By: Salah Ed-Din A. Nefeily

Al-Fatiha, the Opening chapter of the muslims' glorious book Al -Quran.
Sura "Al-Fatiha"
Introduction to 'Al-Fatiha':
Al -Qur'an, The Muslim's Glorious Book:
Interpretation of the Qur'an (Tafsir)
Translating the meanings of the Qur'an
Sura Al-Fatiha Verse One
Verse Two
Verse Three
Verse Four
Verse Five
Verse six
Verse Seven
Translations of the meanings of the Quran are used in this book
The following interpretations 0f the Quran were used in the book

Islambasics Library: Highlights On the meaning of Al-Fatiha

Al -Qur'an, The Muslim's Glorious Book:

lt is the book, which Allah revealed to the Prophet Muhammad as a guide for humanity. lt is described by Allah as

هُدًى لِّلنَّاسِ{البقرة/185}

"Guidance for Mankind" (2: 185) and as the book that leads "Mankind out of darkness (of disbelief and polytheism) into light (of belief in the oneness of Allah and Islamic Monotheism)" (14: 1).

الَر كِتَابٌ أَنزَلْنَاهُ إِلَيْكَ لِتُخْرِجَ النَّاسَ مِنَ الظُّلُمَاتِ إِلَى النُّورِ{إبراهيم/1}

The Qur'an was communicated to the Prophet Muhammad through the angel Gabriel. The Qur'an covers almost all aspects of human life and includes so many historical facts, which enlighten readers about past nations. Mujahid said that Allah loves most those who are most knowledgeable and acquainted with His book Al-Qur'an. (Fat'hel-Qadir Vol.l:1). The Qur'an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad in portions over a period of twenty- three years (Thirteen years in Mecca and ten years in Medina). The language of the Qur'an is beautiful and its wisdom is admirable. The verses revealed to the Prophet Muhammad in Mecca are known as Meccan verses and the ones revealed in Medina are known as Medani. Many of the Meccan verses and suras deal with the foundations of the religion whereas the Medani verses and suras deal with human relations, including social, political and economic aspects.

Before reading the Qur'an a Muslim is recommended to seek refuge in the presence of Allah to protect him from the devil and other distractions. The reader of the Qur'an should purify his mind to receive Allah's words. A reader will then be able to understand some of the secrets of the divine words of Allah. He will be in the companionship of his creator. lt is mentioned in the Qur'an that the devil himself challenged Allah saying that he will delude people except those who are honest to Allah. It is known that the devil does not delude the sinners for they are already following him. He said that he will always be there to dissuade people from doing good. On the Day of Judgment, Satan and his followers will disavow their relationship to the sinners. They will dissociate themselves from their followers and will be concerned only with themselves.

Man is empowered and protected when he takes refuge in Allah. Prophet Muhammad said that Allah will save whoever devotes himself to the service of his Lord (Ar-Razi Vol.l: l27). When the Prophet Muhammad and his companion Abu Bakr were in the cave on their way to Medina, Abu Bakr feared that the Meccans would catch them. The Prophet calmed Abu Bakr down and told him that they are in the protection and refuge of Allah and that Allah will not disappoint them. Allah saved them from the Meccans who did not notice their presence in the cave. This is the rule, which Allah applied to all the nations before Islam. He saved Noah and Jonah when they directed their faces to Allah seeking help.

It is important to note that the Qur'an is miraculous on different levels. In sura 6, verse 38, Allah says:

مَّا فَرَّطْنَا فِي الكِتَابِ مِن شَيْءٍ {الأنعام/38}

"We have neglected nothing in the book (The Qur'an)". It is the book, which Allah promises to "protect and guard from corruption" (Sura I5: 9).

إِنَّا نَحْنُ نَزَّلْنَا الذِّكْرَ وَإِنَّا لَهُ لَحَافِظُونَ {الحجر/9}

Allah challenged non-believers to come up with a book similar to the Qur'an. Verse 88 of Sura I7 reads:

قُل لَّئِنِ اجْتَمَعَتِ الإِنسُ وَالْجِنُّ عَلَى أَن يَأْتُواْ بِمِثْلِ هَذَا الْقُرْآنِ لاَ يَأْتُونَ بِمِثْلِهِ وَلَوْ كَانَ بَعْضُهُمْ لِبَعْضٍ ظَهِيرًا {الإسراء/88}

"Say if the whole of Mankind and Jinn were to gather together to produce the like of this Qur'an, they could not produce the like thereof, even if they backed up each other with help and support". Allah challenged them to come up with ten suras equal in power, beauty and perfection to those of the Qur'an (Sura ll, verse I3).

قُلْ فَأْتُواْ بِعَشْرِ سُوَرٍ مِّثْلِهِ مُفْتَرَيَاتٍ وَادْعُواْ مَنِ اسْتَطَعْتُم مِّن دُونِ اللّهِ إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ {هود/13}

When they failed to meet this challenge, Allah challenged them even to come up with one sura, equal to any of the suras of the Qur'an. In Sura Two of the Qur'an, Allah addresses non-believers saying:

وَإِن كُنتُمْ فِي رَيْبٍ مِّمَّا نَزَّلْنَا عَلَى عَبْدِنَا فَأْتُواْ بِسُورَةٍ مِّن مِّثْلِهِ وَادْعُواْ شُهَدَاءكُم مِّن دُونِ اللّهِ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ صَادِقِينَ {البقرة/23}

"And if you are in doubt concerning that which we have sent down to Muhammad, then produce a sura of the like thereof and call your witnesses besides Allah, if you are truthful" (Verse 23). This challenge to come up with only one sura is repeated in Sura l0, Verse 38 of the Qur'an. The non-believers' failure to meet the challenge proves that the Qur'an is a great and an everlasting miracle from Allah to support his prophet Muhammad. In his book The Qur'an, the Miracle of Miracles, Ahmed Deedat quotes the words of R. Bosworth-Smith in his book Mohammad and Mohammadanism in which he describes the Qur'an as "a miracle of purity of style, of wisdom and of truth" (14).

On the scientific level, Deedat gives the example of the newly discovered theory of the 'Big Bang' to support the truthfulness of the Qur'an. Deedat points out the fact that this story of the 'Big Bang' is told fourteen hundred years ago in verses 30 and 33 of Sura 2l. The first verse reads

أَوَلَمْ يَرَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا أَنَّ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ كَانَتَا رَتْقًا فَفَتَقْنَاهُمَا وَجَعَلْنَا مِنَ الْمَاء كُلَّ شَيْءٍ حَيٍّ أَفَلَا يُؤْمِنُونَ {الأنبياء/30}

"Do not the unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together (as one unit of creation) before we clove them asu1ider". Verse 33 continues:

وَهُوَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ اللَّيْلَ وَالنَّهَارَ وَالشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ كُلٌّ فِي فَلَكٍ يَسْبَحُونَ{الأنبياء/33}

"And it is He (Almighty Allah) who created the night and the day, and the sun and the moon: All (the celestial bodies) swim along, each in its bounded course".

Deedat also refers to the newly discovered fact that life began to generate as a "protoplasm out of which came the amoeba and out of that mire in the sea came all living things. In one word all life came from the sea or Water" (20). This theory was mentioned in the Qur'an:

{الأنبياء/30} وَجَعَلْنَا فِي الْأَرْضِ رَوَاسِيَ أَن تَمِيدَ بِهِمْ وَجَعَلْنَا فِيهَا فِجَاجًا سُبُلًا لَعَلَّهُمْ يَهْتَدُونَ

"And we made from water every living thing. Will the atheists and the agnostics, then, not believe!" (21: 30). Verse 45 of Sura 24 reads:

وَاللَّهُ خَلَقَ كُلَّ دَابَّةٍ مِن مَّاء{النور/45}

"And Allah has created every animal from water`".

Another writer, Professor Mansour Hassab el-Naby writes in detail about the most recent theories about human reproduction. He explains that the Glorious Qur'an presents these theories in the most accurate way (l42-l63).

