The al-Fatiha is the Greatest Surah: A Perfect Summary of the Holy Quran

 A Conceptual Paper

on

Author

Md. Robiul Islam, Pursuing PhD

IIUM Institute of Islamic Banking and Finance (IIiBF)

International Islamic University Malaysia

Email: robiulbiu@gmail.com


Abstract

This research paper aims to seek light the dialogue with Allah and his slave elegances used the seven verses of the greatest surah of al-Fatiha and show its perfect compendium of the holy Quran. The Surah al-Fatiha is an opening sūra of the Glorious Qurān with a discussion of the rhetorical aspects that is needed of the heavenly people. Sūrat al-Fātiḥah (سُّورَةُ الفَاتِحَة‎‎) is the first chapter (surah) of the Quran. Its seven verses (ayat) are a prayer for the guidance, lordship and mercy of God. The Surah al-Fatiha has many titles. The first of these is Fatiha-tal-kitab. It has been given this name because the Holy Quran opens with it. Every prayer service starts with it and in supplicating the Lord of lords; a beginning is made with it. It is so called because Allah, the Supreme, has made it an index for the Quran; and all the verities and spiritual insights set out in the Quran by Allah, the Bountiful, are embedded in it and it comprehends all that man needs to know concerning his origin and his end (life here and in the hereafter); for instance, all the reasoning in support of the Existence of the Creator, and the need of Prophethood and Khilafat among His servants. All the words of the Qur’an are equally beautiful, Surah al Fatiha, also known as the mother of all the Qur’an, has to be the brightest of these beautiful stars. Al-Fatihah contains both thanksgiving and supplication; it expresses Allah’s unity, power and mercy, as well as humanity’s privilege of prayer. In this Surah there are stated the following subject matters in detail: Praise and Glorification of Allah Almighty; Lordship and Mercy of Allah Almighty; Ownership and sole right to be worshiped; Grant of courage and fortitude (taufiq) for doing good acts; guidance of servants of Allah Almighty; Attention towards Allah Almighty; Specific worship; Seeking help; Seeking guidance to right path; Manners of supplication (du`a); Conformity with the conditions of the virtuous people; Avoidance of and dislike of the company of the misled people; End of this mortal life; and Reward and punishment on the Day of Judgment. Other matters are mentioned briefly. We tried to identify the glorious related to the greatest surah of al-Fatiha in the holy Quran, give emphasis on dialogue and compendium of the holy Quran. It also makes some recommendations for honoring this surah in perfect way.

Keywords: Fatiha, Hamd, Greatest, Compendium, Day of Judgment, Favours, Mortal Life, Reward and Punishment, Glorious.  

 

 

Overview of the Surah al-Fatiha

The ta’awwudh refers to the phrase of “I seek protection in Allah from Shaytan the rejected one.” The scholars are agreed that it is not part of the Qur’an. But Allah (swt) has commanded us to recite it before reciting the Qur’an. He (swt) says: Whenever you recite the Qur’an, seek refuge in Allah from the accursed Shaytan (al-Nahl: 98). The first half of Surah Fatiha is a declaration of Tawheed (Oneness of Allah) in all of its forms: tawheed of Rububiyyah (Lordship) “All praise to Allah, the Rabb (Lord) of the universe,” (1:1), tawheed of Asma Wa Sifaat (names and attributes) “Most Gracious, Most Merciful, Master of the Day of Judgement,” (1:2-3) and tawheed of Ibaadah (worship), “You alone we worship and you alone we ask for help.” (1:4). The second half of Surah Fatiha is the most important du’a a person could ever make, “Guide us to the straight path!” (1:5) The Surah then explains what the straight path is and what is not. The straight path is that which was shown to us and followed by those whom Allah has favoured, which Allah explains in another verse, “whoever obeys Allah and His messenger, then they will be with those whom Allah has favoured from the prophets, truthful, martyrs and righteous.” (4:69). Ambari in his ‘Kitaabur-Rad’ through his own chain of narrators has mentioned from Mujahid ibn Jabr rahmatullahi alaihe that Iblees the accursed of Allah Ta’ala lamented on four occasions: first when he was cursed; secondly when he was cast out of Heaven to the Earth; thirdly when Hazrat Muhammad sallallahu alaihe wasallam was given the Prophethood; fourthly when Surah Fatihah was revealed and it was revealed in Madinah.

Bring together Allah in Surah Fatiha

Allah the Exalted said: I have divided prayer between Myself and My servant into two halves, and My servant shall have what he has asked for. When the servant says: Praise be to Allah Lord of the Worlds, Allah says: My servant has praised Me. And when he says: The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful, Allah says: My servant has extolled Me. And when he says: Master of the Day of Judgment, Allah says: My servant has glorified Me, – and on one occasion He said: My servant has submitted to My power. And when he says: You alone we worship, You alone we ask for help, Allah says: This is between Me and My servant, and My servant shall have what he has asked for. And when he says: Guide us to the straight path, the path of those whom you have favored, not those who went astray, Allah says: This is for My servant, and My servant shall have what he has asked for (Hadith-e-Qudshi). Let us analyse Sūrah al-Fātiḥah. Allah dedicates the first three verses of this chapter to speaking about Himself. Allah mentions His lordship, His creation, His power, His Names and His Attributes. Allah (swt) says in the first three verses, “All praise is due to Allah, Lord of all that exists. The Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful. Owner of the Day of Judgement.” All three of these verses are dedicated to increasing our knowledge of Allah, because through the increase in knowledge we increase in our love, devotion and submission to Allah. It is human nature to learn about what we love most, and to love what we know most about. It is for this reason that we often love our parents, spouses and children most. We often love and are patriotic to our countries as they are most familiar to us. In terms of food, we often rate our own cuisine as most beloved to us as we’ve known it longest. Yet as Muslims, our love for Allah should far outstrip all of the above. Indeed, this is a claim we often make, and for the most part sincerely. But in reality, and after deep thought, the question arises, what and how much do we know about Allah?

Bottom of Form

Allah wants us to learn about Him and thereby come closer to Him. This is why Allah praises the scholars in the Qur’an, “Indeed only the scholars truly fear Allah”. This is because their knowledge of Allah, His names, attributes, power and abilities increases them in piety and righteousness. It is for this reason that most of the passages and chapters of the Qur’an which have added virtues relate to Allah. We could look at Āyat al-Kursī, the last two verses of Baqarah, Sūrah al-Ikhlāṣ, Sūrahs Falaq and Nās, all of them speak about Allah. The pinnacle and height of that knowledge is to understand Tawḥīd; the abilities of Allah which make Him alone worthy of all worship, and to seek nearness to Him by knowing, understanding and living by His names and attributes. Allah shows this in verse number 4 of Sūrah al-Fātiḥah, “You alone do we worship and from You alone do we seek assistance”.

Names of Surah al-Fatihah

Some of the different names for Surah al-Fatihah are as follows:

  1. Surah al-Fatihah (the Opening): The name is due to the subject-matter of the Surah. Fātiḥah is that which opens a subject or a book or any other thing.
  2. Surah Fatihatul-Kitab (the opening of the book):
  3. Surah Ash-Shukr (Gratitude):
  4. Surah Ummul-Qur’an (The Mother of the Qur’an): It is established in Sahih At-Tirmidhi from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “All praises and thanks are due to Allah the Lord of the Universe’ is the Mother of the Qur’an, the Mother of the Book, the Seven Oft Repeated Verses and the Great Qur’an.” It comprehends the totality of the meaning of the Quran in an excellent manner. It has embedded in it like in a shell all the gems and pearls of the Quran. This surah is, as it were, a nest for the birds of spiritual knowledge and understanding.
  5. Surah al-Kanz (the Treasure): As mentioned by Az-Zamakshari in Kashshaf.
  6. Surah al-Kafiyah (the Sufficient): Yahya ibn Abu Kathir named it because it suffices from everything other than it but anything else does not suffice it, as occurs in the mursal hadith: The Mother of the Book suffices for other than it but nothing else suffices it.
  7. Surah al-Wafiyah (Fulfillment):
  8.  Surah Al-Waqiyah (Protector): Sufyan bin Uyaynah named it Al-Waqiyah, the Protector.
  9. Surah al-Shafiyah (the sufficient):
  10. Surah al-Shifaa’  (the Cure): Ad-Darimi reports from Abu Sa’id (may Allah be pleased with him) from the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam): “The Opening of the Book is a cure to every poison.
  11. Surah Al-Sab`al-Mathani (The Seven Oft Repeated Verses): An appellation taken from verse 15:87 of the Quran) It is also named Sab’ul-Mathani, the Seven Oft Repeated Verses, because they are frequently recited and indeed recited in every rak’ah of the prayer. Allah says in the Quran: “And indeed, We have bestowed upon you seven of Al-Mathani (the seven repeatedly recited Verses), and the Grand Quran. [Surah Al-Hijr (87)]”
  12. Surah al-Nur;
  13. Surah Al-Ruqyah (The Cure): It is also named Ar-Ruqya, the Spiritual Cure due to the hadith of Abu Sa’id (may Allah be pleased with him) reported in Sahih Al-Bukhari that after he had recited it to cure a person who had been bitten by a scorpion, the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said to him: “And what made you to know that it was a ruqya.”

 

  1. Surah al-Hamd (The Praise): A hadith narrates Muhammad as having said: “The prayer [al-Fātiḥah] is divided into two halves between Me and My servants. When the servant says, ‘All praise is due to God’, the Lord of existence, God says, ‘My servant has praised Me’.
  2. Surah al-du`a (Manners of supplication):
  3. Surah al-Ta`limul-Mas`alah:
  4. Surah al-Munajat:
  5. Surah al-Tafwid:
  6. Surah al-Su`al:
  7. Surah Ummul-Kitab ((The Mother of the Book): Al-Bukhari said in the beginning of the Book of Tafsir in his Sahih: “It is named Umm al-Quran because it is the first chapter written in the Quranic texts and the recitation in prayer commences with it.”
  8. Surah Fatihatul-Qur’an (the opening of the Qur’an):
  9. Surah al-Salaah (The Connection): Prophet saying while reporting from his Lord: “I have divided the prayer between Myself and my servant equally. It is named the Prayer because its recitation is a condition for the validity of the prayer. It is also named the Chapter of the Prayer.
  10. Surah al-Qur’an al-`Azim (The Great Qur’an)
  11. Surah al-Hamd al-Qasra (Praises to Allah)
  12. Surah al-Hamd al-Ula (Praises to Allah)
  13. Surah Taslim al-Mas’ala
  14. Surah Asas al-Qur’an (the Foundation of the Qur’an): Ash-Sha’bi reports from Ibn Abbas that he named it Asas al-Qur’an, the Foundation of the Qur’an, and that he said, “The foundation of Al-Fatihah is, ‘with the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.

 

Attributes of Surah al Fatiha

 

Surah Fatiha and Rose: We shall next show that the excellences of Surah Fatiha are in all respects similar to the wonders and excellences of the rose, that indeed they far exceed them. The paper on which it was inscribed appeared as if it was loaded with countless red and delicate roses. Every time this humble servant of Allah recited a verse of the surah, a number of these roses rose into the air with a sweet cadence. These roses were very soft, big, bright, moist, fresh and sweet-smelling, filling the heart and head with fragrance as they soared, thus inducing a state of ineffable joyousness in the mind altogether above and withdrawn from the world and all that it holds.

 

Language of al-Fatiha: To expound all these sublime verities at the exact time of their need in language which it is not possible to match in eloquence and elegance is indeed beyond the reach of human capacity, for the task is in itself superhuman. Man’s capacity falls short of setting forth in sublime language even the average ordinary affairs of daily life with strict regard to truth and objectivity.

 

Special Qualities of Fatiha: Surah Fatiha and the Holy Quran share a remarkable attribute which is a characteristic of this Holy word alone, and that is that its perusal with due care and attention and in a spirit of sincerity purifies the heart, dispels layers of darkness and expands the mind, drawing a seeker after truth into the very presence, as it were, of the One Lord-God, and invests him with such light and tokens as are characteristic of those who have attained nearness to the Supreme Lord and which cannot be acquired through any other device or plan.

 

Great Influence of Fatiha: The title Fatiha is also used as connoting victory. It confirms a believer in his faith and a disbeliever in his disbelief, that is, it distinguishes between them. It opens up the heart and expands the mind. Surah Fatiha should, therefore, be read repeatedly. It is important to reflect deeply on this prayer (Al-Hakam Dec. 24, 1900, pp. 1-2).

 

The Miracle of Fatiha: Surah Fatiha is a miracle. It comprises both commandments and prohibitions and grand prophecies also. The Honoured Quran is a vast ocean. If one has to consult it in respect of some point, one should ponder well over Surah Fatiha. For, it is the Mother of the Book. From it issue forth insights into the Noble Quran.

 

Fatiha oft Repeated: Every dot of the Holy Quran is affirmed by tradition. Surah Fatiha is affirmed through a tremendous traditional process. It is recited every day, in every raka’a of every Prayer (Salat).

 

Security against Hell: Since hell has seven gates, Surah Fatiha has seven verses. Each one of its verses thus provides a means of security against one’s approach to hell (Al-Hakam Feb. 17, 1901).

