Introduction to Fatihah
This Surah is called
- Al-Fatihah, that is, the Opener of the Book, the Surah with which prayers are begun. - It is also called, Umm Al-Kitab (the Mother of the Book), according to the majority of the scholars.
In an authentic Hadith recorded by At-Tirmidhi, who graded it Sahih, Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said,
Al-Hamdu lillahi Rabbil-`Alamin is the Mother of the Qur'an, the Mother of the Book, and the seven repeated Ayat of the Glorious Qur'an. It is also called Al-Hamd and As-Salah, because the Prophet said that his Lord said,
The 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. Al-Fatihah was called the Salah, because reciting it is a condition for the correctness of Salah - the prayer. Al-Fatihah was also called Ash-Shifa' (the Cure). It is also called Ar-Ruqyah (remedy), since in the Sahih, there is the narration of Abu Sa`id telling the story of the Companion who used Al-Fatihah as a remedy for the tribal chief who was poisoned. Later, the Messenger of Allah said to a Companion,
How did you know that it is a Ruqyah? Al-Fatihah was revealed in Makkah as Ibn Abbas, Qatadah and Abu Al-Aliyah stated. Allah said,
And indeed, We have bestowed upon you the seven Mathani (seven repeatedly recited verses), (i.e. Surah Al-Fatihah) (15:87). Allah knows best.
There is no disagreement over the view that Al-Fatihah contains seven Ayat. According to the majority of the reciters of Al-Kufah, a group of the Companions, the Tabi`in, and a number of scholars from the successive generations, the Bismillah is a separate Ayah in its beginning. We will mention this subject again soon, if Allah wills, and in Him we trust.
The scholars say that Al-Fatihah consists of twenty-five words, and that it contains one hundred and thirteen letters.
In the beginning of the Book of Tafsir, in his Sahih, Al-Bukhari said; "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 said that it is called Umm Al-Kitab, because it contains the meanings of the entire Qur'an. Ibn Jarir said, "The Arabs call every comprehensive matter that contains several specific areas an Umm. 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 was 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.''
Further, Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Hurayrah narrated about Umm Al-Qur'an that the Prophet said,
(It is Umm Al-Qur'an, the seven repeated (verses) and the Glorious Qur'an.)
Also, Abu Ja`far, Muhammad bin Jarir At-Tabari recorded Abu Hurayrah saying that the Messenger of Allah said about Al-Fatihah,
(It is Umm Al-Qur'an, Al-Fatihah of the Book (the Opener of the Qur'an) and the seven repeated (verses).)
Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal recorded in the Musnad that Abu Sa`id bin Al-Mu`alla said, "I was praying when the Prophet called me, so I did not answer him until I finished the prayer. I then went to him and he said, (What prevented you from coming) I said, 'O Messenger of Allah ! I was praying.' He said, (`Didn't Allah say),
(O you who believe! Answer Allah (by obeying Him) and (His) Messenger when he () calls you to that which gives you life) He then said,
(I will teach you the greatest Surah in the Qur'an before you leave the Masjid.) He held my hand and when he was about to leave the Masjid, I said, `O Messenger of Allah! You said: I will teach you the greatest Surah in the Qur'an.' He said, (Yes.)
(Al-Hamdu lillahi Rabbil-`Alamin)''
(It is the seven repeated (verses) and the Glorious Qur'an that I was given.)''
Al-Bukhari, Abu Dawud, An-Nasa'i and Ibn Majah also recorded this Hadith.
Also, Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Hurayrah said, "The Messenger of Allah went out while Ubayy bin Ka`b was praying and said, (O Ubayy!) Ubayy did not answer him. The Prophet said, (O Ubayy!) Ubayy prayed faster 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 among what Allah has sent down to me,)
(Answer Allah (by obeying Him) and (His) Messenger when he () calls you to that which gives you life) He said, `Yes, O Messenger of Allah! I will not do it again.' the Prophet said,
(Would you like me to teach you a Surah the likes of which nothing has been revealed in the Tawrah, the Injil, the Zabur (Psalms) or the Furqan (the Qur'an)) He said, `Yes, O Messenger of Allah!' The Messenger of Allah said, (I hope that I will not leave through this door until you have learned it.) He (Ka`b) said, `The Messenger of Allah 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, `So I recited Umm Al-Qur'an to him.' He said,
(By Him in Whose Hand is my soul! Allah has never revealed in the Tawrah, the Injil, the Zabur or the Furqan a Surah like it. It is the seven repeated verses that I was given.)''
Also, At-Tirmidhi recorded this Hadith and in his narration, the Prophet said,
(It is the seven repeated verses and the Glorious Qur'an that I was given.) At-Tirmidhi then commented that this Hadith is Hasan Sahih.
