Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|Understanding Surah Al Fatiha|
|04/17/01 at 09:08:49|
Please post this as a new thread
I would appreciate your comments, insha'Allah
SURAH FATEHA-THE OPENING
Surah AL-FATEHA or THE OPENING has been so called since it is literally the
opening chapter or surah of the Qur’an, the chapter that opens up the beauty of
the Quran to us. The Prophet s.a.w. also called it UMMULKITAB i.e. THE ESSENCE OF
THE QURAN and it has several other names as well. But why is this surah called
the essence of the Quran? What is the deep significance of these verses that
makes their recitation in every rakat of the five daily prayers compulsory?
Surah Fateha sums up our relationship of utter dependency on our Creator and
our humility before His majesty. In it we admit our incapacity to do anything for
ourseleves, ‘You alone we ask for help, and You alone we worship.’ According to
Khurram Murad, Al-Fateha may be considered the introduction to the Qur’an, “The
deepest cry of the human heart before its Creator, outpouring its urgent need
and its utter dependence upon Him for being guided to live right this earthly
life.” Truly Fateha is the perfect summary of our basic beliefs and needs. Fateha
in essence is a dua, one that Allah has taught us how to do. We begin by
1. ALL PRAISE IS FOR ALLAH SUSTAINER OF THE WORLDS.
All praise is for Allah…but why? Because everything in this universe, whether
it be the beauty of the earth we see around us, whether it be our parents,
children, our talents, the list is endless…all are from Allah. Any achievements that
we make stem from the gifts that Allah has bestowed upon us and it therefore
follows that the only One worthy of praise is Allah. And why else is Allah worthy
of all praise? Because He Alone is Rabb-ul-Alameen, Sustainer of the worlds.
The word Rabb is beautiful, it stands for one who nurtures and sustains. Think
about it, today there is much talk of governments unable to balance their
budgets. Massive governments, with great spending power are still unable to look after
all their citizens and provide for them what they need. Is not then praise due
to the One Who nurtures not only the citizens of one country, but all of
creation? From humans down to the minutest creatures that may exist in the depths of
seas where we cannot even see? Subhan Allah! Allah sustains those who believe
in Him and those who do not. His bounty in this world is not restricted to one
group of people, for that is what Rabb-ul-Alameen means. We find it difficult
looking after ourselves let alone other people and Allah in His mercy looks after
everything that exists, whether it be life on this planet or on another.
2. THE MOST MERCIFUL, THE REPEATEDLY MERCIFUL.
It is interesting how many scholars interpret Islam as a chauvinistic religion
and yet the qualities that Allah chooses to describe Himself at the beginning
of every surah are feminine qualities of mercy. The Arabic words Rahman, and
Raheem come from the root word ‘Rahm’ which has two meanings. One is mercy and the
other is womb. Think about all the functions that the womb performs. When the
egg gets fertilised the body responds by sending blood, vitamins etc to the womb
in preparation for the embryo. In fact the body will send a surplus of
everything to the womb. And Allah in His infinite mercy gives us things in abundance
and He gives us things that we never even thought of asking Him for. Have you
every thought why Allah made flowers so beautiful? Perhaps so that we could enjoy
the adornment of the earth. How many of us asked Allah to give us the gift of
eyesight or hearing or speaking? How many blessings do we take for granted? Just
as the womb takes care of the growing embryo so Allah’s mercy takes care of our
needs. Furthermore, if a child lacks something while it is developing in the
embryo it is unlikey that this deficiency will be made up once it is born, for eg
a child that is born blind. Similarly if Allah withholds His mercy from us,
from where will be able to gain the blessings that He has withheld from us?
Allah is AR Rahman, the Most Merciful to all creation, and then again AR RAHIM,
One who is repeatedly Merciful. We sin and sin, and Allah in His Mercy
repeatedly forgives. As Allah says in a hadith qudsi, ‘My Mercy has preceded My Wrath.’
3. MASTER OF THE DAY OF JUDGMENT.
After speaking about His Mercy, Allah immediately describes Himself as
Master/Owner of the Day of Judgement. Why? Don’t take Allah’s mercy for granted and
assume that it gives you the right to treat others how you wish. Verse 2
encourages us to hope for and trust in Allah’s Mercy but simultaneously Verse 3 reminds
us of Allah’s Supreme Power on the day when we will be answerable to Him alone.
It is thus a reminder that in all our actions we should remember that there is
an authority above us and that we cannot hurt others and take away their
rights. It seems that this verse is the one that stands most forgotten today by the
Muslim Ummah. We find that Muslims today are those who cheat, lie, and so on and
then turn around and say well we’re going to heaven because we have said ‘LA
ILAHA ILLA ALLAH’. It is Allah Alone Who shall decide our faith for on that day
the decision shall belong to Him Alone.
4. YOU ALONE DO WE WORSHIP AND TO YOU ALONE DO WE TURN FOR HELP.
Subhan Allah, this verse defines our central beliefs, the core of our being.
‘You Alone we worship’. What is worship? The word for worship in Arabic is
IBADAH. Unlike the English word ‘Worship’ which conjures up images of Sunday Church
or Friday Mosque, the word ibadah means to serve, obey and worship and
encompasses all human activities done for the pleasure of Allah. Thus choosing not to
eat a Big Mac at McDonalds because the meat is not halal is an act of worship!
Choosing to marry because you fear that without marriage you will become involved
in extra marital relationships is an act of worship! It is amazing how Allah
makes it so easy to earn His pleasure and His reward, even for acts we perform
without thinking. Of course the fundamental pillars of fasting, zakat, etc also
come under worship.
Since IBADAH also means to obey and serve, we can all think for a minute who it
is that we obey and who are our gods? Do we obey the whims of our desires or do
we obey the commands of Allah? Do we follow society fashions in the way we
dress or do we follow the law of Allah? Who are we worshipping when we say ‘log kya
kehin gay’? or I won’t be hip and cool if I wear a hijab? Or when we drink to
fit in with our social circle?
You Alone we worship means that we renounce all other forms of authority upon
us except for Allah’s. It follows, ‘You Alone we ask for help.’ Think about it.
Today we spend our time running after people to help us, to have mercy upon us.
Subhan Allah only Allah can help us if only we could realise. Look at all the
Muslim countries who are so scared of global powers and go running to them every
time they need some help. Allama Iqbal said that it was better to survive on a
little than to spread your hands before someone else. The companions used to
ask Allah for something as small as a shoe lace and then search for a worldly
means to fulfil their needs.
This verse also tells us that dua is the essence of worship. Our duas are a
reflection of our inner state and our priorities. Who do we ask from? Do we ask at
the grave of a pious saint who can do nothing for himself, or do we ask Allah
Who gave life and death to that pious saint? There is no barrier between us and
our Creator, Islam instils the belief that we have a direct line to Allah which
we can dial at any time of the day no matter where we are.
What then do these verses imply. FREEDOM. Total and utter freedom from the
shackles that tie us, from dependency on others. We are freed from asking others
and facing possible disappointment and humiliation and instead are able to pour
our heart out as we could never do in front of a human. Imagine all your deepest
secrets which you could never tell your best friend and yet you can tell and
ask Allah. Islam is a religion that frees the human soul. Isn’t this what the
modern age is trying to teach us? ‘Free yourself’? True freedom lies in submitting
ourselves to the One and Only and freeing ourselves from the varying desires of
You Alone we ask for help. What is the greatest thing we can ask for? What
shall make this life and the next an existence of eternal bliss? Allah in His
mercy, not only teaches us how to do dua but what to ask for. GUIDE US TO THE
STRAIGHT PATH. Whoever has pondered the purpose of life will find the answer in this.
If we follow the straight path then we have achieved success not only in this
life but in the next. Guidance is also a gift from Allah, one has to seek it to
attain it. If we want something in this world we don’t just sit back placidly
and think that it will come to us without any effort. If we want a degree we
have to go through years of school to get it. The prophets struggled long and
hard in their missions. We must seek guidance actively and ask Allah for it. It is
more important than our careers, our children etc because it is this that will
give us the spiritual contentment that we are looking for and it is this that
will give us the strength to brave any problems that we face in this world.
But what is the right path? THE PATH OF THOSE WHOM YOU HAVE BLESSED.
The ‘blessed’ is generally taken to refer to those righteous beings whose
efforts have been accepted by Allah (SWT) such as the prophets, martyrs etc. NOT OF
THOSE WHO INCURRED YOUR WRATH, NOR OF THE MISGUIDED. The first category, ‘those
who incurred Your Wrath’ is generally taken to mean those who received the
Divine Guidance, but did not act upon it. Whereas the second category, ‘ the
misguided, are taken to mean those whose knowledge was corrupted from its true form;
thus they are following a totally misguided course. In Islam having knowledge
means to act upon it. Knowledge and action do not exist separately. Thus
whatever knowledge we have of the Quran should be implemented in our lives otherwise
it becomes an argument against us.
Ameen: Though not part of the quran’ic text, sunnah proves that we, the readers
of the qur’an, as well as any who might be listening, are supposed to utter
these words at the end of al-fatiha. simply, the words mean: “O Allah, accept our
prayer’ and signify total reliance on Allah, after we have asked Him of our
Individual posts do not necessarily reflect the views of Jannah.org, Islam, or all Muslims. All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective owners. Comments are owned by the poster and may not be used without consent of the author.The rest © Jannah.Org