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SURAT AL-FATIHAH: THE KEY TO SUCCESS (Part 1)

November 11, 2022

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم 
:الحمد لله، والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله، وبعد


Surat Al-Fatihah (the Opening) is the first Surah/Chapter of the Qur’an and is of significant importance to the believer. The Surah has a lofty status in Islam and can bring tremendous benefit to the individual. With it we start the recitation of the Qur’an (from the beginning), and through it prayers are commenced. It is also, undoubtedly, the part of the Qur'an that is the most recited by all Muslims, and therefore worthy of deep reflection.



This Surah has many names, and foremost among them is Umm Al-Kitab (the Mother of the Book). In a Hadith recorded by Imam al-Tirmidhi (RA), Abu Hurayrah (RAA) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said:


الْحَمْدُ للهِ رَبَ الْعَالَمِينَ أُمُّ الْقُرْآنِ وَأُمُّ الْكِتَابِ وَالسَّبْعُ الْمَثَانِي وَالْقُرْآنُ الْعَظِيمُ

Al-Hamdu lillahi Rabb al-’Alamin” is the Mother of the Qur'an, the Mother of the Book, and the seven repeated Ayaat of the Glorious Qur'an.



Imam al-Bukhari (RA) commented: "It is called Umm Al-Kitab, because the Qur'an starts with it and because the prayer is started by reciting it.'' It was also reported that it is called Umm Al-Kitab, because it contains the meanings of the entire Qur'an.



Furthermore, Imam al-Tabari (RA) said, "The Arabs call every comprehensive matter that contains one or several core areas an ‘Umm’, or the quintessence/nucleus or (literally) the mother. For instance, they call the skin that surrounds the brain, Umm Ar-Ra's. They also call the flag that gathers the ranks of the army an Umm.'' He also said: "Makkah is called Umm Al-Qura, (the Mother of the Villages) because it is the grandest and the leader of all villages. It was also said that the earth was made starting from Makkah.''

Imam Ahmad (RA) recorded that Abu Hurayrah (RAA) narrated about Surat al-Fatihah that the Prophet said:


هِيَ أُمُّ الْقُرْآنِ وَهِيَ السَّبْعُ الْمَثَانِي وَهِيَ الْقُرْآنُ الْعَظِيمُ

It is Umm Al-Qur'an, the seven repeated (verses) and the Glorious Qur'an.



And in another version:


هِيَ أُمُّ الْقُرْآنِ وَهِيَ فَاتِحَةُ الْكِتَابِ وَهِيَ السَّبْعُ الْمَثَانِي

It is Umm Al-Qur'an, Al-Fatihah of the Book (the Opener of the Qur'an) and the seven repeated (verses).



It is also called al-Hamd (Praise) and as-Salah (Prayer), because the Prophet (SAW) said that his Lord, Allah (SWT), said:


قَسَمْتُ الصَّلَاةَ بَيْنِي وَبَيْنَ عَبْدِي نِصْفَيْنِ، فَإِذَا قَالَ الْعَبْدُ:الْحَمْدُدِلله رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ، قَالَ اللهُ: حَمِدَنِي عَبْدِي 

The salah/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’ [Sahih Muslim].


Al-Fatihah is thus called the Salah, because reciting it is a condition for Salah, the ritual 5 daily prayers - a requirement in every rak’a’h (unit/cycle). According to Imam al-Qurtubi (RA), this surah is considered the greatest chapter of the Quran, quoting many of his predecessors, including the Companion Anas ibn Malik (RAA).



Surat al-Fatihah is, moreover, called al-Kafi (the Sufficient, or all that is needed), al-Shaafi or al-Shifa' (the Cure - for all types of illnesses: physical, social, emotional and spiritual), as well as al-Raaqi or al-Ruqyah (the Remedy). In the Sahih collections, there is the narration of Abu Sa’eed (RAA) about a Companion who used al-Fatihah as a remedy for the tribal chief who was poisoned. Later, the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said to the Companion:


وَمَا يُدْرِيكَ أَنَّهَا رُقْيَةٌ 

How did you know that it is a Ruqyah/Remedy?



Al-Fatihah was revealed early in Makkah, the first surah to be revealed in its entirety, and contains seven poignant ayaat/verses. Almighty Allah (SWT) says:


وَلَقَدْ ءاتَيْنَـكَ سَبْعًا مِّنَ الْمَثَانِي وَالْقُرْآنِ الْعَظِيمِ

And indeed, We have bestowed upon you the seven Mathani (seven repeatedly recited verses) and the Glorious Qur’an, (i.e. Surat Al-Fatihah) (Qur’an 15:87). 



Imam Ahmad (RA) recorded that Abu Hurayrah (RAA) said: "The Messenger of Allah (SAW) was leaving (the masjid) while Ubayy bin Ka’b (RAA) was praying and said: ‘O Ubayy!’ Ubayy did not answer him. The Prophet (SAW) said: ‘O Ubayy!’ Ubayy prayed faster, and then went to the Messenger of Allah saying: ‘Peace be unto you, O Messenger of Allah!' He said: ‘Peace be unto you. O Ubayy, what prevented you from answering me when I called you?’ He said: ‘O Messenger of Allah! I was praying.' He said: ‘Did you not read what Allah has revealed to me:


اسْتَجِيبُواْ لِلَّهِ وَلِلرَّسُولِ إِذَا دَعَاكُمْ لِمَا يُحْيِيكُمْ 

Answer Allah (by obeying Him) and (His) Messenger when he calls you to that which gives you life. (Qur’an 8:24)


He said: ‘Yes, O Messenger of Allah! I will not do it again.' The Prophet (SAW) then said: 


أَتُحِبُّ أَنْ أُعَلِّمَكَ سُورَةً لَمْ تَنْزِلْ لَا فِي التَّورَاةِ وَلَا فِي الْإِنْجِيلِ وَلَا فِي الزَّبُورِ وَلَا فِي الْفُرْقَانِ مِثْلَهَا؟

Would you like me to teach you a Surah the likes of which nothing has been revealed in the (of Musa, AS), the Injil (of ‘Isa, AS), the Zabur (Psalms of Dawood, AS) or the Furqan (the Qur'an)?



He said: ‘Yes, O Messenger of Allah!' The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: ‘I hope that I will not leave through this door until you have learned it’. He (Ka’b) said: ‘The Messenger of Allah (SAW) held my hand while speaking to me. Meanwhile I was slowing down fearing that he might reach the door before he finished his conversation. When we came close to the door, I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah! What is the Surah that you have promised to teach me?'” He said: ‘What do you read in the prayer?’ Ubayy said: I recited Surat al-Fatihah to him.' He (SAW)  said,


وَالَّذِي نَفْسِي بِيَدِهِ مَا أَنْزَلَ اللهُ فِي التَّورَاةِ وَلَا فِي الْإِنْجِيلِ وَلَا فِي الزَّبُورِ وَلَا فِي الْفُرْقَانِ مِثْلَهَا إِنَّهَا السَّبْعُ الْمَثَانِي 

By Him in Whose Hand is my soul! Allah has never revealed in the Tawrah, the Injil, the Zabur (Psalms) or the Furqan (Qur’an), a Surah like it. It is the seven repeated verses that I was given.''



Imam at-Tirmidhi (RA) also recorded this Hadith, and in his narration, the Prophet (SAW) said:


إِنَّهَا السَّبْعِ الْمَثَانِي وَالْقُرْآنِ الْعَظِيمِ الَّذِي أُعْطِيتُهُ 

It is the seven repeated verses and the Glorious Qur'an that I was given.



(To be continued, in sha Allah)