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      Tafseer - Explanation of the Qur'aan

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Introduction Soorah Al-Fatihah

 "And Indeed, We have bestowed upon you seven of Al-Mathani and the Grand Qur’aan" 
[Soorah Al-Hijr (15): 87].  

 Different Names of Soorah Al-Fatihah

 1. Al-Faatihah - The Opening since it is the opening chapter of the Qur’aan & the prayer is commenced by it.

 2. Faatihah Al-Kitaab  - The Opening of the Book - because it is the first chapter in the Qur’aan.

3. Umm al-Qur`aan - the Mother of the Qur`aan and Umm al-Kitaab - the Mother of the Book - according to the saying of Prophet (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam). Narrated Abu Hurayrah: ‘Prophet (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam) said: “[The chapter commencing with] "all praises and thanks are due to Allah the Lord of the Universe." is the Mother of the Qur’aan (Umm al-Qur`aan), the Mother of the Book (Ummul al-Kitaab), the Seven Oft Repeated Verses (As-Sab’ al-Mathaani) and the Great Qur’aan. (Qur’aan al-Adheem)”[Saheeh – At-Tirmidhee]

Ibn Jareer at-Tabaree said that it was named so because the meaning of the entire Qur`aan is summarized (precisely explained, summed up) in it. The Arabs named anything that concisely (in brief, in few words) summarizes something or comprises (contains) the most important part of something as ‘Umm’ i.e. Mother.

 4.As-Sab`u al- Mathaanee - the Seven Often repeated verses - because they are the frequently recited verses (e.g.: it is recited in every rak’ah of the Prayer) and as mentioned in the following hadeeth.

Narrated Sa’eed lbn Al-Mu’aliaa: “… Prophet (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam) said to me: “I will teach you a soorah, which is the greatest soorah in the Qur’aan before you leave the masjid,” and he took hold of my hand. Then, when he was about to leave I said to him: “Didn’t you say to me: “I will teach you a soorah which is the greatest soorah in the Qur’aan.” He said: “Al-Hamdu Lillahi Rabbil Aalameen’ - Soorah Al- ­Faatihah, which is the Seven Often repeated Verses, and the Glorious Qur’aan which has been given to me.” [Saheeh Al-Bukhaari]

 5. Al-Qur`aan al-Adheem - the Great Qur`aan. As mentioned in the above hadeeth.

 6. Al-Hamd - the Praise  - as it contains the mentioning of Hamd. Just as al-Baqarah is named so because it contains mention of the cow.  

7. As-Salaah - the Prayer - as it is an integral part of the prayer; and as mentioned in the Hadeeth where Prophet informed us the saying of Allah: "I have divided the prayer between Myself and my servant equally. Therefore when the servant says  “Al-Hamdu Lillaahi Rabbil Aalameen,”  ‘all praises and thanks are due to Allah, the Lord of the universe,’ Allah says, ‘My servant has praised Me…’  [Saheeh Muslim]

8. Al-Ruqyah - The Curative Invocation - according to the authentic narration of Abu Sa’eed.

He said: “Some of the Companions of the Prophet r went on a journey until they reached some of the Arab tribes (at night). They asked the latter to treat them as their guests but they refused. The chief of that tribe was then bitten by a snake (or stung by a scorpion) and they tried their best to cure him, but in vain. Some of them said (to the others): “Nothing has benefited him, will you go to the people who resided here for the night, it may be that some of them might possess something (as a treatment).” They went to the group of the Companions and said: “Our chief has been bitten by a snake (or stung by a scorpion) and we have tried everything but he has not benefited. Have you anything (useful)?” One of them replied: “Yes, by Allah! I can recite a ruqyah, but as you have refused to accept us as your guests, I shall not recite the ruqyah for you unless you fix for us some payment for it.” They agreed to pay them a flock of sheep. One of them went and recited Soorah A1-Faatihah: “All praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds...” and breathed hard over the chief who recovered as if he were released from a chain, stood up and started walking, showing no signs of sickness. They paid them as per their agreement. Some of them (the Companions) then suggested dividing their earnings among themselves, but the one who had performed the recitation said: “Do not divide them until we go to the Prophet r, narrate the whole story to him and wait for his order.” So they went to the Messenger of Allah r and narrated the story. Allah’s Messenger r said: “How did you come to know that Soorah Al-Faatihah was recited as a ruqyah?” [Saheeh Bukhaaree [eng trans. 3/264 # 476]  
These are some of the Names of Soorah Fatihah from amongst many. [1]

Revelation - It was revealed in Mecca as stated by ibn Abbas and other. It is also claimed that it was revealed in Madeenah as stated by Abu Hurayrah and others. It is also said that it was revealed on two separate occasions – once in Mecca and once in Madeenah. However the first opinion is the most likely due to His saying. Because of the Verse in the Qur’aan:  "We have sent to you the Seven Oft Repeated Verses." [Soorah Al-Hijr (15): 87] This verse was revealed in Mecca by agreement.