There is a similar Hadith on this subject narrated from Anas bin Malik Further, `Abdullah, the son of Imam Ahmad, recorded this Hadith from Abu Hurayrah from Ubayy bin Ka`b, and he mentioned a longer but similar wording for the above Hadith. In addition, At-Tirmidhi and An-Nasa'i recorded this Hadith from Abu Hurayrah from Ubayy bin Ka`b who said that the Messenger of Allah said,
(Allah has never revealed in the Tawrah or the Injil anything similar to Umm Al-Qur'an.
It is the seven repeated verses and it is divided into two halves between Allah and His servant.)
This is the wording reported by An-Nasa'i. At-Tirmidhi said that this Hadith is Hasan Gharib.
Also, Imam Ahmad recorded that Ibn Jabir said, "I went to the Messenger of Allah after he had poured water (for purification) and said, `Peace be unto you, O Messenger of Allah!' He did not answer me. So I said again, `Peace be unto you, O Messenger of Allah!' Again, he did not answer me, so I said again, `Peace be unto you, O Messenger of Allah!' Still he did not answer me. The Messenger of Allah went while I was following him, until he arrived at his residence. I went to the Masjid and sat there sad and depressed. The Messenger of Allah came out after he performed his purification and said, (Peace and Allah's mercy be unto you, peace and Allah's mercy be unto you, peace and Allah's mercy be unto you.) He then said, (O `Abdullah bin Jabir! Should I inform you of the best Surah in the Qur'an) I said, `Yes, O Messenger of Allah!' He said, (Read, `All praise be to Allah, the Lord of the existence,' until you finish it.)'' This Hadith has a good chain of narrators.
Some scholars relied on this Hadith as evidence that some Ayat and Surahs have more virtues than others.
Furthermore, in the chapter about the virtues of the Qur'an, Al-Bukhari recorded that Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri said, "Once, we were on a journey when a female servant came and said, `The leader of this area has been poisoned and our people are away. Is there a healer among you' Then a man whose healing expertise did not interest us stood for her, he read a Ruqyah for him, and he was healed. The chief gave him thirty sheep as a gift and some milk. When he came back to us we said to him, `You know of a (new) Ruqyah, or did you do this before' He said, `I only used Umm Al-Kitab as Ruqyah.' We said, `Do not do anything further until we ask the Messenger of Allah.' When we went back to Al-Madinah we mentioned what had happened to the Prophet . The Prophet said,
(Who told him that it is a Ruqyah Divide (the sheep) and reserve a share for me.)''
Also, Muslim recorded in his Sahih, and An-Nasa'i in his Sunan that 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.''' This is the wording collected by An-Nasa'i (Al-Kubra 5:12) and Muslim recorded similar wording (1:554).
Muslim recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Prophet said,
(Whoever performs any prayer in which he did not read Umm Al-Qur'an, then his prayer is incomplete.) He said it thrice.
Abu Hurayrah was asked, "﴾When﴿ we stand behind the Imam'' He said, "Read it to yourself, for I heard the Messenger of Allah say,
(Allah, the Exalted, said, `I have divided the prayer (Al-Fatihah) into two halves between Myself and My servant, and My servant shall have what he asks for.' If he says,
(1 In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.)
(2 All praise and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of existence.)
Allah says, `My servant has praised Me.' When the servant says,
(3 The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.)
Allah says, `My servant has glorified Me.' When he says,
(4 The Owner of the Day of Recompense.) Allah says, `My servant has glorified Me,' or `My servant has related all matters to Me.' When he says,
(5 You (alone) we worship, and You (alone) we ask for help.) Allah says, `This is between Me and My servant, and My servant shall acquire what he sought.' When he says,
(6 Guide us to the straight path.) (7 The way of those on whom You have granted Your grace, not (the way) of those who earned Your anger, nor of those who went astray), Allah says, `This is for My servant, and My servant shall acquire what he asked for.').''
These are the words of An-Nasa'i, while both Muslim and An-Nasa'i collected the following wording, "A half of it is for Me and a half for My servant, and My servant shall acquire what he asked for.''
