Posted by Amin Abdul Razzaq
I recently received the following question from a gentleman called Mark W. from Portland, Oregon:
“Why is the first chapter of the Koran guarded as important?”
Insha’Allah, I will attempt to answer this question. I would like, however, to point out that I am not an Islamic scholar, nor an Islamic authority of any sort. I am only a Muslim. Any errors to be found within my answer are mine alone and do not reflect Islam, the Quran, Allah (ﷺ) or Muhammad (ﷺ).
Before I address why Surah Al-Fatiha is important, lets address another question first:
What are the benefits of Surah Al-Fatiha?
- Ibn ‘Abbas (May Allah be pleased with them) reported:
While Jibril (Gabriel) was sitting with the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), he heard a sound above him. He lifted his head and said: “This is a gate which has been opened in heaven today. It was never opened before.” Then an angel descended through it, he said: “This is an angel who has come down to earth. He never came down before.” He sent greetings and said: “Rejoice with two lights given to you. Such lights were not given to any Prophet before you. These (lights) are: Fatihah-til-Kitab (Surat Al-Fatihah), and the concluding Ayat of Surat Al-Baqarah. You will never recite a word from them without being given the blessings it contains.”
- Narrated Abu Hurairah:
that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) came out to Ubayy bin Ka’b, and the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “O Ubayy!” And he was performing Salat, so Ubayy turned around but he did not respond to him, so Ubayy finished his Salat quickly. Then he turned to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) and said: ‘As-Salamu ‘Alaikum, O Messenger of Allah!’ The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: ‘Wa ‘Alaikum As-Salam – what prevented you from responding to me when I called you Ubayy?’ He said: ‘O Messenger of Allah! I was performing Salat.’ So, he said: ‘Do you not find among what Allah revealed to me: Respond to Allah and to the Messenger when they call you to what gives you life?’ He said: ‘Of course, I shall not repeat that, if Allah wills.’ He said: ‘Would you like for me to teach you a Surah the likes of which has neither been revealed in the Tawrah, nor the Injil, nor the Zabur, nor in the entire Qur’an?’ He said: “Yes, O Messenger of Allah!’ The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: ‘What do you recite in your Salat?’ He said: ‘I recite Umm Al-Qur’an (Fatiha).’ So the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: ‘By the One in Whose Hand is my soul! The like of it has neither been revealed in the Tawrah, nor the Injil nor the Zabur, nor in the Furqan. It is the seven oft-repeated, and the Magnificent Qur’an which I was given.'”
- It was narrated that Abu Hurairah said, ‘I heard the Messenger of Allah(ﷺ) say’:
“Allah said: ‘I have divided the prayer between Myself and My slave into two halves, and My slave shall have what he has asked for.’When the slave says: ‘Al-hamdulillah i rabbil Alameen (All the praise is to Allah, the Lord of all that exists),’ Allah says:’My slave has praised Me, and My slave shall have what he has asked for.’ And when he says: ‘Ar-Rahmanir-Rahim (The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful),’ Allah says: ‘My slave has extolled Me, and My slave shall have what he has asked for.’ And when he says: ‘Maliki yawmiddin [The Only Owner (and the Ruling Judge] of the Day of Recompense],’ Allah says: ‘My slave has Glorified Me. This is for Me, and this Verse is between me and My slave in two halves.’ And when he says: ‘ Iyyaka na’budu wa iyyaka nastain [You (Alone) we worship, and You (Alone) we ask for help],’ He says: ‘This is between Me an My slave, and My slave shall have what he has asked for.’ And the end of the Surah is for My slave.’ And when he says: ‘Ihdinas-siratal-mustaqeema, siratal-alldhina an’amta alayhim ghayri lmaghdoubi aalayhim walad-dallin [Guide us to the Straight Way, the way of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace, not(the way) of those who earned Your Anger, nor of those who went astray],’ He says: ‘This is for My slave, and My slave shall have what he has asked for.”
Background and Meaning:
Al-Fatiha was revealed in Mecca to the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ). In order of revelation of the Quran to Muhammah (ﷺ) from Allah (ﷺ), this is the fifth surah to be revealed.
Al-Fatiha itself means “The Opening” as this chapter comes right at the start of the Holy Book and serves as a Gateway to read Quran Majeed further. Moreover, it also serves as the starting of Salah. It also has the honor of being the very first Surah that is made known completely. Although it consists of 7 Ayats only, but it still explains the Veneration of the Almighty in a very comprehensive fashion and is a great means of supplication of asking Allah for keeping one on the right path.
Different Names of Surah Al-Fatiha
This chapter of Furqan e Hameed has so many great implications accumulated in it that it is known by more than one or two names. Some of the secondary identities of Surah Fatiha are:
- Abu Hurairah (R.A) narrated the Messenger ﷺ of Allah saying as:
“The chapter commencing with “All praises and thanks are due to Allah the Lord of the Worlds” is the Mother of the Quran, the Mother of the Book, the Seven Oft Repeated Verses and the Great Quran.” (Tirmidhi)
Hence, it indeed is the Mother of Quran as Rasulullah ﷺ Himself has given it that name. Moreover, the Arabs used to name anything that summarizes anything well or consists of the most important part of some matter as Umm or Mother.
