The Opening Chapter Of Qur'aan Majeed -
This Chapter was revealed in Mecca before the Hijrat of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam).
Manner of Recitation of Qur'aan Majeed:
Before commencing recitation, one is required to pronounce with faith and devotion two formulas: The First formal is - what Qur'aan Majeed itself ordains, namely:
"Before you start reciting the Qur'aan, seek protection of Allaah against Satan." (Chapter 16:98).
"I seek protection with Allaah from Satan the accursed."
This brings the reciter to the protective care of Almighty Allaah and guards him against misgivings which are essentially whispered by the Satan. It enables the reciter to give complete and unbiased attention to the Book to understand and draw true guidance from it.
The second formula to be recited is:
"In the name of Allaah, the All-Compassionate, the Most-Merciful."
Since this formula is repeated by the Muslims most often in daily life, its significance and advantages are given in detail.
The words of the formula indicate that it should be recited before making a beginning of or starting anything lawful; invoking of Allaah's name ensures His grace. Qur'aan Majeed tells us that when Prophet Noah ( 'Alaihis salaam) boarded the Ark he said that his stepping into the Ark, and his sailing in the disembarking from it, are all in the name of Allaah (11:41). The Prophet's Solomon's (Alaihis salaam) letter to the queen of Sheba was prefixed with this formula. (27: 30).
In Chapter 'Alaq (No. 96) Allaah commands:
"Read in the name of your RABB (Creator and Sustainer) Who created. (96:1).
The Holy Prophet (Sallallahu 'alaihi wasallam) has been quoted as saying that actions of man not beginning in the name of Allaah will not have ultimate and lasting success. History bears full testimony to this fact.
The Chapter - Al-Faatiha:
This is an exquisite prayer which has no parallel in any other religious scripture. It contains the basic teachings of Islam in just seven short verses. The first four verses are in praise of Allaah Almighty through His most important and predominant Attributes. The last three verses contain a prayer which is as complete and comprehensive as one would wish it to be for invoking the choicest blessings.
The first four verses describe the finest quintessence of the Oneness and Uniqueness of Allaah, He being the final Dispenser of Justice; the remaining verses disclose man's duty of worshipful and loving devotion to Allaah, beseeching the right and straight path in life namely, the path of those on whom He showers His blessings and not of those who go astray or incur His wrath.
For a careful and useful study of Qur'aan Majeed the contents of this Chapter need first be explained in some detail.
In the saying of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu 'alaihi wasallam) several names of this Chapter have been mentioned denoting its status and importance. For instance -
(i) The Opener (Al-Faatiha):
Hazrat Ibn-i-Abbas (Razi Allahu 'anhu) says that this name is appropriate being the opening chapter of Qur'aan Majeed.
(ii) The Healer (Ash-Shifa):
According to a saying reported by Darmy this chapter is a panacea for all ailments. Muslim saints have commended recitation of this Chapter in different ways for the purpose which are based on Qur'aan Majeed and tradition of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu 'alaihi wasallam).
(iii) The Treasure (Al-Kanz):
The Holy Prophet (Sallallahu 'alaihi wasallam) has described it as a priceless gift given to him from the Heavenly Throne.
(iv) The Mother of Qu'raan (Umm-ul-Qur'aan):
Since it contains the basic teachings of Qur'aan Majeed, as described earlier, hence the above name is most befitting.
(v) Instruction to Supplication (Ta'limul-Masalaa):
Allah Almighty has taught man in this chapter how to make a supplication to Him.
(vi) The Prayer (As-salaat):
According to one of the Sayings of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu 'alaihi wasallam), Allaah Almighty revealed to him that when a man in prayer recites this chapter each of its verses invoke an answer from Him (Hadith-i-Qudsi).
Other Virtues of the Chapter:
Allaah says in Qur'aan Majeed:
"And We have bestowed on you seven verses which are recited repeatedly, and the Great Qur'aan." (15: 87).
Religious scholars are agreed that the verses in point are the seven verses of Chapter Al-Faatiha. These verses are recited in each and every Rakaa't of daily obligatory and other prayers (Salaat).
Hazrat Abu Huraira (Razi Allahu anhu) quotes the Holy Prophet as saying -
"By Allaah Who holds my life, there is nothing to stand comparison in beauty and excellence with the Opening Chapter, either in the Tora, or the Bible or the Psalms of David - nor any other chapter in the Qur'aan itself."
The significance of the three Holy Names of Allaah in the second formula mentioned in the beginning is summed up below.
The name Allaah signifies the One and Unique Omnipotent God Who is the Creator, Nourisher and Sustainer of the Universe Whose proper name it is. There is a general misconception, specially in the West, that Allaah is the God of Muslims in the same way as Jehovah is the God of the Jews; Bhagwaan that of the Hindus etc. It is not so. Allaah is the One and only One God, Supreme and Sublime, Who is the Master and Maker of all and every thing that ever existed or will ever come into existence. Before the advent of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu 'alaihi wasallam), the Arabs believed in Allaah as the Supreme Creator. All the gods and goddesses worshipped by them were regarded as personifying His favourites authorised to dispense favours or give punishment on His behalf - Verse 3 in Chapter Zumar, (39) refers:
"They worshipped their gods and goddesses only so that they brought them close to Allaah."