The last Hadith used the word ﴿Salah﴾ `prayer' in reference to reciting the Qur'an, (Al-Fatihah in this case) just as Allah said in another Ayah,
(And offer your Salah (prayer) neither aloud nor in a low voice, but follow a way between.) meaning, with your recitation of the Qur'an, as the Sahih related from Ibn `Abbas. Also, in the last Hadith, Allah said, "I have divided the prayer between Myself and My servant into two halves, a half for Me and a half for My servant. My servant shall have what he asked for.'' Allah next explained the division that involves reciting Al-Fatihah, demonstrating the importance of reciting the Qur'an during the prayer, which is one of the prayer's greatest pillars. Hence, the word `prayer' was used here although only a part of it was actually being referred to, that is, reciting the Qur'an. Similarly, the word `recite' was used where prayer is meant, as demonstrated by Allah's statement,
(And recite the Qur'an in the early dawn.Verily, the recitation of the Qur'an in the early dawn is ever witnessed.) in reference to the Fajr prayer. The Two Sahihs recorded that the angels of the night and the day attend this prayer.
All of these facts testify to the requirement that reciting the Qur'an (Al-Fatihah) in the prayer is required, and there is a consensus between the scholars on this ruling. The Hadith that we mentioned also testifies to this fact, for the Prophet said,
(Whoever performs any prayer in which he did not recite Umm Al-Qur'an, his prayer is incomplete.)
Also, the Two Sahihs recorded that `Ubadah bin As-Samit said that the Messenger of Allah said,
(There is no prayer for whoever does not recite the Opening of the Book.)
Also, the Sahihs of Ibn Khuzaymah and Ibn Hibban recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said,
(The prayer during which Umm Al-Qur'an is not recited is invalid.)
There are many other Hadiths on this subject. Therefore, reciting the Opening of the Book, during the prayer by the Imam and those praying behind him, is required in every prayer, and in every Rak`ah.
(Show forgiveness, enjoin what is good, and stay away from the foolish (i.e. don't punish them). And if an evil whisper comes to you from Shaytan (Satan), then seek refuge with Allah. Verily, He is Hearing, Knowing) (7:199-200),
(Repel evil with that which is better. We are Best-Acquainted with things they utter. And say: "My Lord! I seek refuge with You from the whisperings (suggestions) of the Shayatin (devils). And I seek refuge with You, My Lord! lest they should come near me.'') (23:96-98) and,
(Repel (an evil) with one which is better, then verily he with whom there was enmity between you, (will become) as though he was a close friend. But none is granted it except those who are patient ـ and none is granted it except the owner of the great portion (of happiness in the Hereafter, i.e. Paradise and of a high moral character) in this world. And if an evil whisper from Shaytan tries to turn you away (O Muhammad ) (from doing good), then seek refuge in Allah. Verily, He is the Hearing, the Knowing.) (41:34-36) These are the only three Ayat that carry this meaning. Allah commanded that we be lenient human enemy, so that his soft nature might make him an ally and a supporter. He also commanded that we seek refuge from the satanic enemy, because the devil does not relent in his enmity if we treat him with kindness and leniency. The devil only seeks the destruction of the Son of Adam due to the vicious enmity and hatred he has always had towards man's father, Adam. Allah said,
(O Children of Adam! Let not Shaytan deceive you, as he got your parents ﴿Adam and Hawwa' (Eve)﴾ out of Paradise) (7:27),
(Surely, Shaytan is an enemy to you, so take (treat) him as an enemy. He only invites his Hizb (followers) that they may become the dwellers of the blazing Fire) (35:6) and,
(Will you then take him (Iblis) and his offspring as protectors and helpers rather than Me while they are enemies to you What an evil is the exchange for the Zalimun (polytheists, and wrongdoers, etc)) (18:50).
The devil assured Adam that he wanted to advise him, but he was lying. Hence, how would he treat us after he had vowed,
("By Your might, then I will surely, mislead them all. Except Your chosen servants among them (i.e. faithful, obedient, true believers of Islamic Monotheism).'') (38:82-83)
Also, Allah said,
(So when you ﴿want to﴾ recite the Qur'an, seek refuge with Allah from Shaytan, the outcast (the cursed one). Verily, he has no power over those who believe and put their trust only in their Lord (Allah). His power is only over those who obey and follow him (Satan), and those who join partners with Him.) (16:98-100).
(So when you ﴿want to﴾ recite the Qur'an, seek refuge with Allah from Shaytan, the outcast (the cursed one).) meaning, before you recite the Qur'an. Similarly, Allah said,
(When you intend to offer As-Salah (the prayer), wash your faces and your hands (forearms)) (5:6) meaning, before you stand in prayer, as evident by the Hadiths that we mentioned. Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri said, "When the Messenger of Allah would stand up in prayer at night, he would start his prayer with the Takbir (saying "Allahu Akbar''; Allah is Greater) and would then supplicate,
(All praise is due to You, O Allah, and also the thanks. Blessed be Your Name, Exalted be Your sovereignty, and there is no deity worthy of worship except You.)
