Let me start by asking you this: How often do you communicate with your best friend – every day, multiple times in a day or maybe, once in two days at least? You probably share everything about your life and its happenings, the sorrows and grief, the happiness and peace, the difficulty in accomplishing something to the joy in experiencing the little to big blessings that has been poured upon you. You would perhaps read their messages on Facebook, WhatsApp and every other social media app that’s been installed on your phone many times over.

Now, how often do you talk to Allah? How often do you share your joys and sorrows with Him? What if I told you about the greatest surah[1] in the Quran, where Allah responds to every verse you recite![2] A surah, which you recite multiple times every single day, but you probably haven’t realized the magnanimity of it yet.

We are going to talk about Al Fatihah – The first surah in the Quran, the first surah to be revealed in its entirety and a surah which almost every single Muslim knows by heart.

Derived from the root letters Fa-ta-ha, fatiha literally means:

  • To open something
  • Remove a block
  • Remove confusion from something

This surah is called Al Fatiha because it is the opening of the Quran and the opening of Salah. It lays the foundation to the entire Quran, so if you can grasp the meaning and enormity of this surah, you can establish a beautiful bond with the Quran in a manner that is engaging, powerful and rewarding.

So let’s begin!

# 1. Who Allah is….

Ayat 1:  When you say, “All praise belongs to Allah, the Lord of the worlds.”

Allah says, ‘My servant has praised Me.’

We start with acknowledging Allah’s absolute perfection and give thanks to Him by praising Him. While reciting this verse, you need to automatically remind your heart that you are what you are – a mere slave who is in absolute need of Him and He is completely independent of you.

Ayat 2:  When you say, “The Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful”

Allah says, ‘My servant has glorified Me.’

We then go on to invoke two of the greatest Names of Allah – Ar Rahman and Ar Raheem. The general opinion is that Allah, Ar-Rahman is for all of mankind irrespective of whether they believe in Allah or not – Allah continues to pour His mercy and provides them with sustenance. Allah is also Ar- Raheem, the Especially Merciful, but this is limited to the believers alone. Muslims receive this special blessing and mercy from Allah, which includes happiness and contentment in this life and astounding rewards in the Hereafter.

#2 An ayat that reminds you about every deed

Ayat 3:  When you say, “The Master/Owner of the Day of Judgment”

Allah says, ‘My servant has glorified Me.’

Every good you do…

In this verse, Allah proclaims His sovereignty above all things. This verse provides a powerful reminder for every believer. When you recite this ayat, you are telling your heart that for every good deed you did; you will be rewarded many times over on the Day of Judgment, because nothing of what you do will go unnoticed, even if it was ignored by the people in dunya.

Remember the time you gave a small amount in charity, helped your mom in household chores, put up patiently with your children just so you don’t lose your temper, yes, these little things will be rewarded on the Day of Judgment by the One who owns it. This ayat should encourage you to do good, no matter how minimal it may seem, because every single good deed holds enormous rewards on the Day of Judgment. Perhaps, this one good deed of yours could be the difference between you going to paradise or hellfire.

Every time you were wronged…

Similarly, for every bad or evil act that was committed against you, for every lie that was spread about you or the endless gossip and slander that was smeared against your name, when you were oppressed by others because they were more powerful and eloquent in spreading falsehood, this ayat should remind you that you will be compensated for it on the Day of Judgment.

Allah alone owns the power to judge and pass His rulings on the Day when no human would be allowed to speak, unless He gives it permission. There can be nothing more comforting and soothing than this for a believer.

This verse should serve as a constant reminder that for every tear that fell from your eye, for every heart crushing moment when you felt your chest would explode with sadness and grief – Allah is taking into account every single moment of your life in this dunya. And for those who put their trust in Him, He is sufficient for them as a trustee!

Every time you err…

This verse should also remind your heart that the wrong or evil you do, intentionally or unintentionally, will be accounted for.

So, remember the next time you feel like:

  • Getting into haram
  • Indulging in backbiting or gossip
  • Losing your temper at your parents/children/siblings/etc

Allah is watching it all and taking into account. This verse should serve as a reminder in helping us better ourselves in order to please Him and Him alone. It is easy to look at the misdeeds of others while forgetting to hold ourselves accountable. We tend to magnify the shortcomings of others but brush our sins under the carpet. Additionally, we as humans are prone to drown ourselves in sorrow and despair whenever we are wronged, often forgetting that those who wrong us will have to answer for their misdeeds on the Day of Judgment, just as we have to answer ours.

