Surah Al-Fatihah Part 2

The Tafsir of Surah Al-Fatihah Part 2

The Virtue of Al-Fatihah

Imam Ahmad recorded in his Musnad, that a person who was riding behind the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him,  said, “The Prophet’s animal tripped, so I said, ‘Cursed Shaytan.’ The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him,  said:

“Do not say, ‘Cursed Shaytan,’ for if you say these words, Satan becomes arrogant and says, ‘With my strength I made him fall.’ When you say, ‘Bismillah,’ Satan will become as small as a fly.” (Ahmad 5:59)

This is the blessing of reciting Bismillah.

Basmalah is Recommended before Performing any Deed

Basmalah (reciting Bismillah) is recommended before starting any action or deed. For instance, Basmalah is recommended before starting a Khutbah (speech). The Basmalah is also recommended before one enters the place where he wants to relieve himself, there is a Hadith concerning this practice. Further, Basmalah is recommended at the beginning of ablution, for Imam Ahmad and the Sunan compilers recorded that Abu Hurayrah, Sa`id bin Zayd and Abu Sa`id narrated from the Prophet, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him:

“There is no valid ablution for he who did not mention Allah’s Name in it.” (Ahmad 3:41)

Also, the Basmalah is recommended before eating, for Muslim recorded in his Sahih that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said to `Umar bin Abi Salamah while he was a child under his care:

 “Say Bismillah, eat with your right hand and eat from whatever is next to you.” (Muslim 3:1600)

Some of the scholars stated that Basmalah before eating is obligatory. Basmalah before having sexual intercourse is also recommended. The Two Sahihs recorded that Ibn `Abbas said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“If anyone of you before having sexual relations with his wife says, ‘In the Name of Allah. O Allah! Protect us from Satan and also protect what you grant us (meaning the coming offspring) from Satan,’ and if it is destined that they should have a child then, Satan will never be able to harm that child.” (Muslim 2:1058)

The Meaning of ‘Allah’

Allah is the Name of the Lord, the Exalted. It is said that Allah is the Greatest Name of Allah, because it is referred to when describing Allah by the various attributes. For instance, Allah said:

“He is Allah, beside Whom La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He) the Knower of the unseen and the seen. He is the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. He is Allah, beside Whom La ilaha illa Huwa, the King, the Holy, the One free from all defects, the Giver of security, the Watcher over His creatures, the Almighty, the Compeller, the Supreme. Glory be to Allah! (High is He) above all that they associate as partners with Him. He is Allah, the Creator, the Inventor of all things, the Bestower of forms. To Him belong the Best Names. All that is in the heavens and the earth glorify Him. And He is the Almighty, the Wise.” (Surah Al-Hashr 59:22-24)

Hence, Allah mentioned several of His Names as Attributes for His Name Allah. Similarly, Allah said:

“And (all) the Most Beautiful Names belong to Allah, so call on Him by them.” (Surah Al- A’raf 7:180) and,

“Say (O Muhammad) “Invoke Allah or invoke the Most Gracious (Allah), by whatever name you invoke Him (it is the same), for to Him belong the Best Names.” (Surah Al ‘Isra 17:110)

Also, the Two Sahihs recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“Allah has ninety-nine Names, one hundred minus one, whoever counts (and preserves) them, will enter Paradise.” (Muslim 4:2062)

These Names were mentioned in a Hadith recorded by At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah, and there are several differences between these two narrations.

The Meaning of Ar-Rahman Ar Rahim – the Most Gracious the Most Merciful

Ar-Rahman and Ar-Rahim are two names derived from Ar-Rahmah (the Mercy), but Rahman has more meanings that pertain to mercy than Ar-Rahim. There is a statement by Ibn Jarir that indicates that there is a consensus on this meaning. Further, Al-Qurtubi said, “The proof that these names are derived (from Ar-Rahmah), is what At-Tirmidhi recorded – and graded Sahih from ‘Abdur-Rahman bin ‘Awf that he heard the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, say:

“Allah the Exalted said, ‘I Am Ar-Rahman. I created the Raham (womb, i.e. family relations) and derived a name for it from My Name. Hence, whoever keeps it, I will keep ties to him, and whoever severs it, I will sever ties with him.” (Tuhfat Al-Ahwadhi 6:33)

He then said, “This is a text that indicates the derivation.” He then said, “The Arabs denied the name Ar-Rahman, because of their ignorance about Allah and His Attributes.”

