The Arrangement of the First Five Surahs of the Qur’an: al-Suyooti

In part of his discussion the munasabat – the connections between ayaat and surahs – in his famous handbook on the Qur’anic sciences, Imam Jalal al-Deen al-Suyooti included the following passage. It mentions the links between the first five surahs of the Qur’an as well as some of the main themes found in each:

ـ [ ص: 226 ] قال بعض الأئمة : وسورة الفاتحة تضمنت الإقرار بالربوبية والالتجاء إليه في دين الإسلام ، والصيانة عن دين اليهودية والنصرانية . ـ

○ Some scholars have said: Surah al-Fatihah is comprised of 1) affirming Allah’s lordship, 2) seeking refuge with Him in the religion of Islam, and 3) protection against the Jewish and Christian religions.*

وسورة البقرة : تضمنت قواعد الدين . ـ

Surah al-Baqarah is comprised of the foundations of this religion.

وآل عمران : مكملة لمقصودها ، فالبقرة بمنزلة إقامة الدليل على الحكم وآل عمران بمنزلة الجواب عن شبهات الخصوم ، ولهذا ورد فيها ذكر المتشابه لما تمسك به النصارى ، وأوجب الحج في آل عمران ، وأما في البقرة فذكر أنه مشروع وأمر بإتمامه بعد الشروع فيه . ـ

○ Aal ‘Imran is the completion of al-Baqarah‘s aim. al-Baqarah was like the a presentation of the evidence for a ruling while Aal ‘Imran is like a response to the doubts brought up by a contentious listener. It is for this reason that Aal ‘Imran mentioned many doubtful matters that the Christians cling to. Also, the Hajj was made mandatory in Aal ‘Imran [c.f. 3:97] while in al-Baqarah it was only mentioned as being legislated. So He commanded them to perform it in a complete way after they had embarked upon it. Continue reading

The Principles of al-Salafiyyah in Surah al-Fatihah: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool, a professor at Umm al-Qura’ University in Mecca, wrote:

الصراط المستقيم له أركان دلت عليها سورة الفاتحة ؛ بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ (1) الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ (2) الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ (3) مَالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ (4) إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ (5) اهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ (6) صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ غَيْرِ الْمَغْضُوبِ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا الضَّالِّينَ (7) ـ

There are certain pillars of the Straight Path (al-Siraat al-Mustaqeem) which are indicated in surah al-Fatihah:

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ (1) الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ (2) الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ (3) مَالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ (4) إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ (5) اهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ (6) صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ غَيْرِ الْمَغْضُوبِ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا الضَّالِّينَ (7)

In the name of Allah, al-Rahman, al-Raheem * All praise is due to the Lord of all creation * al-Rahman, al-Raheem * The Owner of the Day of Recompense * You alone do we worship, and You alone do we ask for help * Guide us to the Straight Path * The path of those upon whom You have bestowed Your favor, not those who have warranted wrath, nor the misguided ones.

فقوله تعالى: (إياك نعبد وإياك نستعين) دل على الإخلاص لله سبحانه وتعالى. ـ

Allah’s statement:

إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ

You alone do we worship, and You alone do we ask for help

indicates sincerity (ikhlaas) towards Allah.

وقوله تعالى: (صراط الذين أنعمت عليهم) دل على المتابعة لما جاءت به الرسل. ـ

And His statement:

صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ

The path of those upon whom You have bestowed Your favor

indicates following what the Messengers came with. Continue reading

The Names and Revelation of Surah al-Fatihah: Tafsir al-Baghawi

Before proceeding to explain surah al-Fatihah verse-by-verse, Imam Abu Muhammad al-Husayn al-Baghawi included a short discussion of its well-known names and when it was revealed:

 ولها ثلاثة أسماء معروفة فاتحة الكتاب وأم القرآن والسبع المثاني . ـ

Surah al-Fatihah has three well-known names, which are:

سميت فاتحة الكتاب ؛ لأن الله بها افتتح القرآن . وسميت أم القرآن وأم الكتاب لأنها أصل القرآن منها بدئ القرآن وأم الشيء أصله ، ويقال لمكة : أم القرى؛ لأنها أصل البلاد دحيت الأرض من تحتها وقيل لأنها مقدمة وإمام لما يتلوها من السور يبدأ بكتابتها في المصحف وبقراءتها في الصلاة والسبع المثاني لأنها سبع آيات باتفاق العلماء . وسميت مثاني لأنها تثنى في الصلاة فتقرأ في كل ركعة وقال مجاهد سميت مثاني لأن الله تعالى استثناها لهذه الأمة فذخرها لهم . ـ

It is called Fatihah al-Kitaab because Allah opens the Qur’an with it.

