SURAH ALFATIHA Tafheemul Quran( My Ustaz syed Mowdoudi)
1. Surah Al Fatihah (The Opening)
This Surah is named Al-Fatihah because of its subject-matter. Fatihah is that which opens a
subject or a book or any other thing. In other words, Al-Fatihah is a sort of preface.
Period of Revelation
It is one of the very earliest Revelations to the Holy Prophet. As a matter of fact, we learn
from authentic Traditions that it was the first complete Surah which was revealed to
Muhammad (Allah’s peace be upon him). Before this, only a few miscellaneous verses were
revealed which form parts of ~Alaq, Muzzammil, Muddaththir, etc.
This Surah is in fact a prayer which Allah has taught to all those who want to make a study
of His book. It has been placed at the very beginning of the book to teach this lesson to the
reader: if you sincerely want to benefit from the Quran, you should offer this prayer to the
Lord of the Universe.
This preface is meant to create a strong desire in the heart of the reader to seek guidance
from the Lord of the Universe, Who alone can grant it. Thus Al-Fatihah indirectly teaches
that the best thing for a man is to pray for guidance to the straight path, to study the Quran
with the mental attitude of a seeker- after-truth and to recognize the fact that the Lord of the
Universe is the source of all knowledge. He should, therefore, begin the study of the Quran
with a prayer to him for guidance.
From this theme, it becomes clear that the real relation between Al-Fatihah and the Quran is
not that of an introduction to a book but that of a prayer and its answer. Al-Fatihah is the
prayer from the servant and the Quran is the answer from the Master to his prayer. The
servant prays to Allah to show him guidance and the Master places the whole of the Quran
before him in answer to his prayer, as if to say, “This is the Guidance you begged from Me.”
(1:1) In the name of Allah, the Merciful, and The Compassionate!
1. One of the many practices taught by Islam is that its followers should begin their activities
in the name of God. This principle, if consciously and earnestly followed, will necessarily
yield three beneficial results. First, one will be able to restrain oneself from many misdeed,
since the habit of pronouncing the name of God is bound to make one wonder when about
to commit some offence how such an act can be reconciled with the saying of God’s holy
name. Second, if a man pronounces the name of God before starting good and legitimate
tasks, this act will ensue that both his starting point and his mental orientation are sound.
Third – and this is the most important benefit – when a man begins something by pronouncing
God’s name, he will enjoy God’s support and succor; God will bless his efforts and
protect him from the machinations and temptation of Satan. For whenever man
turns to God, God turns to him as well.
(1:2) Praise to Allah, the Lord of the entire universe.
2. As we have already explained, the character of this surah is that of a prayer. The prayer
begins with praise of the One to whom our prayer is addressed. This indicates that
whenever one prays one ought to pray in a dignified manner. It does not become a
cultivated person to blurt out his petition. Refinement demands that our requests should be
preceded by a wholehearted acknowledgement of the unique position, infinite benevolence
and unmatched excellence of the One to Whom we pray. Whenever we praise someone, we
do so for two reasons. First, because excellence calls for praise, irrespective of whether that
excellence has any direct relevance to us or not. Second, we praise one who, we consider to
be our benefactor; when this is the case our praise arises from a deep feeling of gratitude.
God is worthy of praise on both counts. It is incumbent on us to praise Him not only in
recognition of His infinite excellence but also because of our feeling of gratitude to Him,
arising from our awareness of the blessings He has lavished upon us. It is important to note
that what is said here is not merely that praise be to God, but that all praise be to God alone.
Whenever there is any beauty, any excellence, any perfection-in whatever thing or in
whatever shape it may manifest itself- its ultimate source is none other than God Himself.
No human beings, angels, Demigods, heavenly bodies-in short, no created beings-are
possessed of an innate excellence; where excellence exists, it is a gift from God. Thus, if there
is anyone at all whom we ought to adore and worship, to whom we ought to feel indebted
and grateful, towards whom we should remain humble and obedient, it is the creator of
excellence, rather than its possessor.