He refers to the fact that human reproduction is so miraculous that Allah speaks about it right in the second verse revealed to the prophet Muhammad. The first sura revealed to the prophet starts as follows:

اقْرَأْ بِاسْمِ رَبِّكَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ {العلق/1} خَلَقَ الْإِنسَانَ مِنْ عَلَقٍ {العلق/2}

"Read, in the name of thy Lord and Cherisher who created Man. He created Man out of something, which clings (96: 1-2). The Qur`an includes so many other scientific facts, which are discovered only in the last few decades. Tantawi Johary explains that the verses dealing with science in the Qur'an are more in number than the verses which deal with matters of religion. He points out that about seven hundred and fifty of the Qur'an's verses deal with scientific facts related to the different aspects of life (37). As a matter of fact, if we review the verses of the Qur'an, which speak about the creation of Man, we will notice remarkable accordance with the newly discovered facts. Verses 12 through 14 of Sura 23 for example, read as follows:

وَلَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الْإِنسَانَ مِن سُلَالَةٍ مِّن طِينٍ {المؤمنون/12} ثُمَّ جَعَلْنَاهُ نُطْفَةً فِي قَرَارٍ مَّكِينٍ {المؤمنون/13} ثُمَّ خَلَقْنَا النُّطْفَةَ عَلَقَةً فَخَلَقْنَا الْعَلَقَةَ مُضْغَةً فَخَلَقْنَا الْمُضْغَةَ عِظَامًا فَكَسَوْنَا الْعِظَامَ لَحْمًا ثُمَّ أَنشَأْنَاهُ خَلْقًا آخَرَ فَتَبَارَكَ اللَّهُ أَحْسَنُ الْخَالِقِينَ {المؤمنون/14}

Anti indeed we created man out of an extract of clay (12). Thereafter, we made the offspring of Adain as a mixture of the drops of the male and female sexual discharge and lodged it in the woman's womb (13). Then we made this mixture a piece of thick coagulated blood. We, then, made this clot a little lump of flesh. Out of this lump of flesh, we made bones. Then, we clothed the bones with flesh. We, then, brought it forth as another creation. S0 blessed be Allah, the Great Creator (14).

In his commentary on these three verses of Sura 23, Yusuf Ali points out that these verses are miraculous in their reference to the minute details of the process of the creation of a fetus, when an inorganic matter becomes a living matter. Ali wrote:

The first change in the fertilized ovum is the conversion into a sort of clot of thickly congealed blood; the zygote cells grow by segmentation; then the mass gradually assumes shape in its growth as a fetus. From the lump develop bones and flesh and organs and a nervous system (2872).

It is also remarkable that a saying of the Prophet Muhammad goes even into more details than those mentioned in the verses. lt gives the time of forty days as the period which each of the three stages takes before life develops into the fetus. According to the prophet's saying the three stages of developing the fetus, are:

l) Nutfa, a mixture of the drops of the male and the female sexual discharges.

2) Alaqa, a clot or a piece of thick coagulated blood.

3) Mudgha, a lump of little flesh.

The verses quoted above from Sura 23 also state the scientific fact that bones are created before flesh. These facts are scientifically discovered lately. These facts told in the Qur'an and in the sayings of the unlettered Prophet Muhammad attest to the fact that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.

The Qur'an is also miraculous in its prophecies. It foretells many events, which happened after the revelation. The Muslims' defeat of the Romans is predicted in Sura 30 verse 2-5. The victory of Muslims in the Battle of Badr and the opening of Mecca are also foretold in the Qur'an. (Eiga; El-Qur'an Vol. 1: 3). Al-Qur'an includes stories about past nations and prophets about whom the Prophet Mohammad had no idea. The Qur'an is also miraculous in the way it is so rhetorically phrased. The prophet, who was himself illiterate, could not by any means compose a book so rhetorical as the Qur'an.

The Qur'an played and continues to play a major role in the life of Muslims. Ali Ibn Abi Talib narrated that he had heard the Prophet Muhammad say: "There will be a time of seditions for Muslims". Ali asked the prophet: What is the way out of these seditions? The Prophet answered:

The way out of the dilemmas of that hard time is a return to the Book of Allah, the Qur`an. It is the book that tells about the stories of past nations and the tidings tor the next ones as well as the right way for your own generation.

