Top three lessons in Surah Al-Fatihah

fatihaSurah Al-Fatihah, also known as the opening of the Quran- is a short Surah, and yet so important that a prayer without it is deemed invalid. Even in this short Surah of seven verses, some important lessons have been highlighted. Below are the top three lessons that can be obtained from this first Surah of the Quran.

Lesson 1: An Introduction to the Rabb

Following are the verses 1-6 of Surah Al-Fatihah

1. In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.

2. All the praises and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of the ‘Alamin (mankind, jinns and all that exists). 

3. The Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.

4. The Only Owner (and the Only Ruling Judge) of the Day of Recompense (i.e. the Day of Resurrection)

5. You (Alone) we worship, and You (Alone) we ask for help (for each and everything).

In the first two verses, Allah (swt) gives an introduction about Himself. When one reads this Surah, he acknowledges Allah’s (swt) infinite mercy; and then, praises Him by recognizing that He, Allah (swt) is the universal Master- the Master of the whole world. He has not just created everything in it, but He continues to provide His creation in order to attain a meaningful life. He has not abandoned His creation without any intervention. Over all His creation, he is an ever- living authority.

In the third verse, two attributes of Allah (swt) are mentioned. These two attributes encompass all the aspects of compassion and mercy between Allah (swt) and His servants. Therefore, a servant must never be hopeless about Allah’s (swt) mercy and should always turn to Allah (swt) for help and repentance.

In the fourth verse, a very fundamental principle is mentioned based on which our lives are significantly influenced i.e. belief in the Hereafter. This gives man the hope that if he is weak on earth and is suppressed by people, he will be given justice and the suppressor too will be punished because of his oppression. Based on this belief, one restrains himself from doing evil acts. He performs righteous acts hoping for its reward from Allah (swt).

In the next verse, man accepts that he has submitted to Allah (swt). He worships Him alone without associating any partner with Him; and when he needs any help, he turns to Allah (swt) for it. Turning to Allah (swt) for help protects the man from facing the abuse, and a feeling of dependency that he could face if he turns to people begging for help. Allah (swt) has the power over everything; hence a man must turn to Him for assistance.

Lesson 2: Asking for the Straight Path

Guide us to the Straight Way.” (Al-Fatihah 1:6)

In this verse, one asks Allah (swt) for His guidance towards the straight path. A person cannot be guided- unless Allah (swt) wills; and no one can be led astray- unless Allah (swt) wills.

Nawwas bin Sam’an Al-Kilabi said:”I heard the Messenger of Allah (swt) say: ‘There is no heart that is not between two of the fingers of the Most Merciful. If He wills, He guides it and if He wills, He sends it astray.’ The Messenger of Allah (swt) used to say: ‘O You Who makes hearts steadfast make our hearts steadfast in adhering to Your religion.’ And he said: ‘The scale is in the Hand of the Most Merciful; He will cause some people to rise and others to fall until the day of Resurrection.'” (Ibn Majah; authentic)

The guided person finds happiness and contentment is this world, as well as, in the Hereafter. He has a broader vision as he believes that his life is not limited to this world, but another life awaits him.

Lesson 3: The path of the righteous people

The Way of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace, not (the way) of those who earned Your Anger (such as the Jews), nor of those who went astray (such as the Christians).” (Al-Fatihah 1:7)

In the last part of this Surah, one pleads Allah (swt) to help him follow the path which the righteous people followed- the path which led them to ultimate success and salvation, the path with which they attained the pleasure of Allah (swt). Just after that, one also asks Allah (swt) to protect him from following the way of those who attained the wrath of Allah (swt), and those who were misguided.

May Allah (swt) guide us all to the straight path and make us among those whom He loves. May Allah (swt) protect us from the evil whispers of Shaytan, and give us the strength and courage to hold n to the principles of Islam firmly. Ameen.

Answer to the Call of Guidance

al-quranSurah Al-Baqarah, also known as the peak of the Quran, answers the call of guidance that a believer seeks in Surah Fatihah. With a challenging beginning, it highlights many significant issues.

Prove to Muhammad’s (sa) Prophethood

The Surah starts with the letters Alif-Laam-Meem. These are just letters of the Arabic language and when joined together they do not make any specific word. That is in itself a proof to the prophethood of Muhammad (sa). Prophet Muhammad (sa) was unlettered. An unlettered person can speak words of his language, but he is not able to pronounce and speak the letters of that language. The Jewish community in Madinah, at the time of the Prophet (sa), considered themselves to be highly educated compared to the people of Makkah. Prophet (sa) being born in Makkah, and known to be unlettered, was calling people to Allah’s (swt) religion and using a language that even the educated ones among them could not compete with. That was a clear proof that Muhammad (sa) was receiving a revelation, and that the verses in the Quran were not his own words.

Quran- The Ultimate Truth

In the second verse, Allah (swt) first speaks about a basic, and yet very important belief; to believe that the Quran is without any doubt. That is, a person believes that whatever is in the Book is from Allah (swt) the All-knowing, Who knows what is visible and what is hidden, what has happened in the past and what will happen in the future. He even knows what is in the heart of a person. Nothing is hidden from Him. A person must believe that whatever Allah (swt) has revealed for His servant is definitely perfect for him.

if Allah (swt) has said that dealing in interest is a loss, and we see a great benefit in its dealing, and do not consider it a loss for ourselves, then this means that we do not consider the words of Allah (swt) as ultimate truth

We must believe that if Allah (swt) has said that in His Messenger is a perfect example, then no matter what advances the science makes, or how modern the world gets- indeed the way of the Messenger is still the best, and will always remain the best. An example of not having doubt in Allah’s (swt) Book is that if Allah (swt) has said that dealing in interest is a loss, and we see a great benefit in its dealing, and do not consider it a loss for ourselves, then this means that we do not consider the words of Allah (swt) as ultimate truth and we are still doubtful about it. In short, our actions will determine our belief.

In the second part of this verse, Allah (swt) says that Quran is guidance for those who have Taqwa. This means that not everyone who reads and understands the book of Allah (swt) will get guidance. Today, we see Quran being used for many purposes. Some read it to make scientific discoveries, others use it for amulets, and some others use it to recite at the graves of the pious, hoping they would get help in their matters from the dead people as they are closer to Allah (swt). Hence, not every who reads the Quran is guided, but guidance is for the pious- those who fear Allah (swt) and want to take guidance from His Book.

May Allah (swt) make us among those who read and understand His book purely for His sake. May He guide us to the straight path, and keep us firm on His religion till our last breath. Ameen.

She Struggled to Read the Quran

quran2My Quran Reflections Journal
Gems from Taleem ul-Quran 2015

Day 18 Reflection

(Al-Baqarah 2:121)

Last week, I met a lady at Al Huda Institute, Canada. She was struggling to read Surah Al-Fatihah just like a child begins to read: letter by letter. She fumbled, made mistakes and stammered… but didn’t give up. She kept on trying to read the Ayahs one by one till the end. Seeing her determination and sincerity, I asked her with tears in my eyes, if she was a revert. Her answer was affirmative. She asked me how I had guessed it. I told her that it was obvious, gave her a warm hug and congratulated her. She was amazed by my welcome, while I was stunned by her love for her newly adopted religion, Subhan’Allah!

She told me she could recite the Surah verbally but just couldn’t read it. Excited to have found somebody, who could understand her dilemma, she started reciting Al-Fatihah. How beautifully she recited, Masha’Allah!  She didn’t even know the translation or meaning of it; yet, there was such depth in her voice and shine in her eyes, which I cannot express in words. I was mesmerized. I didn’t even notice that tears started to flow out of our eyes at the same time. Such is the power of Allah’s (swt) Book, Masha’Allah. After finishing the recitation, she told me that she was learning to read the Quran there at Al Huda.

Ashamed, I thought to myself that so many of us take for granted the ability to read Quran. And there was an exemplary revert sister (formerly Christian), who was doing her best to learn to read the language of Allah (swt). It gave me goosebumps and reminded of the following verse:

“Those (who embraced Islam from Bani Israel) to whom We gave the Book [the Taurat (Torah)] [or those (Muhammad’s Peace be upon him companions) to whom We have given the Book (the Quran)] recite it (i.e. obey its orders and follow its teachings) as it should be recited (i.e. followed), they are the ones that believe therein. And whoso disbelieves in it (the Quran), those are they who are the losers.” (Al-Baqarah 2:121)

Pearls of Peace – An Extract from Surah Al-Fatiha

Pearl-in-a-shell1We praise Allah (swt) Who has blessed us and granted us this beautiful month of Ramadan and such a beautiful opportunity to earn His countless Blessings. May He grant us with the blessings and forgiveness in this month. May He increase the love and bond in our hearts that we have for one another and alleviate the suffering of humankind all across the globe; relief the ones who are going through difficulties and turmoil including ourselves.

Imagine if Prophet Muhammad (sa) was among us and recited the Quran. Imagine if the companions of Muhammad (sa) were to recite the Quran; what type of recitation do you think it would be? It would be miraculously beautiful as it would come from the depths of the heart and true love for the Quran. Hence, that is the kind of recitation one should aspire for.

The theme we have chosen to speak about this year is Pearls of Peace from the Noble Quran. It is the Book of peace and indeed full of the ingredients of peace. Many of us are searching for peace, contentment and happiness so that we can alleviate whatever suffering we are going through, but we have not searched through the pages of the Book of peace; coming from the Owner of peace, AsSalam.

The theme we have chosen to speak about this year is Pearls of Peace from the Noble Quran. It is the Book of peace and indeed full of the ingredients of peace.

Types of peace

There are two types of peace:

  • The inner peace – the peace within one’s heart and mind
  • The outer peace – is amongst one another; within our family, our community, with the Ummah at large, with humanity, and with all the creatures of Allah (swt) and this is the peace we are searching for.

As we search for this peace and we open the Book of Allah (swt), do you know what is the first word of peace that we find? Amazingly: Audhu billahi minash shaytanir rajeem. Analyze the statement. This is the statement of peace. Before you commence with the Quran and its recitation, you need to utter these words because Allah (swt) has declared,

So when you want to recite the Quran, seek refuge with Allah from Shaitan (Satan), the outcast (the cursed one).” (An- Nisa 16:98)

The ways to acquire peace

Without seeking protection of Allah (swt) from the devil, how will we be able to acquire peace? Many of us, when we read the Quran we have no concentration. That’s because the devil has contaminated our heart and our mind. He makes us fight and argue; splits and disunites us. This is why we start off with Tawuz. Let’s remember this powerful supplication and use it.

Now the next most powerful statement: Bismillah hir-Rahman nir-Raheem “In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful; Most Forgiving Most Merciful.”

This is Allah (swt), this is peace! Peace is connected to the mercy of Allah (swt). Look at the manner He starts. He has told us to start off by saying His Name, acknowledging that He is full of mercy, compassion and forgiveness. If He wanted He could have said, “Say: In the Name of Allah, the Owner of the severe torment and punishment.” He could have said that; but the heart requires that flicker wherein we all have hope in the mercy of Allah (swt).

Pearls extracted from Surah Al-Fatiha

Allah (swt) has chosen to open the Quran with what is known as Surah Al-Fatiha – the Opening Surah.

“(All) praise is (due) to Allah, the Rabb of the worlds.”

What is the meaning of Rabb? The One Who created, nourishes, provides, and protects, the One Who is in absolute control of every single aspect of the entire existence. All praise is due to Him, Who created you and me and everything in existence. Praise Him regularly and you will achieve peace.

Immediately after this powerful opening statement He says: Most Forgiving, Most Merciful. A loser he/she will be the one who does not receive the mercy of Allah (swt). May Allah (swt) make us from the winners. Imagine, if He had said, “I am never going to forgive certain people even if they seek forgiveness.” Did He ever say that? Never! Even a person who has committed Shirk, if he seeks forgiveness, Allah (swt) says, “My doors are open for him, I will forgive him.”

Maliki yawmi addeen – “He is the Owner of the Day of Judgment.”

From this we learn that we are answerable to Allah (swt). Let us learn not to become judgemental when it comes to deal with one another. Sometimes a person who might not appear religious outwardly is perhaps much more religious within. They may be struggling to adopt the commands of Allah (swt) one by one just like we are. None of us is perfect. We are all trying. Eradicate your bad habits. Seek the assistance of Allah (swt).

Iyyaka nabudu wa-iyyaka nastaeen – “You (alone) we worship and You (alone) we ask for help.”

A powerful statement that we utter almost five times a day.

Do you want peace? If yes, then worship Allah (swt) alone. Ask Allah’s (swt) help and assistance. Remember, He is Rabb-al-Alameen, the Owner of every single aspect of existence.

Ihdina assirata almustaqeem – “Guide us to the straight path.”

This is the Dua that we make for ourselves. The path of peace, the path to attain the pleasure of Allah (swt). If Allah (swt) has given us Hidayah (guidance), what more do we want? We will be the happiest people in the Dunya.

“Amazing are the affairs of a believer! They are all for his benefit; If he is granted ease of living he is thankful; and this is best for him. And if he is afflicted with a hardship, he perseveres; and this is best for him.” (Muslim)

Allah (swt) has always blessed us in every single way; yet sometimes we do not realize and recognize. We only pick on certain things that our soul desires and we keep on saying, “Ya Allah (swt)! You did not give me this. You did not give me that.” But when you look at the favours of Allah (swt), they are plenty.

These were some of the blessed pearls that we extract from Surah Al-Fatiha.

(Adapted from Mufti Ismail Menk’s Peace of Pearl Series, Cape town, Ramadan 2013. The lecture can be listened to at this link.)