Which was revealed in MakkahThe Meaning of Al-Fatihah and its Various Names
This Surah is called
– Al-Fatihah, that is, the Opener of the Book, the Surah with which prayers are begun. – It is also called, Umm Al-Kitab (the Mother of the Book), according to the majority of the scholars.
In an authentic Hadith recorded by At-Tirmidhi, who graded it Sahih, Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said,الْحَمْدُ للهِ رَبَ الْعَالَمِينَ أُمُّ الْقُرْآنِ وَأُمُّ الْكِتَابِ وَالسَّبْعُ الْمَثَانِي وَالْقُرْآنُ الْعَظِيمُ
Al-Hamdu lillahi Rabbil-`Alamin is the Mother of the Qur’an, the Mother of the Book, and the seven repeated Ayat of the Glorious Qur’an. It is also called Al-Hamd and As-Salah, because the Prophet said that his Lord said,قَسَمْتُ الصَّلَاةَ بَيْنِي وَبَيْنَ عَبْدِي نِصْفَيْنِ، فَإِذَا قَالَ الْعَبْدُ:الْحَمْدُ للهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِنَ، قَالَ اللهُ: حَمِدَنِي عَبْدِي
The prayer (i.e., Al-Fatihah) is divided into two halves between Me and My servants. When the servant says, `All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of existence,’ Allah says, ‘My servant has praised Me. Al-Fatihah was called the Salah, because reciting it is a condition for the correctness of Salah – the prayer. Al-Fatihah was also called Ash-Shifa’ (the Cure). It is also called Ar-Ruqyah (remedy), since in the Sahih, there is the narration of Abu Sa`id telling the story of the Companion who used Al-Fatihah as a remedy for the tribal chief who was poisoned. Later, the Messenger of Allah said to a Companion,وَمَا يُدْرِيكَ أَنَّهَا رُقْيَةٌ
How did you know that it is a Ruqyah? Al-Fatihah was revealed in Makkah as Ibn Abbas, Qatadah and Abu Al-Aliyah stated. Allah said,وَلَقَدْ ءاتَيْنَـكَ سَبْعًا مِّنَ الْمَثَانِي
And indeed, We have bestowed upon you the seven Mathani (seven repeatedly recited verses), (i.e. Surah Al-Fatihah) (15:87). Allah knows best.How many Ayat does Al-Fatihah contain
There is no disagreement over the view that Al-Fatihah contains seven Ayat. According to the majority of the reciters of Al-Kufah, a group of the Companions, the Tabi`in, and a number of scholars from the successive generations, the Bismillah is a separate Ayah in its beginning. We will mention this subject again soon, if Allah wills, and in Him we trust.The Number of Words and Letters in Al-Fatihah
The scholars say that Al-Fatihah consists of twenty-five words, and that it contains one hundred and thirteen letters.The Reason it is called Umm Al-Kitab
In the beginning of the Book of Tafsir, in his Sahih, Al-Bukhari said; “It is called Umm Al-Kitab, because the Qur’an starts with it and because the prayer is started by reciting it.” It was also said that it is called Umm Al-Kitab, because it contains the meanings of the entire Qur’an. Ibn Jarir said, “The Arabs call every comprehensive matter that contains several specific areas an Umm. For instance, they call the skin that surrounds the brain, Umm Ar-Ra’s. They also call the flag that gathers the ranks of the army an Umm.” He also said, “Makkah was called Umm Al-Qura, (the Mother of the Villages) because it is the grandest and the leader of all villages. It was also said that the earth was made starting from Makkah.”
Further, Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Hurayrah narrated about Umm Al-Qur’an that the Prophet said,«هِيَ أُمُّ الْقُرْآنِ وَهِيَ السَّبْعُ الْمَثَانِي وَهِيَ الْقُرْآنُ الْعَظِيمُ»
(It is Umm Al-Qur’an, the seven repeated (verses) and the Glorious Qur’an.)