Whoever gets away from it will suffer, and whoever uses it as a guide, will prosper. lt is the strongest of attachments to Allah. lt is the book oi` wisdom and of truthfulness. It is an endless source o;` knowledge and miracles. It is not affected by whoever attacks it. It is the guide for all human beings and a source of truth for its readers. Whoever follows its instructions will be rewarded and whoever uses it as a guide will be always fair."  (Shihata5).

The Qur'an is not only a book to read, but an endless source of wisdom and instructions. Verse 24 of Sure 47 entitled "Muhammad" reads:

أَفَلَا يَتَدَبَّرُونَ الْقُرْآنَ أَمْ عَلَى قُلُوبٍ أَقْفَالُهَا {محمد/24}

"Do the unbelievers not then think deeply in the Qur'an or are their hearts locked up from understanding!'". The aim of this great book is to urge people think profoundly about life and act accordingly. The Qur'an is considered by Muslims as the main source of law and guidance in almost all aspects of life. Verse twenty-nine of Chapter thirty-eight describes the Qur'an as follows:

كِتَابٌ أَنزَلْنَاهُ إِلَيْكَ مُبَارَكٌ لِّيَدَّبَّرُوا آيَاتِهِ وَلِيَتَذَكَّرَ أُوْلُوا الْأَلْبَابِ {ص/29}

"This is a Book which we have set down to you (Muhammad). Full of the blessings that your people may ponder over its verses, and that man of understanding may remember its basics and rules". The whole Quran is an explanation of what the right way is. In the Qur'an Allah says:

يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ قَدْ جَاءكُمْ رَسُولُنَا يُبَيِّنُ لَكُمْ كَثِيرًا مِّمَّا كُنتُمْ تُخْفُونَ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَيَعْفُو عَن كَثِيرٍ قَدْ جَاءكُم مِّنَ اللّهِ نُورٌ وَكِتَابٌ مُّبِينٌ {المائدة/15} يَهْدِي بِهِ اللّهُ مَنِ اتَّبَعَ رِضْوَانَهُ سُبُلَ السَّلاَمِ وَيُخْرِجُهُم مِّنِ الظُّلُمَاتِ إِلَى النُّورِ بِإِذْنِهِ وَيَهْدِيهِمْ إِلَى صِرَاطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ {المائدة/16}

Indeed, there has come to you from Allah a light (The Prophet Muhammad) and a plain Book (The Qur'an). It is the book that guides all those who seek Allah's Blessings and His ways of peace. Allah will bring them out of darkness by His Will unto light and will guide them to the Straight Way (5: 15, 16).

In the Qur'an, Allah promises that he will protect this book from any change or alteration. He said

إِنَّا نَحْنُ نَزَّلْنَا الذِّكْرَ وَإِنَّا لَهُ لَحَافِظُونَ {الحجر/9}

°'Verily, We have sent down the Qur'an and surely we will guard it from corruption" (15: 9).

The first verses of the Qur'an (from Sura Al-Alaq, The C lot) were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad while he was performing his religious devotion in Cave Hiraa in Mecca. He was forty years of age at the time. Muhammad was so much confused and frightened at the time that he did not know what to do. He went t0 his wife, Khadija, who comforted him and took him to her relative, Waraqa Ibn Nawfal, the knowledgeable priest. Waraqa knew that Muhammad will be the prophet of Allah.

The Prophet himself was very keen regarding putting the Qur'an into writing. He used to have the scribes of the Qur'an close to him so that they record whatever revelation he had. The prophet told the scribes about the exact position of every revealed part in the Qur'an (Al-Gioshi 5).

Since the early days of the revelation, Muslims did their best to keep the Qur'an unchanged. They memorized it, studied it and recorded it in writing. During the life of

The Prophet Muhammad, Muslims had copies of parts of the Qur'an both for reading and for study. Al-Gioshi gives the story of the early conversion of Omar Ibn El-Khattab, the second Caliph, as an undeniable proof of the writing of the Qur'an at the time of the Prophet's life. When Omar was told that his sister had converted to Islam, he went right away to her house where he heard her rehearsing Sura Taha (Chapter 20 of the Qur'an), which was put into writing. Omar asked his sister to hand him the leaf on which this sura of the Qur'an was written. She bravely refused to hand him the leaf unless he promises to revere it and to wash himself first. Omar read this part of the Qur'an and soon he converted to Islam (Al-Gioshi 5).

