The Impact of Al-Fatiha On Our Lives
Surat Al-Fatiha (“The Opening”), is known as the Umm Al-Kitab (the Mother of The Book) because it contains the meaning of the entire Qur’an in it and the central basic ideas and beliefs of Islam. The Messenger of Allah (saw) said regarding Al-Fatiha:
“It is the Umm (mother) of the Qur’an, the Fatiha (opener) of the Book, and the repeated seven.” [Bukhari]
Al-Tabari said, “The Arabs call a comprehensive matter that details several specific areas of a topic its ‘Umm’.”
It is narrated in Sahih Muslim that Ibn Abbas (ra) said, “While the Messenger of Allah (saw) was sitting with Jibreel (as), he heard a creaking sound above him. Jibreel 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 (saw) and said, ‘Rejoice in the good news of two lights that have been given to you that no prophet before you has been given: Surat Al-Fatiha and the concluding two verses of Surat Al-Baqarah. You will never recite a word from them without being given the blessings they contain’.”
Salat (prayer) is also incomplete without the recitation of Surat Al-Fatiha; hence the believer will recite it at minimum of 17 times a day. The Prophet (saw) said,
“Whoever performs any prayer in which he did not read Umm Al-Qur’an, then his prayer is incomplete.” He (saw) said it thrice. [Muslim]
Surat Al-Fatiha therefore has a great position in Islam and many blessings, as well as a central place in the heart of the daily life of a Muslim. So how should these beautiful words that we utter in every single prayer shape the manner by which we live our lives as individuals and as an Ummah? In order for us to answer this question we must truly appreciate the meaning, weight, and implications of the words contained within Surat Al-Fatiha.
Today we will touch on the meaning of just a few of the blessed verses of Surat Al-Fatiha.
After the Basmalah, the Surah starts with “All praise belongs to Allah, the Lord of the worlds.” The word, ‘Al-Hamd’ conveys the meaning that all praise and all thanks for every blessing and bounty that we enjoy and witness in life belongs to Allah (swt) alone.
It should create a mentality in the believer that the road to every moment of happiness and contentment, every success and achievement we acquire, and every skill and ability that we have, leads back firmly to Allah (swt) alone.
Allah (swt) says,
“And He is Allah; there is no god but He! To Him belongs all praise in the beginning and the end; His is the Command, and unto Him you will be brought back.” [Al-Qasas: 70]
“The meaning of Al-Hamdu Lillah is: all thanks are due purely to Allah, alone, and not to any of the objects that are being worshipped instead of Him, nor any of His creation. These thanks are due to Allah’s innumerable favors and bounties, the amount of which only He knows. Allah’s bounties include creating the tools that help the creation worship Him, and their physical bodies with which they are able to implement His commands, and the sustenance that He provides them in this life, and the comfortable life He has granted them, without anything or anyone compelling Him to do so. Allah also warned His creation and informed them of the means and methods with which they can earn eternal dwelling in the residence of everlasting happiness. All thanks and praise are due to Allah for these favors from beginning to end.”
The result of appreciating this point when reciting these words is a feeling of deep gratitude to Allah (swt) and overwhelming appreciation towards Him in our heart.
It is a feeling that makes every loss, difficulty, or moment of pain we may experience in life pale into insignificance compared to the debt that we owe our Rabb for the blessings that He has bestowed upon us – whether it be the opportunities we have been given, or the wealth and pleasures we have enjoyed, including our health, family, home, food, and clean water, or most importantly our Deen that we have been blessed with.
These words even nurture a sense of gratitude for the losses, hardships, and disappointments we face in life, by realizing that Allah (swt) offers us an opportunity to gain nearness to Him and forgiveness and rewards through patience during such events in life.
However, this gratitude to Allah (swt) should not only be felt with the heart and uttered by the tongue; rather it must also manifest itself through the limbs, by undertaking good deeds in submission and obedience to all of Allah’s Laws without distinction, constantly striving to seek His (swt)’s Pleasure.
The Messenger of Allah (saw) used to pray until his feet became swollen. A’isha (ra) said:
“O Messenger of Allah, Allah has forgiven you your past and future sins.” He said: “Should I not be a thankful slave?” [Muslim]
The great scholar Ibn al-Qayyim states that the pillars of being grateful to Allah are five:
1- Submission to Allah
2- Loving Allah
3- Acknowledging His favors
4- Praising Him for His favors
5- Refraining from using His favors in a way that is displeasing to Him
Therefore, to have true and sincere gratitude to Allah (swt) means that we must not be selective in what we obey of His commands and prohibitions; rather we must submit to all of what Allah (swt) has revealed, including implementing all of what He has obligated and abstain from all of what He has forbidden.
So, we must not only fast Ramadhan while neglecting the Hijab. We must not only pray Salat while ignoring the laws of Allah (swt) regarding free-mixing with the opposite gender. We must not only pay our zakat while engaging in interest (riba) transactions.