And it is called Umm al-Qur’an or Umm al-Kitaab because it is the foundation of the Qur’an with which the Qur’an begins, and the umm of something is its foundation. Mecca is called Umm al-Quraa because it was the origin of the cities which spread out across the surrounding land. And it is also said that surah al-Fatihah is called Umm al-Qur’an because it is an introduction and a leader for the surahs which follow it. Its text begins the mushaf and its recitation begins the prayer. Continue reading

Ibn Kathir’s brief remarks on the contents of Surah al-Fatihah

After completing his individual explanations of each of the verses of surah al-Fatihah, al-Hafidh Abu’l-Fidaa’ Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir made the following brief remarks about the contents of the surah as a whole:

اشتملت هذه السورة الكريمة وهي سبع آيات فضلها ، على حمد الله وتمجيده والثناء عليه ، بذكر أسمائه الحسنى المستلزمة لصفاته العليا ، وعلى ذكر المعاد وهو يوم الدين ، وعلى إرشاده عبيده إلى سؤاله والتضرع إليه ، والتبرؤ من حولهم وقوتهم ، وإلى إخلاص العبادة له وتوحيده بالألوهية تبارك وتعالى ، وتنزيهه أن يكون له شريك أو نظير أو مماثل ، وإلى سؤالهم إياه الهداية إلى الصراط المستقيم ، وهو الدين القويم ، وتثبيتهم عليه حتى يفضي بهم ذلك إلى جواز الصراط الحسي يوم القيامة ، المفضي بهم إلى جنات النعيم في جوار النبيين ، والصديقين ، والشهداء ، والصالحين . واشتملت على الترغيب في الأعمال الصالحة ، ليكونوا مع أهلها يوم القيامة ، والتحذير من مسالك الباطل ؛ لئلا يحشروا مع سالكيها يوم القيامة ، وهم المغضوب عليهم والضالون . ـ

This noble surah – while being only seven ayaat – contains many virtues. These include containing praise, glorification and extolling of Allah by mentioning His beautiful names which necessarily entail His lofty attributes.

And it contains mention of the ultimate destination, which is the Day of Recompense.

And it contains Allah’s guidance to His slaves to ask Him and supplicate to Him, and to disassociate themselves from any claim of possessing might or power.

It contains Allah’s guidance to have sincerity in worshiping Him and singling Him out in deity – exalted is He – , and declaring Him free from having any partners, equals or peers. Continue reading

The Seven Oft-Repeated Verses: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

Sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee wrote the following valuable discussion in his tafsir of surah al-Hijr:

قوله تعالى : ولقد آتيناك سبعا من المثاني والقرآن العظيم ، ذكر – جل وعلا – في هذه الآية الكريمة أنه أتى نبيه – صلى الله عليه وسلم – سبعا من المثاني والقرآن العظيم ، ولم يبين هنا المراد بذلك . ـ

Allah’s statement:

وَلَقَدْ آتَيْنَاكَ سَبْعًا مِّنَ الْمَثَانِي وَالْقُرْ‌آنَ الْعَظِيمَ

And We have certainly given you, [O Muhammad], seven of the often repeated [verses] and the great Qur’an. [15:87]

In this noble ayah, He mentioned that He have His prophet (ﷺ) seven of the oft-repeated (verses) and the great Qur’an, but He did not clarify the intended meaning of this here.

