Posted by: Dawud Israel | November 27, 2010

Divine Exceptionalism – Alone

One translation of Surah Fatiha mentions the fifth verse as translated: “You alone do we worship and you alone do we turn to for help.” This made me ponder about the the closeness in this translation and the idea of being alone with Allah. We often hear that humans are alone in the universe, but in a sense, we are alone only with Allah–that is, I am alone with Allah alone. Being alone is awful but alhamdulilah being alone with Allah is such a blessing, so unlike anything else in this world.

“Alone” has all the connotations of tawhid, of love, of direct attention and uniqueness.

So I thought about this verse and kept ponder over the translation and translations. Say the below out loud and pause at the commas to help you think about the meanings of our relationship with Allah:

“You alone, do we worship and You alone, do we turn to for help”–only to Him, only Him.
You, alone do we worship, and You, alone do we turn to for help”–implies weakness, helplessness and loneliness; bi ghayrillah–my heart is empty of others, our heart is full of remembrance of Him.
“You, alone, do we worship and You, alone, do we turn to for help”–meaning, me and my Lord, are alone together
You alone.–we only turn to you alone, a statement
You alone–I turn to you all alone, and you alone, us alone. In prayer and in my heart.

Wa huwa ma’akum ayna ma akuntum
Allah is with you wherever you go (57:4)

La illaha–Qabd (contraction of one’s heart or soul–al-Qabid)
illallah–Bast (expansion of one’s heart or soul, for He is al-Basit, the Expander, God’s Name is Expansion)

Everything that is not Allah (la illaha), is (ilallah) solitary and alone connected to Allah. “Allahu nuras samawati wa’l ardh- Allah is the Light of the Heavens and the Earth” (Quran). Everything is alone with Allah–everything glorifies Allah–how could anything glorify Him continually unless it were solely focused on Him, always, alone. Only through Allah would anything have its life and itsself.

I feel as if that the idea of “but, except, save,”–the idea of an exception or outlier, were created for Allah- so we would understand His Magnificence, many are exceptional but all excellence/exceptionalism leads to the Most Exceptional, is Allah- like a Path to Him. If there was no idea or notion of an exception…we would have difficulty valuing anything or valuing our relationship with Allah. ‘Except’ is the Sirat al-Mustaqeem, it denotes distinguishing, distinctions, aql, and hidhr (anxiety), and wara (caution), it denotes justice and the putting of things in their proper place and it denotes intellect, with conviction and sincerity. ‘Except’ is the exceptional nature of the Quran, the Prophets, the salihin…all of whom are exceptional but for the sake of Allah. “If you obey most of those on earth, they will lead you astray from the path of Allah” (Quran, 6:116)

ilallah– but Allah, when the earth quakes, when tornados happen, when death comes, when the la illaha of normality/Reality is interrupted with the Real, illallah (but God).

Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la illaha illa ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, ameen.


  1. I’m so grateful this was put up. There is a sort of blessed loneliness attached to worshipping Allah; physically in meditation, emotionally in our heart’s loyalty, spiritually in our worship. And God too is One, but his unique One-ness is what keeps our loneliness connected, with Him. If that makes sense.
    That’s a great lesson – pausing to register what our du`a means, ‘You alone, (alone) do we worship. You, alone, do we turn to for help.’ And that it takes a soulful albeit lonely heart again to turn to God in humility to be filled up with His love, only His. There is no-thing, no-event, no-“I”, illah billah. Magnificent, mashaAllah.

    Printing this. Jazakallah khairan.

  2. my favourite article so far, jazakum allahu khairun.

    it got me thinking:
    where do you draw the line between reading the quran and contemplating, as commanded;
    and reading and perceiving something that is new/ outside of islam?
    i want to start writing down my thoughts after reading quran in a notebook [almost like my own quranjam], but i’m afraid of coming up with something from my own head that has nothing to do with the truth.

    are there any articles/lectures you know of that speak of this?

  3. Shukran for the comments.

    Well its only a contemplation, and I think what I mentioned doesn’t escape the orbit of meaning in these verses- although I understand what you mean. If your intention is to come closer to Allah, then contemplation will take upon that intention. If your intentions are…less noble, then the contemplation of the Quran will take upon that as well. In surah al-Baqarah, v. 282 it says, “Fear Allah and Allah will teach you.” So sometimes if you really contemplate a verse, Allah teaches you a meaning that might be hidden from others, because the wisdom of the Quran is not easily grasped.

    In this post I was thinking of how we are not to simply worship Allah, but in order to worship Allah truly, we are to come to know Him. And that requires giving real attention with one’s heart, and real yearning. Try and imagine you staring at the Face of Allah in Jannah- not imagine His Face per se, but imagine just your eyes falling upon the Face of God.

  4. this comes to mind as you mention the relationship the servant has to his Lord.

    When the heedless wakes up [in the morning], he sees to what he shall do and when
    the intelligent wakes up, he sees to what Allah will do with him.

    The first thought which occurs to a person is a good measure of the level of his unification of Allah. So when a heedless person wakes up, the first thought which occurs to him has to do with ascribing an action to himself. Thus, he says, “What shall I do today?” Consequently, he is busied by his own planning away from looking towards His Master. All this is due to his heedlessness away from Allah and thus he deserves to be left to fend for himself scattering his mental energy while still being unable to obtain his goals. As for the intelligent person, the first thought which occurs to him has to do with ascribing an action to Allah. Thus, he says, “What shall Allah do with me?” Consequently, he is looking towards Allah Most High and what He will send to him. All this is due to his intelligence and constant vigilance and thus Allah will be sufficient for him in fulfilling his hopes and freeing him of all occupations. He will also make him content and make his eyes find rest in the good actions and states which He will establish him in. This is a great sign of felicity and a blessing from Allah Most High which He gives to his special friends.
    Ibn `Abbad’s Sharh al-Hikam al-`Ata’iyyah – And Useful Appendices

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: