The final two verses of the Fatiha ask Allah: “Guide us to the straight path, the path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked anger or of those who are astray.”
The traditional Islamic understanding of this is that the “straight path” is Islam — cf. Islamic apologist John Esposito’s book Islam: The Straight Path — while the path “of those who have evoked Allah’s anger” are the Jews, and those who have gone “astray” are the Christians.
The classic Qur’anic commentator Ibn Kathir explains that “the two paths He described here are both misguided,” and that those “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.”
Ibn Kathir’s understanding of this passage is not a lone “extremist” interpretation. In fact, most Muslim commentators believe that the Jews are those who have earned Allah’s wrath and the Christians are those who have gone astray.
This is the view of Tabari, Zamakhshari, the Tafsir al-Jalalayn, the Tanwir al-Miqbas min Tafsir Ibn Abbas, and Ibn Arabi, as well as Ibn Kathir. One contrasting, but not majority view, is that of Nisaburi, who says that “those who have incurred Allah’s wrath are the people of negligence, and those who have gone astray are the people of immoderation.”
Wahhabis drew criticism a few years back for adding “such as the Jews” and “such as the Christians” into parenthetical glosses on this passage in Qur’ans printed in Saudi Arabia.
Some Western commentators imagined that the Saudis originated this interpretation, and indeed the whole idea of Qur’anic hostility toward Jews and Christians. They found it inconceivable that Muslims all over the world would learn as a matter of course that the central prayer of their faith anathematizes Jews and Christians.
But unfortunately, this interpretation is venerable and mainstream in Islamic theology. The printing of the interpretation in parenthetical glosses into a translation would be unlikely to affect Muslim attitudes, since the Arabic text is always and everywhere normative in any case, and since so many mainstream commentaries contain the idea that the Jews and Christians are being criticized here.
Seventeen times a day, by the pious.
“Imam at Trump’s Prayer Service Recited a Condemnation of Jews and Christians,” by Andrew G. Bostom, PJ Media, January 24, 2017:
Honoring a tradition that dates back to America’s first president, George Washington, in New York (described here, The Daily Advertiser, April 23, 1789, p. 2), within 24 hours of his swearing-in, President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence attended a prayer service at the Washington National Cathedral.
The Saturday prayer service was a modern “interfaith event” which included (as described here, p.11, and seen in this video clip) a recitation by Sajid Tarar, an advisor at Medina Masjid of Baltimore.
“At Natl Cathedral Today ,1/21/17, Koran 1:7, A Curse on Jews, & Rebuke of Christians Recited in Front of Pres Trump.”
This high-profile ecumenical event illustrates starkly the conundrum of mainstream Islamic practice within our free, multi-confessional, but overwhelmingly non-Muslim society. Pious Muslims repeat the Fatiha, including verse 7, up to 17 times per day during their five requisite prayer sessions, and the accompanying “subunits” of prayer (see pp.49-50). While verses 1-6 are confined to Muslims re-affirming their personal devotion to the Islamic creed, and its deity, Allah, verse 7 launches into open condemnation of other faiths — specifically Judaism and Christianity.
An authoritative modern Koranic translation by Drs. Muhammad al-Hilali and Muhammad Khan (p.12) of the Fatiha’s concluding verse 7 includes parenthetical references to the Jews (after the word “anger,” or in the translation distributed at the inaugural prayer service, p.11, “wrath”), and the Christians (after the word “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)….
Read the rest here.