Al-Qurtubi said, “It was said that both Ar-Rahman and Ar-Rahim have the same meaning, such as the words Nadman and Nadim, as Abu ‘Ubayd has stated. Abu ‘Ali Al-Farisi said, Ar-Rahman, which is exclusively for Allah, is a name that encompasses every type of mercy that Allah has. Ar-Rahim is what effects the believers, for Allah said:

“And He is ever Rahim (merciful) to the believers.” (Surah Al-Ahzab 33:43)

Also, Ibn ‘Abbas said – about Ar-Rahman and Ar-Rahim, “They are two soft names, one of them is softer than the other (meaning it carries more implications of mercy).”’ (Tafsir Al-Qurtubi 1:105) Ibn Jarir said; As-Surri bin Yahya At-Tamimi narrated to me that `Uthman bin Zufar related that Al-`Azrami said about Ar-Rahman and Ar-Rahim, “He is Ar-Rahman with all creation and Ar-Rahim with the believers.” (At-Tabari 1:127) Hence, Allah’s statements:

“Then He rose over (Istawa) the Throne (in a manner that suits His majesty), Ar-Rahman.” (Surah Al Furqan 25:59) and,

“Ar-Rahman (Allah) rose over (Istawa) the (Mighty) Throne (in a manner that suits His majesty).” (Surah Ta Ha 20:5)

Allah thus mentioned the Istawa – rising over the Throne – along with His Name Ar-Rahman, to indicate that His Mercy encompasses all of His creation. Allah also said:

And He is ever Rahim (merciful) to the believers (Surah Al-Ahzab 33:43)

thus encompassing the believers with His Name Ar-Rahim. They said, “This testifies to the fact that Ar-Rahman carries a broader scope of meanings pertaining to the mercy of Allah with His creation in both lives. Meanwhile, Ar-Rahim is exclusively for the believers.” Yet, we should mention that there is a supplication that reads: “The Rahman and the Rahim of this life and the Hereafter.”

Allah’s Name Ar-Rahman is exclusively His. For instance, Allah said:

“Say (O Muhammad ): “Invoke Allah or invoke Ar-Rahman (Allah), by whatever name you invoke Him (it is the same), for to Him belong the Best Names.” (Surah Al-Isra’ 17:110) and,

“And ask (O Muhammad ) those of Our Messengers whom We sent before you: “Did We ever appoint alihah (gods) to be worshipped besides Ar-Rahman (Most Gracious, Allah)” (Surah Az-Zukhruf 43:45).

Ar-Rahman, which no one else is allowed to use, as for Allah’s Name Ar-Rahim, Allah has described others by it. For instance, Allah said:

“Verily, there has come unto you a Messenger (Muhammad ) from amongst yourselves (i.e. whom you know well). It grieves him that you should receive any injury or difficulty. He (Muhammad ) is anxious over you (to be rightly guided) for the believers (he is) kind (full of pity), and Rahim (merciful)” (Surah At-Taubah 9:128)

There are several of Allah’s Names that are used as names for others besides Allah. Further, some of Allah’s Names are exclusive for Allah alone, such as Allah, Ar-Rahman, Al-Khaliq (the Creator), Ar-Raziq (the Sustainer), and so forth.

Hence, Allah started the Tasmiyah (meaning, ‘In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious Most Merciful’) with His Name, Allah, and described Himself as Ar-Rahman, (Most Gracious) which is softer and more general than Ar-Rahim. The most honorable Names are mentioned first, just as Allah did here.

A Hadith narrated by Umm Salamah stated that the recitation of the Messenger of Allah was slow and clear, letter by letter:

“In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. All the praises and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of all that exists. The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. The Owner of the Day of Recompense.” (Surah Al-Faitihah 1:1-4)

And this is how a group of scholars recite it. Others connected the recitation of the Tasmiyah to Al-Hamd.

{2. Al-Hamd be to Allah, the Lord of all that exists.} 

The Meaning of Al-Hamd 

Abu Ja`far bin Jarir said, “The meaning of ‘Al-Hamdu Lillah‘ (all praise and thanks be to Allah) is: all thanks are due purely to Allah, alone, not any of the objects that are being worshipped instead of Him, nor any of His creation. These thanks are due to Allah’s innumerable favors and bounties, that only He knows the amount of. Allah’s bounties include creating the tools that help the creation worship Him, the physical bodies with which they are able to implement His commands, the sustenance that He provides them in this life, and the comfortable life He has granted them, without anything or anyone compelling Him to do so. Allah also warned His creation and alerted them about the means and methods with which they can earn eternal dwelling in the residence of everlasting happiness. All thanks and praise are due to Allah for these favors from beginning to end.” (At-Tabari 1:135)

