Saturday, August 23, 2014

Significance of Surah Al Fatiha

'... I have chosen to talk/explain today on a never-ending subject. I can say that if the ocean was ink and all trees in this world and the universe were pens and the sky and earth were papers, therefore all these would have come to an end but not the commentary of the Surah Al-Fatiha. This is because of the high importance of this chapter in the life of a believer, and this chapter is the first chapter of the Holy Quran. It is so important that one has to start with the Surah Al-Fatiha when he begins his prayer (Namaz/Salat). And to start supplications (duahs) to Allah, the Surah Al-Fatiha needs to be recited first. This is because of the nature of its greatness as a chapter and duah. In whatever situation a person may be, be it a difficulty, an illness or a state of suffering or any other problems he finds himself in, therefore he needs to recite the Surah Al-Fatiha.

By the grace of Allah, today 22nd August 2014, I have thought about explaining a bit again on this very important chapter – the Surah Al-Fatiha. I know that there is no end to the commentary of this Surah. Centuries after centuries after my advent, there shall come many more divinely-sent reformers (Mujaddid), caliphs of Allah (Khalifatullah) and other Men of God who shall keep on explaining on this chapter, Surah, which is the Surah Al-Fatiha.

The word “Fatiha” comes from the verb “Fataha”, which means in this context “to open”. “Al” is a defined article and Fatiha (feminine here because it refers to the word Surah which is feminine in Arabic) means the opening Surah, which starts the Quran because it is that Surah which comes first in the Quran, that is, when you open the Quran, it is that very important key which is required to open the Quran. It is also important as a key to open your heart to your Creator, to show the great extent of love which you have for Him and which enables you to recognise your Lord (Allah) as the Master of the Day of Judgement. And it is Him whom we worship and to Him alone we beseech forgiveness… In addition it is with the Surah Al-Fatiha itself that we are able to open our Salat/Namaz (prayer). It is the first Surah that we recite in the Salat.

Fatiha does not mean to raise both hands – We know that our other Muslim brothers raise their hands, and they say “Fateha!” There is nothing to laugh about. We don’t have to mock them. Perhaps upon raising your hands in prayers and saying “Fateha”, this can mean making the people understand to start their supplications (duah) to Allah with the Surah Al-Fatiha; for this is the key! One’s duah begins with the Surah Al-Fatiha. But very often, there are people who do not understand this. Each person has a way of expressing themselves, and even in expressing oneself, there are meanings behind it which are deep. We often hear our other Muslim brothers – not the Ahmadi Muslims – say Fateha” upon raising their hands (to start a supplication to Allah). There are some people who joke about this. They say that they say/read “Fateha” to earn money. 

Putting aside the jokes, but once “Fateha” has been said, this enables each person, each believer present to know that their supplications (to Allah) should begin with the Surah Al-Fatiha. As for us (Ahmadi Muslims), we say: “Duahs!” There may be many people who do not know that when saying “Duahs!” they must start first with recitation of the Surah Al-Fatiha, and not other wordings such as: “Assalamoualaikum!” Therefore, when asking the believer to raise his hands for prayer, upon raising his hands, he needs to recite the Surah Al-Fatiha. – Fatiha like I said does not mean to raise both hands; although it is recommended to raise hands to request duahs (queries) to Allah and to recite the Surah Al-Fatiha.

The Surah Al-Fatiha has several other names such as: The Mother of the Quran. Do you know what a Mother is? It is through a mother that a generation, a family is born. She can have many children, beginning with the elder. After the eldest children, there is the second child and the counting goes on for as many children that she has. Moreover, upon begetting a child or children, that mother regroups them, just like the similitude which Allah has given us in the example of the hen mother. Despite being drenched or in any kind of weather – rainy, sunny, night – but she would protect her chicks under her wings. A mother protects therefore her children; whatever (positive or negative) way or condition these children are or find themselves in. Despite all this, she will protect them. Similarly, the Surah Al-Fatiha is the Mother of the Quran and that is a very important matter. 

