The Meaning and Virtues of Al-Fatihah (The Opening of the Book)

The Meaning and Virtues of Al-Fatihah (The Opening of the Book)

By: Editorial Staff

Surat Al-Fatihah is the first chapter of the Qur’an. It is a Makkan chapter; revealed in Makkah. Al-Fatihah is full of blessings. In this surah we praise to Allah, declare His glory and majesty, declare our sincerity to worship Him alone (You alone we worship and You alone we seek help from).

In the second half of the surah we pray for Allah for guidance and steadfastness upon the straight path of those who are guided not of those who had gone astray:

Praise be to Allah, the Lord of existence, the All-Merciful, the Ever-Merciful, the Owner (Master) of the Day of Judgment. It is You (alone) we worship, and You (alone) we ask for help. Guide us to the Straight Path, the Path of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace, not the path of those who have incurred Your Anger, nor of those who have gone astray. (Al-Fatihah 1:1-7)

Various Names

This Surah is called Al-Fatihah, that is, the Opener of the Book, the Surah with which prayers are begun. It is also called, Um Al-Kitab (the Mother of the Book), according to the majority of the scholars.

It is also called “as-sab` al-mathani” (the seven verses that are repeatedly recited). We recite this surah in all rak`ahs of every prayer. Allah says:

And indeed, We have bestowed upon you as-sab` al-mathani (the seven repeatedly recited verses), (i.e. Surat Al-Fatihah) and the Grand Qur’an. (Al-Hijr 15:87)

Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said, “(Al-Hamdu lillahi Rabbi Al-`alamin) is the Mother of the Qur’an, the Mother of the Book, and the seven repeated ayahs of the Qur’an.” (At-Tirmidhi)

It is also called Al-Hamd and As-Salah, because the Prophet said that his Lord said,

“The prayer (i.e. , Al-Fatihah) is divided into two halves between Me and My servants. When the servant says, `All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of existence,’ Allah says, ‘My servant has praised Me.’”

Al-Fatihah was called the Salah, because reciting it is a condition for the correctness of Salah – the prayer.

Al-Fatihah was also called Ash-Shifa’ (the Cure).

It is also called Ar-Ruqyah (remedy), since in the Hadith, there is the narration of Abu Sa`id telling the story of the Companion who used Al-Fatihah as a remedy for the tribal chief who was poisoned. Later, the Messenger of Allah said to a Companion, (How did you know that it is a Ruqyah)

A Must in Every Prayer     

Abu Hurairah said that the Prophet said: “Whoever performs any prayer in which he did not read Um Al-Qur’an, then his prayer is incomplete.” He said it thrice. (Muslim)

The Prophet said: “There is no prayer for whoever does not recite the Opening of the Book.” (AL-Bukhari and Muslim)

Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said, “The prayer during which Um Al-Qur’an is not recited is invalid.” (Ibn Khuzaymah and Ibn Hibban)

Abu Hurayrah said, “When­ we stand behind the Imam” He said, “Read it to yourself, for I heard the Messenger of Allah say, (Allah, the Exalted, said, ` I have divided the prayer (Al-Fatihah) into two halves between Myself and My servant, and My servant shall have what he asks for.’ If he says, (All praise and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of existence.)

Allah says, ` My servant has praised Me. When the servant says, “The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.” Allah says, “My servant has glorified Me.” When he says, “The Owner of the Day of Recompense.” Allah says, “My servant has glorified Me,” or ` My servant has related all matters to Me.” When he says, “You (alone) we worship, and You (alone) we ask for help.” Allah says, “A half of it is for Me and a half for My servant, and My servant shall acquire what he asked for”. When he says, “Guide us to the straight path. The way of those on whom You have granted Your grace, not (the way) of those who earned Your anger, nor of those who went astray”, Allah says, “This is for My servant, and My servant shall acquire what he asked for.’).’” (Muslim and An-Nasa’i)

The last hadith used the word ­ Salah­ ”prayer” in reference to reciting the Qur’an, (Al-Fatihah in this case) just as Allah said in another Ayah, “And offer your Salah (prayer) neither aloud nor in a low voice, but follow a way between” (Al-Israa’ 17:110) meaning, with your recitation of the Qur’an.

Therefore, reciting the Opening of the Book, during the prayer by the Imam and those praying behind him, is required in every prayer, and in every rak`ah.