 

Fatiha Comprises every Verity: The truth is that Surah Fatiha encompasses every science and every insight and comprises all points of truth and wisdom and answers the query of every seeker and overwhelms every assailant. It feeds every guest who desires to be entertained and provides drink for every visitor.

 

A Holy Tree: Verily the Fatiha is a holy plant that yields constantly the fruits of pure insight and fills one with drink from the goblets of truth and wisdom. When a person opens his heart to admit its light, that light enters therein and makes it aware of its mysteries, and whoso shuts this door draws, by his own act, darkness upon himself and witnesses his own ruin and joins the spiritually dead.

 

Fatiha and Inner Light: Recitation of Fatiha during Prayer with full attention and full acceptance of its teaching by the heart as the truth plays a great part in spiritual enlightenment. This is a spiritual char acteristic of Surah Fatiha. In other words, it brings satisfaction to the mind, dissipates darkness, and the grace of the Exalted Source of all grace starts descending on the seeker, and the light of Divine approbation encompasses him until, step by step, he becomes the honoured recipient of Divine revelation and begins to enjoy in full measure different forms of true revelation and is admitted to the company of those who are in communion with the Divine Lord.

Fatiha Reflects Divine Light: This humble servant of Allah affirms on the basis of personal experience that Surah Fatiha is in truth a manifestation of Divine Light. Such marvels have been witnessed during the course of its recitation that they illustrate the dignity and eminence of the Holy Word of Allah. By the blessings of this blissful Surah and through its regular recitation, hundreds of hidden events have been, by Divine favour, disclosed before their occurrence and every difficult situation has been cleared up in a marvellous manner.

 

Glory of Fatiha: All the beauties and characteristics and attributes of Surah Fatiha, outlined by me so far, are demonstrably without parallel and without equal. If one were to appraise justly the excellence of those truths that are comprised in Surah Fatiha, and consider the fine points that the surah sets forth and take into account its literary charm and conciseness, compressing such volumes of meaning in so few words and then glance at the splendour of its language, its fluency, its clarity, presenting the spectacle of a pure and limpid current and should then contemplate its spiritual effectiveness that miraculously transforms hearts, purifying them of human dross and making them recipients of Divine Light such as we have depicted at several places in this book, the glory of the Honoured Quran, which is beyond the reach of human capacity, would become manifest to a degree that cannot be surpassed.

 

Fatiha is a Citadel: The Fatiha is truly at once a fortified castle, a bright light, a teacher and a helper. It secures the commandments of the Quran against addition or subtraction like securing the frontiers of a realm thus preserving its integrity. Of the marvels of this Surah is that it has eulogized Allah with a eulogy that is beyond the capacity of man to excel. (Ijazul Masih pp. 77 79).

 

Subjects Matters of Surah Fatiha

In this Surah there are stated the following subject matters in detail:

  • Recognition of Praise and Glorification of Allah Almighty;
  • Lordship and Mercy of Allah Almighty;
  • Ownership and sole right to be worshipped;
  • Grant of courage and fortitude (taufiq) for doing good acts;
  • guidance of servants of Allah Almighty;
  • Attention towards Allah Almighty;
  • Specific worship;
  • Seeking help;
  • Seeking guidance to right path;
  • Manners of supplication (du`a);
  • Conformity with the conditions of the virtuous people;
  • Avoidance of and dislike of the company of the misled people;
  • End of this mortal life; and
  • Reward and punishment on the Day of Judgment.
  • Believer makes du’a to Allah that he be guided to the straight path – the path that
  • leads to Allah’s pleasure. In du’a, believer seeks help in avoiding the two main pitfalls i)Those who earn Allah’s wrath ii) Those who go astray.

 

Methodology in Describing the al-Fateha

In describing this paper I have endeavored to adhere to the following methodology:

  1. Where all or the majority of the above commentators agreed on a particular point, I just mentioned the point and did not mention from whom I took the point.
  2. I have quoted from a number of books/tafsir.
  3. Most of the tafsir books do not provide authenticating or disparaging remarks concerning the ahadith they quote. I have endeavoured to provide comments to each hadith quoted mainly drawing from the great scholars

Some Important Issues

  1. a) Ultimate Source of Guidance for Believers

Messenger of Allah (صلی اللہ علیہ و آلہ وسلم ) said: A Surah similar to this Surah had not been revealed in the Taurat, the Injil and the Zabur (Tirmidhi). An angel descended from the heaven and offered salam to the Messenger of Allah (صلی اللہ علیہ و آلہ وسلم ) and gave glad-tidings of two such lights that were not bestowed upon any other Prophet before the Messenger of Allah (صلی اللہ علیہ و آلہ وسلم ). One was Surah al-Fatihah and the others were the last verses of Surah al-Baqarah (Sahih, Muslim). Surah al-Fatihah is the panacea for all diseases (Sunan al-Darimi). Where a person recites it a hundred times and supplicates the same is accepted by Allah Almighty (Sunan al-Darimi).

The Holy Quran is the 4th and final Sacred Book of Allah SWT, which He revealed on His Last Messenger, Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH). It is ultimate source of guidance for believers in the Religion of Islam. It consists of many sections which address religious and secular issues concerning life. Although, all the revelations of this Blessed Manuscript serve as a means of enlightenment, but some of its chapters are considered more significant than others because of some particular reasons. Surah Al-Fatiha is one of those few episodes of Quran, which holds special status, and is even recalled by Allah Almighty in these words: “And We have certainly given you, (O Muhammad), seven of the often repeated (verses) and the great Qur’an.” [Quran, 15: 87]

  1. b) Revelation

It was revealed in Makkah as stated by Ibn Abbas, Qatadah and Abu’l-Aliyah. It is also postulated that it was revealed in Madinah as stated by Abu Hurayrah, Mujahid, ‘Ata ibn Yasar and Az-Zuhri. It is also said that it was revealed on two separate occasions – once in Makkah and once in Madinah. However the first opinion is the most likely due to His saying: “We have sent to you the Seven Oft Repeated Verses” (Al-Qur’an 15:87). This verse was revealed in Makkah by agreement of the exegetes. Abu’l-Layth as-Samarqandi relates that half of it was revealed in Makkah and the remaining half in Madinah as quoted from him by Al-Qurtubi but this is an extremely strange position. It is said that this chapter was the first thing revealed of the Qur’an as mentioned in the hadith reported by Al-Bayhaqi in ‘Dala’il an-Nubuwwa‘. Al-Baqilani quoted this as one of three opinions. It is also said that the first revelation comprised the verses of Surah Al-Muddaththir but the correct opinion is that the first revelation consisted of the beginning verses of Surah Al-‘Alaq. In the Quran, the first revelations to Muhammad were only the first few verses (ayats) of Surahs Alaq, Muzzammil, Al-Muddathir, etc. Most narrators recorded that al-Fātiḥah was the first complete Surah revealed to Muhammad. In his hadith collection Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Ahmad ibn Hanbal recorded that Abu Sa`id bin Al-Mu`alla had said: “I was praying when the Prophet called me, so I did not answer him until I finished the prayer. I then went to him and he said, what prevented you from coming? I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! I was praying.’ He said, Didn’t Allah say, O you who believe! Answer Allah (by obeying Him) and (His) Messenger when he calls you to that which gives your life. He then said, “I will teach you the greatest Surah in the Qur’an before you leave the Masjid (Mosque).” He held my hand and when he was about to leave the Masjid, I said, `O Messenger of Allah! You said: I will teach you the greatest Surah in the Qur’an.’ He said, Yes. Al-Hamdu lillahi Rabbil-`Alamin, It is the seven repeated (verses) and the Glorious Qur’an that I was given.