3. In Arabic the word Rabb has three meanings: (i) Lord and Master; (ii) Sustainer, Provider,
Supporter, Nourisher and Guardian, and (iii) Sovereign, Ruler, He Who controls and directs.
God is the Rabb of the universe in all three meanings of the term.
(1:3) The Merciful, the Compassionate!
4. Whenever we are deeply impressed by the greatness of something we try to express our
feelings by using superlatives. If the use of one superlative does not do full justice to our
feelings, we tend to re-emphasize the extraordinary excellence of the object of our
admiration by adding a second superlative of nearly equivalent meaning.* This would seem
to explain the use of the word Rahim following Rahman. The form of the word Rahman
connotes intensity. Yet God’s mercy and beneficence towards His creatures is so great, so
extensive and of such an infinite nature that no one word, however strong its connotation,
can do it full justice. The epithet Rahim was therefore added to that of Rahm
(1:4) The Master of the Day of Recompense3.
5. God will be the Lord of the Day when all generations of mankind gather together on
order to render an account of their conduct, and when each person will be finally rewarded
or punished for his deeds. The description of God as Lord of the Day of Judgment
following the mention of his benevolence and compassion indicates that we ought to
remember another aspect of God as well-namely, that He will judge us all, that He is so
absolutely powerful, that on the Day of Judgement no one will have the power either to
resist the enforcement of punishments that He decrees or to prevent anyone from receiving
the rewards that He decides to confer. Hence, we ought not only to love Him for nourishing
and sustaining us and for His compassion and mercy towards us, but should also hold Him
in awe because of His justice, and should not forget that our ultimate happiness or misery
rests completely with Him.
(1:5) You alone do we worships, and You alone do we turn for help
6. The term ibadah is used in three sense: (i) worship and adoration; (ii) obedience and
submission; and (iii) service and subjection. In this particular context the term carries all
these meanings simultaneously. In other words, we say to God that we worship and adore
Him, that we are obedient to Him and follow His will, and also that we are His servants.
Moreover, man is so bound to none save God, that none but He, may be the subject of man’s
worship and total devotion, of man’s unreserved obedience, of man’s absolute subjection
7. Not only do we worship God, but our relationship with Him is such that we turn to Him
alone for help and succour. We know that He is the Lord of the whole universe and that He
alone is the Master of all blessings and benefactions. Hence, in seeking the fulfilment of our
needs we turn to Him alone. It is towards Him alone that we stretch forth our hands when
we pray and supplicate. It is in Him that we repose our trust. It is therefore to Him alone
that we address our request for true guidance.
(1:6) Direct us on to the Straight Ways,
8. We beseech God to guide us in all walks of life to a way which is absolutely true, which
provides us with a properly-based outlook and sound principles of behaviour, a way which
will prevent our succumbing to false doctrines and adopting unsound principles of conduct,
a way that will lead us to our true salvation and happiness. This is man’s prayer to God as
he begins the study of the Qur’an. It is, in short, to illuminate the truth which he often tends
to lose in a labyrinth of philosophical speculation; to enlighten him as to which of the
numerous ethical doctrines ensures a sound course of conduct; to show which of the myriad
ways and by-ways is the clear, straight, open road of sound belief and right behaviour.
(1:7) The way of those whom You have favored’, who did not incur Your wrath, who
Are/were not astray.
9. This defines the ‘straight way’ which we ask God to open to us. It is the way which has
always been followed by those who have enjoyed God’s favours and blessings. This is the
way which has been trodden from the beginning of time by all those individuals and
communities that have unfailingly enjoyed God’s favors and blessings.
10. This makes it clear that the recipients of God’s favor are not those who appear, briefly,
to enjoy worldly prosperity and success; all too often, these people are among those whom
God has condemned because they have lost sight of the true path of salvation and happiness.
This negative explanation makes it quite clear that in’am (favour) denotes all those real and
abiding favours and blessings which one receives in reward for righteous conduct through
God’s approval and pleasure, rather than those apparent and fleeting favours which the
Pharaohs, Nimrods and Korahs (Qaruns) used to receive in the past, and which are enjoyed
even today by people notorious for oppression, evil and corruption.