He would then say thrice,
(There is no deity worthy of worship except Allah,).
He would then say,
(I seek refuge with Allah, the Hearing, the Knowing, from the cursed Satan, from his coercion, lures to arrogance and poems.).''
The four collectors of the Sunan recorded this Hadith, which At-Tirmidhi considered the most famous Hadith on this subject.
Abu Dawud and Ibn Majah recorded that Jubayr bin Mut`im said that his father said, "When the Messenger of Allah started the prayer, he said,
(Allah is the Greater, truly the Greatest (thrice); all praise is due to Allah always (thrice); and all praise is due to Allah day and night (thrice). O Allah! I seek refuge with You from the cursed Satan, from his Hamz, Nafkh and Nafth.).'' `Amr said, "The Hamz means asphyxiation, the Nafkh means arrogance, and the Nafth means poetry.'' Also, Ibn Majah recorded that `Ali bin Al-Mundhir said that Ibn Fudayl narrated that `Ata' bin As-Sa'ib said that Abu `Abdur-Rahman As-Sulami said that Ibn Mas`ud said that the Prophet said,
(O Allah! I seek refuge with You from the cursed devil, from his Hamz, Nafkh and Nafth.)
He said, "The Hamz means death, the Nafkh means arrogance, and the Nafth means poetry.''
In his Musnad, Al-Hafiz Abu Ya`la Ahmad bin `Ali bin Al-Muthanna Al-Mawsili reported that Ubayy bin Ka`b said, "Two men disputed with each other in the presence of the Messenger of Allah and the nose of one of them became swollen because of extreme anger. The Messenger of Allah said,
(I know of some words that if he said them, what he feels will go away, 'I seek refuge with Allah from the cursed Satan.')''
An-Nasa'i also recorded this Hadith in his book, Al-Yawm wal-Laylah.
Al-Bukhari recorded that Sulayman bin Surad said, "Two men disputed in the presence of the Prophet while we were sitting with him. One of them was cursing the other fellow and his face turned red due to anger. The Prophet said,
(I know of a statement which if he said it, will make what he feels disappear, `I seek refuge with Allah from the cursed Satan.') They said to the man, `Do you not hear what the Messenger of Allah is saying' He said, `I am not insane.''' Also, Muslim, Abu Dawud and An-Nasa'i recorded this Hadith.
There are many other Hadiths about seeking refuge with Allah. One can find this subject in the books on supplication and the virtues of righteous, good deeds.
The majority of the scholars state that reciting the Isti`adhah (in the prayer and when reciting the Qur'an) is recommended and not required, and therefore, not reciting it does not constitute a sin. However, Ar-Razi recorded that `Ata' bin Abi Rabah said that the Isti`adhah is required in the prayer and when one reads the Qur'an. In support of `Ata's statement, Ar-Razi relied upon the apparent meaning of the Ayah,
(Then seek refuge.) He said that the Ayah contains a command that requires implementation. Also, the Prophet always said the Isti`adhah. In addition, the Isti`adhah wards off the evil of Satan, which is neccessary, the rule is that the means needed to implement a requirement of the religion is itself also required. And when one says, "I seek refuge with Allah from the cursed devil.'' Then this will suffice.
The Isti`adhah cleanses the mouth from the foul speech that it has indulged in. It also purifies the mouth and prepares it to recite the speech of Allah. Further, the Isti`adhah entails seeking Allah's help and acknowledging His ability to do everything. The Isti`adhah also affirms the servant's meekness, weakness and inability to face the enemy of his inner evil, whom Allah alone, Who created this enemy, is able to repel and defeat. This enemy does not accept kindness, unlike the human enemy. There are three Ayat in the Qur'an that affirm this fact. Also, Allah said,
(Verily, My servants (i.e. the true believers of Islamic Monotheism) ـ you have no authority over them. And sufficient is your Lord as a Guardian.) (17:65).
We should state here that the believers, whom the human enemies kill, become martyrs, while those who fall victim to the inner enemy - Satan - become bandits. Further, the believers who are defeated by the apparent enemy - disbelievers - gain a reward, while those defeated by the inner enemy earn a sin and become misguided. Since Satan sees man where man cannot see him, it is befitting that the believers seek refuge from Satan with Whom Satan cannot see. The Isti`adhah is a form of drawing closer to Allah and seeking refuge with Him from the evil of every evil creature.
