Al Fatihah : The Opening

Today, in Fehm Al Quran, we covered the first Juz of the Quran, mashaallah. Of course, it began with the first surah; Al Fatihah. Subhanallah, I learned something new about it, and as I recited it tonight in Isha prayer, the connection and meanings covered this morning made its way to my recitation.

After Bismillahi rahmaani raheem – In the name of Allah the Most Gracious the Most Merciful, Allah began with

Alhamdulillah – All Praises Belong to Allah

Whoever praises anything in this world, is ultimately praising Allah, for everything is created by Him. I find it very insightful and significant that whenever we receive praises from people, even for simple things like our cooking, we should respond with Alhamdulillah. For many Muslims, saying Alhamdulillah is probably second nature, and this can be bad. It can be bad when we say it so automatically such that we don’t even contemplate on the meaning of the phrase, uttering merely because it’s a custom to do so, and because of this, I have always tried to make an effort to think of the meaning when uttering it.

I find cooking for guests to be a very trying yet enjoyable thing to do. Trying because you’re always fearful that the cooking might not turn out or worse yet, cause people to get sick, and enjoyable when it’s all done and turns out great, Alhamdulillah. When cooking, I always find myself making du’a to Allah to make it such that people who eat the food won’t get sick. That personally is my biggest fear in cooking for others. Next to that is food that is not thoroughly cooked, which can lead to the same end result.

When the food turns out great, and people offer their thanks and compliments, I usually feel such a rush of gratitude to Allah, for letting it turn out as it did, and my Alhamdulillah becomes an expressed thanks to Allah as I respond to these comments. Only Allah knows how I feel especially when the process of preparing the food is laborious, nerve-racking and time sensitive.

When this was covered this morning, it was mentioned that Allah began with praises for Him to signify all the bounties He has given His creations, and the next part of this verse follows this appropriately,

Rabbil ‘Aalameen – The Lord of the Universe.

All praises deserve to go to Allah because He is the Rabb (nourisher, protector, sustainer, creator). This should make us feel so humble and helpless, for without Allah’s help, we won’t even be able to breathe or think.

He has created tools that would help His creatures worship Him, a comfortable life, He has prepared the earth spread out for us to make a living on, and clouds from which He would  bring forth rain that in turn would bring out lush vegetation for the consumption of His creatures.

And Allah does this without anyone compelling Him or telling Him to do so. Thus, He is the only one deserving of worship, for why would we worship the creation when we can worship the Creator?

Next, Allah says,

Ar Rahmaani Raheem – The Most Merciful, the Repeatedly Merciful

And here Allah tells us of His Bountiful mercy that has no bounds. Despite the sins we commit on a daily basis, He gives us respite and do not punish us immediately, thus giving us time to repent. He showers us with bounties and blessings despite our disobedience to Him. This links the creation to the Creator, triggering a spontaneous feeling of gratitude and praise towards Allah in us.

But, because Allah says He is so Merciful, does that mean we are not accountable for what we do? Far from that, Allah says in the next verse.

Maaliki yaumi deen – The Owner of the Day of Recompense

And this ayah reminds us that while Allah is Merciful, we are not to forget that we are accountable for our deeds, actions, intentions. We are not to take advantage of Allah’s mercy such that we do not exert effort to obey Him and avoid disobeying Him. I find the order of these two ayah enlightening personally, for I have never pondered upon this before. Subhanallah!

And further yet, the next verse goes on,

Iyyaaka na’budu wa iyyaaka nasta’een – You we worship and You we ask for help

Thus, because we will be accountable for our deeds and actions when the time comes, we would fall in humility and submissiveness to Allah, and worship Him. Since man is totally dependent on Allah, it is only logical that man should bow down in worship of Allah, and only ask for help from Him, for He is the source of everything.

Next comes the most important du’a we should make,

Ihdina siraatal mustaqeem – Guide us to the straight path

This is the most comprehensive du’a taught to man, for it encompasses our life in this world and in the hereafter. Here, we are being told to ask for guidance. Why guidance? Because even if we have everything else in this world, money, children, happiness, but we lack guidance from Allah, we are ultimately doomed. You can have a PHd or multiple degrees, but if you are not guided, when you are six feet under, you’ll be in hot water.

What is the straight path?

Siraatal lazdhina an’am ta ‘alaihim – the way of those whom have received Your blessings

This refers to the righteous, the salaf, all of whom Allah has blessed with knowledge, wisdom and allowed to enter Paradise. This is the path we want to be be on. And not the path of

ghairil maghdhoobi ‘alaihim – not those who earn Your Anger

When Sh. asked

“Who does this refer to?”

I typed in, “Jews,”

because that was what I have grown to know from the translations, but it turned out that it’s not the case. This group of people does not only refer to the Jews, but to a more general group of people who have the knowledge but do not act upon it. How scary is that, for that would probably include a lot of us. Subhanallah, this was truly an eye opening information for me.

wa la dhaalleen – and not those who go astray

This as I understood it before, refers to the Christians, but no, it refers to people who do not have the knowledge and who do not seek it. And knowledge here refers to the knowledge of Islam that we need to know in order to worship Allah correctly.

Everyday, Muslims recite these verses in the five daily prayers, in total 17 times a day. Everyday then we are asking for guidance to the straight path and protection from the path of those who have knowledge but don’t act upon it or those who have no knowledge or don’t seek it. We are told to ask Allah for guidance, but a remaining question would linger. How do we attain that guidance? The answer lies in the next surah following this surah, and that was when we went into Surah Al Baqarah, from which there is an abundace of gems to share, alhamdulillah!

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