  1. c) Statistics

This sura contains 7 verses, 29 words and 139 letters (or 25 and 120, not counting the first verse), although Ibn Kathir says “The scholars say that Al-Fatiha consists of 25 words, and that it contains 113 letters.” This is due to different methods of counting letters.

  1. d) Importance of Surah al-Fatiha

The Surat-ul-Fatiha has been assigned a place of honour in the Quran and allowed to appear on the very first page of it. Indeed, the Quran endorses its importance in the following terms: “O Prophet! It is a fact that We have given thee seven oft-repeated verses and the great Quran.” (14:87). It has been established by Hadith and Athar that the reference here is to this chapter; for, it not only consists of seven verses but is repeatedly recited in daily worship. Grandeur of this surah is the epitomy of all revelation. Hadeeth (Imam Tirmidhi) reported Prophet (saws) said to Ubay ib Ka’ab – would you like that I teach you a surah the like of which has not been revealed in the Taurah, Injeel, or even in the Qur’an, Ubay says Yes, Messenger of Allah, Prophet (saws) – recite whay you say in the salah, Ubay recited Surat al-Fatiha, Prophet (saws) says, this is the one that is not present in any other scripture. It is the greatest Qur’an I have been given by Allah. Allama Mawdudi states: Al-Fatihah is actually a prayer that Allah teaches to all who embark upon the study of His Book. Its position at the beginning signifies that anyone who wants to benefit from the Book should first offer this prayer to the Lord of the Universe. Man naturally prays only for what his heart desires and only when he feels that the object of his desire is at the disposal of the One to Whom his prayer is addressed. The placing of this Surah at the head of the Qur’an is a sign that Allah urges man to read this Book with the aim of discovering the right course in life i.e. the Straight Way, to study it with the earnestness of a seeker after Truth, and never to forget that the real source of true knowledge is Allah Himself. Al-Fatihah is not just an introduction or foreword; the relationship is really one of prayer and response. Al-Fatihah is a prayer from man, and the rest of the Qur’an is Allah’s response to this prayer.

  1. e) Reciting Surah al-Fatiha behind the Imam

Some people stubbornly claim that whosoever does not recite Surah al-Fatiha behind the Imam then his prayer is not acceptable. Qur’an states that “When the Qur’an is being recited then listen attentively and remain silent so that mercy will be showered upon you” (7:204). Imam Ibn Kathir (rah) narrates from Abu Musa al-Ash’ari (ra), Abu Huraira (ra) and Ibn Masud (ra) that this ayah was revealed regarding “remaining silent when imam recites”. Then Imam Ibn Kathir says: Imam Abu Hanifa (rah) and Imam Ahmed bin Hanbal (rah) say that Qirat is not binding upon Muqtadi “whether in silent or loud prayer” because it has come in hadith that whosoever has an Imam then his recitation is your recitation, this hadith is narrated by Imam Ahmed in his Musnad from Jabir (ra) in the “marfu form” and in Muwatta Imam Malik via the route of Wahb bin Kaysan who nattated from Jabir (ra) in Mawquf form [(Tafsir Ibn Kathir) (1/281) under 7:204)]

Hadrat Abu Hurraira (ra) narrates that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: Imam has been appointed upon you so that you follow him, when he says takbir then you should also say takbir, “but when he recites Qur’an then you should remain silent”, when he goes for Ruku and says Sami Allah huliman Hamida then you should say Allahuma Rabbana Lakal Hamd [(Sunnan Nasai) (2/479, Hadith # 919)]. Imam al-Zuhri (rah) narrates that this ayah was revealed regarding a young person from Ansaar. When the Prophet (saws) recited any ayah in prayer, then he used to recite behind him, “therefore this ayah was revealed” [Tafsir Ibn Jarir (9/110) under 7:204]

In another hadith Prophet (saws) says, there is no salah for the one who has not recited Al-Fatiha. Trivial debate arises regarding whether to recite along with the Imaam during jam’ah prayers or to keep quiet and listen. The following are the comments of different school of thoughts:

  1. Shafi’: recite along with Imaan.
  2. Abu Haneefa: never recite Surat al-Fatiha if you are following the Imaam.

iii. Malik: middle solutuion – when recited loudly, listen attentively (Allah says in the Qur’an that when the Qur’an is being recited, listen to it). When recitation is quiet, recite in your heart.

f) The Objectives of Surat al-Fatiha

The objective of Surat al-Fatiha is that it trains us in the correct concept of worship and it causes us to love worship. It shows us how to purify our souls. It encloses with stories and news. Stories of the righteous inform us of what happened to good people, or convey the stories of Fir`aun and Qaroon and others who were disobedient to Allah. The people in these stories can be broken down into three groups: those whom Allah (swt) has favored, those who have earned His wrath, and those who have gone astray.

Analysis and Interpretation

  1. i) Bismillah – The First Verse of the Quran

The ‘ulama differ as to how many times the basmalah appears in the Qur’an. They are all agreed that it appears in Surah Naml (ayah 30), but beyond that they differ. Imam Shafi‘i (ra) says, “In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate is only one verse, yet it was revealed one hundred and fourteen times in the Qur’an.” (the flashes collection, Nursi, 2009).

The following are the different views:

1) Abu Haneefa, argues that ‘Bismillahi Rahmani Raheem’ is not part of the ayaat of each surah (with the exception of Surat an-Naml) but is primarily used as a means of separating each surah.

2) It’s not an ayah of the Fatihah, nor of the other Surahs. Therefore it only appears once in Surah Naml. This was the view of Imam Malik.

3) It’s an ayah of all the Surahs. Therefore it appears 114 times: once in each Surah except for Surah Tawbah but twice in Surah Naml. This was the view of Abdullah ibn al-Mubarak and one of the views of Imam al-Shafi’i.

4) It’s an ayah of Surah Fatihah but not of the other Surahs. Therefore it appears twice: in Surah Fatihah and in Surah Naml. This was one of the views of Imam al-Shafi’i.

