The first juz’ of the Qur’an starts from the first ayah of the Surah Al-Fatiha (1:1) and continues to partway through Surah Al Baqarah (2:141) the second surah.
Surah Al Fatihah was revealed in Mecca before the migration to Madinah. Most of the ayat of the Surah Al Baqarah were revealed in the early years after the migration to Madinah, as the Muslim community was setting up its first social and political centre.
From the Virtues of Surah Al Fatihah
It is recorded that Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, 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).)
From the Virtues of Surah Al Baqarah
Sahl bin Sa’d, may Allah be pleased with him, said that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, said:
“Everything has a hump (or high peek) and Al-Baqarah is the high peek of the Qur’an. Whoever recites Al-Baqarah at night in his house, the Shaytan will not enter that house for three nights. Whoever recites it during the day in his house, the Shaytan will not enter that house for three days.” (Recorded in At-Tabarani 6:163)
“And seek help in patience and prayer and truly, it is extremely heavy and hard, except for those who are humble (Al-Kashi’in). (They are those) who are certain that they are going to meet their Lord, and that unto Him they are going to return.” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:45-46)
“Say (O Muslims): ‘We believe in Allah, and that which has been sent down to us and that which has been sent down to Ibrahim (Abraham), Isma’il (Ishmael), Ishaq (Isaac), Yaqub (Jacob) and Al-Asbat (the offspring of the twelve sons of Yaqub), and that given to Musa (Moses) and Isa (Jesus), and that given to all Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and to Him we have submitted (in Islam).’” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:136)
Surah Al Fatihah is known as ‘The Opening’, ‘Mother of the Book’, ‘The Praise’, ‘The Prayer’, ‘The Cure’ and ‘The Remedy’ which gives us an insight into it vastness and power. It is the surah with which prayers are begun and it sums up the relationship between humans and Allah in worship. We begin by praising Allah, and seeking His guidance in all matters of our lives.
The Qur’an then continues with the longest surah of the revelation, Al Baqarah or The Heifer (Cow). The title of the surah refers to a story told in this section (beginning at ayah 67) about the followers of the Prophet Musa, peace be upon him. The early part of this section lays out the situation of human beings in relation to Allah. Allah, all praises be to Him, sends Guidance and Messengers, and people choose how they respond. They either believe, reject faith altogether, or become hypocrites, feigning belief on the outside while harbouring doubts or evil intentions on the inside.
The story of the creation of human beings is told to remind us about the many bounties and blessings of Allah. We also learn about previous peoples and how they responded to Allah’s Guidance and Messengers. Particular reference is made to the Prophets Ibrahim, Musa and Isa, peace be upon them all, and the struggles they undertook to bring guidance to their people.