Also, Abu Ja`far, Muhammad bin Jarir At-Tabari recorded Abu Hurayrah saying that the Messenger of Allah said about Al-Fatihah,«هِيَ أُمُّ الْقُرْآنِ وَهِيَ فَاتِحَةُ الْكِتَابِ وَهِيَ السَّبْعُ الْمَثَانِي»
(It is Umm Al-Qur’an, Al-Fatihah of the Book (the Opener of the Qur’an) and the seven repeated (verses).)Virtues of Al-Fatihah
Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal recorded in the Musnad that Abu Sa`id bin Al-Mu`alla said, “I was praying when the Prophet called me, so I did not answer him until I finished the prayer. I then went to him and he said, (What prevented you from coming) I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah ! I was praying.’ He said, (`Didn’t Allah say),﴿يأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ اسْتَجِيبُواْ لِلَّهِ وَلِلرَّسُولِ إِذَا دَعَاكُمْ لِمَا يُحْيِيكُمْ﴾
(O you who believe! Answer Allah (by obeying Him) and (His) Messenger when he () calls you to that which gives you life) He then said,«لَأُعَلِّمَنَّكَ أَعْظَمَ سُورَةٍ فِي الْقُرْآنِ قَبْلَ أَنْ تَخْرُجَ مِنَ الْمَسْجِدِ»
(I will teach you the greatest Surah in the Qur’an before you leave the Masjid.) He held my hand and when he was about to leave the Masjid, I said, `O Messenger of Allah! You said: I will teach you the greatest Surah in the Qur’an.’ He said, (Yes.)﴿الْحَمْدُ للَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَـلَمِينَ ﴾
(Al-Hamdu lillahi Rabbil-`Alamin)”«نَعَمْ هِيَ السَّبْعُ الْمَثَانِي وَالْقُرْآنُ الْعَظِيمُ الَّذِي أُوتِيتُهُ»
(It is the seven repeated (verses) and the Glorious Qur’an that I was given.)”
Al-Bukhari, Abu Dawud, An-Nasa’i and Ibn Majah also recorded this Hadith.
Also, Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Hurayrah said, “The Messenger of Allah went out while Ubayy bin Ka`b was praying and said, (O Ubayy!) Ubayy did not answer him. The Prophet said, (O Ubayy!) Ubayy prayed faster then went to the Messenger of Allah saying, `Peace be unto you, O Messenger of Allah!’ He said, (Peace be unto you. O Ubayy, what prevented you from answering me when I called you) He said, `O Messenger of Allah! I was praying.’ He said, (Did you not read among what Allah has sent down to me,)﴿اسْتَجِيبُواْ لِلَّهِ وَلِلرَّسُولِ إِذَا دَعَاكُمْ لِمَا يُحْيِيكُمْ﴾
(Answer Allah (by obeying Him) and (His) Messenger when he () calls you to that which gives you life) He said, `Yes, O Messenger of Allah! I will not do it again.’ the Prophet said,«أَتُحِبُّ أَنْ أُعَلِّمَكَ سُورَةً لَمْ تَنْزِلْ لَا فِي التَّورَاةِ وَلَا فِي الْإِنْجِيلِ وَلَا فِي الزَّبُورِ وَلَا فِي الْفُرْقَانِ مِثْلَهَا؟»
(Would you like me to teach you a Surah the likes of which nothing has been revealed in the Tawrah, the Injil, the Zabur (Psalms) or the Furqan (the Qur’an)) He said, `Yes, O Messenger of Allah!’ The Messenger of Allah said, (I hope that I will not leave through this door until you have learned it.) He (Ka`b) said, `The Messenger of Allah held my hand while speaking to me. Meanwhile I was slowing down fearing that he might reach the door before he finished his conversation. When we came close to the door, I said: O Messenger of Allah ! What is the Surah that you have promised to teach me’ He said, (What do you read in the prayer.) Ubayy said, `So I recited Umm Al-Qur’an to him.’ He said,«وَالَّذِي نَفْسِي بِيَدِهِ مَا أَنْزَلَ اللهُ فِي التَّورَاةِ وَلَا فِي الْإِنْجِيلِ وَلَا فِي الزَّبُورِ وَلَا فِي الْفُرْقَانِ مِثْلَهَا إِنَّهَا السَّبْعُ الْمَثَانِي»
(By Him in Whose Hand is my soul! Allah has never revealed in the Tawrah, the Injil, the Zabur or the Furqan a Surah like it. It is the seven repeated verses that I was given.)”
Also, At-Tirmidhi recorded this Hadith and in his narration, the Prophet said,«إِنَّهَا مِنَ السَّبْعِ الْمَثَانِي وَالْقُرْآنِ الْعَظِيمِ الَّذِي أُعْطِيتُهُ»
(It is the seven repeated verses and the Glorious Qur’an that I was given.) At-Tirmidhi then commented that this Hadith is Hasan Sahih.