- (The Seven Oft Repeated Verses): It is also named so because its seven verses are regularly recited at the start of every rakaah of the prayer.
- (Praises to Allah): It is also named Al-Hamd, the Commendation, as it contains the Adoration of the Almighty Lord.
- (The Prayer): It is named as the Entreaty because its reading is a requirement for the legality of the daily prayers.
- (The Cure): Abu Sa’id reported that the Messenger ﷺ of Allah said: “The Opening of the Book is a cure to every poison.” (Ad-Darimi)
- (the Spiritual Cure): Abu Sa’id reported that after he had recited it to cure a person who had been bitten by a scorpion, the Apostle ﷺ of God asked him,“…And what made you to know that it was a ruqya.” (Bukhari)
That is why it is highly advised to recite Surah Fatiha and for the sick ones.
- (the Basis of Quran): It is known by this name as Surah Fatiha contains the most essential fundamental teachings of Islam, i.e. Admiration of One Allah ﷺ.
Reciting Surah Al-Fatiha in Daily Prayers
It is the only Chapter of the Holy Quran that has got the reputation of being an indispensable part of Salat, which is to be recited regularly in every Rakah of Salah.
Ubadah bin As-Samit reported Allah’s Messenger ﷺ saying as:
“Whoever does not recite Surat Al-Fatihah in his prayer, his prayer is invalid. (Bukhari)
It means that without reading these seven verses of the Sacred Scripture, one`s prayer is considered void, and it does not count.
Virtues of Surah Al-Fatiha
Some of the greatest qualities that this chapter of Furqan e Hameed contains are:
Being the Greatest Surah of The Holy Quran
It is considered as the most influential chapter of the Hallowed Volume of God Almighty, as it consists of the almost the complete essence of the Islamic faith, i.e. Believing and Admiring the Exalted One, and asking Him only for gaining rectitude in life.
Abu Sa’ad ibn Al-Mu’alla narrated the Apostle ﷺ of Allah saying as:
“…I will teach a Surah which is the greatest Surah in the Quran before you leave the Masjid.’ Then he took hold of my hand and when he intended to leave [the Masjid], I asked him, “Did you not say that you would teach me a Surah which is the greatest Surah in the Qur’an?” He replied, ‘Yes. It is [the Surah commencing with], “All praise and thanks are due to Allah.” It is the Seven Oft-Repeated verses and the Great Qur’an that has been given to me.’ “(Ahmad)
The above stated Hadith shows that the Holy Prophet ﷺ has called this Surah as the Utmost section of the Holy Quran.
Resulting in Answering Of One`s Prayer By Allah ﷺ
Surah Al-Fatiha is a great form of supplication to the Almighty God. There are some recitations like sending Durood e Pak on Rasulullah ﷺ, which result in acceptance of entreaty at once. Umm ul-Quran is also such narration that leads towards getting the attention of Allah ﷺ while praying to Him:
Abu Hurairah (R.A) reported that the Holy Prophet ﷺ once said:
“Allah, the Glorious and Exalted said, “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 worlds’, Allah says, ‘My servant has praised Me.’ When he says, ’The All-Merciful, the Most Merciful, ‘Allah says, ‘My servant has extolled Me.’ When he says, ‘Master of the Day of Judgment,’ 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 [the path] of those who have earned [Your] anger, nor of those who have gone astray,’ Allah says, ‘this is for My servant and My servant shall have what he asked for.’ “(Muslim)
It means that Surah Al-Fatiha is a very special kind of appeal to the Gracious God, which causes Him to answer His servant on every step of this recital.
Being Part of Two Lights Given to the Holy Prophet ﷺ
Ibn Abbas (R.A) narrated the Messenger ﷺ of Allah saying as:
“While the Messenger (ﷺ) of Allah was sitting with Jibril he heard a creaking sound above him. Jibril 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 ﷺ 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-Fatihah and the concluding [two] verses of Surah Al-Baqarah. You will never recite a word from them without being given the blessings they contain.’ “
It shows that Surah Al-Fatiha, among the last two Ayats of Surah Baqarah is the great source of enlightenment that Allah ﷺ has only given to the Ummah (Followers) of Rasulullah ﷺ, which has the greatest effect in the attainment of Allah`s favors.
Being the Most Noble Part of Quran
Anas (R.A) reported the Holy Prophet ﷺ saying as:
“Should I not inform you of the most noble and excellent part of the Quran?” He then recited “All praise and thanks are due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds” (An Nisai)
It means that Surah Al-Fatiha is the most outstanding section of Furqan e Hameed, which contains the best form of Islamic teachings in concise form.
In short, Surah Al-Fatiha is not any normal chapter of the Holy Quran, rather it is the fundamental part of the Religion of Peace, being essential segment of Salah, without which it is not acceptable, containing the Veneration of God in most desirable manner, and last but not least, it serves as a great purpose of asking the Almighty for granting one attainment of the right path.