5) For historical reasons, this debate falls along geographical boundaries – because scholars traveled to different regions where they became dominant influences.

From an important hadith, According to Malik, the Basmala is not an ayah of the Fatiha nor of anything else except for specifically in an-Naml. According to ash- Shafi`i it is an ayah of the Fatiha, and according to Ibn `Abbas it is an ayah of the beginning of every sura. Malik’s argument is that which is narrated in the sound hadith that the Messenger of Allah, (s), said, “There has been revealed to me a surah the like of which is not in the Tauraat, the Injeel, or the Qur’an.” Then he said, “Praise belongs to Allah, the Lord of the worlds…” [1: 1] and he began without the Basmala. There is also that which is mentioned in the sound hadith “Allah says, ‘I have divided the salaat between Me and My slave in two halves. The slave says: Praise belongs to Allah, the Lord of the worlds…’” and He began without the Basmala. [And Qatada wrote that Anas b. Malik had narrated to him: I observed prayer behind the Apostle of Allah (s) and Abu Bakr (r) and Umar (r) and ‘Uthman (r). They started (loud recitation) with: Alhamdulillahi Rabb il-`alameen [All Praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the worlds] and did not recite Bismillah r- Rahman-ir-Raheem (loudly) at the beginning of the recitation or at the end of it. Sahih Muslim, Book 4, #788.]

  1. ii) الْحَمْدُ للَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ, Al-Hamdu li-laahi rabbil ‘aalameen, All praise be to Allah, the Lord of all beings

Vocabulary, حمد (Hamd) = praise and gratitude, ربّ (Rabb) = Lord, عالمين (‘Aalameen) = the worlds.

The following are some of the different opinions of the ‘ulama concerning the meaning and derivation of “Allah”:

1) There is no meaning, just a Proper Name.

2) From aliha meaning to astonish and amazes, so Allah is the One who Astonishes the creation by His attributes, His creation, His Planning and His Rulings.

3) Allah is from alaha, so Allah is Ma’looh, One who is Worshipped.

4) Fourth opinion is from wilaah, so Allah means the One whom everyone turns to for help.

 

Hamd is verbal praise which is offered to honour a mighty and noble being for His acts of beneficence. When you state that all praise is due to God alone, you are in fact acknowledging that only He has all the attributes of perfection and that only He is the bestower of all the bounties that any of His creation enjoys. And since gratefulness is the essence of worship, you are also acknowledging that He is the only one who deserves to be worshipped. The Arabic word for Lord, Rubb, conveys a number of meanings that are not accurately captured by the English word Lord. It means that He is the one who owns, who creates, who sustains and who looks after all that exists. All praise is due to the Rightfully Worshipped Being, Who combines in Himself the aggregate of all Perfect excellences and whose name is Allah. All perfect excellence belongs to Allah In the language of the Noble Quran, Allah is that Perfect Being Who is rightfully adored, combining in Himself all perfect attributes, and free from every defect, the One without associate and the Source of all beneficence; for, Allah, the Exalted, has, in His Holy word, the Noble Quran, made His name Allah comprehensive of all His other names and attributes and has not accorded that status to any other name. Alhamdulillah is a complete sentence. Usually translated as ‘Praise’ but Hamd is more profound that merely praise. Praise (Sanaa) + Shukr (gratitude) = Hamd. More complete translation will be all Praise and Gratitude is for Allah. Rabil ‘Alameen: i. Rab: two meanings – sustainer and owner (Lord). Primary meaning is owner. Once you own it, you sustain it.

Imam as-Suyuti wrote in ‘Itqan fi ulum il-Quran‘: “it is liked (mustaHab) to cry when reading the Qur’an, and to try to cry for those who are not able to, and to be sad and humbled and afraid. Allah سبحانه وتعالى said: وَيَخِرُّونَ لِلْأَذْقَانِ يَبْكُونَ وَيَزِيدُهُمْ خُشُوعًا, “And they fall down on their faces weeping and it increases their humility.” [al-Israa’, 17:109]

At-Tabarani wrote: “The best of people in reading are those who are saddened by it.” and in ‘sharH al-muhadhab wa Tareeqihi fi taHSeel“crying is to consider what one reads of threats, stern promises and covenants, then thinking about one’s shortcomings in that. If sadness and weeping does not come to one during that, so he should cry at losing that, as it is a calamity.” Praise is given to God not only for His favors in this world, but also in anticipation of rewards to come in the next. Tabari records that Mohammed said, “When you say, ‘All praise be to God, the Lord of all beings,’ you will have thanked God and he will increase his favor to you.” He also said, “There is nothing more pleasing to God than praise.” God is even said to praise Himself. Qurtubi cites a hadith qudsi: “Praise by Me of Myself precedes the praise of all My creatures of Me. My praise of Myself from eternity was for no other reason but itself, while the praises of My creatures are blemished with motivations.” It is necessary for God to praise himself as humans are incapable of offering praises that are worthy of Him. For that reason, God praises Himself on behalf of humans. Qurtubi also attributed this saying to Mohammed, “I cannot enumerate the praises do you.”

“Lord” (Rabb) conveys the ideas of “bringing-up,” “nourishing” and “fostering” as well as “regulating,” “completing” and “accomplishing.” It has been described as the fostering of something such that it reaches one developmental level after another until it finally reaches a stage of completeness. Hence, the “Lord” nourishes all of creation, but has also established for it a goal of perfection which it will ultimately reach. Ali sees within these words a hint regarding the theory of evolution, but perhaps this is an over interpretation.

iii) الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِ, Ar-RaHman ir-RaHeem, The All-merciful, the Compassionate

Vocabulary: الرحمان (Ar-RaHman) = واسع الرحمة (waasi’ ur-RaHmah) = wide in mercy (used exclusively for Allah), الرحيم (Ar-RaHeem) = دائم الرحمة (daa’im ur-raHmah), عظيم الرحمة (‘aDheem ur-RaHmah) = constantly merciful, great in mercy.

(rahum v’hannun), “merciful and gracious.” The Hebrew root for “merciful” is rhm, the same Semitic root used in the Arabic. The earliest meanings are, also, similar to the Arabic: “to be soft,” “to be gentle,” “the womb,” “to be affectionate toward.” As a verb, the Hebrew can also mean “love” as is used of both God and humans. Allah says, My Mercy encompasses all things (al-A’raf: 156). And He is Full of Mercy to the Believers (al-Ahzab: 43).

The two Arabic words, Rahman and Raheem, for which these English phrases stand, are two intensive forms of a root word which conveys the meaning of mercy. Rahman is more intensive than Raheem, and refers to God’s all-encompassing mercy, His mercy to all His creation in this life and the life to come. Raheem refers to His special mercy to the faithful. No created being can therefore be Rahman, but created beings can be described as Raheem in a limited and special sense of the word.

The approximate meaning when saying these two words is that Allah is most merciful and He is most compassionate. However, these are only a shade of the real meaning. It would be beneficial if we remember a specific mercy that Allah has shown us, so that we become filled with gratitude for it.

For example, even this word and this prayer are a mercy, as we need to know how to express our love and worship for Allah, and here it is, the best of expressions as a gift from Allah to us. Also, by remembering that all the mercy of all the mothers for their children is just the tiniest fraction of Allah’s mercy, then our awe of Allah grows when reciting these two names. We need to try to feel this sense of awe at the time of saying these in prayer.

  1. iv) مَلِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ, Maaliki yawm id-deen, Master of the Day of Judgment

Vocabulary: مَلِك Maalik = master, owner, king, يَوْم Yawm = day,

Malik means nobody will be able to change Allah’s verdict. There will be no intercession except by His will. Allah is the only master of that day. All of our fates will be decided by Him, so this ayah makes us fearful of Allah and also hopeful in Him, as none can benefit or harm us on that day except Him. “On that Day Allah will pay them in full what is due to them” (al-Nur: 25). “Today you will be repaid for what you did” (al-Jathiyah: 28).

While reading this ayah in our prayer we can feel our loss if not for Allah’s mercy and we can feel our success if we are loved by Allah. Commentators have differed over the vocalization of mlk as master or king. The dominant reading seems to be master. Tabari relates on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas that on the day of judgment God will be the master of all things. None of the masters of the world would be able to pass judgment on Him. Those who prefer “king” quote Surah 40:16: “To whom does all dominion belong today [the day of judgment] — to God, the One, the All-conquering.”

Malike Yaumiddeen means that all recompense is in God’s hands. He has not withdrawn Himself from the governance of the universe committing it to some vicegerent with all authority to award recompense here and hereafter (Islami Usui ki Philosophy, p. 51). The word Malik (Master) negatives all rights in the subject. It is applicable in its fullest meaning to God alone, for He alone is the complete Master. One who acknowledges someone as the master of his life and substance affirms that he himself has no right whatsoever over his life and property and that everything belongs to the master (Malik) (Chashma Maarifat, p. 15).

 

God is the Master of all days and all things, but while some people can have some limited mastership or even falsely claim to have it, no one can be, or claim to be master in any sense on the Day of Reckoning. On that Day God will ask all of His creation: “To whom is sovereignty today?” And the answer will be “To God, the One who holds absolute sway over all that exists”.

  1. v) إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ, iyaaka na’budu wa iyyaaka nasta’een, You alone do we worship, and You alone do we beseech for help

Vocabulary: نَعبُد (Na’budu) = we worship, نَستَعِين (Nasta’een) = we seek help, و (Wa) = and

All of the previous verses were the half of surah fatiHah that are for Allah, as they are pure worship to Him. The following verses form the last half, which are for us, the ones praying, as they are a du’aa to Allah to benefit ourselves. SubHaan Allah! This statement has outstanding beauty. From so few words, so many books of meaning can be derived. This helps us to appreciate the miracle of the Qur’an and see why people like ‘Umar became Muslim after hearing only a little of it. Its beautifully eloquent style, meaning and precise grammar stunned the Arabs. When we read it, if we can feel even a little of this amazement and attribute it to Allah, then we have embodied some worship in our reading. While praying we can ponder on the meaning of only asking Allah’s help – i.e. our dependence on Him, as only He can benefit us and only He can harm us. Allah says that He ‘has not created Jinn and Mankind except that they worship Me’.

This structural interpretation was foreshadowed in the hadith qudsi mentioned , “I have divided my prayer between me and my servant, Ibn ‘Arabi notes that those worshipping God understand that no one else is worthy of worship. There is no power or strength except in God. If one could fully be in the divine presence, then all action and essence would be acts of worship.

To you alone we seek help (to fulfill this promise) Muslim is one who fulfills covenants. Because of the overwhelming nature of this covenant, we seek Allah’s help to fulfill this promise. Prophet used to make du’a: Oh Allah, help me to remember You, obey You, and worship You. Seek Allah’s help to protect us from obedience to anything that contradicts obedience to Allah. Seek Allah’s help to protect us from loving anything that contradicts/distracts from love to Allah.

“You alone do we worship” is not sufficient for everyone; the mind wanders. One’s heart would have to be as broad as the globe to observe the Single One behind the unity in the totality of beings, and to say: “You alone do we worship, and from You alone do we seek help!”(1:5) In consequence, so that the seal of divine oneness should be apparent on all species and realms of beings just as it is shown clearly on individual objects, and that they should call to mind the Single One, it is shown within the stamp of divine mercy. Thus everyone at every level may turn to the Most Pure and Holy One, and saying: “You alone do we worship, and from You alone do we seek help,” address Him directly. (Nursi, 2009)

  1. vi) اهدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ المُستَقِيمَ, ihdina SSiraaT  al-mustaqeem, Guide us on the straight way

Vocabulary: صِراط (SiraT) = path, مُستَقِيم (Mustaqeem) = straight,

Tabari reports on the authority of ‘Ali that “Guide us” was interpreted very early to mean “set us firmly.” Ali says that “guidance” (hidayat) means not only “showing the way,” but also “leading on the way until one reaches the goal.” Thus, humanity’s dependence upon God is all the greater.

Whosoever obeys Allah, and the Messenger, they are with those whom Allah has favored, the Prophets, the sincere, the martyrs and the righteous, and these are the best company. (al-Nisa’: 69)

Tabari further reports that the word sirat derives from the verb sarata, meaning “to swallow” as the road “swallows” a person out of sight. The sirat in this world is Islam; in the next it is the bridge stretched over Hell which all humans must cross to reach Paradise. Ja’far al-Sadiq, the sixth imam, said, “It is the distance of a thousand year ascent and descent…it is finer than a hair and sharper than a sword. Some shall traverse it with the speed of lightening; others like a galloping mare; others shall walk with faltering steps; still others will crawl. Some will traverse it suspended and their bodies will be partially consumed by the fire.” Tabari relates on the authority of ‘Ali and Ibn Mas’ud that Mohammed considered the sirat to be the Qur’an. Others explain it as the “true faith;” still others, among the Shi’i, explain it as the “true representative,” either the Prophet himself, or the first imam ‘Ali, or the imams generally as Mohammed’s successors.

Those who enter paradise will say, ‘Alhamdulillah who guided us here. We could not have come here unless He brought us here’. Now, need practical (and continuous) guidance – to avoid making mistakes and falling astray. Basic knowledge is already in the uncorrupted human nature/fitrah (i.e. Luqmaan, Abu Bakr, Salman al-Farsi, etc.). Risalah (Revelation, Prophets, Scriptures) is sent to add to its depth, make it into a burning conviction, make it more intense. (noor ‘ala noor).

Guidance at the individual level. Allah fashioned the human nafs and gave it knowledge of good and evil. Hadeeth: your heart will tell you what is right. Emotions can overtake a person, and even with the best of intentions, he could make a mistake. Amr ibn As: prayed all night, stayed away from his wife and fasted every day. Prophet (SAWS) told him to fulfill all the rights upon him – don’t lose balance.

Prophet (SAWS) used to spend time with his family, but when the time for salat came, and the

athan was heard, he would immediately leave as if he didn’t even see his wives. Answers the call of Allah immediately. Man does not rule man. Become a bondsman to Allah and brothers to each other. This, the collective sphere, is the aspect in which the Deen of Allah was completed with Muhammad (SAWS).

That guidance, we know, is nowhere to be found in any complete way except in God’s words, the words that He revealed to His chosen Prophets like Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, may God praise them all. But we also know for sure that none of the books that contain that guidance is now at our disposal except one – the Quran. It is to this Divine book that we must turn for a detailed description of the Straight Path that leads to our Lord. This path is an absolute path that was given to each Prophet and Messenger of God and it does not change over the passage of time.

vii) صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنعَمتَ عَلَيهِمْ غَيرِ المَغضُوبِ عَلَيهِمْ وَلاَ الضَّالِّينَ, SiraaT alladheena an’amta ‘alayhim, ghayril-maghDoobi ‘alayhim wa laD-Daaleen, The way of those upon whom You have bestowed Your favor, not of those who have incurred Your wrath or those who have gone astray

Vocabulary: صِرَاطَ (SiraaT) = path, الَّذِين (alladheena) = those who, أَنعَمتَ عَلَيهِمْ (an’amta alayhim), = you favoured them, غَير (ghayr) = not, other than, المَغضُوبِ (al-maghDoob) = whom Allah’s anger is upon them, الضَّالِّينَ (aD-Daaleen) = the misguided ones

Indeed the male Muslims and the female Muslims, the male believers and the female believers … Allah has prepared for them a forgiveness and a great reward.” [Al-Qur’an 33:35]

“Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and protect their private parts. That is purer for them.” [Al-Qur’an 24:30]

Following this with: “And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and protect their private parts.” [Al-Qur’an 24:31]

The straight path described in the Quran is not a theoretical path; it is an actual path that some people before us have taken. As Muslims, we believe every Prophet and Messenger of God preached the belief in the Oneness of God and that all worship was to be dedicated to Him alone. Just as the Straight Path is described above in a positive way, the paths of those who deviated from it are described in a negative manner. We always ask our Lord to keep us away from the paths taken by two kinds of deviant people: those who knew the truth about religion and yet refused to act according to it, and there brought upon themselves the wrath of God. The second groups of people were those who made their religion suit their whims and desires and are thus went astray. The Quran tells us in some detail about their main deviations, among the greatest of which is that they have no great respect for God or His words: they ascribe to Him imperfect, even insulting attributes; they distort His words at will to make them suit their own wishes or preferences and they commit immoralities in the name of religion Sirat allatheena an’amta ‘alaihim: The path on which Your favor is upon. Those who receive Allah’s favor:1. Prophets 2. Sidiqeen 3. Shuhada 4. Saliheen

“Those upon whom favors are bestowed” are thought to be identified in Surah 4:69, specifically, the prophets, the truthful, the faithful and the righteous. The Muslim, therefore, not only has an abstract goal of spiritual perfection before him, but also clear human examples to emulate. Ali goes on to note that this aya implies that the favors given to the prophets can still be given to the righteous in every degree except that of prophethood itself. This, moreover, does not exclude revelation; Ali says that this gift was granted to such non-prophets as the mother of Moses (Surah 20:38) and the disciples of Jesus (Surah 5:111).

 

The Jews and the Christians

At-Tirmidhi reports from Adi ibn Hatim who said:

“I asked the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) about Allah’s saying about, ‘Those who have earned [Your] Anger’, and he said, ‘It refers to the Jews.’ I then asked about, ‘Those who have gone astray’ and he said, ‘The Christians are those who have gone astray.’ “{qluetip title=[70]}Reported by At-Tirmidhi and Ahmad and it is sahih{/qluetip}

The Jews and the Christians even though both of them are misguided and both of them have Allah’s Anger on them – the Anger is specified to the Jews, even though the Christians share this with them, because the Jews knew the truth and rejected it and deliberately came with falsehood. Therefore the Anger of Allah being upon them was the description most befitting them. The Christians were ignorant, not knowing the truth, so misguidance was the description most befitting them.

This is further proven by the sayings of Allah concerning the Jews:

“So they have drawn on themselves anger upon anger.” [Al-Qur’an 2:90]

“Say: shall I inform you of something worse than that, regarding the recompense from Allah: those (Jews) who incurred the Curse of Allah and His Anger.” [Al-Qur’an 5:60]

“Indeed those who took the calf (for worship), anger from their Lord and humiliation will come upon them.” [Al-Qur’an 7:152]

And Allah said concerning the Christians:

“And do not follow the vain desires of people (i.e. the Christians) who went astray in times gone by, and misled many, and have themselves strayed from the Straight Path.” [Al-Qur’an 5:77]

Other opinions have been voiced concerning the meaning of this verse, but the meaning mentioned above takes precedence and is undoubtedly correct as it has been reported from the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) himself.

Summary of Holy Quran

It is because “In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate” is the index of Sura al-Fatiha and a concise summary of the Qur’an that it is the sign and interpreter of this mighty mystery (Nursi, 2009).

Ibn Jarir at-Tabari said that it was named so because the meaning of the entire Quran is summarized therein. The Arabs named anything that concisely summarizes something or comprises its most important part, Umm, or Mother. Umm al-Quran (Mother of the Quran) – According to At-Tirmidhi on the authority of Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “The chapter commencing with] “All praises and thanks are due to Allah the Lord of the Worlds” is the Mother of the Quran, the Mother of the Book, the Seven Oft Repeated Verses and the Great Quran.” Ibn Jarir at-Tabari said that it was named so because the meaning of the entire Quran is summarized therein.

At-Tirmidhi declared the hadith to be sahih. Al-Bukhari said in the beginning of the Book of Tafsir in his Sahih: “It is named Umm al-Qur’an because it is the first chapter written in the Qur’anic texts and the recitation in prayer commences with it.”Sahih Al-Bukhari (Eng. Trans. 6/1 chpt. 1). For similar reasons it is also named Al-Qur’an al-Adhim, the Great Qur’an.