The Virtues of Al-Fatihah

– Ibn ‘Abbas (May Allah be pleased with them) reported:

While Jibril (Gabriel) was sitting with the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), he heard a sound above him. He lifted his head, and said: “This is a gate which has been opened in heaven today. It was never opened before.” Then an angel descended through it, he said: “This is an angel who has come down to earth. He never came down before.” He sent greetings and said: “Rejoice with two lights given to you. Such lights were not given to any Prophet before you. These (lights) are: Fatihat Al-Kitab (Surat Al-Fatihah), and the concluding ayahs (verses) of Surat Al-Baqarah. You will never recite a word from them without being given the blessings it contains.” (Muslim)

Abu Sa` id ibn Al-Mu`alla 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” (Al-Anfal 8:24)

He then said, “I will teach you the greatest Surah in the Qur’an before you leave the masjid.” 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 Rabbi Al-`Alamin” (It is the seven repeated (verses) and the Glorious Qur’an that I was given. )” (Al-Bukhari, Abu Dawud, An-Nasa’i Ahmad, and Ibn Majah)

– In another hadith, Abu Hurayrah said, “The Messenger of Allah went out while Ubay ibn Ka` b was praying and said, (O Ubay! ) Ubay did not answer him. The Prophet said, (O Ubay! ) Ubay prayed faster then went to the Messenger of Allah saying, ` Peace be unto you, O Messenger of Allah! ‘ He said, (Peace be unto you. O Ubay, what prevented you from answering me when I called you) He said, `O Messenger of Allah! I was praying. ‘ He said, (Did you not read among what Allah has sent down to me,)

“O you who believe! Answer Allah (by obeying Him) and (His) Messenger when he calls you to that which gives you life” (Al-Anfal 8:24).  He said, ‘Yes, O Messenger of Allah! I will not do it again.’ The Prophet said, “Would you like me to teach you a Surah the likes of which nothing has been revealed in the Tawrah, the Injeel, the Zabur (Psalms) or the Furqan (the Qur’an)” He said, ‘Yes, O Messenger of Allah!’ The Messenger of Allah said, “I hope that I will not leave through this door until you have learned it.” He (Ka`b) said, ‘The Messenger of Allah held my hand while speaking to me.

Meanwhile I was slowing down fearing that he might reach the door before he finished his conversation. When we came close to the door, I said: O Messenger of Allah ! What is the Surah that you have promised to teach me’ He said, (What do you read in the prayer. ) Ubay said, ‘So I recited Um Al-Qur’an to him. ‘ He said, “By Him in Whose Hand is my soul! Allah has never revealed in the Tawrah, the Injeel, the Zabur or the Furqan a Surah like it . It is the seven repeated verses that I was given.” (Ahmad)

– Abu Hurayrah recorded from Ubay ibn Ka`b that the Messenger of Allah said, “Allah has never revealed in the Tawrah or the Inj il anything similar to Umm Al-Qur’an. It is the seven repeated verses and it is divided into two halves between Allah and His servant .” (An-Nasa’i and At-Tirmidhi)


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Islam’s Code of Life: Between Faith and Obedience

Islam’s Code of Life: Between Faith and Obedience

By: Abul A`la Mawdudi 

Islam means obedience to God. And it is common sense that this obedience cannot be complete unless man knows certain basic facts of life and places firm faith in them. What are those facts? And what are the essentials which a man must know to fashion his life in accordance with the Divine Way?

Islam’s Code of Life Between Faith and Obedience

One should have an unshakable belief in the existence of God; without this, obedience to Him is clearly impossible.


First of all, one should have an unshakable belief in the existence of God; without this, obedience to Him is clearly impossible.

Then, one must know the attributes of God. It is the knowledge of the attributes of God which enables man to cultivate the noblest of human qualities and to fashion his life in virtue and godliness. If a man does not know that there is One and only One God who is the Creator, the Ruler and the Sustainer of the Universe and there is none else to share with Him even a shred of Divine power and authority, he may fall prey to false gods, and offer his homage to them in search of favour.

But if he knows the divine attribute of tawheed (Oneness of God), there is no possibility of this. Similarly, if a man knows that God is Omnipresent and Omniscient and sees, hears and knows everything that we do in public or private – including our unexpressed thoughts! – then how can he afford to be disobedient to God?

He will feel that he is under eternal vigil and will, therefore, behave accordingly. But he who is not aware of these attributes of God may be led, because of his ignorance, into disobedience. It is the same with all the other attributes of God.

The fact is that the qualities and attributes which a man must possess, if he wants to pursue the way of Islam, can be cultivated and developed only out of profound knowledge of the attributes of God.

It is the knowledge of God’s attributes which purifies a man’s mind and soul, his beliefs, morals and actions. And a mere cursory acquaintance with or just an academic knowledge of these attributes is not sufficient – there must be an unflinching conviction firmly rooted in the mind and heart of man so that he may remain immune from insidious doubts and perversions.

Moreover, one must know in detail the way of living by following which one can seek the pleasure of God. Unless a man knows the likes and dislikes of God, how can he choose the one and reject the other? If a man has no knowledge of the Divine Law, how can he follow it?

Thus knowledge of the Divine Law and the revealed code of life is essential.

But here, again, mere knowledge is not enough. Man must have full confidence and conviction that it is the Divine Law and that his salvation lies in following this code alone. Knowledge without this conviction will fail to spur man to the Right Path and he may be lost in the blind alley of disobedience.

The Reward

Finally, man must also know the consequences both of belief and obedience and of disbelief and disobedience. He must know what blessings will be showered upon him if he chooses God’s way and leads a life of purity, virtue and obedience. And he must also know what consequences follow if he adopts the way of disobedience and revolt.