Isti`adhah means, "I seek refuge with Allah from the cursed Satan so that he is prevented from affecting my religious or worldly affairs, or hindering me from adhering to what I was commanded, or luring me into what I was prohibited from.'' Indeed, only Allah is able to prevent the evil of Satan from touching the son of Adam. This is why Allah allowed us to be lenient and kind with the human devil, so that his soft nature might cause him to refrain from the evil he is indulging in. However, Allah required us to seek refuge with Him from the evil of Satan, because he neither accepts bribes nor does kindness affect him, for he is pure evil. Thus, only He Who created Satan is able to stop his evil. This meaning is reiterated in only three Ayat in the Qur'an. Allah said in Surat Al-A`raf,
(Show forgiveness, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the foolish (i.e. don't punish them).) (7:199)
This is about dealing with human beings. He then said in the same Surah,
(And if an evil whisper comes to you from Shaytan, then seek refuge with Allah. Verily, He is Hearing, Knowing (7: 200).)
Allah also said in Surat Al-Mu'minun,
(Repel evil with that which is better. We are Best-Acquainted with the things they utter. And say: "My Lord! I seek refuge with You from the whisperings (suggestions) of the Shayatin (devils). And I seek refuge with You, My Lord! lest they should come near me.'' (23:96-98).)
Further, Allah said in Surat As-Sajdah,
(The good deed and the evil deed cannot be equal. Repel (the evil) with one which is better, then verily he, between whom and you there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a close friend. But none is granted it (the above quality) except those who are patient ـ and none is granted it except the owner of the great portion (of happiness in the Hereafter, i.e. Paradise and of a high moral character) in this world. And if an evil whisper from Shaytan tries to turn you away (from doing good), then seek refuge in Allah. Verily, He is the Hearing, the Knowing) (41:34-36).
In the Arabic language, Shaytan is derived from Shatana, which means the far thing. Hence, the Shaytan has a different nature than mankind, and his sinful ways are far away from every type of righteousness. It was also said that Shaytan is derived from Shata, (literally `burned'), because it was created from fire. Some scholars said that both meanings are correct, although they state that the first meaning is more plausible. Further, Siybawayh (the renowned Arab linguistic) said, "The Arabs say, `So-and-so has Tashaytan,' when he commits the act of the devils. If Shaytan was derived from Shata, they would have said, Tashayyata (rather than Tashaytan).'' Hence, Shaytan is derived from the word that means, far away. This is why they call those who are rebellious (or mischievous) from among the Jinns and mankind a `Shaytan'. Allah said,
(And so We have appointed for every Prophet enemies ـ Shayatin (devils) among mankind and Jinn, inspiring one another with adorned speech as a delusion (or by way of deception)) (6:112).
In addition, the Musnad by Imam Ahmad records that Abu Dharr said that the Messenger of Allah said,
(O Abu Dharr! Seek refuge with Allah from the devils of mankind and the Jinns.) Abu Dharr said, "I asked him , `Are there human devils' He said, (Yes.)'' Furthermore, it is recorded in Sahih Muslim that Abu Dharr said that the Messenger of Allah said,
(The woman, the donkey and the black dog interrupt the prayer (if they pass in front of those who do not pray behind a Sutrah, i.e. a barrier).) Abu Dharr said, "I said, `What is the difference between the black dog and the red or yellow dog' He said,
(The black dog is a devil.).''
Also, Ibn Jarir At-Tabari recorded that `Umar bin Al-Khattab once rode a Berthawn (huge camel) which started to proceed arrogantly. `Umar kept striking the animal, but the animal kept walking in an arrogant manner. `Umar dismounted the animal and said, "By Allah! You have carried me on a Shaytan. I did not come down from it until after I had felt something strange in my heart.'' This Hadith has an authentic chain of narrators.
Ar-Rajim means, being expelled from all types of righteousness. Allah said,
(And indeed We have adorned the nearest heaven with lamps, and We have made such lamps Rujuman (as missiles) to drive away the Shayatin (devils)) (67:5).
Allah also said,
(Verily, We have adorned the near heaven with the stars (for beauty). And to guard against every rebellious devil. They cannot listen to the higher group (angels) for they are pelted from every side. Outcast, and theirs is a constant (or painful) torment. Except such as snatch away something by stealing, and they are pursued by a flaming fire of piercing brightness) (37:6-10).
Further, Allah said,
(And indeed, We have put the big stars in the heaven and We beautified it for the beholders. And We have guarded it (near heaven) from every Shaytan Rajim (outcast Shaytan). Except him (devil) who steals the hearing then he is pursued by a clear flaming fire.) (15:16-18).
There are several similar Ayat. It was also said that Rajim means, the person who throws or bombards things, because the devil throws doubts and evil thoughts in people's hearts. The first meaning is more popular and accurate.
The Companions started the Book of Allah with Bismillah: