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A Brief Overview of Surah Al-Fatiha (the Opener)

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This Makki surah,as our Prophet stated, is the best surah amongst all surahs. Since it is placed in the opening of Quran, all scholars said that it is obviously the abstract of Quran as we write an abstract at the first page of our scientific research paper. Al-Fatiha is believed as a summary of Quran because it consists the three aspects what Quran itself generally talks about: beliefs, laws and stories.

To begin with, the first four verses of Surath al-Fatiha clearly rectify the principal beliefs, especially in Allah. The first name of Allah appears in this surah and of course the first one in Quran too is “Allah”, the very unique name of Him and the name which all His names return to it. Then He mentioned Ar-Rahman and Ar-Rahim which are considered as the two of His primary names twice that also bring one of His attribute: Ar-Rahmah (the mercy). It as well makes a sense in the opening of Quran that Islam is the merciful religion and is the mercy from Allah to the universe. In the fourth verse He declared that the Judgement Day –much less this world- is under His control beside the fact that He is the king of all kings. All of these verses throw light upon the concept of divinity and the Hereafter, since in reality these concepts form the basis of other pillars of faith which are believing in angels, holy scriptures, prophets and destiny. These six pillars of belief will be explained in next surahs.

Furthermore, the next two verses hint at Islamic laws. We will find in next surahs verses about these laws from individual worships like performing Prayers, fasting and making Dua, until social worships as giving charity, doing filial piety and showing noble attitudes, marriage, jihad and penalties.The fifth verse establishes the goal of every single law in Islam and the concept of solidarity in Islamic community. Ibn Qayyim (d. 1350 CE) wrote three volumes of Madarij Salikin merely to explain this verse since Allah mentioned there the main concept of “worships” with its broad meaning. Whereas the sixth verse teaches us to be humble even when we are the straight path because we may deviate outside from it and likewise tells us the most important thing to be asked in our Dua: “Please guide us to the straight path.”

Lastly, we see the very last verse of this surah also alludes to historical sides and stories in Quran when it speaks of people whom Allah has favored and in next surahs we will see that they are like the prophets, angels, Luqman the wise, King Saul, Amram, Anne, Mary, the apostles of the Prophet Jesus, the Seven Sleepers in the Cave until the companions of the Prophet Muhammad. On the other hand it speaks as well of people who took the path of those who evoked Allah’s anger and people who are astray, who later we will see in Quran such as Iblis, King Nimrod II, Pharaoh Ramses  II, Korah, Balaam, Abu Jahal, Al-Walid ibn Al-Mughirah, Abu Lahab with other opponents of the Prophet Muhammad from Quraish, Dajjal, Gog and Magog.

To put it in a nutshell, this seven-verse surah is undoubtedly the succinct synthesis of all following Quranic verses due to its complete elements. Therefore, it is an obligatory to recite this surah in every raka’at of all kinds of prayers. It seems that all muslims are reminded regularly from time to time with the digest of this ultimate guidebook of life. A great Tabi’i, Al-Hasan Al-Basri (d. 728 CE), once said, “Whoever masters the meaning of surah Al-Fatihah is like the one who masters all Allah’s holy scriptures.” [narrated by Al-Bayhaqi].

 

written by Nur Fajri Romadhon

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