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Lesson - 2
| Bis-mil-laa-hir Rah-maa-nir Ra-heem.
|| In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
|Al-ham-du lil-laa-hi Rab-bil aa-la-meen.
||All Praise is due to Allah, the Lord of
||The Beneficent, the Merciful,
||Master of the Day of Requital.
|Ee-yaa-ka na -bu-du wa ee-yaa-ka nas-ta- een.
||Thee do we serve and Thee do we beseech for help.
|Ih-di nas si-raa-tal mus-ta-qeem
||Guide us on the right path,
|Si-raa-tal la-zee-na an- am-ta a-lay-him.
||The path of those upon whom Thou hast bestowed favours,
|Ghay-ril magh-doo-bi a-lay-him wa-lad-daal-leen.
||Not those upon whom wrath is brought down, nor those who go
The Wisdom of Al-Fatiha
This is a translation of the well-known Surah Al-Fatiha, which is
memorized and recited by every Muslim with every rakat (unit) of his
prayer. It is essentially read by anyone beginning the study of the
Holy Quran, and also on other occasions. I therefore felt it was appropriate,
in fact necessary, to include it in my tutorial. The Holy Prophet
Muhammad (may peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him) said:
"I have been given two blessings that no other prophet
has received, one of these is the Surah Fatiha and the other is
the last ruku (segment) of Al-Baqarah (the second chapter of the
How very true his statement was, because these two portions of the
Holy Quran contain a sea of know- ledge, wisdom and guidance. I am
not going to intricate depths of this in order to keep it simple and
easily understandable. I am, however, obligated to go into some detail
otherwise I would not be doing justice to this most excellent chapter
of the Holy Quran. It is important to be aware of the spiritual knowledge,
wisdom and essential principles of guidance in the Surah Fatiha because
it is recited several times a day by every Muslim. Besides calling
it the most excellent revelation no other prophet received, the Holy
Prophet also named it the Umm-Al-Kitab, i.e., the Basis of
the Book. Thus we can appreciate the critical need to understand it.
Towards the end of my discourse on this chapter I will point out that
not only is the Al-Fatiha unique in being the opening of the Holy
Quran, but it is also the most excellent prayer for mankind in difficult
times of his life. It is therefore imperative to understand the vast
and comprehensive subject matter of these verses.
I have previously discussed the verse Bis-mil-laah-hir-Rahman-nir-Raheem
(In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful). I will
briefly summarize for the benefit of those who are not familiar
with it. Every chapter of the Holy Quran contains a complete subject
in it. The words "In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the
Merciful" being at the beginning of every chapter indicate
that it has been revealed by Allah Who out of His grace has given
us all the means for our physical existence and progress. Not only
that, but He has granted us the extraordinary and splendid gift
of the spirit' for a life everlasting. For the development and progress
of our eternal spiritual life He revealed the Holy Quran. This is
all-inclusive in the word Al-Rahman (the Beneficent). The
attribute of Al-Raheem (the Merciful) indicates that if a
reader of the Holy Quran acts upon its teachings, he will develop
spiritually and morally, and will attain peace in this world and
the Hereafter as a special gift. The letter ba in Bis-
mil-laah also means that one is beginning in the name of Allah
and seeking His assistance. He is requesting the Beneficent Who
has revealed the Holy Quran, that He out of His mercy should bless
the suppliant with its knowledge and comprehension, and give him
the ability to act upon it, so that he is able to achieve the lofty
goals of Quranic revelation.
Now I would like to discuss the Surah Fatiha. This surah (chapter)
has been named in the Holy Quran and the Hadith of the Holy Prophet
by different names. The most well-known name is Al-Fatiha (the Opening)
or Fatiha-tul-Kitab (The Opening of the Book). By opening'
is meant that it opens the door to the wisdom of the Holy Quran.
