Al Fatihah: The
Essence of the Holy Quran
is the first surah of the Holy Quran. According to most of the scholars, this
was the first complete surah that was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be
upon him) when he was in Makkah. Before this, he received some verses of Surat
Al-Alaq, Surat Al-Muzzammil and Surat Al-Muddaththir, but as a complete surah,
Al-Fatihah was the first one.
The word Al-Fatihah means opener. So this surah is the opener of the Holy Quran.
It has seven verses that are repeated by every Muslim many times during the
course of his or her daily prayers. Thus, the surah is also called the As-Sab
and Al-Mathani (Al-Hijr:87), that is The Seven Oft-Repeated. This surah also has
many other names: Umm Al-Quran (the Essence of the Quran), Al-Asas (the
Foundation), Ash-Shafiyah (the Healer), Al-Kafiyah (the Sufficient), and so on.
In Al-Bukhari it is mentioned that the Prophet (PBUH) said that Al-Fatihah was
the greatest surah in the Holy Quran.
It is also reported on the authority of Ubayy Ibn Kaab that the Prophet (PBUH)
said, Allah did not reveal in the Torah, nor Injil, the like of Umm Al-Quran,
and these seven oft-repeated verses, and it is (the one about which Allah said),
It is divided between Me and My servant and for My servant whatever he asks.
Surat Al-Fatihah is both a prayer and a full introduction to the message of the
Holy Quran. As a prayer, it contains the praise and glorification of Allah and
the human request for Allah's guidance, direction, and blessings.
It is reported that Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: I heard
the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) say, 'Allah says, I have divided the prayer
between Me and My servant in two halves and for My servant is whatever He asks
for. When the servant says, Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds, Allah
says, My servant has thanked Me. When he says, the Most Gracious, the Most
Merciful, Allah says, My servant has praised Me. When he says, Master of the Day
of Judgement, Allah says, My servant has glorified Me. And He says, My servant
has submitted to Me. When he says, You Alone we worship and You we ask for help,
Allah says, This is between Me and My servant and for My servant whatever he
asks. When he says, Guide us to the straight path Allah says, This is for My
servant and for My servant whatever he asks for. (Muslim).
As an introduction to the Holy Quran, Al-Fatihah contains all the basic
principles that are given in detail in the Holy Quran.
It tells us that we are surrounded by Allah's grace and favours. He is the
source of all love and mercy. We should be thankful to Him. Our life is not
permanent. We will die one day and He will judge us. He alone is the Master of
that Day and we must worship Him and Him alone. We must seek His help and He has
all the power to give us whatever we need. It reminds us that Allah is the only
One who can really guide. It calls for righteous actions in this life.
It speaks about life after death and the consequences of human action and
behaviour. It tells us that the true guidance comes through Allah's prophets and
messengers. They were the people who were truly guided, and they received
Allah's grace and mercy. Those who turned away from that path were those who
went astray and they incurred the wrath of Allah and His punishment.
The surah tells us:
1. The essence of religion is thankfulness to Allah.
2. Allah is the Lord and Sustainer of the whole universe.
3. Allah is very kind, loving, and merciful.
4. Allah is also the Judge, and He does not tolerate injustice, evil, and sin.
5. The Day of Judgement will inevitably come.
6. Worship should be only for Allah, and all prayers for requests should be
directed to Him alone.
7. One should continuously seek Allah's guidance and remain on the path of truth
8. True righteousness comes when we follow the example of those who were
righteous and who were under Allah's grace: the Prophets (PBUH), messengers, and
pious people and those devoted to Allah.
9. One should always be careful not to make the Most Merciful Lord angry.
10. One should never ignore the path of guidance and should always be careful
not to go astray.
After this introduction comes the whole Holy Quran. Al-Fatihah is the prayer and
the Holy Quran is the answer to that prayer (www.isna.net.)