Thus, knowledge of life after death is absolutely essential for this purpose. Man must have an unwavering belief in the fact that death does not mean the end of life; that there will be resurrection and he will be brought to the highest court of justice, to be presided over by God Himself; that on the Day of Judgment complete justice will prevail; and that good deeds will be rewarded and misdeeds punished.

Everybody will get his due; there will be no escape. This is bound to happen. A sense of accountability is essential for fully-fledged obedience to the Law of God.

A man who has no knowledge of the world to come may consider obedience and disobedience quite immaterial. He may think that the obedient and the disobedient will both meet a similar end: after death, both will be reduced to mere dust.

With this attitude of mind, how can he be expected to submit to all the inconveniences and troubles that are inextricably associated with the life of active obedience, and avoid committing those sins which do not apparently bring him any moral or material loss in this world? With this mental attitude a man cannot acknowledge and submit to God’s Law.

Nor can a man, who lacks firm belief in the life hereafter and in the Divine Court of Judgment, remain steadfast in the turbulent waters of life with its temptation to sin, crime and evil; for doubt and hesitancy rob a man of his will to action.

You can remain consistent in your behaviour only if you are firm in your beliefs. You can whole – heartedly follow a course only if you are sure of the benefits that will accrue to you by following it and of the losses that will engulf you if you disobey it.

Thus, a profound knowledge of the consequences of belief and disbelief and of the life after death is crucial.

These are the essential facts which one must know if one wants to live the life of obedience, that is, Islam.


The article is an excerpt from the book “Towards Understanding Islam” by Abul A`la Al-Mawdudi.

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The Hijrah: History and Living Lessons

The Hijrah: History and Living Lessons

By Dr. Ibrahim B. Syed

The significance of Hijrah (the migration of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, to Madinah) is not limited to the Islamic history or to the Muslims. The Hijrah not only reshaped – socially and politically – the Arab Peninsula, but also had its impact on worldwide civilizations.

God says in the Qur’an:

Those who believe, and have emigrated, and have struggled in the way of God with their possessions and their lives are greater in degree with God; and those, they are the triumphant.
Their Lord gives them good tidings of mercy from Him and beatitude; for them shall be gardens wherein is enduring bliss, therein they shall abide forever. Surely with God is a tremendous reward.
(At-Tawbah 9: 20-2)

Meaning of Hijrah

Throughout the history of Islam, the migration was a transitional line between the two major eras, regarding to the message of Islam; the era of Makkah and the era of Madinah. In its essence, this signified a transition from one phase to another, as follows:

– Transition from the position of weakness, where the non-believers of Makkah – particularly the people of Quraysh- humiliated, tortured and killed Muslims, to the position of strength. This is where Muslims were allowed to defend themselves and were able to defeat their adversaries.

– Transition from spreading Islam through individual Da`wah (inviting others to Islam) to the spreading of Islam through institutionalized Da’wah, initiated by the state.

– Transition from a position where Muslims represented a small group of people, surrounded by enemies and threatened by death, to the position of a regional power with a strong central leadership. This was one that was surrounded by a large number of followers and allies.

– Transition of Da`wah from regionalism, in which the focus was only on Quraysh and the tribes surrounding Makkah, to the phase of universalism. This is where the Muslim State began reaching out to Persia, Egypt, and the Byzantine Empire.

– Transition from being a simple Islamic group of believers, to being the Islamic nation. This was an organized Islamic state, with a central leadership and other organizations.

– Transition, which is most significantly for early Muslims, to the phase in which Islam was not only the act of worship, but a way of life. This was encompassing (surrounding) politics, economy, social interactions and every other aspect of life. This was the first time when Islam was looked upon as a comprehensive religion.

This contrast between the two periods is clearly noticeable in the Qur’anic discourse. Muslim scholars describe the part of Qur’an that was revealed in Makkah as the Makkan Qur’an, and that which was revealed in Madinah as the Madani Qur’an.

Although both parts are intermingled in the Qur’an and constitute one divine script, the discourse of both parts is clearly distinguishable. Whereas the part revealed in Makkah concentrated on Tawheed (the Oneness of God/monotheism), the part revealed in Madinah covered rules regarding Islamic life in general.

There is no doubt whatsoever that the migration of Prophet Muhammad to Madinah was the crucial event, which established the Islamic civilization. This was a civilization that thrived for many centuries.

Hijrah, the Turning Point in Islamic History

Hijrah (Immigration to Madinah), no doubt, kindled the light of hope in the hearts of the early Muslims who set a shining example for all Muslims, in every generation, to emulate.

Hijrah, in essence, is a process of transfer to a better situation. It is not meant to find a comfortable place where one would relax and stop endeavor (attempt). Rather, it is a search for an environment more favorable to continuous and constructive effort. Immediately after reaching Madinah, the Prophet undertook an all-embracing process to establish a faithful and strong society. This is a significant aspect and important lesson to learn from hijrah.

Hijrah was one of the most important events in the history of Islam. It is for this reason the Caliph `Umar adopted hijrah date to calculate years. Muslims chose hijrah as the focal point to reckon their chronology.

In physical terms, hijrah was a journey between two cities about 200 miles apart, but in its grand significance it marked the beginning of an era, a civilization, a culture and a history for the whole mankind. Islam progressed not only from the physical Hijrah, but because Muslims took Hijrah seriously in all its aspects and dimensions.

When Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) immigrated from Makkah to Madinah, he did not just transfer his residence or took shelter in another city, but as soon as he arrived to Madinah he began the transformation of that city in every aspect:

Masjid (Mosque): The Prophet first established a mosque to worship God. He himself worked in carrying the stones and building that small, humble but most powerful structure. That was the beginning, but soon other mosques were established in Madinah.

Brotherhood: He established brotherly relations between the Muslims who migrated from Makkah and the residents of Madinah who helped the Prophet and his companions. What was important was to have good relations between Muslims. They should have their brotherhood on the basis of faith, not on the basis of tribes as they used to have prior to Islam.

Intercommunity and Interfaith Relations: Prophet Muhammad also established good relations with other communities living in Madinah. There was a large Jewish community as well as some other Arab tribes who had not accepted Islam. The Prophet prepared a covenant for relations between these communities.

Cleaning the City: Yathrib, previous name of Madinah, was a dirty city. When the Companions came from Makkah to Madinah, many of them got sick and did not like that city. The Prophet asked them to clean the city and remove its dirt and filth. Aisha said: “We came to Madinah and it was the most polluted land of Allah. The water there was most stinking. (Al-Bukhari)

Water System in the City: The Prophet asked the companions to dig wells in different parts of the city. It is mentioned that more than 50 wells were opened in the city of Madinah and there was enough clean water for everyone.

Agriculture and Gardening: The Prophet encouraged the Companions to cultivate the land and make gardens. He told them that anyone who would cultivate any dead land, would own it. Many people started working and cultivating and soon there was enough food for everyone.

Poverty Eradication: In a short period of time it happened that there were no poor people in Madinah. Everyone had enough food and shelter and the Prophet used to give gifts to coming delegations.

Safety, Security, Law and Order: Madinah became the safest city in the world. There were very few incidents of theft, rape, drunkenness or murder and they were immediately taken care of.

In short, Hijrah teaches that wherever Muslims go, they should bring goodness to that land. Muslims should work for both moral and material goodness of the society.

Did Other Prophets Perform Hijrah?

A hijrah was not something special for Prophet Muhammad. Rather, other Prophets emigrated before Prophet Muhammad. Yet, the hijrah of Prophet Muhammad differed from those of other Prophets because it was not intended as a flight from torture but as the beginning of the Islamic state. The eminent Muslim scholar, Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, states the following:

Most of Allah’s Messengers, if not all, emigrated. However, their emigrations differed from that of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). For example, Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) emigrated, as related in the Qur’an : “And Lot believed him, and said: Lo! I am a fugitive unto my Lord. Lo! He, only He, is the Mighty, the Wise” (Al-`Ankabut 29: 26). In another verse, God says:  “And he said: Lo! I am going unto my Lord Who will guide me” (As-Saffat 37: 99). So, Prophet Abraham migrated from place to place till he settled at a town in Palestine, where he was then buried. That town, Al-Khalil Ibrahim (Hebron) is now named after him.

Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) also emigrated before he was assigned with the divine mission. He fled from Egypt after he had mistakenly killed an Egyptian. He sought God’s forgiveness for that, and a man advised him to get out of Egypt in order to escape people’s revenge. God says:  “And a man came from the uttermost part of the city, running. He said: O Moses! Lo! the chiefs take counsel against thee to slay thee; therefore escape. Lo! I am of those who give thee good advice. So he escaped from thence, fearing, vigilant. He said: My Lord! Deliver me from the wrongdoing folk” (Al-Qasas 28: 20-21)

Then Prophet Moses went to a country called Madyan, where he married the daughter of a righteous old man (Prophet Shu`aib, peace be upon him) and stayed with him for ten years. Throughout that period, Moses had no divine mission. He lived as a righteous man, a good husband, and a generous son-in-law; however, he had no prominent role to perform. That is to say, Prophet Moses emigrated for fear of revenge. He said, as related in the Qur’an: “Then I fled from you when I feared you, and my Lord vouchsafed me a command and appointed me (of the number) of those sent (by Him)” (Ash-Shu`ara’ 26:21).

On the other hand, the hijrah of Prophet Muhammad was not only to escape temptation and torture of his people. It was the starting point to establish the Muslim nation, a new Muslim community based on Islam, the universal divine message that calls for morality and human rights. That was the very purpose of Prophet Muhammad’s hijrah to Madinah, and he performed his role as best as possible. He put the foundation of a sound Muslim community and established the best nation ever created.

What Is the Hijrah Calendar?

