Tafseer Ayatul Ahkam : Al-Fatiha

 

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَةُ اللهِ وَبَرَكَاتُهُ

This is the final article in this series I wrote in 1993 from notes from the first level course Tafseer Ayatul Ahkam (Commentary/Explanation of Ayaat that contain Islamic Rulings) at Umm Al Qura University in Makkah, Saudi Arabia.

The previous articles were as follows:

1 – was about the Isti’atha,

2 – about the Basmallah,

3 – about the meaning of Ar-Rahman Ar-Raheem and

4 – is about Al-Fatiha.

These are some basic things you need to know to add depth and comprehension to your salat.

 

Al- Fatiha: Its Names & Virtues

The first surah in the Holy Qur’an is called Suratul Fatiha, but it has several other names. The word “fa-ta-ha” in Arabic means to open or to begin. When a Muslim prays the formal prayer – salat – he says this surah before reciting another surah. In all, he says it 17 times a day and if he prays Sunnah prayers (2 before Fajr, 4 before Dhur and 2 after it, 2 after Maghrib and 2 after Isha), then the amount of recitation of this beautiful and meaningful surah is further increased. No salat is complete without it.

There are several ahadith which verify this including the following reported by many of the Sahabah (رضي الله عنهم) stating that Abu Hurairah (رضي الله عنه), said :

The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said, “Whoever prays salat and doesn’t recite Fatihatul Kitab, his salat is incomplete.” They (the Sahabah) said, “O Aba Hurairah, we say salat behind the imam.” He said, “Read it silently for I heard the Messenger say: Allah, Most Honored and Exalted, said: ‘I have divided salat between Myself and my servant… and for him is whatever he asks.'”

 

This surah lists among its other names “Umm Al Quran”, which literally means “Mother of the Book” or “Essence of the Book”. It is referred to by this name because it summarizes the general meaning of the Holy Quran. It calls to the oneness of Allah and the worship of Him alone without partners. In this surah we learn of some of the most complete descriptions of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) as well as dependence upon Him and to seek help from Him and it is Him we must obey in all that He has commanded and we must refrain from all that He has forbidden.

It calls us to the belief in the Message of the Prophet Muhammed (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and the belief in all the prophets and messengers that were sent before him with the same message and purpose: to call. mankind to the belief and worship in one God alone. This surah also calls us to the belief in the Last Day and that on that day it Allah alone who will govern, gathering His creatures for the Day of Account and Reward.

It is also said that Suratul Fatihah is referred to as Ummul Kitab because it encompasses the praises of Allah, the most High. In this surah, Allah praises Himself to those who do not believe in the aspect of God as “Lord”, that is, they reject the idea that it is He who Creates, Invents, Plans and is Worshipped.

This surah is known by many other names :

  • Suratul Hamd – The Chapter of Praise
  • Suratul Kunz – The Surah of Treasure
  • Ash Shifa` –  The Cure or The Healing
  • Al Kafiyya – The Sufficient
  • Another interesting name is “As-saba`a al-mathaani” – The Seven Oft Repeated (Verses) السبع المثاني ; that is the seven (ayaat) that are read in each raka’a of salat and because it has 7 ayaat.
  • It is also called “The Salat”.

At this point I would like to share with all a beautiful hadith which we studied in a tafseer course. The beginning of it is mentioned briefly at the beginning of this article. After having studied it, I took more care and caution in the recitation of Suratul Fatihah or Suratus Salat. It added a new depth and dimension to my prayers.

Imam Muslim and Ahmed (ibn Hanbal) and Abu Dawud – may Allah be pleased with them- and other compilators of hadith have reported the following Hadith Qudsi – that is, a hadith that was narrated by the Prophet Muhammed (صلى الله عليه وسلم) stating that Allah said… The meaning of the hadith is from Allah سبحانه و تعالى but the narration of it is that of the Prophet.

Abu Hurairah (رضي الله عنه) said I heard the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) say: Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) said: “I have divided salat between Myself and my servant into two halves, half is for Me and half for my servant, and for my servant is whatever he asks.

When he says “Alhamdulillahi rabbil ‘alameen”, Allah says: “My servant has praised Me.” When he says “Ar-Rahman, Ar-Raheem”, Allah says: “My servant has extolled or exalted Me.” When he says: “Malik yaum ud deen”, Allah says: “My servant has glorified Me.” And when the servant says: “Iyaka na’budu wa iyaka nasta`een”, Allah says: “And this ayah is between Me and My servant and for my servant is whatever he asks.”

And when the servant says: “Ihdinas siratul mustaqeem, siratal lathina an’amta alaihim ghairul maghdubi alaikhim wa lad daaleen”, Allah says: “These (prayers for guidance to the straight path and avoidance of the path of those who were misguided and those who caused His anger) are for my servant and for him is whatever he asks.” (i.e., I will grant him what he asks for).

 

The Virtues of this Surah:

All of the surahs of the Holy Qur’an have virtues and benefits and the Islamic Scholars have recorded them. It must be noted, however, that when we read or relate these virtues, we must be certain of the source, taking note of the narrators, the actual text and its appropriateness to the surah, because there are some sayings that mention virtues of this surah and that surah but are not the sayings of the Prophet, peace be upon him. Those who made up these benefits and virtues, such as the sheikhs of the Khawaarij and others,claimed that they invented these benefits for the good sake of Allah”, saying that these virtues were pillars that people depended upon. Needless to say, to incorrectly attribute anything the Prophet Muhammed, peace be upon him, is a very serious sin. We must use authentic sources. The following three ahadith are of the most authentic sources about the virtues of Suratul Fatihah:

 

1. Islamic Scholars have reported that Imam Al Bukhari related that Abi Saeed ibn Mu`ala said:

I was praying in the mosque and the Messenger of Allah called me and I did not answer him. So, when I finished with my prayers, I went to him. He said, “What prevented you from answering me?” I said: “I was praying , O Messenger of Allah.” He said: “Didn’t Allah say. ‘Answer Allah and His Messenger if they call you?'” Then he said, “Verily, I will teach you a surah that is the greatest surah in the Qur’an before you leave the mosque.” Then he took my hand. And when I wanted to leave the mosque, I said to him: “O, Messenger of Allah, didn’t you say to me you would teach me a surah that is the greatest surah in the Holy Qur’an?” He said: “Alhamdulillahi Rabul Al Ameen is the seven oft repeated verses and the great Qur’an which I have given to you.” [It is also reported by Abu Dawud and An-Nasai]

 

2. Another hadith sahih from the collections of both Imam Muslim and An-Nasai notes that Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him and his father, said Angel Jibreel was sitting with the Prophet when they heard a sound from above. He (Jibreel) raised his head and said: “That is a gate in the sky which was opened today and has not been opened before this ever.

An angel has come down from it. This angel descended to the earth and has never before come down except today. He greeted him (gave him salaams) and said: ‘I bring glad tidings of two rays of light which have never been given down before to any prophet: Fatihatul Kitab and the last two ayaat of Suratul Baqarah …”

 

3. Imam Ahmed in his “Musnad” reports that Ubay ibn K`ab read “Umm Al Qur’an” [Suratul Fatihah] in front of the Prophet Muhammed صلى الله عليه وسلم . The Messenger of Allah said (in reference to this surah): “[I swear] by the One in whose Hands is my soul, nothing that has been revealed in the Torah or in the Injeel (the Bible before its corruption) or in the Zabur (Psalms of David) or the Furqan is like it, it is the seven oft repeated verses and the great Qur’an that I have given you.”

[It was also narrated by At-Tirmithi who rated it hassan sahih)

 

References:

1. Al Qur’an Al Kareem – The Noble Qur’an

2. Kutub At-Tafseer:
– Ahkaamul Qur’an, Abu Bakr Muhammed bin Abdullah, known as Ibnul Arabi (468H-543H) Allah yarhamuh), Vol. 1
– Al Jaami’ Li Ahkaam Al Qur’an, Abi Abdullah Muhammed ibn Ahmed Al Ansari Al Qurtobi (Al Qurtobi)
– Tafseer Al Qur’aan Al Atheem, Imam AlHaafith Ibil Fida’ Isma’eel ibn Katheer Al Quraishi Al Dimasqi (Ibn Katheer) Vol. 1, 1988 Edition (Arabic), (Died 774H, Allah yarhamuh)

3. Kutub Al Ahadeeth:
– Sahih Al Bukhari
– Sahih Muslim
– Musnad Ahmed
– Sunnan An Nisaa’i

4. University Notes from the course: Tafseer Ayaatul Ahkaam from Umm Al Qura University, Makkah AlMukarramah

 

Makkah
1993

اللهم إني أسأك حبك
و حب من يحبك
و حب كل عمل يقاربني إلى حبك

O Allah, grant me love for You
for those who love You
and for every deed that brings me close to Your love

Allahumma inni ‘asaluka hubak,
wa hub man yuhibik,
wa hub kullu ‘amalin yuqrabani ‘ila hubik

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