3 Examples of Quran Eloquence in Surah Al-Fatihah

In this video, Dr. Yasir Qadhi highlights 3 examples of Quran eloquence in Surah Al-Fatihah, all in one and the same verse.

One of the interesting aspects of Surat Al-Fatihah that many of us don’t know, even though we have recited this Surah probably a million times, is a change in the structure of the Surah.

An example for this change is the following verse:

{You ˹alone˺ we worship and You ˹alone˺ we ask for help.} (Al-Fatihah 1:4)

Support AboutIslam in 2021

In this verse, there is a change from the third person to the second person. In the three verses preceding it, we speak of Allah, Almighty, in the third person:

{All praise is due to Allah, the lord of the worlds,

The Merciful, the One Who shows mercy,

The Master of the Day of Judgment.}  (Al-Fatihah 1:1-3)

Then, all of a sudden we change to the second person: {You ˹alone˺ we worship and You ˹alone˺ we ask for help.}  

In the first three verses, there’s no direct contact or communication with Allah; we’re simply praising Him. Then when we get to the fourth verse, we are having now a dialogue.

Arabic Style

In Arabic, you can change from the third, to the second, to the first tense. This change is called iltifat.

On the other hand, if you study English literature and grammar, you are taught that once you begin your essay or your book in one tense you stick with that tense.

Arabic is a Semitic language and English is a roman Latin-based language. In Arabic, it is part of eloquence to change your tenses. In fact, it is a common phenomenon of Arabic poetry of pre-Islamic poetry and especially of the Quran. If you read the Quran, hardly a page goes by except that you find this change of tenses.

Some western critics deem this change of tenses a sign of weakness in the Quran. Yet, it does not make sense to judge the grammar and eloquence of one language using the rules of another language.

As Dr. Yasir Qadhi explains in this video, this Arabic style enriches the meaning and delivers messages that cannot be conveyed through sticking to one and the same tense. It is in fact one of the examples of the Quran eloquence.

This poses the following questions:

  • What are the purposes of this style?
  • What is the most famous example of this style in the Quran?
  • How does this change affect the meaning of the verses?

Join Dr. Yasir Qadhi as he answers these questions and highlight other aspects of Quran eloquence in Surat Al-Fatihah.

In this Series: