Surah Al-Fatihah: A Brief Explanation

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Al-Fatihah literally means The Opening because the Qur’an opens with it. It is the first chapter (surah) of the Qur’an and is considered its ‘greatest surah’. It is seen to be a precise table of contents of the Qur’anic message because some scholars of exegesis have stated that this chapter is a summary of the whole Qur’an. Its seven verses are regularly recited at the start of every unit (rak’ah) of the prayer and this is why one of its names is The Seven Oft Repeated Verses. The ritual five daily prayers without it are considered invalid. It has other names as well, such as, the Mother of the BookThe Cure, The Commendation (Hamd), and others.

Explanation of the Verses

1:1

1. In the name of Allah, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful.

This statement is also known as the basmala.

I begin with the name of Allah seeking His help with being able to read this book with success and acceptance from Him.

‘Allah’ is a known name referring to the Lord [of the universe], who alone has the right to be worshiped without partners. It is among the names of Allah that are specific to Him and cannot be given to anyone other than Him.

‘Ar-Rahmaan’ (Entirely Merciful) is one of the names of Allah and it means that His mercy expands over all His creation.

‘Ar-Raheem’ (Especially Merciful) is also one of the names of Allah and it means a form of mercy from Him reserved specifically for the believers.

1:2

2. [All] praise is [due] to Allah, Lord of the worlds –

Allah attributes all forms of praise to Himself. This includes praiseworthy actions done by His slaves because He alone is truly entitled to it as He is the Originator of all creation, the [true] Executor of their affairs. He takes care of all His creation through His innumerable favors and [especially] takes care of His supporters (Awliyaa’) through [correct] faith and righteous actions.

1:3

3. The Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful,

Ar-Rahmaan’ (Entirely Merciful) is one of the names of Allah and it means that His mercy expands over all His creation.

‘Ar-Raheem’ (Especially Merciful) is also one of the names of Allah and it means a form of mercy from Him reserved specifically for the believers.

1:4

4. Master of the Day of Judgement.

He alone is the Master of the Day of Resurrection. It is the Day of Recompense for deeds [in this life]. Some will be rewarded through His Mercy while others punished through His Justice. Allah specifically mentions His sovereignty alone on the Day of Judgement in this verse because no one will claim anything on that day and no one will be allowed to speak except by His permission.

Reading this verse in every unit (rak’ah) of the daily prayer should remind the Muslim of the Last Day and encourage him to prepare righteous deeds and abstain from sins and evil deeds.

1:5

5. It is You we worship and You we ask for help.

It is You alone that we give our [complete] obedience and worship. And we seek your help alone in all of our affairs because everything is in Your hands and no one else has any dominion over it at all.

This verse is a proof that the slave is not allowed to divert any type of worship to other than Allah. The verse also contains remedy for the hearts from the illness of being attached to other than Allah. There is also a cure in it against spiritual diseases of showing off, self-admiration, and arrogance.

1:6

6. Guide us to the straight path –

Show us and guide us to the straight path and keep us firm on it until we meet You. This path is Islam which leads to the pleasure of Allah and to His paradise. It is a path which was shown to us by the seal of the prophets, Muhammad (pbuh). No other way will lead to happiness for the slave except remaining steadfast on this [single] straight path.

1:7

7. The path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked [Your] anger or of those who are astray.

The path of those whom you have favored, such as, the prophets, the truthful, the martyrs, and the righteous. They are the people of guidance and steadfastness.

Do not make us among those who took the path of those who evoked [Your] anger. They are those who knew the truth but did not act in accordance to it. This was the crime of the Jews and those who are like them in action [refusing to follow the truth despite knowing it].

Do not make us among those who are astray. They are those who were not guided so they went astray from the straight path. This was the crime of the Christians and those who followed their way [acting without knowledge].

Conclusion

In this chapter is the supplication (du’a) to cure the Muslim’s heart from the diseases of rejection, ignorance, and misguidance. The chapter shows that the greatest blessing is the blessing of Islam. Therefore, whoever knows the truth and followed it, he will be most deserving of the straight path. There is no doubt that the companions of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) are the most deserving of the people after the prophets of the straight path. The last verse indicates their great status because Allah bestowed favor upon them, may Allah be pleased with them all.

It is recommended for the reader to say after reciting Al-Fatiha “Ameen“. It means, O’ Allah answer my supplication. The word Ameen is not one of the verses of Al-Fatiha by the consensus of the scholars and this is why they do not write it in the Qur’an.


Main source: Tafsir Al-Muyassar

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