Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Praying Not to Be Jewish or Christian

Sam Shamoun

Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the fact (including Muslims) that Surah al-Fatihah, the chapter that Muslims are required to recite at the start of each and every one of their daily prayers, actually contains an invocation asking Allah to never allow them to become a Jew or a Christian.

In vv. 6-7, Muslims pray that Allah guide them to the straight path, saving them from the path of those who have incurred his anger or who have gone astray:

Show us the straight way, The way of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy Grace, those whose (portion) is not wrath, and who go not astray. A. Yusuf Ali

According to the Muslim sources, the Jews are the ones who have incurred Allah’s wrath, and the Christians are those who have gone astray:

The Way of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace, not (the way) of those who earned Your Anger (such as the Jews), nor of those who went astray (such as the Christians). S. 1:7 Hilali-Khan

Narrated Adi bin Hatim: I asked Allah’s Messenger about the Statement of Allah: "Gharil maghdubi ‘alaihim [not (the way) of those who earned Your Anger]," he replied: "They are the Jews". And 2: "Walad dallin (nor of those who went astray)," he replied: "The Christians, and they are the ones who went astray". [This Hadithis quoted by At-Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud]. (Dr. Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din al-Hilali and Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan, Interpretation of the Meanings of the Noble Qur’an in the English Language with Comments from Tafsir At-Tabari, Tafsir Al-Qurtubi and Tafsir Ibn Kathir and Ahadith from Sahih Al-Bukhari, Sahih Muslim and other Ahadith books [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, Riyadh, Lahore, Houston, New York], Part 1: From Surah 1 to 5, p. 30; bold and underline emphasis ours)

Jami` at-Tirmidhi

Chapters on Tafsir

Narrated 'Adiyy bin Hatim:

that the Prophet said: "The Jews are those who Allah is wrath with, and the Christians have strayed."

Grade: Hasan (Darussalam)

English reference: Vol. 5, Book 44, Hadith 3954

Arabic reference: Book 47, Hadith 3212 (; underline emphasis ours)

the path of those whom You have favoured with guidance from alladhīna together with its relative clause is substituted by ghayri l-maghdūbi ‘alayhim not the path of those against whom there is wrath namely the Jews and nor of those who are astray namely the Christians. The subtle meaning implied by this substitution is that the guided ones are neither the Jews nor the Christians. But God knows best what is right and to Him is the Return and the final Resort. May God bless our master Muhammad s his Family and Companions and grant them everlasting peace. Sufficient is God for us; an excellent Guardian is He. There is no power and no strength save in God the High the Tremendous. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn; bold and underline emphasis ours)

(The path of those whom Thou hast favoured), the Religion of those whom You have blessed with the Religion and who are the followers of Moses, before the blessings of Allah deserted them, in that He shaded them with a white cloud and sent down on them honey and quails when they were in the wilderness. It is also said that (the path of those whom Thou hast favoured) refers to the prophets. (Not of those who earn Thine anger), not the religion of the Jews who earned Your anger, whom You forsook and whose hearts You did not protect until they became complaisant. (Nor of those who go astray), nor the religion of the Christians who erred from Islam. Amen: thus shall be its custodians; it is also said that Amen means let it be so. It is also said that it means: O our Lord! Do with us as we have requested You. And Allah knows best'. (Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs; bold and underline emphasis ours)