And after the Surah Al-Fatiha, there is the Surah Al-Baqara (The Cow). A cow gives what? Milk! What does a mother give to her child upon giving birth to him? She gives him milk, her milk to drink! – Breastfeeding, mother’s milk is so important for each newborn, for his development and milk in cartons, sold everywhere, can never equal mother’s milk in value and nutritional content. Moreover, mother’s milk is free – there is no money to be spent. Likewise, the Surah Al-Fatiha is Mother of the Quran, and after it (in the next chapter), there is milk. After the Surah Al-Fatiha, there is “The Cow” which gives milk. And we know that milk cures many illnesses also. And verily, the Surah Al-Fatiha is also called The Cure, as well as The Praise, One which Suffices, The Root of the Quran and many other names.

There is healing in this Surah. Once, some companions of the Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) were travelling. They came to a place and asked hospitality to its inhabitants, but the latter refused to accept them. So they went elsewhere. But it happened that the chief of the people fell ill. They tried everything they knew, everything they could to try to cure him, but in vain. Finally they resorted to the Muslims to treat/cure their leader.

They came and one of them recited the Surah Al-Fatiha on the patient and he was cured by the will of Allah. The people offered a sheep (or more) as gift to the Muslims. They accepted the gift but before eating it, they thought it was better for them to ask the Prophet (pbuh) if it was permissible for them to consume it. The Prophet (pbuh) replied in the affirmative and added that they could even give him a piece (of the mutton). The Prophet (pbuh) naturally did not need a piece of mutton but he wanted to show that this gift was lawful and that it was permissible to eat the meat. (Bukhari, Muslim & Abu Dawud)

The Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) said in an authentic hadith that the meaning of Surah Al-Fatiha is the Mother of Quran. It consists of seven oft-repeated verses (recited in Salat in each Rakah) and it is the Heart of the glorious Quran. (Ahmad)

Sayyidina Ubadah ibn As-Samit reported that the Prophet (pbuh) said: “There is no Salat for someone who does not recite Surah Al-Fatiha, the opening chapter of the Quran.” (Bukhari, Muslim)

This is what I have been saying (since a long time). I have witnessed it before and now I don’t know if this practice still exists in the Jamaat Ahmadiyya, that when someone has come late for Namaz in congregation, and reached the Ruku (bowing) posture or when the Imam is upright and reading Sami ‘Allah Hu Liman Hamida (Allah hears the one who praises Him), and therefore missed the Surah Al-Fatiha, he thinks that Rakah is counted (whereas it is not so), despite the fact that he missed the Surah Al-Fatiha. For e.g. if the Imam was performing a 4-Rakaat prayer, and that person has reached in prayer in the first Rakah, missing the Surah Al-Fatiha and when the Imam has already reached the Ruku posture or the upright posture after Ruku, and afterwards when the Imam ends his prayer, then that person follows the Imam till the end and considers his prayer complete when it is not so. That is to say, among the 4 Rakaat, he obtained only 3 Rakaat wherein he read the Surah Al-Fatiha and he missed a fourth one – the Surah Al-Fatiha of the first Rakah

Upon analysing this Hadith deeply, what is being explained is that if a Rakah is devoid of the Surah Al-Fatiha, therefore there is no Salat/Namaz. That is, his Namaz is not counted, incomplete. Therefore, if you have missed the Surah Al-Fatiha, and the Imam reached the Ruku, therefore you must replace the missed Rakah in Namaz, and complete the Namaz. This is because the Surah Al-Fatiha is important, indeed very important.

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To be noted – the other explanations of the Khalifatullah on the subject:

(1) If the person succeeded in reaching Salat in time when the Imam has not yet reach the Ruku position, and he succeeded in reading quickly his Surah Al-Fatiha while the Imam is reading another verse of the Quran after the Surah Al-Fatiha, therefore the worshipper’s (Mussalli) Rakah in Namaz and Namaz is complete.

(2) When the Imam is reading the Surah Al-Fatiha aloud, all worshippers (Mussalli) behind should recite the Surah Al-Fatiha in a very low voice or in their hearts, and when the Imam has completed the recitation of the Surah Al-Fatiha and is reading another Surah/Verses of the Quran (aloud), therefore the worshippers should remain quiet and listen to the recitation.

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The meaning of Surah Al-Fatiha:

“Al-Hamdu” means: Praise. Praise is greater than thanks. Saying thanks to Allah is good but “Praise be to Allah” is better.

“Lillaahi” means: To Allah. To Allah only, because Allah is the Creator of everything.

“Rabbil” means: Lord (of). The Lord who creates, Who gives life, Who feeds, Who gives death, Who gives life after death, Who judges His creatures and who rewards or punishment.