Further, Ibn Jarir commented on the Ayah, “Al-Hamdu Lillah’, that it means, “A praise that Allah praised Himself with, indicating to His servants that they too should praise Him, as if Allah had said, ‘Say: All thanks and praise is due to Allah.’ It was said that the statement, ‘All praise and thanks be to Allah’, entails praising Allah by mentioning His most beautiful Names and most honorable Attributes. When one proclaims, ‘All thanks are due to Allah,’ he will be thanking Him for His favors and bounties.” (At-Tabari 1:137)

The Difference Between Praise and Thanks

Hamd is more general, in that it is a statement of praise for one’s characteristics, or for what he has done. Thanks are given for what was done, not merely for characteristics.

The Statements of the Salaf about Al-Hamd

Hafs mentioned that `Umar said to ‘Ali, “We know La ilaha illallah, Subhan Allah and Allahu Akbar. What about Al-Hamdu Lillah” ‘Ali said, “A statement that Allah liked for Himself, was pleased with for Himself and He likes that it be repeated.” (At-Tabari 1:15) Also, Ibn ‘Abbas said, “Al-Hamdu Lillah is the statement of appreciation. When the servant says Al-Hamdu Lillah, Allah says, ‘My servant has praised Me.” Ibn Abi Hatim recorded this Hadith. (At-Tabari 1:13)

The Virtues of Al-Hamd

Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal recorded that Al-Aswad bin Sari` said, “I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! Should I recite to you words of praise for My Lord, the Exalted, that I have collected’ He, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“Verily, your Lord likes Al-Hamd.” (Ahmad 3:435)

Furthermore, Abu ‘Isa At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasa’i and Ibn Majah recorded that Musa bin Ibrahim bin Kathir related that Talhah bin Khirash said that Jabir bin ‘Abdullah said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“The best Dhikr (remembering Allah) is La ilaha illallah and the best supplication is Al-Hamdu Lillah.” (Tuhfat Al-Ahwadhi 9:324)

Also, Ibn Majah recorded that Anas bin Malik said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, said:

“No servant is blessed by Allah and says,’Al-Hamdu Lillah’, except that what he was given is better than that which he has himself acquired.” (Ibn Majah 2:1250)

Further, in his Sunan, Ibn Majah recorded that Ibn ‘Umar said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“A servant of Allah once said, ‘O Allah! Yours is the Hamd that is suitable for the grace of Your Face and the greatness of Your Supreme Authority.’ The two angels were confused as to how to write these words. They ascended to Allah and said, ‘O our Lord! A servant has just uttered a statement and we are unsure how to record it for him.’ Allah said while having more knowledge in what His servant has said, ‘What did My servant say?’ They said, ‘He said, ‘O Allah! Yours is the Hamd that is suitable for the grace of Your Face and the greatness of Your Supreme Authority.’ Allah said to them, ‘Write it as My servant has said it, until he meets Me and then I shall reward him for it.” (Ibn Majah 2:1249)

Al before Hamd encompasses all Types of Thanks and Appreciation for Allah

The letters Alif and Lam before the word Hamd serve to encompass all types of thanks and appreciation for Allah, the Exalted. A Hadith stated:

“O Allah! All of Al-Hamd is due to You, You own all the ownership, all types of good are in Your Hand and all affairs belong to You.” (At-Targhib wat-Tarhib 2:253)

The Meaning of Ar-Rabb, the Lord

Ar-Rabb is the owner who has full authority over his property. Ar-Rabb, linguistically means, the Master or the one who has the authority to lead. All of these meanings are correct for Allah. When it is alone, the word Rabb is used only for Allah. As for other than Allah, it can be used to say Rabb Ad-Dar, the master of such and such an object. Further, it was reported that Ar-Rabb is Allah’s Greatest Name.

The Meaning of Al-Alamin

Al-‘Alamin is plural for ‘Alam, which encompasses everything in existence except Allah. The word ‘Alam is itself a plural word, having no singular form. The ‘Alamin are different creations that exist in the heavens and the earth, on land and at sea. Every generation of creation is called an ‘Alam. Al-Farra` and Abu `Ubayd said, “‘Alam includes all that has a mind, the Jinns, mankind, the angels and the devils, but not the animals.” Also, Zayd bin Aslam and Abu Muhaysin said, “Alam includes all that Allah has created with a soul.” Further, Qatadah said about: “The Lord of the ‘Alamin”, “Every type of creation is an ‘Alam.” Az-Zajjaj also said, “Alam encompasses everything that Allah created, in this life and in the Hereafter.” Al-Qurtubi commented, “This is the correct meaning, that the ‘Alam encompasses everything that Allah created in both worlds. Similarly, Allah said:

“Fir’awn (Pharaoh) said: “And what is the Lord of the ‘Alamin?” Musa (Moses) said: “The Lord of the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them, if you seek to be convinced with certainty” (Surah Ash-Shurah 26:23-24)

Why is the Creation called ‘Alam?

‘Alam is derived from ‘Alamah, that is because it is a sign testifying to the existence of its Creator and to His Oneness.” (Al-Qurtubi 1:139)

 {3. Ar-Rahman (the Most Gracious), Ar-Rahim (the Most Merciful)}

Allah said next: “Ar-Rahman, Ar-Rahim” We explained these Names in the Bamalah. Al-Qurtubi said, “Allah described Himself by ‘Ar-Rahman, Ar-Rahim‘ after saying ‘the Lord of the Alamin’ so His statement includes a warning, and then an encouragement. Similarly, Allah said:

“Declare (O Muhammad) unto my servants, that truly, I am the Oft Forgiving, the Most Merciful. And that My torment is indeed the most painful torment.” (Surah Al-Hijr 49-50)

“Surely, your Lord is swift in retribution, and certainly He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Surah Al-An’am 6:165)

Hence, Rabb contains a warning while Ar-Rahman Ar-Rahim encourages. Further, Muslim recorded in his Sahih that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

If the believer knew what punishment Allah has, none would hop in acquiring His Paradise, and if the disbeliever knew what Mercy Allah has, none will lose hope of earning His earning.” (Muslim 4:2109)

{4. Owner of the Day of Recompense}

Indicating Sovereignty on the Day of Judgement

Allah mentioned His sovereignty of the Day of Resurrection, but this does not negate His sovereignty over all other things. For Allah mentioned that He is the Lord of existence, including this earthly life and the Hereafter. Allah only mentioned the Day of Recompense here because on that Day, no one except Him will be able to claim ownership of anything whatsoever. On that Day, no one will be allowed to speak without His permission. Similarly, Allah said,

“The Day that Ar-Ruh (Jibril (Gabriel) or another angel) and the angels will stand forth in rows, they will not speak except him whom the Most Gracious (Allah) allows, and he will speak what is right.” (Surah An-Naba’ 78:38)

“And all voices will be humbled for the Most Gracious (Allah), and nothing shall you hear but the low voice of their footsteps.” (Surah Ta Ha 20:108) and,

“On the Day when it comes, no person shall speak except by His (Allah’s) leave. Some among them will be wretched and (others) blessed.” (Surah Hud 11:105).

Ad-Dahhak said that Ibn `Abbas commented, “Allah says, ‘On that Day, no one owns anything that they used to own in the world.”’

The Meaning of Yawm Ad-Din

Ibn ‘Abbas said, “Yawm Ad-Din is the Day of Recompense for the creatures, meaning the Day of Judgment. On that Day, Allah will reckon the creation for their deeds, evil for evil, good for good, except for those whom He pardons.” (Ibn Abi Hatim 1:19) In addition, several other Companions, Tabi`in and scholars of the Salaf, said similarly, for this meaning is apparent and clear from the Ayah.

Allah is Al-Malik (King or Owner)

Allah is the True Owner (Malik) (of everything and everyone). Allah said:

“He is Allah, beside Whom La ilaha illa Huwa, the King, the Holy, the One free from all defects.” (Surah Al-Hashr 59:23).

Also, the Two Sahihs recorded Abu Hurayrah saying that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“The most despicable name to Allah is a person who calls himself the king of kings, while there are no owners except Allah.” (Muslim 3:1688)

Also the Two Sahihs recorded that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“(On the Day of Judgement) Allah will grasp the earth and fold up the heavens with His Right Hand and proclaim, ‘I Am the King! Where are the kings of the earth? Where are the tyrants? Where are the arrogant’?” (Muslim 4:2148)

Also, in the the Glorious Qur’an:

“Whose is the kingdom this Day? Allah’s, the One, the Irresistible.”(Surah Ghafir 40:16).

As for calling someone other than Allah a king in this life, then it is done in a figure of speech. For instance Allah said:

“Indeed Allah appointed Talut (Saul) as a king over you.” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:247),

“As there was a king behind them” (Surah Al-Khaf 18:79), and,

“When He made Prophets among you, and made you kings.” (Surah Al-Maidah 5:20).