In many ways, Sūrah al-Fātiḥah is a summary of the main themes of the Qur’an. The scholars have mentioned that the Qur’an is broadly divided into 3 main themes. A third of the Qur’an speaks about Allah, a third about the Prophets and past nations, and a third about the halal and haram. Muslims should recite the Surah Al-Fatiha seventeen times a day in Fard (Compulsory) Salaat, at the start of each unit of prayer. Al-Hamdu lillahi Rabbil-`Alamin is the Mother of the Qur’an, the Mother of the Book, and the seven repeated Ayat of the Glorious Qur’an. It is also called Al Hamd and As-Salah, because the Prophet said that his Lord said, the prayer (i.e., Al-Fatihah) is divided into two halves between Me and My servants. When the servant says, ‘All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of existence,’ Allah says, ‘My servant has praised Me. Al-Fatihah was called the Salah, because reciting it is a condition for the correctness of Salah – the prayer. The scholars say that Al-Fatihah consists of twenty-five words, and that it contains one hundred and thirteen letters. Surah al-Fatiha is the first surah of the Quran and is recited in each prayer as the Prophet, may Allah praise him, declared, There is no salah (valid) without the opening chapter of the Book. On accepting Islam, a person should first memorize the Fatiha to be able to perform the prescribed prayers. Its meaning should be learnt and contemplated every time we offer salah.

According to the prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), Surah Al-Fatihah is considered as “the greatest Surah” of the Quran. As alluded to earlier, Al-Fatihah is named the Mother of the Qur’an because it succinctly summarises the whole of the Qur’an. We are now in a position to analyse this statement further. The Surah includes affirmation of Tawhid in all of its various categories:

  1. Tawhid ar-Rububiyyah, meaning unity of Allah’s Lordship, contained in His saying, “Lord of the Universe.”
  2. Tawhid al-Uluhiyyah, meaning unity of Allah’s worship in that all worship is to be done sincerely for His sake Alone, contained in His saying, “You Alone we worship and Your aid Alone we seek.”
  3. Tawhid al-Asma wa’s-Sifat, meaning the unity of Allah’s Names and Attributes in that they are perfect and unique to Him, contained in His saying, “All praise and thanks are due to Allah.”

Conclusion and Teaching of Sura al Fatiha

Thus the beauty and message of Sūrah al-Fātiḥah is the comprehensive summary of the message of the Qur’an. Each and every time we recite Sūrah al-Fātiḥah, whether in or out of the prayer, it should be a reminder of these three core principles of Islam, for which the Qur’an was revealed and the Prophet Muhammad sent.  This surah used to be described as “The Lord’s Prayer” for Muslims, however, it is now understood that it holds an even greater place in the daily prayer of Muslims than the Lord’s Prayer does for the Christian. Ali says that while the Lord’s Prayer asks for the Kingdom of God to come, the Muslim is instructed to seek his proper place in the Kingdom, implying, of course, that the coming of Mohammed was the coming of the Kingdom for which Christians had been praying. Al-Fatihah is unusually prominent in daily worship as it is said in every prayer. This means that pious Muslims may recite this surah as many as thirty-one times a day; the observant may repeat it seventeen times a day. Al-Fatihah contains both thanksgiving and supplication; it expresses God’s unity, power and mercy, as well as humanity’s privilege of prayer. Upon hearing the surah recited by Ubayy, Mohammed himself is said to have exclaimed, “By Him in whose hand is my soul, neither in the Torah, the Psalms, the Gospel, nor in the Qur’an was the like of it revealed.” According to Tabarsi, Ubayy said, “Anyone who recites al-Fatihah will be given as much merit as if he had recited two-thirds of the Qur’an and as if he had given alms to every man and woman of faith.” Tabarsi also reports a hadith qudsi preserved by both Sunni and Shi’i commentators, “I have divided my prayer between me and my servant, and my servant shall have what he prays for. For when the servant says, ‘All praise be to God, the Lord of all beings,’ God says, ‘My servant has praised me.’ When the servant says, ‘The All-merciful, the Compassionate,’ God says, ‘My servant has magnified me.’ When the servant says, ‘Master of the day of judgment,’ God says, ‘My servant has glorified me…this is my portion and to him belongs what remains.'” Mujahid said, “Satan was four time frightened: when he was cursed by God, when he was expelled from Paradise, when Mohammed was sent, and when the Fatihah was sent down. In addition, al-Fatihah is believed by some to have healing powers. It is said that Mohammed told Jabir ibn ‘Abdallah al-Ansari, “The Fatihah is a source of healing for every ailment except death.

Teaching

  • It teaches us to praise and glorify Allah by mentioning His beautiful and perfect Names and Attributes.
  • It teaches us about His Mercy and His Justice.
  • It teaches us about the Day of Judgement and about the recompense of our deeds.
  • It teaches us that the recompense will be established upon perfect justice.
  • It encourages one to perform righteous actions and dissuades one from performing sins.
  • It teaches the servants of Allah to ask of Him Alone, to humble themselves and worship Him Alone and to put their trust and reliance in Him Alone.
  • It teaches us to ask Allah continuously for guidance to the Straight Path.
  • It points us towards the nations of the past and warns us against falling into the same acts of transgression and misguidance that they were guilty of.
  • It teaches us to aspire to the company of the sincerely truthful, the martyrs and the righteous.
  • It teaches that there is nothing in the Qur’an that would give aid to or encourage innovation. Hence never will the innovator be able to find evidence for his misguidance in the Qur’an.

The Saying of Amin after Reciting Al-Fatihah

آمثن , aameen, means ‘O Allah respond (to my duaa)’ It is recommended for the one who is reciting the Qur’an to say amin after having recited Al-Fatihah and after a short pause upon completing the word dallin so as to differentiate between that which is the Qur’an and that which is not. The meaning of amin in the eyes of the majority is, ‘O Allah respond to our supplication.’ Maqatil said that it gives strength to the supplication and is a cause for the descent of blessings.

 

 

References

Tafsirs’

  1. Tafsir At-Tabari
  2. Tafsir Al-Qurtubi (Jami’ lil Ahkam al-Qur’an)
  3. Tafsir Ibn Kathir
  4. Tafsir Ash-Shawkani (Fath al-Qadir)
  5. Tafsir As-Sa’di (Taysir al-Karim ar-Rahman)
  6. Tafsir Ash-Shanqiti (Adwa ul-Bayan fi Idah al-Qur’an bi’l-Qur’an)

Articles’

  1. Abdel-Haleem, M. (1999). Understanding the Qur’an: themes and style. London: IB Tauris.
  2. Abdul Haleem, M. (2005). Understanding the Qurān: Themes and Style. B. Tauris. London and Co. Ltd.
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  4. Al-Hilali, M. T. D. and Khan, M. M. (trans.) (1996). Interpretation of Meaning of the Noble Qurān in English.
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