THE PRAYER OF MANKIND
By: Kassim Ahmad
21 July, 2016
The title of this essay will no doubt bring to mind Jesus’s “The Lord’s Prayer”. The Lord’s Prayer goes: “Our Father which art in heaven./Hallowed be thy name./Thy kingdom come./Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven./Give us this day our daily bread./And forgive us our debts, as we forgive out debtors./And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil./For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen./ 
Note that the Lord’s Prayer is in three parts. Firstly, it is praise to the Lord. Secondly, it refers to the Lord’s perfect kingdom. Thirdly, asking for man’s daily food. Fourthly, imploring against evil and temptation in the Lord’s perfect kingdom.
In comparison to the opening chapter of the Quran, which I have called “Mankind’s Grand Prayer”, it is divided into four parts. Firstly, it is praise for the Lord of the worlds (Note the plural form). Secondly, it acknowledges that this Lord is the final Judge of mankind. Thirdly, only this Lord deserves to be worshipped and only this Lord is mankind’s helper. Fourthly, it is mankind’s prayer to be shown the right path as distinguished from the various deviating paths of error. 
Let me quote the this short seven-verse opening chapter in full, using Dr. Rashad Khalifa’s translation:-
1. In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
2. Praise be to God, Lord of the universe.
3. Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
4. Master of the Day of Judgment.
5. You alone we worship; You alone we ask for help.
6. Guide us in the right path;
7. The path of those whom You bless; not those who have deserved wrath, nor of the strayers.
There is also a very important difference. The stark materialism of the Lord’s Prayer is entirely absent from this Mankind’s Prayer, at once placing it on a more ethical and spiritual level. Food and other material requirement are implied in the fourth part. The deviating ways are quite clearly spelt out: the path of those whom God is wrathful with, and those who stray without meaning to stray.
Quranic methodology is that every verse interprets one another. At the same time, one should note a very important pointer: the muhkamat verses (clear by themselves and acting as the determining verses), and the mutasyabihat or allegorical verses. The danger in the allegorical verses is that those who have diseases in their hearts may give a wrong interpretation and thus cause confusion and disorder. None knows their meanings except God and those who have profound knowledge. The meanings of the allegorical verses must not contradict the clear (muhkamat) verses, which control the interpretation of the allegorical verses.
I have had occasions to discuss with religious scholars as to the meaning of the right path in contradistinction with the erring paths. I find that they were unable to give me a satisfactory answer. That sets me to seek my own answers. I prayed to God and implored His guidance to give answers to the most important questions of life and of creation, always mindful that among my many teachers, God is the first and last teacher.
Fortunately, I studied philosophy. So I consulted epistemology, the science of knowing – how do you know? As always the case, the Quran nonchalantly answers by giving the three methods of knowing: ‘ain’ul-yaqin (sensory evidence), ilm’ul-yaqin (rational or logical evidence), and haqq’al-yaqin suprasensory/ supralogical evidence). Combine these three methods into a whole and you have opened the door to inexhaustible knowledge!
That is the reason why the angels were ordered by God to prostrate to Man, His vicegerent in the Universe. Man has the ability to know when no other created orders have.
KASSIM AHMAD is a Malaysian author. His website is www.kassimahmad.blogspot.com