There is a similar Hadith on this subject narrated from Anas bin Malik Further, `Abdullah, the son of Imam Ahmad, recorded this Hadith from Abu Hurayrah from Ubayy bin Ka`b, and he mentioned a longer but similar wording for the above Hadith. In addition, At-Tirmidhi and An-Nasa’i recorded this Hadith from Abu Hurayrah from Ubayy bin Ka`b who said that the Messenger of Allah said,«مَا أَنْزَل اللهُ فِي التَّورَاةِ وَلَا فِي الْإِنْجِيلِ مِثْلَ أُمِّ الْقُرْآنِ وَهِيَ السَّبْعُ الْمَثَانِي وَهِيَ مَقْسُومَةٌ بَيْنِي وَبَيْنَ عَبْدِي نِصْفَيْنِ»
(Allah has never revealed in the Tawrah or the Injil anything similar to Umm Al-Qur’an.
It is the seven repeated verses and it is divided into two halves between Allah and His servant.)
This is the wording reported by An-Nasa’i. At-Tirmidhi said that this Hadith is Hasan Gharib.
Also, Imam Ahmad recorded that Ibn Jabir said, “I went to the Messenger of Allah after he had poured water (for purification) and said, `Peace be unto you, O Messenger of Allah!’ He did not answer me. So I said again, `Peace be unto you, O Messenger of Allah!’ Again, he did not answer me, so I said again, `Peace be unto you, O Messenger of Allah!’ Still he did not answer me. The Messenger of Allah went while I was following him, until he arrived at his residence. I went to the Masjid and sat there sad and depressed. The Messenger of Allah came out after he performed his purification and said, (Peace and Allah’s mercy be unto you, peace and Allah’s mercy be unto you, peace and Allah’s mercy be unto you.) He then said, (O `Abdullah bin Jabir! Should I inform you of the best Surah in the Qur’an) I said, `Yes, O Messenger of Allah!’ He said, (Read, `All praise be to Allah, the Lord of the existence,’ until you finish it.)” This Hadith has a good chain of narrators.
Some scholars relied on this Hadith as evidence that some Ayat and Surahs have more virtues than others.
Furthermore, in the chapter about the virtues of the Qur’an, Al-Bukhari recorded that Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri said, “Once, we were on a journey when a female servant came and said, `The leader of this area has been poisoned and our people are away. Is there a healer among you’ Then a man whose healing expertise did not interest us stood for her, he read a Ruqyah for him, and he was healed. The chief gave him thirty sheep as a gift and some milk. When he came back to us we said to him, `You know of a (new) Ruqyah, or did you do this before’ He said, `I only used Umm Al-Kitab as Ruqyah.’ We said, `Do not do anything further until we ask the Messenger of Allah.’ When we went back to Al-Madinah we mentioned what had happened to the Prophet . The Prophet said,«وَمَا كَانَ يُدْرِيهِ أَنَّهَا رُقْيَةٌ اقْسِمُوا وَاضْرِبُوا لِي بِسَهْمٍ»
(Who told him that it is a Ruqyah Divide (the sheep) and reserve a share for me.)”
Also, Muslim recorded in his Sahih, and An-Nasa’i in his Sunan that Ibn `Abbas said, “While Jibril (Gabriel) was with the Messenger of Allah , he heard a noise from above. Jibril lifted his sight to the sky and said, `This is a door in heaven being open, and it has never been opened before now.’ An angel descended from that door and came to the Prophet and said, `Receive the glad tidings of two lights that you have been given, which no other Prophet before you was given: the Opening of the Book and the last (three) Ayat of Surat Al-Baqarah. You will not read a letter of them, but will gain its benefit.”’ This is the wording collected by An-Nasa’i (Al-Kubra 5:12) and Muslim recorded similar wording (1:554).Al-Fatihah and the Prayer
Muslim recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Prophet said,«مَنْ صَلَى صَلَاةً لَمْ يَقْرَأْ فِيهَا أُمَّ الْقُرْآنِ فَهِيَ خِدَاجٌ ثَلَاثًا غَيْرُ تَمَامٍ»
(Whoever performs any prayer in which he did not read Umm Al-Qur’an, then his prayer is incomplete.) He said it thrice.