“Aalameen” means the worlds. “Al-Aalameen” is derived from the word “Al-Alamoune” which is the plural of the word Al-Alam which means “the worlds”. So “Al-Aalameen” means the worlds and “Rabbil-Aalamine” means Lord of the worlds; the worlds of humans, the angels, and the jinn. And (also) the animal, vegetable, and mineral worlds. Allah is the Lord of all creation, in any place and any time. All creation has no lord other than Allah. He is the Lord of the living and the dead. He has power over all things.

“Ar-Rahman-Ir-Rahim” means: The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful. Almighty Allah is forgiving and merciful. But we must also remember that Allah is also keen to take accounts and is severe in inflicting punishment.

The Prophet (pbuh) in an authentic Hadith, said: “If a believer knew what kinds of punishments Allah has, he would not have had any hope of entering paradise. And conversely if a believer knew how vast the mercy of Allah is, he would never lose hope to receive Allah's forgiveness.” (Muslim)

“Malik” means: Master.

“Yawmid-Deen” means the Day of Judgement. Allah is the Master of the Day of Judgement. He forgives whom He wills. He rewards whom He wills and punishes whom He wills. His rank is higher than that of a judge; He can forgive a sinner, but however the condition only applies if the sinner did not commit Shirk (i.e. did not associate false gods with Allah in worship, did not worshiped anything/anybody else but Allah).

The Day of Judgement is the day when we will have to appear before God to answer for everything we have done on earth.

“Iyaakanabudu Wa Iyyaka Nasta’ine” means: You (Allah) alone we worship and from You (Allah) alone we ask for help. Allah, in His infinite wisdom has sent many prophets throughout the ages. There are some with whom He sent books such as: Prophet Ibrahim - Abraham (as) who came with the Suhuf, Prophet Dawud - David (as) who received the Psalms, Prophet Musa - Moses (as) who received the Torah. Much later, prophet Isa - Jesus son of Mary (as) came with the Injeel, and finally Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) who received the Quran.

(When the Khalifatullah (atba) reached on the subject of Jesus (as), he drew attention to one more argument against the physical descent of the original Jesus whom the Christians and Muslims are still waiting. Jesus (as) came with the Gospels, but supposed that he is to come back again, what book shall he preach to the people? The Gospels or the Quran? Shall he teach a book he did not receive or teach the Book which he received from God Almighty? ... To be noted: In the past, in his other dawa sessions, the Khalifatullah (atba) also referred to the fact that if the other Muslims persist in saying that in the Quran it has been mentioned that he has ascended physically to the heavens, but then if he were to come down again, what shall he do? Erase the words of “has gone up/ been raised” to introduce “has come down”?)

The common message of all prophets is contained in the Divine Books. The messages of all Divine Books are contained in the Quran. Message from Quran is contained in Surah Al-Baqara. The message of Surah Al-Baqara is contained in Surah Al-Fatiha. And the message of Al-Fatiha is contained in the verse “Iyaakanabudu Wa Iyyaka Nasta’ine.” This verse contains the essence of the unity of Allah. Allah is unique in His names and attributes. He is unique as Lord and He is unique in His divinity. There is no god but Allah.

The fact that someone has faith in the oneness of Allah, in His names and attributes is not enough to make him a Muslim. The fact that he also believes in the oneness of Allah, in His Lordship is still not enough to make him a Muslim. He must imperatively have faith in the oneness of Allah as God (that Allah is the only one who deserves our worship).

It is essential to depend only on Allah as it is essential to always address our requests and prayers to Allah directly as the seal of the prophets of Allah, Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) has always done.

There are many people who believe that Allah is One Lord, but they ascribe partners to Allah and, therefore, worship other than Allah. Therefore, they disqualify themselves as Muslims and fall into the category of those who commit Shirk (polytheism) because they worship others than Allah; and Shirk results in hell if the person who is guilty of it does not repent, does not beg and does not get forgiveness from Allah.

Insha-Allah, due to lack of time I will continue this subject in my sermon next Friday. May Allah preserve us from Shirk and carve us all into sincere Muslims throughout our life, with His worship as our sole aim, and that we fulfil our duty to invite the world to Islam, and the sublime benefits of the Quran and of the Surah Al-Fatiha. Ameen.

-Extracts from the Friday Sermon of August 22, 2014 delivered by the Khalifatullah Hadhrat Munir Ahmad Azim (atba) of Mauritius.