The Qur’an is preserved in book-form since the days of Othman. the third caliph who collected it in what is known as the Othmanic Qur'an. Four of the seven copies sent by Othman to the different countries of the world are still available, one in each of the following cities: Medina in Saudi Arabia, Cairo in Egypt, Istanbul in Turkey and Tashkend, in Uzbakestan, as Professor Zaghloul An - Naggaar says in his lecture on the Miracle of the Qur'an. The Qur'an is also preserved at the hearts of millions of Muslims who recite it in their prayers and congregations as well as in their private devotions.

In fact, so many situations, in the well-documented history of Islam, tell us that a good number of the Prophet's companions kept the whole Qur'an by heart. Many more companions memorized parts of it. Logically, those companions could not memorize the whole Qur'an or parts of it without written texts. At least four people from Medina had full copies of the Qur'an at the time of the Prophet's death (Al-Gioshi 7). The Prophet used to send copies of whatever revealed to him to the early migrants to Abyssinia (Al-Gioshi 6). Ahmed Von Denffer quotes Assyoti who pointed out that "the Qur'an had been written down in its entirety in the time of the prophet" (35). Denffer says that when some writers say that the Qur'an was collected and brought together in one book, they mean that they ordered its chapters or suras, and verses according to the instructions of the Prophet. Denffer explains that the prophet could not perform this project of bringing together the suras of the Qur'an during his life time because he died only "nine days after the last revelation and [he] was severely ill [at that time]" (36).

The first collection of the verses and suras of the Qur`an occurred at the time of the first Caliph, Abu Bakr, who asked Zayd Ibn Thabit, a chief scribe to collect the Qur'an. Zayd collected the scattered fragments of the Qur'an recorded on palm leaves, stones, bones and animal skins. Abu Bakr, then gave this first collected text of the Qur'an to Hafsah, wife of the prophet. This first collection of the Qur'an remained with Hafsa, till the death of her father, Omar, the second caliph.

The final collection of the Suras and verses of the Qur'an at the time of the third Caliph, Othman was a big and necessary project since war and old age have claimed the lives of many of those who kept the Qur'an by heart. Othman requested Zayd lbn Thabit to head a committee of scribes to edit and copy the collection kept by Hafsah. The committee produced the copy known as the Mus’haf of Othman which was sent to people around the Muslim world of that time. Othman ordered all other copies and fragments of the Qur'an to be destroyed.

lt is important to note that this Othmanic copy of the Qur'an can be read in seven famous ways of reading, according to the dialects of seven famous Arab tribes. These seven ways of reading the Qur"an do not radically change the meanings of the verses read. They are different in some grammatical or dialectical variations.

lt is also important to note that the Qur'an is intended to be read not just for the sake of reading, but also for pondering and meditation. Ali, the prophet's cousin, and the fourth Caliph said that it is not good to read the Qur'an without thinking about its meanings. lt is quoted by An-Nisaaii that the prophet kept reading and thinking about the verse "Ii` you punish them, they are your creation, and i1` You forgive them, verily You, only You, are the All-Mighty, the All Wise" (5: 118). It is narrated that Omar Ibn el-Khattab memorized the second chapter of the Qur'an in a year. When asked why it took him that much time to memorize this chapter, he said that he used to memorize some verses of the chapter and he would not move to the next part unless he puts this part he memorized into practice in his life. A Muslim is requested to think about the meanings of the Qur’an and act according to its rules.

Ibn Ajiba tells us the story of Abi Sulaiman Ad- Darani who said that he used to read a verse and to spend four days thinking about it and he would go on thinking about it if he does not cut it short to move to the next verse. (88) lt is narrated that the Prophet Muhammad said that "the best worship is reading and thinking about the Qur'an" (Ibn Ajiba 130). It is also narrated that "whoever reads and thinks about the Qur'an is the best of human beings" (Ibn Ajiba 130). lbn Ajiba quotes many sayings of the Prophet Muhammad. Which indicate that whoever reads and keeps the Quran by heart will be rewarded bountifully on the Day of Judgment (131. 132).


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