not [the path] of those against whom there is wrath, those who stop at the outward [aspects], concealing themselves behind the veil of the Compassionate One's favour and that of corporeal bliss and physical taste, [stopping] short of the spiritual realities and the bliss of the heart and the tasting through the intellect, such as the Jews. For their call was one to outward things, such as the Gardens, the [paradisiacal] maidens and palaces, which is why He was wrathful with them, for wrath requires banishment and distance. To [be content to] stop at the outward aspects [of things], which are the veils of darkness, is the ultimate in distance [from God]; nor of those who are astray, those who stand [content] with the inner aspects, which are the luminous veils (ḥujub nūrāniyya), and have concealed themselves behind the favour pertaining to [His] Mercifulness to the exclusion of the favour emanating from [Him as] the Compassionate One. They are unmindful of the manifest nature of the Truth and have erred from the even path, and have thus been denied the witnessing of the beauty of the Beloved in all things, as is the case with the Christians. For their call was to inner things and to the lights of the world of the Holy, whereas the call of the Muhammadans, the proclaimers of [God's] oneness, was to both [the inner and the outer] aspects, combining love for the beauty of [His] Essence with [love of His] most beautiful attributes as attested [in the QurÌān]: hasten to forgiveness from your Lord and a Garden…; be wary of God and believe in His Messenger and He will give you two portions from His mercy and He will make for you a light by which you may walk; worship God and do not associate anything with Him. They [the Muslims] thus heeded all three calls, as is mentioned in support of: they hope for His mercy but fear His chastisement, and they say, 'O our Lord, complete for us our light; they say our lord is God and then are upright and are thus rewarded with union, according to what God, exalted be He, has informed: their reward with their Lord shall be gardens of Eden. They will have their wage and their light; whithersoever they turn, there is the face of God; for those who have been virtuous, theirs shall be the fairest reward and more [Q. 10:26]. (Kashani Tafsir; bold and underline emphasis ours)

Allah's statement…

(Not (the way) of those who earned Your anger, nor of those who went astray) meaning guide us to the straight path, the path of those upon whom you have bestowed Your grace, that is, the people of guidance, sincerity and obedience to Allah and His Messengers. They are the people who adhere to Allah's commandments and refrain from committing what He has prohibited. But, help us to avoid the path of those whom Allah is angry with, whose intentions are corrupt, who know the truth, yet deviate from it. Also, help us avoid the path of those who were led astray, who lost the true knowledge and, as a result, are wandering in misguidance, unable to find the correct path. Allah asserted that the two paths He described here are both misguided when He repeated the negation `not'. These two paths are the paths of the Christians and Jews, a fact that the believer should beware of so that he avoids them. The path of the believers is knowledge of the truth and abiding by it. In comparison, the Jews abandoned practicing the religion, while the Christians lost the true knowledge. This is why `anger' descended upon the Jews, while being described as `led astray' is more appropriate of the Christians. Those who know, but avoid implementing the truth, deserve the anger, unlike those who are ignorant. The Christians want to seek the true knowledge, but are unable to find it because they did not seek it from its proper resources.

This is why they were led astray. We should also mention that both the Christians and the Jews have earned the anger and are led astray, but the anger is one of the attributes more particular of the Jews. Allah said about the Jews…

(Those (Jews) who incurred the curse of Allah and His wrath) (5:60).

The attribute that the Christians deserve most is that of being led astray, just as Allah said about them…

(Who went astray before and who misled many, and strayed (themselves) from the right path) (5:77).

There are several Hadiths and reports from the Salaf on this subject. Imam Ahmad recorded that `Adi bin Hatim said, "The horsemen of the Messenger of Allah seized my paternal aunt and some other people. When they brought them to the Messenger of Allah, they were made to stand in line before him. My aunt said, `O Messenger of Allah! The supporter is far away, the offspring have stopped coming and I am an old woman, unable to serve. Grant me your favor, may Allah grant you His favor.' He said, `Who is your supporter?' She said, `Adi bin Hatim.' He said, `The one who ran away from Allah and His Messenger?' She said, `So, the Prophet freed me.' When the Prophet came back, there was a man next to him, I think that he was `Ali, who said to her, `Ask him for a means of transportation.' She asked the Prophet, and he ordered that she be given an animal.”

