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)
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)
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?
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.
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.
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.
By: Sayyid Saabiq
Wudu’ (ablution) means to wash one’s face, hands, arms, head and feet with water.
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)
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.
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”.