We must not only love to be characterized with the good Akhlaq of the Prophet (saw) while disliking the Hudud (legal punishments) of Islam, or the Islamic laws on polygamy, division of inheritance, or marital roles and responsibilities simply because they are controversial in the societies that we currently live in.
And we must not only learn about the laws of Wudu and acts of worship (Ibadaat) while neglecting to learn about the political, economic, judicial, and social laws of Allah (swt), which must be implemented through the establishment of the Khilafah upon the method of the Prophet hood that will ensure all the Commands of Islam are applied correctly.
Furthermore, the word “Rabb” (Lord) linguistically means “the master,” as well as “the one who has the authority to lead,” and “the owner who has full authority over His property.” While “Al-‘Alameen” (worlds) is plural for “‘Aalam” (world), which encompasses everything in existence other than Allah (swt) – i.e. the different creations that exist in the entire universe, including the earth, land, and sea, and every generation of creation.
Qatadah said: “Every type of creation is an ‘Aalam.” Al-Zajjaj said: “’Aalam encompasses everything that Allah created in this life and in the Hereafter.” And Al-Qurtubi said: “The correct meaning is that the ‘Aalam encompasses everything that Allah created in both worlds (the Dunya and the Akhirah).”
Maliki Yawm Al-Deen
“Al-Malik” (the Owner/King) means the true owner of everything and everyone; the One who has no partners, rivals, or equals; and the One who has the right to dispose of all affairs in whatever way He wishes, including defining what is good and what is evil.
Allah (swt) is the “Owner and King of the Day of Judgement,” when all matters end, and actions are brought to account based on His commands and prohibitions.
This verse should lead us to reflect on the absolute Sovereignty of Allah (swt) over all beings – which He alone has the right and ability to command and forbid; He alone has the right to legislate laws and to define how humanity should live.
Recognizing and truly appreciating this point must cause us to reject any belief, ideology, or system that places a man, or a group of people, or the masses, as legislators of laws or deciders of morality, since this makes the human being a partner and rival to Allah (swt). This verse must lead us to acknowledge – without a shadow of doubt – that the right to legislate belongs only to Allah (swt), and that the only ruling system that is acceptable to Him (swt) is the one that He revealed to mankind, which was demonstrated to us by the Prophet and the rightly guided Khulafaa after him.
The problem today, is that many Muslims accept Allah (swt) as the Creator, but do not recognize the true meaning of Al-Rabb and Al-Malik, for they accept multiple deities when it comes to legislative sovereignty in their lives by following or placing the laws of human beings – whether it be their desires, cultural tradition, or the legislation of parliament and congress – over the laws of Allah (swt), which makes created beings rivals and partners to the Creator (swt).
How can we accept to do such a thing when we declare in every Rak’ah of our Salat that Allah is Sovereign, and that all authority belongs to Him alone? We must internalize that when meeting Him on the Day of Judgement, He (swt) will hold us accountable for whether we had Iman in His system of economics and ruling (i.e. Khilafah) or whether we were fine living in a system not endorsed by i.e. democracy and Capitalism.
Allah (swt) instructs us in the form of teaching us a supplication: “You alone we worship, and in You alone we seek help.” Here we are instructed to worship Him and seek help in Allah (swt) alone through informing us of how we must supplicate to him.
Qatadah said “this Ayah contains Allah’s command to us to perform sincere worship for Him and to seek His aid concerning all of our affairs.”
Indeed, our worship does not simply mean we perform Sujood and Rukoo’ and make Du’a to Allah (swt), but it also means that we take our laws from Him (swt) and define our lives based on His guidance. Allah (swt) says:
“Have you seen he who takes his own desires as his god?” [Al-Jathiya: 23]
In this verse, Allah (swt) describes the one who takes his laws from his desires as someone who has taken his desires as a god in the place of Allah (swt).
And Allah (swt) says regarding the Jews and the Christians:
“They took their rabbis and monks as lords besides Allah” [At-Tawbah: 9:31]
When this verse was revealed, ‘Adiyy bin Haatim (ra) – who was a Christian before becoming Muslim – said to the Prophet (saw),
“They did not worship them, o Messenger of Allah.” The Prophet (saw) replied: “Did they (the rabbis and priests) not forbid what Allah permitted and hence you forbade it; and they permitted what Allah forbade and thus you permitted it?” ‘Adiyy replied “Yes.” The Prophet (saw) then said, “That is how you worshipped them.” [Al-Tirmithi]
Therefore, the recitation of Surat Al-Fatiha in every Salat should cause us to reflect deeply on our relationship with Rabb Al-‘Alameen; it should drive us to ensure that we are sincere to the meaning of the words we utter when we say You alone we worship, and in You alone we seek help. Reciting these words should cause us to shape our lives according to His commands and prohibitions, in preparation for meeting the Owner/King of the Day of Judgement. And above all else, it informs us and reminds us that all praise belongs to Allah, the Lord of the worlds.