`Adi then said, "Later on, she came to me and said, `He (Muhammad) has done a favor that your father (who was a generous man) would never have done. So and-so person came to him and he granted him his favor, and so-and-so came to him and he granted him his favor.' So I went to the Prophet and found that some women and children were gathering with him, so close that I knew that he was not a king like Kisra (King of Persia) or Caesar. He said, `O `Adi! What made you run away, so that La ilaha illallah is not proclaimed? Is there a deity worthy of worship except Allah? What made you run away, so that Allahu Akbar (Allah is the Greater) is not proclaimed? Is there anything Greater than Allah?' I proclaimed my Islam and I saw his face radiate with pleasure and he said…

<<Those who have earned the anger are the Jews and those who are led astray are the Christians.>>” This Hadith was also collected by At-Tirmidhi who said that it is Hasan Gharib.

Also, when Zayd bin `Amr bin Nufayl went with some of his friends - before Islam - to Ash-Sham seeking the true religion, the Jews said to him, "You will not become a Jew unless you carry a share of the anger of Allah that we have earned.'' He said, "I am seeking to escape Allah's anger.'' Also, the Christians said to him, "If you become one of us you will carry a share in Allah's discontent.'' He said, "I cannot bear it.'' So he remained in his pure nature and avoided worshipping the idols and the polytheistic practices. He became neither a Jew, nor Christian. As for his companions, they became Christians because they found it more pure than Judaism. Waraqah bin Nawfal was among these people until Allah guided him by the hand of His Prophet, when he was sent as Prophet, and Waraqah believed in the revelation that was sent to the Prophet. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir; bold and underline emphasis ours)

Those who have incurred Allah's wrath are the people, who in spite of being quite familiar with the commandments of Allah willfully go against them out of a calculated perversity or in the service of their desires, or, in other words, who are deficient in obeying divine injunctions. This, for example, was the general condition of the Jews who were ready to sacrifice their religion for the sake of a petty worldly gain, and used to insult and sometimes even to kill their prophets.

As for… (those who go astray), they are the people who, out of ignorance or lack of thought, go beyond the limits appointed by Allah, and indulge in excess and exaggeration in religious matters. This, for example, has generally been the error of the Christians who exceeded the limits in their reverence for a prophet and turned him into a god. On the one hand, there is the rebelliousness of the Jews who not only refused to listen to the prophets of Allah but went on to kill them; on the other hand, there is the excessive zeal of the Christians who deified a prophet. (Maariful-Quran, by Maulana Mufti Muhammad Shafi, translated by Prof. Muhammad Hasan Askari & Prof. Muhammad Shamim, revised by Justice Mufti Taqi Usmani, Volume 1 (Surah Al-Fatihah, Al-Baqarah), p. 78)

According to Muslim scholar Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips this was the view taken by the first three generations of Muslims, including Muhammad himself:

… The tafseer scholar Jalaalud-Din as-Suyootee (d. 1505 CE/910 AH) noted the following:

I have seen approximately ten different opinions concerning the tafseer of the verse…

“Not the path of those on whom is [Your] anger nor those who have gone astray,”

in spite of the fact that the Prophet and his companions (sahaabah) and their students (taabi‘oon) all related that the verse referred to none other than the Jews and Christians. And (one of the early scholars) Ibn Abee Haatim said concerning the verse, “I know of no disagreement among the scholars of tafseer about it.” (Philips, Usool at-Tafsir, 1.Tafseer Of The Qur’an, Transmission of Tafseer, p. 12; 1; 2)

This is further confirmed by the following source, which goes as far as to claim that this is the unanimous interpretation of this verse:

[2] According to some narrations…

“those who earned Your anger”

refers to the Jews and…

“those who went astray”

to the Christians. Ibn Abi Hatim said that the commentators of Qur’an ARE UNANIMOUS over this point.

