Dear brothers and sisters, firstly, Surat Al-fatiha, is a Meccan Sura. All 114 suras can be divided into 2 groups, meccan and median sura. These denote where the Prophet SAWS was when the sura was revealed. In the case of this sura, it was brought down while the Prophet SAWS was in mecca prior to his migration to Medina.
The translation of Fatiha is opening and it is the opening Sura of the Glorious Quran. It is important for a number of reasons and to truly do it justice would be outside the time available in todays reminder. However, we will attempt to mention some of the important points.
Firstly, it is a pillar of the prayers, and the prayer would not be correct without reading it. The imam mentioned a hadith in which the Prophet SAWS said:
The prayer is not valid if one does not recite fatihat al-kitab and something more.
Dear brothers and sisters, this Sura is considered that important that we must recite in each and every salat we pray. The imam spoke of a hadith in which the Prophet SAWS spoke of this Sura. It is translated to say:
‘Would you like for me to teach you a Surah the likes of which has neither been revealed in the Tawrah, nor the Injil, nor the Zabur, nor in the entire Qur’an?’ He said: “Yes, O Messenger of Allah!’ The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: ‘What do you recite in your Salat?’ He said: ‘I recite Umm Al-Qur’an.’ So the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: ‘By the One in Whose Hand is my soul! The like of it has neither been revealed in the Tawrah, nor the Injil nor the Zabur, nor in the Furqan. It is the seven oft-repeated, and the Magnificent Qur’an which I was given.'”
Alongside this we have Allah SWT telling us the importance of this Sura elsewhere in the Quran. The imam reminded us of this in Sura Al-Hijr, ayat 87 which is translated to say:
We have given you the Seven Verses that are worthy of recitation over and over again (Surah Al-Fatiha) and the Glorious Qur’an.
Dear brothers and sisters, this sura consists of 7 verses or ayats and so this reminder concludes with 7 lessons that can be derived from each ayat.
The first ayat translates to All Praise and Thanks is for Allah SWT, the Lord of the Worlds. This is an opening definition of Allah SWT. An introduction to our Creator. In this ayat it is telling us that The Praise and Thanks is for Allah SWT. For those who know grammar, it is a definite noun which means all praise and thanks is definitely, without doubt, due to Allah SWT.
What does this tell us? It tells us to be mindful of all the favours Allah SWT has done for us. Not just in our lives but since the last prayer. If we truly look at our day, just in between two prayer times are an immeasurable number of blessings and favours given by Allah SWT to us. This ayat reminds us of that.
Second ayat is the most beneficent, most merciful. These two attributes of Allah SWT are a lesson within themselves. However, the best way to describe them for our reminder is that Allah SWT is telling us He is more merciful than any mercy we have witnessed on this earth and that the level of mercy is infinite in time. He will forever be merciful to us. An amazing follow up to His introducing ayat. It reminds us that we are never to despair from His mercy. It tells us that despite who we are, what we have done, Allah SWT is capable of forgiving us and bringing us back to the right path.
Third ayat tells us now of our life. It is translated as The Owner of the Day of Judgement. This ayat is explaining the purpose of life in one sentence. By introducing Himself, defining attributes for our sake and now following up with this ayat, Allah SWT is telling us the purpose of our lives is to live in waiting for His ultimate judgment on the day. It tells us that not only is there a day like this but that our lives are leading up to that day and that there is life after that day. It therefore reminds us to wary of this fact and live our life in accordance with Divine instruction.
Fourth ayat tells is translated as You Alone we Worship and You alone we ask for Help. This ayat reminds us that ultimately whatever we are going through in life is in His control. He has the power to change it all and He is the one to be asked of. This is why in our previous reminder, we spoke of the need to do dua at the end of the prayer as we are announcing during prayer, we recognize the power of Allah SWT but then it doesn’t make sense to leave out the dua as we ought to follow this up by asking of Him.
Fifth ayat says Guide us to the Straight Way. This ayat reminds us to constantly ask Allah SWT in our duas for guidance. We can never be arrogant to assume we have figured it out so this reminds us of that.
Sixth ayat says Not the way of those who have earned Your Anger. This refers to those people who have religious knowledge but do not act upon it. So it’s those who are Muslim by name and don’t do any of the things that are not part of this faith. We need to be careful that we don’t fall into this trap.
And last ayat says Nor of those who went astray. This refers to those who act without religious knowledge. We should all aim to acquire knowledge. As Muslims, we are all students and we are all constantly striving to learn and be better Muslims, we ought to use this ayat to remind ourselves of that and keep striving to learn and improve our knowledge of our faith.
Dear brothers and sisters, alongside the practical lesson of these ayats, is the practical lesson of the Sura itself. In order to digest this, we need to understand that the Quran was revealed as a spoken revelation and thus the final lesson is the most miraculous of all.
Of the 7 ayats, we have the middle ayat which says You alone we worship and You alone we ask for help. This middle ayat can therefore be split into 2 parts, with first part being about what we will do and the second part is what we ask of Allah SWT. This middle verse can be regarded as a contract between the Creator and the Creation. But it’s also a pivot with perfect balance.
What’s amazing is that if we then look back at the first half of this Sura before this ayat, it is 3 verses expanding upon the first half of the middle ayat, describing who it is that we worship. It is Allah SWT stating His part of the contract to us. And the last 3 verses of the Sura expand upon the second half of ayat 4, describing the help that we, His creation need. It is us stating back what we will do for Him.
This perfect balance of the Sura makes it not only a linguistic miracle but also a compelling reason for reciting this with emphasis and focus on the message during our prayers.