal of the implied meaning, particularly when Allah has distinguished between His Commanding justice and His being on the Straight Path. If they intended that His urging (His slaves) on the Straight Path is from the overall meaning of His saying, “on the Straight Path” then they are correct.

Another group said the meaning of His being on the ‘Straight path’ is that the return of the slaves and all matter is to Allah, nothing passes by Him. If this group meant by this saying, that this was the meaning of the ayah then that is not the case, but if they meant that this was from necessary implications and consequences of His being on the Straight Path, then that is correct. Another group said the meaning is that everything is under His power and subjugation, and of His dominion and His grasp. And this – even though it is true – it is not the meaning of the ayah, Shu’ayb, peace be upon him, made the distinction between his saying “There is not a (beast) living creature but He has grasp of it by the forelock.” and his saying, “My Lord is on the Right Path.”, so these two statements have meanings independent of each other, therefore the correct interpretation is that of Mujahid and that is the statement of the major Tafsir scholars (exegetes of the Qur’an), and the Arabic language does not support a different meaning without strain.

Ibn Jarir said (while) praising Umar ibn Abdul Aziz, “The Commander of the believers is on a path… that even if the routes had become crooked – is straight. And Allah said, “Allah sends astray whom He wills and guides on the Straight Path whom He wills.” (Surah Al-Anam:39) Thus since Allah, the Most High, is the One who has put the Messengers (peace be upon them all) and their followers on the Straight Path in their speech and actions, then He, Exalted is He, is more befitted to be on the Straight Path in His Speech and Actions. If the path which is followed by the Messengers and their followers is in accordance with His Command, then the path on which He, Exalted is He, necessitates His praiseworthiness, His perfection and His Majesty and Glory, by means of true speech and action. And with Allah lies success.

Regarding the ayah, there is a second opinion as in the case of the first ayah; that it is an example drawing a comparison of the believer and the non-believer – the details of this opinion have been previously mentioned, and with Allah lies all success.

Paragons of the Qur’an by Ibn Qayyim al Jawziyyah Pages 51-55

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