By Marie Matney
Surah al Fatiha— Brightest of the Brightest Stars
While we know that all the words of the Qur’an are equally beautiful, Surah al Fatiha, also known as the mother of all the Qur’an, has to be the brightest of these beautiful stars. For a new Muslim convert the surah that opens the gates of communication with the One who blessed us with the light of His beauty has to be the surah we need to understand first.
As Muslims, it’s not only a gift to know and love the Qur’an; to also understand and live the words of the maker of all things reigns supreme to all good deeds we could earn. With the book of Allah (swt) standing on our behalf on the Day of Judgment, starting with the comprehension and application of the opening of the greatest book ever written is not only a good deed, it’s a must.
The Need to Understand
When we’re standing in salah five times a day, repeating the same surah each time, non-native and native Arabic speakers alike tend to fall into the routine of simply saying the words we’re supposed to say when we’re supposed to say them, without true comprehension and meaning on our tongues.
But if we were to speak the meanings of the seven most oft-repeated verses from our hearts, we would not just earn ajr for our deeds, we’d also get the greatest benefit of them all— their impression on our lives.
That’s why, as young, old, new, or born Muslims, it’s to our greatest benefit that we understand the Qur’an and Surah al Fatiha.
So let’s dig into the true meaning of this important Surah and earn the ajr and benefits we need. Surah al Fatiha is the beginning of the Qur’an. It’s the beginning of our worship to Him and literally opens the doors from us to Him. Without it or a true khushoo during it, our salahs are invalid. Imagine— an invalid salah just because we let the words drip from our tongues rather than vibrate through our hearts!
Our Call, Allah’s (swt) Response
When reciting the opening of the book of Allah, we acknowledge the gifts of the lord of the people on us by giving thanks to Him: Al hamdulAllah, ar Rab al ‘lameen.
But more importantly, when we recite that ayah of the surah, Allah repeats, My servant has praised Me (Hadith Qudsi 8). It is the opening of our five daily conversations with the One who created all.
Notice that we’re not leading off with asking for forgiveness or with requests for our needs. We’re starting out by giving thanks. That acknowledgement not only gives thanks, but also puts us in a submissive role. After all, we are His slaves, right?
Then, we mention two of Allah’s (swt) important names: The Beneficent, and The Merciful, yet another reference to submission. We are at His mercy and we have to be reminded of our place a lot because we forget it— a lot.
On the Day of Judgment, we will stand before Allah (swt) (Malik iyom ideen) and we’ll be judged based on our deeds and how we lived our lives according to His word— or not— and we recognize that in the next lines. This is a reminder to us that what we do matters. The decisions we make and the intentions we carry out are, in fact, written for us and will determine whether we spend our eternities in pain or Paradise. The remembrance of this fact five times a day (the minimum) serves as a protection for us if we listen, understand, and apply what we know of Al Qur’an.
This next section of Surah al Fatiha is probably one of the most misspoken of the whole opening. Iyakanaboudou w iyakanastaeen— “Only You we worship and only You we ask for help.” While it rings true to every Muslim on this planet, it’s more like “I want to worship only You” for many. What I mean is that we recite that part of the blessed Surah and we want it to be true, but every time we put off our salah when the athan sounds, we’re putting off Allah (swt).
When we put the TV show or our work or even our spouses first, we put them in front of al Ahad. Astughferallah. We may not see that as a worship, rather we see it as selfishness or even busy-ness, but, either way, it’s a dangerous place to be.
Setting up a trigger in our minds so that every time we hear the athan we’re getting up and making salah can cure that “worship” of whatever it is that we think we need to do before we make our salah. And focusing on each and every word of the Surah that opens the doors to Allah (swt) for us can help us engrain that trigger and let us complete our salah with khushoo.
The next two ayah, Ihdinahsirahtal mustaqeem siratal al-ladhina an’amta ‘alai-him gharyil mughdobi alayim w la dualeen, begs Allah (swt) to lead us along the path of those He has favored and not down the path of those that have earned His anger. And who earns Allah’s anger? Those who put others before Him.
These seven most oft-repeated verses of al Qur’an, the mother of al Qur’an, and the surah without which no salah is valid is inarguably the best place to start in understanding the blessed book of Allah (swt). And to those who need to understand it in their own language, Understand Qur’an (https://understandquran.com/) is a comprehensive place to start. The lessons are well thought out, easily understandable and comprehensive. The best part? They’re free if you can’t afford.
There’s no longer a barrier to understanding the beautiful words of our Lord and for that, I am grateful. Thanks, Dr. Abdulazeez Abdulraheem and your team for such a wonderful gift to our ummah.
Disclaimer: The articles are written by different brothers and sisters. The team at Understandquran.com tries its best to select those articles that are not having any contradictions with respect to Islamic principles. However, if you find anything objectionable, please let us know.