Muslims measure the passage of time using the Islamic (hijrah) calendar. This calendar has twelve lunar months, the beginnings and endings of which are determined by the sighting of the crescent moon. Years are counted since the hijrah, which is when the Prophet Muhammad migrated from Makkah to Madinah (approximately July 622 CE).

The Islamic calendar was first introduced by the close companion of the Prophet, `Umar ibn Al-Khattab. During his leadership of the Muslim community, in approximately 638 CE, he consulted with his advisors in order to come to a decision regarding the various dating systems used at that time. It was agreed that the most appropriate reference point for the Islamic calendar was the hijrah, since it was an important turning point for the Muslim community.

After the emigration to Madinah, the Muslims were able to organize and establish the first real Muslim “community,” with social, political, and economic independence. Life in Madinah allowed the Muslim community to mature and strengthen, and the people developed an entire society based on Islamic principles.

The Islamic calendar is the official calendar in many Muslim countries, especially Saudi Arabia. Other Muslim countries use the Gregorian calendar for civil purposes and only turn to the Islamic calendar for religious purposes.

Lunar Months Each Year

The Islamic year has twelve months that are based on a lunar cycle. God says in the Qur’an:

The number of months in the sight of Allah is twelve (in a year) – so ordained by Him the day He created the heavens and the earth…. (At-Tawbah, 9: 36)

It is He Who made the sun to be a shining glory, and the moon to be a light of beauty, and measured out stages for it, that you might know the number of years and the count of time. Allah did not create this except in truth and righteousness. And He explains His signs in detail, for those who understand (Yunus, 10: 5)

And in his final sermon before his death, the Prophet Muhammad said, among other things: “With Allah the months are twelve; four of them are holy; three of these are successive and one occurs singly between the months of Jumada and Sha`ban.” (Al Bukhari)

Islamic months begin at sunset of the first day, the day when the lunar crescent is visually sighted. The lunar year is approximately 354 days long, so the months rotate backward through the seasons and are not fixed to the Gregorian calendar.

The months of the Islamic year are:

1. Muharram (“Forbidden” – it is one of the four months during which it is forbidden to wage war or fight)

2. Safar (“Empty” or “Yellow”)

3. Rabi` Awwal (“First spring”)

4. Rabi` Thani (“Second spring”)

5. Jumada Awwal (“First freeze”)

6. Jumada Thani (“Second freeze”)

7. Rajab (“To respect” – this is another holy month when fighting is prohibited)

8. Sha`ban (“To spread and distribute”)

9. Ramadan (“Parched thirst” – this is the month of daytime fasting)

10. Shawwal (“To be light and vigorous”)

11. Dhul-Qi`dah (“The month of rest” – another month when no warfare or fighting is allowed)

12. Dhul-Hijjah (“The month of Hajj” – this is the month of the annual pilgrimage to Makkah, again when no warfare or fighting is allowed)


Source: Islamic Research Foundation International –

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Beautiful Names of Allah: Al-Ghaffar (The All-Forgiving)

Beautiful Names of Allah: Al-Ghaffar (The All-Forgiving)

By Dr. Mohammad Ratib Al-Nabulsi

Allah’s Beautiful Name, Al-Ghaffar, comes in the Qur’an under three forms, first of which is “Ghafir”. Allah, All-Mighty, says:

Beautiful Names of Allah Al-Ghaffar The All-Forgiving

Man’s sins and wrong-doings are by no means infinite, but Allah’s Divine Forgiveness is really Infinite.

Ghafir-i-dhamb (the Forgiver of sin), the Acceptor of repentance, the Severe in punishment, the One Who Bestows (Favors). There is no god but He, to Him is the Final Return. (Ghafir 40:3)

The second form is “Al-Ghafour”, as in Allah’s words:

And your Lord is Al-Ghafour (the Oft-Forgiving), the Owner of Mercy. Were He to call them to account for what they have earned, then surely, He would have hastened punishment for them; but they have their appointed time, from which they will find no escape. (Al-Kahf 18:58)

In His words:

And He (Allah) is Al-Ghafour (the Oft-Forgiving), the Compassionate. (Al-Buruj 85:14)

Declare (O Muhammad) unto My slaves that truly, I am Al-Ghafour (the Oft-Forgiving), the Most Merciful. (Al-Hijr 15:49)

Say to My salves who have transgressed against themselves: ‘Do not despair of Allah’s Mercy. Verily, Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Al-Ghafour (the Oft-Forgiving), the Most Merciful. (Az-Zumar 39:53)

The third form of this Divine Name is “Al-Ghaffar” as in Allah’s words:

And verily, I am Al-Ghaffar (the All-Forgiving) for him who repents, believes and does righteousness and is moreover rightly guided. (Ta-Ha 20:82)

I said: ‘Ask forgiveness of your Lord, (for) verily, He is Ghaffar (All-Forgiving). He will send rain to you in abundance, and give you increase in wealth and children, and bestow on you gardens and bestow on you rivers. (Nuh 71:10-12)

In short, “Ghafir”, “Ghafour” and “Ghaffar” are all used to the same purport in the Qur’an, for they are derived from the same root, “Al-Maghfirah” (i.e. Forgiveness).