# 3 The power of Allah’s help

Ayat 4:  When you say, “You alone we worship, You alone we seek help.”

Allah says, ‘This is for My servant, and My servant shall acquire what he asked for.’

As Muslims, it is easy for us to comprehend the first half of the ayat, which talks about worshipping Allah alone. However, we tend to forget the second half of this ayat, which talks about seeking Allah’s help. We make dua but despair about whether it will be answered or not. When faced with any kind of difficulty big or small, we go looking for comfort and support from friends or family, who are just mere mortals like you and me, who can do nothing more than give a few words of encouragement or advice.

We pray absent mindedly because the difficulty or “need” of ours clouds our mind, so much so that we forget that the One we are talking to in our prayer can actually *fulfill* our need. We keep mumbling the verses we’ve memorized but pay no attention to what we’re telling. If you truly comprehended this part of the ayat, you would understand the enormity of what you are telling.

For every time you say “You alone we seek help”, Allah responds by saying:”This is between Me and My servant, and My servant shall acquire what he sought.”

Imagine reciting this verse and getting an immediate response from Allah where He says you will receive what you are asking for!

This is the answer to all the duas you’ve been making. The next time you doubt whether Allah responds to you or not, recite this verse, comprehend it and remind yourself that Allah has already responded to you and will be giving you what you want. This verse guarantees that all your needs and wants are instantly taken care of by Allah. Unfortunately, while reciting this verse in our prayers, we are too busy thinking about the difficulty rather than listening to what Allah has just said!

So the next time you go through moments of not being able to put your words into dua, remind yourself that Allah knows it all. Ask Him to inspire the dua in your heart, and then raise your hands and pour your needs, desires and grievances.  Real help comes from Allah and He can use anyone to send His help through.

#4 Seek guidance

Ayat 5 & 6:  When you say, “Guide us to the straight path. The path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked [Your] anger or of those who are astray.”

Allah says, ‘This is for My servant, and My servant shall acquire what he asked for.’

Every single action you perform needs to be in concurrence with what is pleasing to Allah, but let’s face it, it’s literally impossible to keep our actions in check at every point of our lives. Therefore, whenever you fear that you may be straying onto the wrong path, instantly recite this verse.

The straight path here implies- helping you stick to the road that leads to jannah no matter how rocky the path of dunya is.

Sticking to the path of righteousness, keeping yourself within the halal limits or staying riba free in a world filled with interest based transactions – the challenges we face in today’s world are enormous, but that doesn’t mean we need to battle this dunya alone. We have a Lord who can place ease right in front of our eyes, but only if we ask for it! Recite this verse out loud and witness Allah’s miracles.

Ask Allah to help you and He will not only help you to stick to the straight path, but will also open up doors that lead you to it. This path may be hindered with struggles, extreme hardship, tears and blood, but it will be worth it when you see your name written amongst the inhabitants of Jannah. After seeking Allah’s guidance, we go one step ahead and specify what type of path we want to follow- the path of those whom He has favored and not of those who’ve gone astray. This verse brings a completion to this beautiful surah – with us begging our Lord to keep our hearts guided on the path of Islam until the end.

To sum it up, surah Fatiha is a powerful prayer between us and our Lord, where we invoke His most beautiful names, attest to His sovereignty, seek His help and guidance and ask Him to shower His blessings upon us. So the next time you recite this surah, remind yourself that for every verse you recite, Allah is responding to you right at that moment! Could there be a better to way to attain khushoo than this?

Related: Learn More About Surah Fatihah

References:

  1. Abu Saeed narrated, “The Prophet took my hand and said “…I will teach a Surah which is the greatest Surah in the Quran before you leave the Masjid.’ Then he took hold of my hand and when he intended to leave [the Masjid], I asked him, “Did you not say that you would teach me a Surah which is the greatest Surah in the Qur’an?” He replied, ‘Yes. It is [the Surah commencing with], “All praise and thanks are due to Allah.” It is the Seven Oft-Repeated verses and the Great Qur’an that has been given to me.’ [Al bukhari]
  2. Narrated by Abu Hurayrah (May Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said; “Allah the exalted said, ‘I have divided the prayer (Al-Fatihah) into two halves between Me and My servant. A half of it is for Me and a half for My servant, and My servant shall acquire what he asked 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, ‘Master of the Day of Judgment.’ Allah says, ‘My servant has glorified Me.’ When he says, ‘You (alone) we worship, and You (alone) we ask for help.’, **Allah says, ‘This is between Me and My servant, and My servant shall acquire what he sought.’**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.’ ” [Sahih Muslim]
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