Religious scholars are unanimous in regard to the fact that this name signifies the Majesty of Allaah in all its splendour while all other names are attributive. The great Imam Abu Hanifa (Rahmatullah 'alaihi) believed that this name (Allaah) is also the ISM-i-'AZAM, the Great Name; and if repeated with full devotion and complete faith in Allaah's omnipotence, according to certain prescribed formula, it would produce miraculous effects.
Ar-Rah-maan- and Ar-Ra-heem:
"Ar-Rahmaan" is His unique attributive name. In Qur'aan Majeed and in the entire Arabic literature this attribute has only been used for Allaah alone. There is a verse in Qur'aan Majeed to this effect -
"Call on Allaah or call on Rahmaan." (17: 110).
In Qur'aan Majeed the attribute "Raheem" has been used for the Holy Prophet but not "Rahmaan" (9: 128).
Shah Waliullah (Rahmatullah 'alaih), one of the foremost divines of Islam of the Indo-Pak sub-Continent (late 17th Century C.E.) has explained that although both the adjectives belong to the superlative degree, "Rahman" indicates a much higher degree of mercy. These two names of Allaah signify a multitude of aspects of His Munificence and Mercy.
"Al-Ham-du-lil-lah" is the phrase most often repeated by a Muslim, and it means;
'All the praise belongs to Allaah.'
The phrase besides being the expression of homage to Allaah's Supreme Majesty, is as described by Hazrat Ibn Abbas (Razi Allahu 'anhu) the finest form of thanksgiving.
Qur'aan Majeed itself has used the phrase as an expression of gratitude to Allaah, for example:
"And they said all praise is for Allaah who sent down guidance to us" - (7: 43).
And from the lips of Hazrat Ibrahim ( 'alaihis salaam) -
"All praise to Allaah Who has given me, in old age, Ismail and Isaac. Surely my RABB answers prayer." (14: 39).
In the above two verses 'praise' is synonymous with gratitude. The phrase "All praise to Allaah" relates to all His attributes for which thanks are due to Him. The Holy Prophet (Sallallahu 'alaihi wasallam) says that when we say "Al-Ham-du-Lil-laah" our virtues start dominating the vices.
RABB literally means the Lord, the Master, the Possessor and One Who nourishes and brings up. (Raghib, Lane). The name RABB when attributed to Allaah covers a vast range of Divine attributes. However, the name may, for practical purposes, be understood to stand for One Who nourishes, brings up and provides all that is necessary. If implies -
- Allaah's control and over-lordship over all that is in the universe, as also
- the One Who provides guidance to all that is created.
The Only One to have Final Authority on and the Sole Master of the Day of Judgment, as elucidated in another verse quoted below:
"Kingdom on that day is Allaah's. He will judge between them." (22: 56).
Again verses 17, 18 and 19 in chapter 82, explain further as follows :
"And what do they know what the Day of Judgment is? Again, what do they know what the Day of Judgment is? (It will be) the day when no soul shall have power (to do) aught for another: for the Command, that Day, will be (wholly) with God."
The question will be asked on the Day of Judgment:
"Whose is the dominion today?"
The answer will be:
"That of God, the One, the Irresistible." (40: 16).
Iee-yaa-ka-na'-bu-du ("You alone do we worship"):
The word "Na'bu-du" comes from the trilateral root, "Abd" and it means "We worship." To understand the full implications of worship "Ibaadat" includes all the shades and aspects of the meanings essentially signified by 'Abd". The English translation of "Abd" as a "servant" or "bondsman" is only partly correct. 'Abd'is one who submits to his master, here the Creator and Sustainer in all respects and in willing, loving and heartfelt obedience. "Ibaadat" in Islam encompasses completely a man's ( 'Abd-i-Allaah's) attitude, approach and practice, the whole way of his life, formal worship, though essential, being only a part of it.
Ih-di-nas-si-raa-tal Mustaqueem: "Show us the Right Path."
Shah Abdul Qadir of Delhi (Rahmatullah 'alaihi) one of the great scholars of Qur'aan Majeed has translated this verse as "Keep us on the right path." It means that the path should be one to take us to the correct goal. In another place Qur'aan Majeed formulates a supplication thus -
"O Creator and Sustainer, do not let our hearts go astray after you have put us in the right." (3: 8).
Is the straight path which is also the shortest way between any two points. It stands for the way to be adopted in one's life in all its aspects - moral, social and communal. Hazrat Jabbir (Razi Allahu 'anhu) says that it denotes the path of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu 'alaihi wasallam).
Sir-raa-tal-la-zee-na An-'am-ta-'a-lai-him: (The path of those on whom You have bestowed Your blessings)
The blessed have been described in Qur'aan Majeed as the prophets, the righteous by nature, the martyrs and the pious. (4: 69).
Ghai-ril-Magh-doo-bi 'A-lai-him Wa-lad-daal-leen:
Magh-doob: Those who attract the wrath of Allaah. They are the rebels who do not believe in Allaah and do not accept the guidance sent by Him.
Those who swerve from the right path or go astray. In short the prayer is that the worshipper should be shown the path of those who receive Allaah's blessings and not of those who incur His displeasure or go astray.
Abu Zuhair (Razi Allahu 'anhu) has quoted that when this chapter is over, the reciter and the listener should say "Ameen" which means "Be it so." Ameen, however, is not a part of the chapter.