Kinds of Sin

Some scholars said: “A person who disobeys Allah, All-Mighty, is described in the Qur’an as being “dhalim”, “dhaloum” or “dhallam”. For example, Allah says:

Then We gave the Book (the Qur’an) as inheritance to such of Our slaves whom We chose. Then, of them are some who are “dhalimun linafsih” (i.e. wrong themselves), and of them are those who follow a middle course, and of them are some who are, by Allah’s Leave, foremost in good deeds. That is indeed a great Grace. (Fatir 35:32)

Another example is Allah’s words:

Truly, We did offer the Trust to the heavens and the earth and the mountains, but they declined to bear it and were afraid of it. But man bore it; verily he was “dhalouman” (i.e. unjust to himself) and ignorant. (Al-Ahzab 33:72)

A third example is:

Say to My slaves who “asrafou” (have transgressed) against themselves: ‘Do not despair of Allah’s Mercy. Verily, Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Az-Zumar 39:53)

Thus, the way man commits sins or does wrong to himself determines the way in which Allah responds and forgives such sins or wrong-doings.

Infinite Divine Forgiveness!

The delicate point in this context is that man’s sins and wrong-doings are by no means infinite, but Allah’s Divine Forgiveness is really Infinite. Therefore, only those who disbelieve in Allah despair of His Infinite Divine Forgiveness! Only those who are ignorant despair of Allah’s Infinite Divine Mercy! Only those who are ungrateful despair of Allah’s Infinite Divine Grace!

If your sin is finite but Allah’s Divine Forgiveness is Infinite, then it is most unwise, most ignorant, and most ungrateful to despair of Allah’s Infinite Divine Mercy. Therefore, a desperate person is an ignorant ungrateful disbeliever.

All Sins

Another delicate point with regards to this Divine Name “Al-Ghaffar” is that the verses in which this Name is mentioned include verbs in the past form, as in Allah’s Words:

He (David) said: ‘He has wronged you in demanding your ewe in addition to his ewes; and verily, many partners oppress one another, except those who believe and do righteous good deeds – and such are few.’ And David guessed that We have tried him and he sought Forgiveness of his Lord, and he fell down prostrate and turned (to Allah) in repentance. So, We forgave him that, and verily, for him is a near access to Us and a good place of (final) return (Paradise). (Sad 38:24,25)

They also include verbs in the present form, as in Allah’s words:

Verily, Allah forgives not that partners should be set up with Him, but He forgives other than that to whom He wills. And whoever sets up partners with Allah has indeed invented a tremendous sin. (An-Nisaa’ 4:48)

They also come in the imperative form:

Our Lord! Verily, we have heard the call of one (Muhammad) calling to Faith: ‘Believe in your Lord!’, and we have believed. Our Lord! Forgive us our sins and expiate from us our evil deeds, and make us die as pious and righteous. (Aal `Imran 3:193)

They also come as verbs in the root form:

The Messenger (Muhammad) believes in what has been sent down to him from his Lord, and so do believers: each one believes in Allah, His Angels, His Books, and His Messengers, saying, ‘We hear, and we obey. (We seek) “Ghufranaka” (i.e. Your Forgiveness), our Lord! And to You is the Final Return.’ (AL-Baqarah 2:185)

This means that Allah, Most Gracious, forgives you your previous, present and future sins, for He is the Oft-Forgiving. Whenever you commit sins, He is Oft-Forgiving. He, Most Gracious, also forgives all kinds of sins. In other words, for any sin or misdeed, He is the All-Forgiving. If you wrong yourself or other, He forgives you, but of course, after you have turned to Him with true repentance and sincere devotion. He, Most Merciful, forgives all kinds of sins everywhere and at all times, for He, Glory to Him, is the Oft-and-All-Forgiving, the Most Merciful.

In fact I say such words so that brother believers may not despair of Allah’s Infinite Divine Mercy, for only ignorant desperate disbelievers despair of Allah’s Infinite Divine Mercy.

Now the question is: why does this Divine Name come in such different forms? This is a very reasonable question.

The answer is: Linguistically speaking, such variation of word-forms of Allah’s Beautiful Name “Al-Ghaffar” denotes differences in both quantity, quality and frequency of occurrence, for Allah is Ghaffar in the sense that He is both Oft-Forgiving and All-Forgiving. In other words, whatever sins mankind commit, regardless of quality or quantity of such sins, or time or place of their occurrence, Allah forgives such sins, except for one unforgivable sin, namely associating other gods with Him in worship, which is by no means forgivable, as He, All-Mighty, says:

Verily, Allah forgives not that partners should be set up with Him, but He forgives other (sins) than that to whom He wills. And whoever sets up partners with Allah has indeed invented a tremendous (unforgivable) sin. ((An-Nisaa’ 4:48)

In this context, Allah says

Whosoever does deeds of righteousness, it is for (the benefit of) his own self; and whosoever does evil, it is against his own self. And your Lord is by no means unjust to His slaves. (Fussilat 41:46)

In other words, Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful, never does injustice to any of His slaves, all of whom enjoy being under His Infinite Divine Justice.