The Meaning of Ad-Din

Ad-Din means the reckoning, the reward or punishment. Similarly, Allah said:

“On that Day Allah will pay them the (Dinahum) recompense (of their deeds) in full.” (Surah An-Nur 24:25), and,

“Shall we indeed (be raised up) to receive reward or punishment (according to our deeds)” (Surah As-Saffat 37:53).

A Hadith stated:

“The wise person is he who reckons himself and works for (his life) after death.” (Ibn Majah 2:1423)

meaning, he holds himself accountable. Also, `Umar said, “Hold yourself accountable before you are held accountable, weigh yourselves before you are weighed, and be prepared for the biggest gathering before He Whose knowledge encompasses your deeds,

“That Day shall you be brought to Judgement, not a secret of yours will be hidden” (Al-Haqqah 69:18).

{5. You we worship, and You we ask for help.}

The Linguistic and Religious Meaning of ‘Ibadah

Linguistically, ‘Ibadah means subdued. For instance, a road is described as Mu`abbadah, meaning, ‘paved’. In religious terminology, ‘Ibadah implies the utmost love, humility and fear.

The Merit of stating the Object of the Action before the Doer of the Act, and the Merit of these Negations

“You…”, means, we worship You alone and none else, and rely on You alone and none else. This is the perfect form of obedience and the entire religion is implied by these two ideas. Some of the Salaf said, Al-Fatihah is the secret of the Qur’an, while these words are the secret of Al-Fatihah,

“You we worship, and You we ask for help from.”

The first part is a declaration of innocence from Shirk (polytheism), while the second negates having any power or strength, displaying the recognition that all affairs are controlled by Allah alone. This meaning is reiterated in various instances in the Qur’an. For instance, Allah said:

“So worship Him (O Muhammad ) and put your trust in Him. And your Lord is not unaware of what you (people) do.” (Surah Hud 11:123)

“Say: “He is the Most Gracious (Allah), in Him we believe, and in Him we put our trust.” (Surah Al-Mulk 67:29)

“(He alone is) the Lord of the east and the west; La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He). So take Him alone as Wakil (Disposer of your affairs)” (Surah Al-Muzzamil 73:9), and,

“You we worship, and You we ask for help from.”

We should mention that in this Ayah, the type of speech here changes from the third person to direct speech by using the Kaf in the statement Iyyaka (You). This is because after the servant praised and thanked Allah, he stands before Him, addressing Him directly:

“You we worship, and You we ask for help from.”

Al-Fatihah indicates the Necessity of praising Allah. It is required in every Prayer.

The beginning of Surat Al-Fatihah contains Allah’s praise for Himself by His most beautiful Attributes and indicates to His servants that, they too, should praise Him in the same manner. Hence, the prayer is not valid unless one recites Al-Fatihah, if he is able. The Two Sahihs recorded that `Ubadah bin As-Samit said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“There is no valid prayer for whoever does not recite Al-Fatihah of the Book.”

Also, it is recorded in Sahih Muslim that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“Allah said, ‘I divided the prayer into two halves between Myself and My servant, one half is for Me and one half for My servant. My servant shall have what he asks for.’ When the servant says, ‘All praise and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of all that exists’, Allah says, `My servant has praised Me.’ When the servant says, ‘The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful’, Allah says, `My servant has praised Me.’ When the servant says, ‘The Owner of the Day of Recompense’, Allah says, `My servant has glorified Me.’ If the servant says, ‘You we worship, and You we ask for help’, Allah says, `This is between Me and My servant, and My servant shall have what he asked.’ If the servant says, ‘Guide us to the straight path. The path of those on whom You have bestowed Your grace, not (that) of those who have earned Your anger, nor of those who went astray’, Allah says, `This is for My servant, and My servant shall have what he asked.'” (Muslim 1:297)

Tawhid Al-Uluhiyyah

Ad-Dahhak narrated that Ibn `Abbas said, “You we worship” means, “It is You whom we single out, Whom we fear and Whom we hope in, You alone, our Lord, and none else.”

Tawhid Ar-Rububiyyah

“And You we ask for help from”, to obey you and in all of our affairs.” (Ibn Abi Hatim 1:19) Further, Qatadah said that the Ayah, “You we worship, and You we ask for help from” “Contains Allah’s command to us to perform sincere worship for Him and to seek His aid concerning all of our affairs.” Allah mentioned: “You we worship” before, “And You we ask for help from”, because the objective here is the worship, while Allah’s help is the tool to implement this objective. Certainly, one first takes care of the most important aspects and then what is less important, and Allah knows best.

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