Surah Al-Fatihah — The Opener

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Surah Al-Fatihah is one of the earliest Revelations to the Holy Prophet ﷺ. As a matter of fact, we learn from authentic Traditions that it was the first complete Surah which was revealed to Muhammad ﷺ. Before this, only a few miscellaneous verses were revealed which form parts of `Alaq, Muzzammil, Muddaththir, etc. The word Fatihah comes from the root word (ف-ت-ح (فتح which means to open, or to remove confusion. It is aptly named because it is the opening Surah of the Holy Qur’an and every Salah.

In his book Al-Itqān fi ‘Ulum Al-Qur’an (The Perfect Guide to the Sciences of the Qur’an), Imam Jalaluddin al-Suyūṭī (1445–1505 AD) mentions that there are 25 names of Surah Al-Fatihah. The many names of this Surah allude to its importance. Some of the names are:

  1. Umm-ul-Kitab: Mother of the Book
  2. Fatihah-tul-Kitab: The opening of the Book
  3. Fatihah-tul-Qur’an: The opening of the Qur’an
  4. Saba’ al-Masani: The 7 oft-repeated verses
  5. Al- Hamd: The Praise
  6. Al-Salah: The Prayer

 

In the Qur’an Allah SWT says:

وَلَقَدْ آتَيْنَاكَ سَبْعًا مِّنَ الْمَثَانِي وَالْقُرْآنَ الْعَظِيمَ

‘And We have certainly given you, [O Muhammad], seven of the often repeated [verses] and the great Qur’an.’[al-Hijr:87]

According to a Hadith of our beloved Prophet ﷺ, this Surah is unique because there is nothing like it in the previous scriptures or the rest of the Qur’an and we are the Ummah that is blessed with it.

Ibn `Abbas said, “While Jibril (Gabriel) was with the Messenger of Allah , he heard a noise from above. Jibril lifted his sight to the sky and said, `This is a door in heaven being open, and it has never been opened before now.’ An angel descended from that door and came to the Prophet and said, `Receive the glad tidings of two lights that you have been given, which no other Prophet before you was given: the Opening of the Book and the last (three) Ayat of Surat Al-Baqarah. You will not read a letter of them, but will gain its benefit.”

(Sahih Muslim & Sunan Nisai)

The reason why Surah Al-Fatihah is called Saba’ al-Masani orThe 7 oft-repeated verses” is because we are supposed to recite it in every Rakah of every Salah. Without it, our Salahs are not valid.

Narrated ‘Ubada bin As-Samit: Allah’s Apostle ﷺ said, “Whoever does not recite Al-Fatiha in his prayer, his prayer is invalid.” (Bukhari)

When a slave of Allah SWT recites the verses of Surah Al-Fatihah in the Salah, he is actually having a conversation with Allah SWT. It is not a one way communication!

Abu Hurayrah (R.A) narrated a Hadeeth that the Prophet ﷺ said:

Allah says, ‘I have divided the prayer in two parts between Myself and my servant.’ When the servant recites, All praise and thanks are to Allah, the Lord of all creations, Allah says, ‘My servant has praised Me.’ And when he recites, The Most-Merciful, the Bestower of all mercy, Allah says, ‘My servant has honored Me.’ When he recites, The Owner of the Day of Recompense, Allah says, ‘My servant has glorified Me.’ When he recites, You alone we worship and You alone we seek help from, Allah replies, ‘This is two parts between my servant and I.’ When he recites, Guide us to the straight path…(till the end of the surah) , Allah replies, ‘This is for My servant and he will have what he asks for.’”[Muslim:395]

SubhanAllah! What a beautiful Hadith. Lets remember this Hadith the next time we stand up for prayer and our mind begins to wander and is distracted by the dunya.

At the end of the Surah, the slave of Allah asks Him to show him guidance and Allah SWT places the whole of the Qur’an before him in answer to his prayer, as if to say, “This is the Guidance you begged from Me”! Notice that in the first ayah of Surah Al-Baqarah (immediately after the prayer for guidance in Surah Fatihah) after Alif, Lam, Meem, Allah SWT says:

ذَٰلِكَ الْكِتَابُ لَا رَيْبَ ۛ فِيهِ ۛ هُدًى لِّلْمُتَّقِينَ

This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah

May Allah SWT make us from among those who receive guidance from the Holy Qur’an.

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