Another thing: Linguistically speaking, the Arabic word “Ghafara” means “to cover or hide”, but when Allah speaks about Moses (peace be upon him):

He (Moses) said: ‘My Lord! I have wronged myself, so forgive me!’ Then, He (Allah) forgave him. Verily, He is the Oft-Forgiving, the Most Merciful. (Al-Qasas 28:16)

…and also about His Messenger, Muhammad, (peace be upon him):

That Allah may forgive you your sins of the past and the future, and complete His Favor on you, and guide you on the Straight Path. (Al-Fath 48:2)

He, Glory to Him, means that He pardons and forgives, i.e. He, Most Gracious, does not punish His Prophets and Messengers but rather forgives them.

The problem is that when we read one part of the Qur’an, we forget another. For example, when we read Allah’s words:

Say to My salves who have transgressed against themselves: ‘Do not despair of Allah’s Mercy. Verily, Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is the All-Forgiving, the Most Merciful.’ (Az-Zumar 39:53)

Here, we should not stop but rather continue reading:

And turn you in repentance and in obedience with true Faith to your Lord and submit yourselves to Him before the Torment comes upon you, and then you will not be helped. (Az-Zumar 39:54)

In other words, Allah, is Ghafour (All-Forgiving) for those who turn to Him, for those who repent, for those who abstain from committing sins and misdeeds, for those who reform, for those who ask for Forgiveness, not for those who insist on their sins and misdeeds and never think of repenting from them, thinking, wrongly and naively, that Allah, All-Mighty, is Oft-and-All-Forgiving, Most Merciful. To this effect, Allah, Glorified and Exalted, says

Declare (O Muhammad) unto My slaves that, truly, I am the Oft-Forgiving, the Most Merciful, and that My Torment is indeed the most painful torment. (Al-Hijr 15 :49,50)




Dr. Al-Nabulsi is an outstanding Syrian Islamic scholar. He has written a number of Islamic books, most remarkable of which are: “Encyclopedia of the Beautiful Names of Allah”, “Encyclopedia of Scientific Miracles of the Holy Quran and Prophetic Sunna”, “Outlooks on Islam”, besides articles for some Syrian, Arab, Islamic, and Western magazines and newspapers. He also delivers a number of lessons, symposiums and interviews on Arab, Islamic radios and TVs.

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The Prophet’s Biography: A Well-Preserved Model for Mankind

The Prophet’s Biography: A Well-Preserved Model for Mankind

By Salman Al-Oadah

The Prophet…His Biography

God has selected Muhammad as the finale of the divine message. He said:

…he is the Messenger of Allah and the Seal of the Prophets. (Al-Ahzab 33:40)

As such, God made him a model for people:

Truly in the Messenger of Allah you have a good example for him who looks to Allah and the last Day, and remembers Allah much. (Al-Ahzab 33:40)

It is not surprising, therefore, that the Prophet’s biography be so apparent to those who lived during his time, both friends and enemies, men and women, young and less young, those nearby and those at a distance. They knew every detail about his life; nothing of his personality was hidden from them. And that which they could not see about his private life was reported to them in detail by his wives.

So much so that we know of his private life – his ways of eating and drinking, traveling and home staying, while he was awake or sleeping, and other everyday activities, more than we know about any celebrity. We know more about him than we know about our parents or teachers.

I would not be exaggerating if I said that we know more about him than we know about our own selves: some of us do things that we may pay little attention to. But once others have commented on us, we may say that we were not aware of what we were doing if what is said about us is really true. However, we know about the life of our Prophet down to the smallest detail. And what an exalted and fascinating biography it is!

A Well-Preserved Biography

It is with the will of God that this biography was preserved in minute detail. When you read such books on the Prophet’s special features as Al-Shamayl Al-Muhammadiya, by At-Tirmidhi, or its simplified version Al-Mokhtassar, by Al-Albani, as well as other similar works, you see a very detailed portrayal of the Prophet. For example, they would talk about the white hairs in his hair and beard.

Anas reported that “I did not count in the Prophet’s hair and beard more than fourteen white hairs.” (Ahmad and Ibn Hibban) Or, in another report, “…and there were less than twenty white hairs in his hair and beard”. (Ahmad, Al-Bukhari, Muslim, At-Tirmidhi, and Ibn Hibban)

In another report, a Companion states that “Allah had the soul of His Apostle without betraying his age with white hair: there were hardly thirty white hairs in his hair and beard”. (Ahmad) Even the number of white hairs in the hair and beard of the Prophet was documented.

Not only that, the very location of those hairs was specified.

One of the most attractive features of this biography is that by preserving it and making it a model for mankind, God left no excuse to humans. This biography has been carefully preserved by scholars and historians like no other biography has been. And none of the other prophets’ lives has been documented the way this prophet’s life has.