Also opened up in this short chapter of seven verses is the path
of guidance, Divine recognition and knowledge, which is unparalleled
for all times. Although volumes have been written on this chapter,
these treasures do not seem to get depleted. I shall briefly mention
a few important issues so that you become aware of these.
Man's Quest after God
Man wonders who is the Originator of this great universe in which
even a single atom is such a marvel of creation. Man wants to know
Who or What He is? He would like to know the names and attributes
of this Divine Being? Next arises the question if the Creator and
Sustainer of this great universe are two separate entities or is
it the work One Divine Being? Why did this Divine Being create the
earth and all the life in it? What is the position of mankind in
this creation? What is the relationship between man and the Divine
Being? What is the purpose of man's creation? What kind of effort
should one put in to attain the objective of his creation? Different
powers and people are following their own direction. Everyone considers
his way of thinking to be the correct one. Which then is the right
path out of this maze? How can one find out, if the way he is following
is the correct one? Has anyone achieved the purpose of his existence
by treading on this path? What are the consequences of not following
this path? After all, there were revealed scriptures for all previous
nations, but today there are some in whom no trace of revelation
can be found and they are following their own individual ways.
All Praise is for Allah
In Al-ham-du-lil-lah (All praise is due to Allah), letters
Alif, Lam (AL) indicate engrossment in the sense of
entirety (i.e. true, genuine and exclusive praise). Thus all praise
is for Allah Who is the Rabb (Lord One Who is the Nourisher
unto perfection) of the whole universe, all creation and every nation.
Allah is the proper name of the Divine Being, as I have previously
mentioned in my discussion of "In the name of Allah the Beneficent,
the Merciful". It is the prime obligation of any revealed scripture
that it should inform its reader about the identity of One Who is
responsible for its revelation, and the purpose behind it. The Holy
Quran is the only such book in its class which tells us in its very
beginning in the verse "In the name of Allah, the Beneficent,
the Merciful", that the name of its author is Allah. The preponderance
of beneficence in His nature led to the creation of mankind, and
the revelation of this book for his guidance. If man follows this
guidance, it brings into action Allah's mercy and He rewards him
in this life and the Hereafter with eternal bliss. The most notable
of these blessings is the one for which man has been created and
which will be mentioned later. Those familiar with the current state
of world affairs know that communism and materialism have promoted
the spread of atheism. How can those who do not believe in the existence
of God, accept His revealing a Book? I shall Insha-Allah (by the
grace of Allah) include this in the discussion of the first verse
of Al-Fatiha, i.e. "All Praise is due to Allah, the Lord (Rabb)
of the worlds".
Proof of Existence of the Divine Being
I would like to submit that the existence of the Divine Being is the
basis of all faiths. The testimony of hundred and twenty-four thousand
prophets, in addition to that of millions of righteous servants of
Allah, and the evidence provided by revealed scriptures is such a
powerful argument in support of the truth that it cannot be denied
by an intelligent person. Courts of law can decide even matters of
great contention on basis of one truthful witness. Here we have the
testimony of thousands of truthful ones that there is a Divine Being
with whom they have established communion. Those who follow them with
complete submission are also able to achieve this blessing.
If we use our common sense, it becomes quite apparent that every
atom in the immense and intri- guing universe is a witness of, and
clearly manifests the presence of, the Divine Being. For this very
reason, scientific inquiry which initially assumed atheistic philosophy,
has now been forced to admit that this universe has a Creator Who
is One, because the whole creation is obligated to follow the same
universal law. Even man's own nature ultimately provides testimony
towards the existence of a Divine Being. All human beings in times
of distress and difficulty spontaneously cry out for Divine assistance.
Why, then, may one ask, has the denial of the existence of God
become such a common practice in this day and age? I shall, Insha-Allah,
provide the answer to this from the preliminary verses of Al-Fatiha
in my next discussion, as my allotted time has now expired. "And
no one is given opportunity unless permitted by Allah, the Most
High, the Great."