I DO NOT KNOW OF ANY DIFFERENCE ABOUT THIS POINT” (Tafseer Ibn Abi Hatim). Hence, those who want to follow the Straight Way should avoid the errors of both Jews and Christians, the Jews because they deliberately followed the wrong way, tampered with the verses of their Book, played tricks, called the prophet ‘Uzair a son of God, and gave their rabbis authority to prohibit or permit. And the Christians, because they elevated ‘Isa to the level of “son of God” and “the third of the three.” It is a pity that the Muslims of today are, by and large, treading the same path and committing the same errors. May Allah guide us all and save us from ignominy and dishonor in the world. (An English Translation of Tafsir Ahsanul-Bayan, Qur’an translation by Dr. Muhammad Taqiud-Din Al-Hilali & Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan, commentary by Hafi Salahuddin Yusuf, translation of commentary by Mohammad Kamal Myshkat [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, First Edition: June 2010], pp. 24-25; bold, capital and underline emphasis ours)


At-Tirmidhee reports from Adee bin Haatim who said,

I asked the Messenger of Allah about Allah’s saying about, ‘those who have earned [Your] Anger’, and He said, ‘it refers to the Jews.’ I then asked about, ‘those who have gone astray’ and he said, ‘the Christians are those who have gone astray.’ [Reported by at-Tirmidhee and Ahmad and it is saheeh]

The Jews and the Christians even though both of them are misguided and both of them have Allah’s Anger on them - the Anger is specified to the Jews, even though the Christians share this with them, because the Jews knew the truth and rejected it and deliberately came with falsehood. Therefore the Anger of Allah being upon them was the description most befitting them. The Christians were ignorant, not knowing the truth, so misguidance was the description most befitting them.

This is further proven by the sayings of Allah concerning the Jews,

‘So they have drawn on themselves anger upon anger.’ [Al-Baqarah (2): 90]

‘Say: shall I inform you of something worse than that, regarding the recompense from Allah: those (Jews) who incurred the Curse of Allah and His Anger.’ [Al-Maa`idah (5): 60]

‘Indeed those who took the calf (for worship), anger from their Lord and humiliation will come upon them.’ [Al-A`raaf (7): 152]

And Allah said concerning the Christians,

‘And do not follow the vain desires of people (i.e. the Christians) who went astray in times gone by, and misled many, and have themselves strayed from the Straight Path’ [Al-Maa`idah (5): 77]

Other opinions have been voiced concerning the meaning of this verse, but the meaning mentioned above TAKES PRECEDENCE AND IS UNDOUBTEDLY CORRECT AS IT HAS BEEN REPORTED FROM THE PROPHET HIMSELF. (Tafsir of Suratul Fatihah, compiled by Abu Rumaysah, pp. 38-39; capital and underline emphasis ours)

There you have it folks! Five times every day Muslims are essentially beseeching their god to never allow them to become Jews or Christians, which gives you an idea of what Muhammad really thought about them. The fact is that Islam DOES NOT respect the Jews and Christians, but classifies them as infidels and unclean “idolaters” whom Muslims must subdue and humiliate for the sake of Allah and his “messenger”:

Fight against the People given the Book(s) who do not accept faith in Allah and the Last Day, and who do not treat as forbidden what is forbidden by Allah and by His Noble Messenger, and who do not follow the true religion, until they pay the tariff with their own hands with humiliation. S. 9:29 Faridul Haque

“… until they pay tribute out of hand and have been humiliated.” Hasan Al-Fatih Qaribullah

“… until they give/hand over the fee paid by non-Moslems living in a Moslem society (paid instead of Zakat by Moslems) from a hand, and (while) they are subservient/humiliated.” Muhammad Ahmed – Samira

“… until they pay the tribute out of hand and have been humbled.” Arberry

“… until they pay tribute by right of subjection, and they be reduced low.” Sale&

Therefore, do not let any Muslim deceive you into thinking that their prophet honored and respected the so-called “People of the Book,” i.e. the Jews and Christians.

{NOTE: This article was “inspired” by the following post.}

Further Reading

The Quran on Christians: Those Who Have Strayed or the Guided Ones?