For example, if asked about the life of Moses, the Jews will give scattered accounts from parts of his life, with little historical evidence based on scientific facts. The Muslims, however, have paid attention to the smallest details about him, with utmost rigidity as to the credibility of the reporters of the accounts as well as their names.

The discipline of ‘Al Jarh wa al-Ta’deel’ (Criticism and Commendation (of reporters)) enumerated about five hundred thousand names at the time, although people had no printers, computers, or other assisting machines. However, they reached exceptional levels of memorization and accurate distinctions of names and people which surpassed many of the machines which technology has produced today. All this was done for one purpose– the conservation of the Prophet’s biography, tradition, and guidance.

An Exalted Biography

God – the All Wise – did not choose His Messenger at random. He made pure his interior and exterior, his speech and acts, his body and his heart.

But when you read his biography – when you read about his biography, every aspect of his life stirs further admiration in you for him. When you read about the details of his look, his face, hair, stature, clothing, etc. you feel more love in your heart for him, and your soul bolsters in faith.

His behavior, his manners, and the way he treats all people are all the more amazing!

In a word, the more you discover about him, the more you love him. This is why loving him is a sign of faith. It is a condition of believing in him as a messenger to find in your heart a great place of sincere love for this noble prophet.


The article is excerpted from the book  “In the Company of the Prophet (God’s Chosen Messenger)” , by Salman Al-Oadah, published by IslamToday, 2012.

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Wudu’: (Ablution): Its Status and Virtues from Qur’an and Sunnah

Wudu’: (Ablution): Its Status and Virtues from Qur’an and Sunnah

By: Sayyid Saabiq

Wudu’ (ablution) means to wash one’s face, hands, arms, head and feet with water.

Wudu’ (the Ablution) Its Status and Virtues from Qur’an and Sunnah

Wudu’ means to wash one’s face, hands, arms, head and feet with water.

Part of Islamic law

This is proven from the three major sources of Islamic law:

1- The Qur’an

Allah Says in the Qur’an:

O you who believe, when you rise for prayer, wash your faces and your hands up to the elbows and lightly rub your heads and (wash) your feet up to the ankles. (Al-Ma’idah 5:6)

2- The Sunnah

Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said, “Allah does not accept the prayer of one who nullified his ablution until he performs it again.” (Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhhi.)

3- The Consensus

There is a consensus of scholarly opinion that ablution is part of Islamic law.

Therefore, it is a recognized fact of the religion.

Its Virtues

Many hadiths state the virtues of ablution. We shall mention just a few:

– `Abdullah ibn As-Sunnabiji stated that the Messenger of Allah said, “When a slave makes ablution and rinses his mouth, his wrong deeds fall from it. As he rinses his nose, his wrong deeds fall from it. When he washes his face, his wrong deeds fall from it until they fall from beneath his eyelashes. When he washes his hands, his wrong deeds fall from them until they fall from beneath his fingernails. When he wipes his head, his wrong deeds fall from it until they fall from his ears. When he washes his feet, his wrong deeds fall from them until they fall from beneath his toenails. Then his walking to the mosque and his prayer give him extra reward.” (Malik, An-Nasa’i, Ibn Majah and Al-Hakim)

– Anas reported that the Messenger of Allah said, “If good characteristics exist in a person, Allah makes all of his acts good. If a person purifies himself for prayer, he expiates all of his sins and his prayer is considered an extra reward for him.” (Related by Abu Ya`la, Al-Bazzar and At-Tabarani in Al-Ausat)

– Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said, “’Shall I inform you (of an act) by which Allah erases sins and raises degrees?’ They said, ‘Certainly, O Messenger of Allah.’ He said, “Perfecting the ablution under difficult circumstances, taking many steps to the mosque, and waiting for the (next) prayer after the (last) prayer has been performed. That is ribat. (Malik, Muslim, At-Tirmidhi and An-Nasa’i)

(Ribat is a term that normally denotes guarding the army from enemy attack, which has great reward in Islam. Here the Prophet has likened the waiting for the coming prayer to be ribat)

– Abu Hurairah also reported that the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, passed by a grave site and said, “Peace be upon you, O home of believing people. Allah willing, we shall meet you soon, although I wish I could see my brothers.” They asked, “Are we not your brothers, O Messenger of Allah?” He said, “You are my companions. My brothers are the ones who will come after (us).” They said, “How will you know the people of our nation who will come after you, O Messenger of Allah?” He said, “If a man has a group of horses with white forelocks amidst a group of horses with black forelocks, will he recognize his horses?” They said, “Certainly, O Messenger of Allah.” He said, “They (my brothers) will come with white streaks from their ablutions, and I will receive them at my cistern. But there will be some who will be driven away from my cistern as a stray camel is driven away. I will call them to come. It will be said, ‘They changed matters after you,’ then I will say, ‘Be off, be off.” (Muslim)


The article is an excerpt from the author’s translated book “Fiqh Us Sunnah”.

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