Surah Al-Fatiha (The Opening)
In the name of Allah, All Merciful, Most Merciful

Praise be to Allah, Lord of all the worlds,
The All-Merciful, the Most Merciful,
The King of the Day of Judgement
You alone we worship, You alone we ask for help
Guide us on the Straight Path,
The Path of those whom you have blessed,
Not of those with anger on them, nor of the misguided.
There are several traditions on record regarding the revelation of this Surah, some claim it a Makkan and the others, a Madinite. The jurists, however, agree that it was revealed once at Makka and then at Madina as well. Wahdi [in his Asbab-l-Nazul] and Thalibi [in his commentary of the Holy Qur'an] have both narrated Hadrat Ali' saying: “The chapter Al-Fatiha was revealed from a treasure in Makka that was situated beneath al-'Arsh (the Exalted Throne).”

Abu Na'im writes [in his Dalayl al-Nubuwwat]: “When the young men of the Tribe Banu Salma accepted Islam, so did the son of `Umro bin Jamuh. Then `Umro’s wife said to her husband: ‘Ask your son what does he know about this man i.e. the Holy Prophet, `Umro asked his son to recite his revelations. His son went on to recite: ‘Al-Hamdu lillah .... Laddalin!’ At this the father remarked: ‘What a beautiful revelation! Are all the revelations like this?’ His son replied: ‘They are more of them more beautiful than this.’” This dialogue dates back to the time before Hijrah (migration), which traditions indicate that this is a Makkan Surah.

Imam lbn Sha'ibah [in his Mussanaf], Abu Said bin `Arabi [in Mu'ajam] and Tabarani [in Aoust] have all, on the authority of Mujahid, narrated: “lblis wept bitterly at its revelation in Madina.” In his Commentary Imam Wakih has reported Mujahid saying that Surah Al-Fatiha was revealed in Madina.[1]

The Different Names of Surah Al-Fatiha
1. Fatiha Al-Kitab, it is known by this name as the Holy Qur'an begins with this Surah and so does learning and knowledge. The daily prayers begin with its recitation. Many Ahadith have it that the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) named it as such.

2. Umm Al-Qur'an, the source and the meanings of anything are called Umm, which it is intended to mean by the whole of the Holy Qur'an.
(i) Uluhiyyat, the Dhat (being) and Sifat (qualities) of Allah, the Almighty, as in ‘Al-Hamdulillahi Rabh-il'Alamin...;’
(ii) Ma'ad (Resurrection after death) as meant by ‘Maliki Yaum-id-Din...;’
(iii) Nubuwwat (the institution of Prophethood) as derived from ‘Ihdenissrat al-mustaqeem..,’ that is it is a supplication for guidance like those who are successful i.e. His Prophets (Peace be upon them all);
(iv) Qada Al-Qadr (free will and predestination) as in ‘Iyyakana'budu ...,’ that is the human being is bound to discharge the obligatory duties and is not the originator of his deeds.
Abu Huraira has narrated the Holy Prophet saying: “The Surah al-Hamd is Umm al-Qur'an, Umm al-Kitab and Saba'min al-Mathani.[2]

3. Surah Al-Hamd, this Surah is named as such as it abounds in the Almighty Allah's praise. According to Sunnan Al-Darami the Holy Prophet has called this Surah Al-Hamd.

[1] Al-Duarr Al-Manshur in Al-Tibyan Al-Qur'an V1, P143-1440

[2] SunnanAl-DaramiV2, P321

To be continued in the next issue.


Virtues of Surah Fatiha
Hadrat Abu Sa’id Khudri bin Masala, may God be pleased with him, has reported: “Whilst I was saying my prayer, the Holy Prophet, peace of God be upon him, called me. I did not answer (until after the end of prayer) and beseeched, ‘O Holy Prophet I was busy praying.’ He remarked, ‘Has not God, the Almighty, commanded! ‘Give your response to God and His Messenger, when He calls you...’ (Qur’an 8:24) He went on: ‘Listen, I will teach you the greatest surah of the Holy Qur’an.’ Then he held my hand when we intended to go out. I beseeched, ‘O Holy Prophet you said that you would teach me the most exalted surah of the Qur’an.’ He said, ‘Al-Hamdu... is Saba’l min al-Mathani which is [a part of] the Qur’an granted to me.’”[1]

The above hadith maintains that surah al-Fatiha, which is known as Saba'l min al-Mathani, is the most excellent surah of the Qur’an in that the Holy Prophet, peace of God be upon him, called someone engaged in prayer must answer his call. And this does not amount to fouling the prayer.

Hadrat Abu Sa’id Khudri, may God be pleased with him, has narrated: “We were on a journey that we stopped at a place. A girl came along and said, ‘The head of the tribe has been bitten by a scorpion and our men are not around. Can anyone of you offer soothsaying?’ One amongst us accompanied her, the one whom we had not attributed (the knowledge of) soothsaying before. He performed some sooths that cured him. The head of the tribe ordered to give him thirty goats and gave us milk to drink. When he came back we asked him if he ever had said sooths. He said, ‘I have recited only Umm al-Kitab (i.e. Surah al-Fatiha).’ We agreed not to argue over this until we had presented ourselves to the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, and enquire about this. When we arrived at Madina, we asked the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, about this, and he said, ‘How come he knows about this as the sooths. Distribute (these goats) and count a share in it for me.’” [2]

It transpires from the above hadith that reciting surah al-Fatiha for soothsaying on to a suffering person is allowed. This is why this surah is also called surah al-Ruqiyyah and surah al-Shifa. One may say that if surah al-Fatiha has been recited and breathed on to a disease stricken but without any cure what would be the reason for this. The answer to this would be that the soothsayer lacks spirituality whereas there is no intrinsic weakness of curing by the surah al-Fatiha.

Continued in the next issue.

[1] Sahih al-Bukhari V2, P749
[2] Sahih al-Bukhari V2, P479

Allama Amjad Javed
Dar-ul-Ihsan Publications, Huddersfield