Al-Fatiha

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This article is about the Surah of the Quran. For the Muslim LGBT rights organization, see Al-Fatiha Foundation.
       Sura 1 of the Quran  
الفاتحة
Al-Fātiḥah
The Opening

Arabic text · English translation


Classification Meccan
Position Juz' 1
Structure 6 (7 counting tasmee') verses, 29 words, 139 letters

Sūrat al-Fātiḥah (Arabic: سورة الفاتحة‎) is the first chapter (Surah) of the Quran. Its seven verses (ayat) are a prayer for the guidance, lordship and mercy of the reciter's God.[1] This chapter has an essential role in Islamic prayer (Salāt). The primary literal meaning of the expression "al-Fātiḥah" is "The Opening," which could refer to this Surah being "the opening of the Book" (Fātiḥat al-kitāb), to its being the first Surah recited in each cycle (rakʿah) of prayer, or to the manner in which it serves as an opening for many functions in everyday Islamic life. Some Muslims interpret it as a reference to an implied ability of the Surah to open a person to faith in God.[2]

Names[edit]

The name al-Fātiḥah ("the Opening") is due to the subject-matter of the Surah. Fātiḥah is that which opens a subject or a book or any other thing. In other words, a sort of preface.[1]

It is also called, Umm Al-Kitab ("the Mother of the Book") and Umm Al-Quran ("the Mother of the Quran");[3][4] Sab'a al Mathani ("Seven repeated [verses]", an appellation taken from verse 15:87 of the Quran);[4] Al-Hamd ("praise"), because a hadith narrates Muhammad as having said: "The prayer [al-Fātiḥah] is divided into two halves between Me and My servants. When the servant says, 'All praise is due to God', the Lord of existence, God says, 'My servant has praised Me'.";[5] Al-Shifa' ("the Cure"), because a hadith narrates Muhammad as having said: "The Opening of the Book is a cure for every poison.";[6][7][non-primary source needed] and Al-Ruqyah ("remedy" or "spiritual cure").[4]

Background[edit]

According to Abd Allah ibn Abbas and others, al-Fātiḥah is a Meccan sura; while according to others it is a Medinan sura. The former view is more widely accepted, although some believe that it was revealed in both Mekka and Medina.[8][9] In the Quran, the first revelations to Muhammad were only the first few verses (ayats) of Surahs Alaq, Muzzammil, Al-Muddathir, etc. Most narrators recorded that al-Fātiḥah was the first complete Surah revealed to Muhammad.[1]

Theme and subject matter[edit]

Al-Fātiḥah in itself is a prayer at the very beginning of the Quran, which acts as a preface of the Quran and implies that the book is for a person who is a seeker of truth—a reader who is asking a deity who is the only one worthy of all praise (and is the creator, owner, sustainer of the worlds etc.) to guide him to a straight path.[1]

Interpretations[edit]

There are differing interpretations for verses 6 and 7. The phrase "the Path journeyed by those upon whom You showered blessings" is usually seen as referring to Muslims. The phrase "those who made themselves liable to criminal cognizance/arrest" (more clearly translated as "those who have incurred Your wrath") is usually seen as referring to the Jews and the phrase "those who are the neglectful wanderers" (more clearly translated as "those who have gone astray") is seen as referring to the Christians.[10] The Quran: An Encyclopedia, authored by 43 Muslim and non-Muslim academics says, "The Prophet interpreted those who incurred God’s wrath as the Jews and the misguided as the Christians".[11] Other commentators suggest that these verses do not refer to any particular religious community.[10]

Related ahadith[edit]

A 14th- or 15th-century manuscript of the chapter

In his hadith collection Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Ahmad ibn Hanbal recorded that Abu Sa`id bin Al-Mu`alla had said:

"I was praying when the Prophet called me, so I did not answer him until I finished the prayer. I then went to him and he said, What prevented you from coming?
I said, 'O Messenger of Allah! I was praying.'
He said, Didn't Allah say,
O you who believe! Answer Allah (by obeying Him) and (His) Messenger when he calls you to that which gives you life.
He then said,
"I will teach you the greatest Surah in the Qur'an before you leave the Masjid (Mosque)."
He held my hand and when he was about to leave the Masjid, I said, `O Messenger of Allah! You said: I will teach you the greatest Surah in the Qur'an.'
He said, Yes.
Al-Hamdu lillahi Rabbil-`Alamin,
It is the seven repeated (verses) and the Glorious Qur'an that I was given.

—Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal[12]

Muhammad al-Bukhari, Abu Dawood, Al-Nasa'i and Ibn Majah also recorded this hadith.[12]

One hadith narrates a story of a companion of Muhammad who recited al-Fātiḥah as a remedy for a tribal chief who was poisoned. According to the hadith, Muhammad later asked the companion, "How did you know that it is a Ruqyah [remedy]?"[4] Muhammad al-Bukhari recorded in his collection:

Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:
While we were on one of our journeys, we dismounted at a place where a slave girl came and said, "The chief of this tribe has been stung by a scorpion and our men are not present; is there anybody among you who can treat him (by reciting something)?" Then one of our men went along with her though we did not think that he knew any such treatment. But he treated the chief by reciting something, and the sick man recovered whereupon he gave him thirty sheep and gave us milk to drink (as a reward). When he returned, we asked our friend, "Did you know how to treat with the recitation of something?" He said, "No, but I treated him only with the recitation of the Mother of the Book [al-Fātiḥah]." We said, "Do not say anything (about it) till we reach or ask the Prophet. So when we reached Medina, we mentioned that to the Prophet (in order to know whether the sheep which we had taken were lawful to take or not). The Prophet said, "How did he come to know that it [al-Fātiḥah] could be used for treatment? Distribute your reward and assign for me one share thereof as well."

—Muhammad al-Bukhari, Sahih al-Bukhari[13]

Similar versions are found in: Al-Bukhari: 007.071.645[14]—medicine; Al-Bukhari: 007.071.633[15]—medicine; Al-Bukhari: 007.071.632[16]—medicine

Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj recorded that Abu Hurairah had told that Muhammad had said:

If anyone observes prayer in which he does not recite Umm al-Qur'an,[17] it is deficient [he said this three times] and not complete.

—Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj, Sahih Muslim[12][18]

A similar story is found in Al-Bukhari: 001.012.723[19]—characteristics of prayer.

Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj recorded:

Ibn 'Abbas reported that while Gabriel was sitting with the Apostle (may peace be upon him) he heard a creaking sound above him. He lifted his head and said: This As a gate opened in heaven today which had never been opened before. Then when an angel descended through it, he said: This is an angel who came down to the earth who had-never come down before. He greeted and said: Rejoice in two lights given to you which have not been given to any prophet before you: Fatiha al-Kitab and the concluding verses of Surah al-Baqara. You will never recite a letter from them for which you will not be given (a reward).

—Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj, Sahih Muslim[20]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Maududi, Sayyid Abul Ala. Tafhim Al Quran. 
  2. ^ Joseph E. B. Lumbard "Commentary on Sūrat al-Fātiḥah," The Study Quran. ed. Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Caner Dagli, Maria Dakake, Joseph Lumbard, Muhammad Rustom (San Francisco: Harper One, 2015), p. 1.
  3. ^ Mulla Sadra. Tafsir al-Quran al-Karim. pp. 1:163–164. 
  4. ^ a b c d Ibn Kathir. Tafsir Ibn Kathir. 
  5. ^ Abu al-Qasim al-Khoei. Al-Bayan Fi Tafsir al-Quran. p. 446. 
  6. ^ Muhammad Baqir Majlisi. Bihar al-Anwar. pp. 89:238. 
  7. ^ Al-Hurr al-Aamili. Wasā'il al-Shīʿa. pp. 6:232. 
  8. ^ Ahmad, Mirza Bahir Ud-Din (1988). The Quran with English Translation and Commentary. Islam International Publications Ltd. p. 1. ISBN 1-85372-045-3. 
  9. ^ English Translation and Commentary 5 Volumes
  10. ^ a b Ayoub, Mahmoud M. The Qur'an and Its Interpreters: v.1: Vol 1. State University of New York Press. p. 49. ISBN 978-0873957274. 
  11. ^ Leaman, Oliver, ed. (2006). The Qur'an: an Encyclopedia. Routledge. p. 614. ISBN 0-415-32639-7. 
  12. ^ a b c The Meaning of Al-Fatihah and its Various Names
  13. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari, 6:61:529
  14. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari, 7:71:645
  15. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari, 7:71:633
  16. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari, 7:71:632
  17. ^ The Reason it is Called Umm Al-Kitab
  18. ^ Sahih Muslim, 4:773
  19. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari, 1:12:723
  20. ^ Sahih Muslim, 4:1760

External links[edit]

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Al-Baqara
Arabic text