Abu Hurayrah was asked, “﴾When﴿ we stand behind the Imam” He said, “Read it to yourself, for I heard the Messenger of Allah say,« قَالَ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ: قَسَمْتُ الصّلَاةَ بَيْنِي وَبَيْنَ عَبْدِي نِصْفَيْنِ وَلِعَبْدِي مَا سَأَلَ فَإِذَا قَالَ:﴿الْحَمْدُ للَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَـلَمِينَ ﴾، قَالَ اللهُ: حَمِدَنِي عَبْدِي وَإِذَا قَالَ:﴿الرَّحْمَـنِ الرَّحِيمِ ﴾، قَالَ اللهُ: أَثْنى عَلَيَّ عَبْدِي، فَإذَا قَالَ:﴿مَـلِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ ﴾، قَالَ اللهُ: مَجَّدَنِي عَبْدِي وَقَالَ مَرَّةً: فَوَّضَ إِلَيَّ عَبْدِي فَإِذَا قَالَ:﴿إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ ﴾، قَالَ: هذَا بَيْنِي وَبَيْنَ عَبْدِي وَلِعَبْدِي مَا سَأَلَ، فَإِذَا قَالَ:﴿اهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ – صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ غَيْرِ الْمَغْضُوبِ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلاَ الضَّآلِّينَ ﴾، قَالَ اللهُ: هذَا لِعَبْدِي وَلِعَبْدِي مَا سَأَلَ»
(Allah, the Exalted, said, `I have divided the prayer (Al-Fatihah) into two halves between Myself and My servant, and My servant shall have what he asks for.’ If he says,بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـنِ الرَّحِيمِ
(1 In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.)﴿الْحَمْدُ للَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَـلَمِينَ﴾
(2 All praise and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of existence.)
Allah says, `My servant has praised Me.’ When the servant says,﴿الرَّحْمَـنِ الرَّحِيمِ ﴾
(3 The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.)
Allah says, `My servant has glorified Me.’ When he says,﴿مَـلِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ ﴾
(4 The Owner of the Day of Recompense.) Allah says, `My servant has glorified Me,’ or `My servant has related all matters to Me.’ When he says,﴿إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ ﴾
(5 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,﴿اهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ – صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ غَيْرِ الْمَغْضُوبِ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلاَ الضَّآلِّينَ ﴾
(6 Guide us to the straight path.) (7 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.’).”
These are the words of An-Nasa’i, while both Muslim and An-Nasa’i collected the following wording, “A half of it is for Me and a half for My servant, and My servant shall acquire what he asked for.”Explaining this Hadith
The last Hadith used the word ﴿Salah﴾ `prayer’ in reference to reciting the Qur’an, (Al-Fatihah in this case) just as Allah said in another Ayah,﴿وَلاَ تَجْهَرْ بِصَلاتِكَ وَلاَ تُخَافِتْ بِهَا وَابْتَغِ بَيْنَ ذَلِكَ سَبِيلاً﴾
(And offer your Salah (prayer) neither aloud nor in a low voice, but follow a way between.) meaning, with your recitation of the Qur’an, as the Sahih related from Ibn `Abbas. Also, in the last Hadith, Allah said, “I have divided the prayer between Myself and My servant into two halves, a half for Me and a half for My servant. My servant shall have what he asked for.” Allah next explained the division that involves reciting Al-Fatihah, demonstrating the importance of reciting the Qur’an during the prayer, which is one of the prayer’s greatest pillars. Hence, the word `prayer’ was used here although only a part of it was actually being referred to, that is, reciting the Qur’an. Similarly, the word `recite’ was used where prayer is meant, as demonstrated by Allah’s statement,﴿وَقُرْءَانَ الْفَجْرِ إِنَّ قُرْءَانَ الْفَجْرِ كَانَ مَشْهُودًا﴾
(And recite the Qur’an in the early dawn.Verily, the recitation of the Qur’an in the early dawn is ever witnessed.) in reference to the Fajr prayer. The Two Sahihs recorded that the angels of the night and the day attend this prayer.Reciting Al-Fatihah is required in Every Rak`ah of the Prayer
All of these facts testify to the requirement that reciting the Qur’an (Al-Fatihah) in the prayer is required, and there is a consensus between the scholars on this ruling. The Hadith that we mentioned also testifies to this fact, for the Prophet said,«مَنْ صَلَّى صَلَاةً لَمْ يَقْرَأْ فِيهَا بِأُمِّ الْقُرْآنِ فَهِيَ خِدَاجٌ»
(Whoever performs any prayer in which he did not recite Umm Al-Qur’an, his prayer is incomplete.)
Also, the Two Sahihs recorded that `Ubadah bin As-Samit said that the Messenger of Allah said,«لَا صَلَاةَ لِمَنْ لَمْ يَقْرَأْ بِفَاتِحَةِ الْكِتَابِ»
(There is no prayer for whoever does not recite the Opening of the Book.)
Also, the Sahihs of Ibn Khuzaymah and Ibn Hibban recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said,«لَا تُجْزِئُ صَلَاةٌ لَا يُقْرَأُ فِيهَا بِأُمِّ الْقُرآنِ»
(The prayer during which Umm Al-Qur’an is not recited is invalid.)
There are many other Hadiths on this subject. Therefore, reciting the Opening of the Book, during the prayer by the Imam and those praying behind him, is required in every prayer, and in every Rak`ah.