Date :Sunday, April 22nd, 2018 | Time : 19:28 |ID: 61820 | Print

A Close Look at Surah al-Fatihah

SHAFAQNA – There is no end to learning about Surat al-Fatihah. It’s the first surah in the Quran, and we recite it many times daily in our prayers.

Here, we’ll try to understand this amazing surah and look at some of the amazing things scholars have found out about it, adorned with other Quranic ayat.

Before we even start reciting Surah al-Fatihah, we say two very important opening sentences:

“audhu billahi min ash-shaytani-r-rajeem”, and “bismillahi-r-rahmani-r-raheem”.

Following that sequence, first let us look at what these two sentences mean, why they are so much emphasized by Allah, and why we should consider them before even attempting to consider the surah itself.

1. Seeking Refuge from Shaytan

“So when you recite the Quran, [first] seek refuge in Allah from Satan, the expelled [from His mercy]. Indeed, there is for him no authority over those who have believed and rely upon their Lord.” (Quran, 16:98-99)

Shaytan is the worst, the sworn enemy of human beings, since the time of Adam (AS). The sole aim of his life is to throw as many of us in the hellfire as he can. And what is Quran? It’s the antidote to the evils of Shaytan. It’s a protection of our thoughts, our souls and our bodies against Shaytan’s plots. That’s why Shaytan hates it when we recite anything from the Quran, or try to learn its meaning. So he becomes extra aggressive in, first of all, distracting us away from the Quran, and if he can’t achieve that, then he tries to confuse us to make mistakes in our reading and understanding the Quran.

That’s why it’s especially important to seek refuge in Allah from him before we start reciting the Quran. We want to come to the Quran with our heads clean and our hearts open to receive its guidance untainted. We also want to keep our minds focused all along our recitation, so that we don’t make mistakes in recitation or understanding, and we can get the right guidance from it.

2. Starting in the Name of Allah

The first ever ayah to be revealed was: “Recite in the name of your Lord who created.” (Quran 96:1)

Bismillah is an answer to this ayah. It means, “I start in the name of Allah, with the help of Allah, for the sake of Allah, and in the presence of Allah.”

Bismillah blesses our efforts towards connecting with the Fatihah, fills up the gaps of our deficiencies, invokes Allah’s aid in making our efforts beneficial and, again, free from Shaytan’s influence.

We are going to talk about Al Fatihah – the first Surah in the Quran, the first surah to be revealed in its entirety. This surah is called Al Fatihah because it is the opening of the Quran and the opening of Salah. It lays the foundation to the entire Quran, so if you can grasp the meaning and enormity of this surah, you can establish a beautiful bond with the Quran in a manner that is engaging, powerful and rewarding.

Who Allah is….

Ayat 1: “All praise belongs to Allah, the Lord of the worlds.”

Right after Allah introduces Himself with His proper name in Surat al-Fatihah and tells us of His first attribute, Rabb al-‘Alamin, He adds two more qualities.

Ayat 2: “The Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful”

Ayat 3: “The Master/Owner of the Day of Judgment”

After Allah introduces Himself by His proper name and tells us that He is our Master who loves and cares for us like no one else, he rightfully claims his sovereignty over the Day of Judgement.

This is further elaborated in other ayat of the Quran:

“[All] sovereignty that Day is for Allah; He will judge between them. So they who believed and did righteous deeds will be in the Gardens of Pleasure.” (22:56)

“The Day they come forth nothing concerning them will be concealed from Allah. To whom belongs [all] sovereignty this Day? To Allah, the One, the Prevailing.” (40:16)

“The Day that the Spirit and the angels will stand in rows, they will not speak except for one whom the Most Merciful permits, and he will say what is correct.” (78:38)

The power of Allah’s help:

Ayat 4: “You alone we worship, You alone we seek help.”

This ayah is not a command from Allah to be His slaves. It’s a statement we ourselves make. Why? Because we have already acknowledged that Allah deserves all praise, He is the Master of the whole universe, He loves and cares for us, and He makes decisions for us on the Day of Judgment.

Seek guidance:

Ayat 5 & 6: “Guide us to the straight path. The path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked [Your] anger or of those who are astray.”

In the previous ayah, we affirmed that we seek help only from Allah. Now the most crucial help we need is guidance.

“And this is My path, which is straight, so follow it; and do not follow [other] ways, for you will be separated from His way. This has He instructed you that you may become righteous.” (Quran, 6:153)

“The way of those whom You have favored (An‘amta).” Allah further categorizes these people into four types:

“And whoever obeys Allah and the Messenger – those will be with the ones upon whom Allah has bestowed favor of the prophets (Nabi), the steadfast affirmers of truth (Siddiq), the martyrs (Shaheed) and the righteous (Salih). And excellent are those as companions.” (Quran, 4:69)

“There is the one who gives, who is mindful of God, who testifies to goodness––We shall smooth his way towards ease.” (Quran, 92:5-7)

Allah has given us two wonderful gifts that make us different from animals: Intellect and Revelation

When we use neither, we become more misguided than animals, as Allah says in other surahs of the Quran.

“And We have certainly created for Hell many of the jinn and mankind. They have hearts with which they do not understand, they have eyes with which they do not see, and they have ears with which they do not hear. Those are like livestock; rather, they are more astray (adall). It is they who are the heedless.” (Quran, 7:179)

And these people don’t just themselves misguided, they misguide others as well.

“O People of the Scripture, do not exceed limits in your religion beyond the truth and do not follow the inclinations of a people who had gone astray before and misled many and have strayed from the soundness of the way.” (Quran, 5:77)

Allah has shown us the path of those who have already reached their destination along the Sirat al-Mustaqim. He has mentioned their stories in the Quran, and other stories have reached us through the Prophet (PBUH). All this is a part of the answer to our prayer for guidance. Now it’s our job to seek out these people, study their stories, and take them as role models.

This, as well as other pointers, show that Surat al-Fatihah isn’t just a passive supplication. It’s a supplication and a call for action. Reciting it in our daily prayers doesn’t just fulfil a Shariah obligation. It requires us to take the lessons of the prayers and apply them to the rest of our day, throughout our lives.

The Perfect Dua:

Surat al-Fatihah is an incredibly beautiful and perfect dua. We start by praising and thanking Allah for His gifts. That is indeed the most perfect way to begin any supplication, as Allah says:

“If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]; but if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe.” (Quran, 14:7)

Then we invoke Allah by His proper name (Allah), His relationship with us (Rabb) and two of His most beautiful names (Rahman and Rahim). Altogether, these names encompass all the other names and attributes of Allah. Again, this is a seamless way of wording one’s supplications, as Allah says:

“And to Allah belong the best names, so invoke Him by them. And leave [the company of] those who practice deviation concerning His names. They will be recompensed for what they have been doing.” (Quran, 7:180)

The Perfect Introduction to the Quran:

Taken together, Surat al-Fatihah is the perfect introduction to the Quran. Some of the subject matter of the Quran that al-Fatihah introduces are:

  • The Oneness of God (Tawheed), portrayed in the single word ‘iyyaka’;
  • The need for prophethood and sending of divine Books, in our supplication for guidance.
  • The existence of the Day of Judgment, in the mention of ‘yawm ad-din’;
  • Allah’s Names and Attributes (Al-Asma wa-s-Sifat)
  • Allah’s Lordship (Rububiyyah), in the mention of ‘Rabb al-‘Alamin’;
  • Allah’s sole right of being worshiped (‘Ubudiyyah), in ‘iyyaka na’budu’.

Source: Quranacademy

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