Composition - The Soorah contains seven verses without any disagreement. However, there has been some disagreement with regarding Bismillah ar-Rahmaan ar-Raheem” “with the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.’  Some said that it is a verse, while others maintained that it is not, and others said that it is part of a verse. Those who assume (believe) that it is not a verse of al-Faatihah state that the seventh verse commences (starts) with the words, "not the path of those who have earned [Your] Anger…"

It has twenty-five words and hundred and thirteen letters. [Tafseer Ibn Katheer]

Virtues of Soorah Al-Faatihah There are a number of ahaadeeth explaining the great virtues of this chapter:

1. Soorah Fatihah - Answered by Allah, the Exalted  
Prophet (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam) said: “Allah says, "I have divided the prayer between Myself and my servant equally and My servant shall be granted what he asked for." Therefore when the servant says, ‘all praises and thanks are due to Allah, the Lord of the universe’, Allah says, ‘My servant has praised Me.’ When he says, ‘the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful,’ Allah says, ‘My servant has extolled Me.’. When he says, ‘Master of the Day of Judgement,’ Allah says, ‘My servant has glorified Me.’ When he says, ‘You Alone we worship and Your aid Alone do we seek,’ Allah says, ‘this is between Me and My servant and My servant shall have what he requested.’ When he says, ‘guide us to the Straight Path, the Path of those whom You have favored, not of those who have incurred [Your] wrath, neither of those who have gone astray,’ Allah says, ‘this is for My servant and My servant shall have what he asked for.’ [Saheeh Muslim]

2. Soorah a-Al-Fatihah – the Mother of the Qur’aan (Umm al-Qur’aan), the Great Qur’aan (Qur’aan-e-Azeem) and it comprises the seven oft-repeated verses. (As-Saa’bu al-Mathaani)

Narrated Abu Hurayrah: “Prophet (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam) said: “[chapter commencing with], “Alhamdu lillahi Rabbil Alameen” is the Mother of the Qur`aan, the Mother of the Book, the Seven Oft Repeated Verses and the Great Qur`aan.” [Tirmidhee]

Narrated Sa’eed lbn Al-Mu’aliaa (radiyallahu anhu): “… Prophet (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam) said to me: “I will teach you a soorah, which is the greatest soorah in the Qur’aan before you leave the masjid,” and he took hold of my hand. Then, when he was about to leave I said to him: “Didn’t you say to me: “I will teach you a soorah which is the greatest soorah in the Qur’aan.” He (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam) said: “Al-Hamdu Lillahi Rabbil Aalameen (All praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds) - Soorah Al- ­Faatihah, which is the Seven Oft-repeated Verses, and the Glorious Qur’aan which has been given to me.” [Saheeh Al-Bukhaari]

3.  Soorah Al-Fatihah – Revealed only to Prophet Muhammad.  [2]

Narrated Ibn Abbaas (radiyallahu anhu): “While the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam) was sitting with Jibreel (alaihi as-salaam), he heard a creaking sound above him. Jibreel looked up and said, "This is [the sound of] a gate that has been opened in heaven today and has never been previously opened." Then an Angel descended through it and came to the Prophet (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam) and said, "rejoice in the good news of two lights that have been given to you such as no prophet before you has been given. [They are] Surah al-Faatihah and the concluding [two] verses of Soorah al-Baqarah. You will never recite a word from them without being given the blessings they contain." [An-Nisaee and al-Haakim]

The Ruling of reciting soorah Al-Fatihah in the Prayer - It is an obligation to recite soorah al-Faatihah in every Ra’kaah of the prayer. The prayer is invalid without the recitation of Soorah Fatihah. This opinion [3] is based upon many proofs from the Ahaadeth of Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam): 

“There is no prayer for the one who does not recite the Opening of the Book.” [Saheeh Bukhaaree [Eng. Trans. 1/404 no. 723] and Saheeh Muslim [Eng. Trans. 1/214 no. 771]

 “Whosoever performs a prayer in which he does not recite the Mother of the Book then it is deficient, it is deficient, it is deficient, it is incomplete.” [Saheeh Muslim [Eng. Trans. 1/215 no. 775]

“The prayer is not valid in which the Mother of the Qur`aan is not recited.” [Saheeh Muslim Eng. trans. v.1 no. 772]


[1] It is also named ash-Shifaa`, the Cure, due to what ad-Daarimee reports from Abu Sa`eed from the Messenger of Allah. “The Opening of the Book is a cure to every poison.” [Ibn Katheer - ad-Daarimee [2/445]. Ash-Sha`bee reports from ibn Abbaas that he named it Asaasul Qur`aan, the Foundation of the Qur`aan, and that he said, "the foundation of al-Faatihah is, ‘with the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.’" Sufyaan bin Uyaynah named it al-Waaqiyah, the Protector. Yahyaa bin Abu Katheer named it al-Kaafiyah, the Sufficient, because it suffices from everything other than it but anything else does not suffice it, as occurs in the mursal hadeeth. The Mother of the Book suffices for other than it but nothing else suffices it. {7}. It is also named Suratus Salaah, the Chapter of the Prayer, and al-Kanz, the Treasure, as mentioned by az-Zamaksharee in ‘Kashshaaf.

[2] This hadeeth has led some scholars to suggest that Jibreel did not convey the revelation of Surah al-Faatihah and the last two verses of al-Baqarah, rather it was the Angel mentioned in this hadeeth. However the correct opinion is that Jibreel did indeed convey the revelation of these verses as he was enjoined by Allah to convey the entire Qur`aan to the Prophet r. The Angel that descended as mentioned in this hadeeth descended only to convey the reward of these verses.

[3] This is the opinion of the majority of the scholars, amongst them Maalik, ash-Shaafi`ee and Ahmad. However according to Abu Haneefah, those of his companions who agreed with him, al-Awza`ee and ath-Thawree, it is not obligatory to recite al-Faatihah, rather any portion of the Qur`aan would be sufficient. They based this upon the saying of Allah: "And recite what is easy [for you] from the Qur`aan." [Al-Muzzammil (73): 20] And the saying of the Prophet r to the man who prayed badly, When you stand for pray, say the takbeer and then recite what is easy for you from the Qur`aan

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