Rafed English

Surah al-Fatihah - Interpretation of Maliki yawmi’d-din

“Maliki yawmi’d-din”‌ {Master of the Day of Retribution}


God is the Master of the Day of Retribution. He is both the Master {malik} and the Sovereign {malik}. The universe is an estate {milk} under His possession {malikiyyah} as well as a dominion {mulk} under His sovereignty and rule. His possession is comprehensive, encompassing everything. Even the government is under his possession: “Say, ‘O Allah, Master of all sovereignty!’”‌[1] In the same token, man, in relation to the limbs of his body, is the master as well as sovereign and commander.


The mastership of God is real, and not delegated and contractual. God is the Master of both the world and the hereafter. Yet, since man regards himself as the master of things and affairs in this world, he tends to become negligent of the Original Master. On that day when all causes will cease to exist, all relations will be abrogated and all tongues will be sealed, at that point, he will feel and discern the divine sovereignty well; for, he shall be addressed, thus: “To whom does the sovereignty belong today?”‌[2]When man would just open his eyes, he will say: “To Allah, the One, the All-paramount.”‌[3]


The praying person who recites everyday, “God the Master of the Day of Retribution”‌ always remembers the Day of Resurrection and Reckoning. Before doing whatever work he intends to do, he first thinks about the book of accounts on the Day of Retribution.


The Arabic word “din”


The Arabic word “din”‌ has various meanings:


1. “Din”‌ is the divine law and shari‘ah, as the Holy Qur’an says: “Indeed, with Allah religion is Islam.”‌[4]


2. “Din”‌ is deed and obedience, as the Holy Qur’an states, thus: “{Only} exclusive faith is worthy of Allah.”‌[5]


3. “Din”‌ as account and retribution, as this noble verse proclaims: “Master of the Day of Retribution.”‌


One of the names of the Day of Resurrection is “yawm ad-din”‌. That is, the day of punishment and reward, just as the Holy Qur’an narrates about those who deny the Day of Resurrection: “They ask, ‘When will be the Day of Retribution?’”‌[6] Or, in describing that day the Qur’an says:


( ثُمَّ مَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا يَوْمُ الدِّينِ * يَوْمَ لا تَمْلِكُ نَفْسٌ لِنَفْسٍ شَيْئًا وَالأمْرُ يَوْمَئِذٍ لِلَّهِ )


“Again, what will show you what the Day of Retribution is? It is a day when no soul will be of any avail to another soul and all command that day will belong to Allah.”‌[7]


“Master of the Day of Retribution”‌ is a warning and a caution””O praying one! Starting today, think of tomorrow; the day when “Neither wealth nor children will avail;”‌ [8] the day when “Your relatives and your children will not avail you;”‌ [9] the day when neither the tongue has the permission to ask an apology nor the mind the opportunity to think; the day when nothing will avail and benefit except the grace {lutf} of God.


The placement of “Master of the Day of Retribution”‌ alongside “the All-beneficent, the All-merciful”‌ shows that fear and hope must go hand in hand and encouragement and punishment are together. As the Holy Qur’an says in another verse,


( نَبِّئْ عِبَادِي أَنِّي أَنَا الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ * وَأَنَّ عَذَابِي هُوَ الْعَذَابُ الألِيمُ ) “Inform My servants that I am indeed the All-forgiving, the All-merciful, and that My punishment is a painful punishment.”‌[10]


And in yet another verse, God is described as: “acceptor of repentance, severe in retribution.”‌[11]


At any rate, “the All-beneficent, the All-merciful”‌ is a giver of hope while “the Master of the Day of Retribution”‌ elicits fear. The Muslim must be between fear and hope, apprehension and aspiration so as neither to feel proud nor to be hopeless of divine mercy.






[1] Surah Al ‘Imran 3:26.


[2] Surah al-Ghafir (or al-Mu’min) 40:16.


[3] Surah Ibrahim 14:48; Surah al-Ghafir (or al-Mu’min) 40:16.


[4] Surah Al ‘Imran 3:19.


[5] Surah az-Zumar 39:3.


[6] Surah adh-Dhariyat 51:12.


[7] Surah al-Infitar 82:18-19.


[8] Surah ash-Shu‘ara’ 26:88.


[9] Surah al-Mumtahanah 60:3.


[10] Surah al-Hijr 15:49-50.


[11] Surah al-Ghafir (or al-Mu’min) 40:3.




Source: A Commentary on Prayer by Muhsin Qara’ati

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