وقد قدمنا في ترجمة هذا الكتاب المبارك : أن الآية الكريمة إن كان لها بيان في كتاب الله غير واف بالمقصود ، أننا نتمم ذلك البيان من السنة ، فنبين الكتاب بالسنة من حيث إنها بيان للقرآن المبين باسم الفاعل . فإذا علمت ذلك ; فاعلم أن النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – بين في الحديث الصحيح : أن المراد بالسبع المثاني والقرآن العظيم في هذه الآية الكريمة : هو فاتحة الكتاب . ففاتحة الكتاب مبينة للمراد بالسبع المثاني والقرآن العظيم ، وإنما بينت ذلك [ ص: 315 ] بإيضاح النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – لذلك في الحديث الصحيح . ـ

And we have already mentioned in the interpretation of this Blessed Book that if a noble ayah has an explanation in the Book of Allah which is not sufficient in terms of conveying the intended meaning, then we complete that explanation by means of the sunnah, so we explain the the Qur’an with the sunnah since it is an explanation of the clear Qur’an by the doer himself [i.e. by the Prophet Muahmmad]. Continue reading

Tafsir of Surah al-Fatihah: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

Sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee wrote the following explanation in his book of tafsir, Adhwaa’ al-Bayaan, regarding surah al-Fatihah. The entire theme of al-Shinqitee’s tafsir was to specifically focus on explaining the Qur’an by means of the Qur’an, and his explanation of surah al-Fatihah here is no different. Due to this focused approach, this explanation contains some benefits not frequently emphasized in other works of tafsir, and acts as a valuable addition and complement to the broader tafsir literature.

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

سورة الفاتحة

In the name of Allah, al-Rahman al-Raheem

Surah al-Fatihah

قوله تعالى : ( الحمد لله رب العالمين ) . لم يذكر لحمده هنا ظرفا مكانيا ولا زمانيا ، وذكر في سورة الروم أن من ظروفه المكانية السماوات والأرض في قوله : ( وله الحمد في السماوات والأرض ) وذكر في سورة القصص أن من ظروفه الزمانية : الدنيا والآخرة في قوله : ( وهو الله لا إله إلا هو له الحمد في الأولى والآخرة ) ، وقال في أول سورة سبأ : ( وله الحمد في الآخرة وهو الحكيم الخبير ) ، والألف واللام في ( الحمد ) لاستغراق جميع المحامد . وهو ثناء أثنى به تعالى على نفسه وفي ضمنه أمر عباده أن يثنوا عليه به . ـ

○ Allah’s statement:

الْحَمْدُ لِلَّـهِ رَ‌بِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

[All] praise is due to Allah, Lord of the worlds [1:1]

Here there are no mention of accompanying circumstances of place or time to go with His praise, but in surah al-Room He mentioned that the heavens and the earth are among the accompanying circumstances of place for it. This was in His statement:

وَلَهُ الْحَمْدُ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ

And to Him is the praise in the heavens and the earth [30:18]

And in surah al-Qasas He mentioned that this worldly life and the hereafter are among the accompanying circumstances of time for it. This was in His statement:

وَهُوَ اللَّـهُ لَا إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ ۖ لَهُ الْحَمْدُ فِي الْأُولَىٰ وَالْآخِرَ‌ةِ

And He is Allah – there is no deity worthy of worship except Him. To Him is the praise in the first and the last [28:70]

And in the beginning of surah Saba’ He said:

وَلَهُ الْحَمْدُ فِي الْآخِرَ‌ةِ ۚ وَهُوَ الْحَكِيمُ الْخَبِيرُ‌

To Him is the praise in the Hereafter, and He is the Most Wise, the Intimately Acquainted [34:1]

And the definite article of alif and lam in al-Hamd [the praise] causes it to encompass all praises, and that is commendation which He has lauded upon Himself, and this entails Him commanding His slaves to laud Him with with that phrase as well.

Continue reading

Tafsir of Surah al-Fatihah: Imam al-Sa’di

In the beginning of his book of thematic tafsir, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di provided the following brief but highly beneficial explanation of surah al-Fatihah. This explanation is slightly more detailed than his previous explanation of surah al-Fatihah in his well-known complete work of tafsir, Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman:

ـ {بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ – الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ – الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ – مَالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ – إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ – اهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ – صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ غَيْرِ الْمَغْضُوبِ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا الضَّالِّينَ} [الفاتحة: 1 – 7] ـ

بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّ‌حْمَـٰنِ الرَّ‌حِيمِ * الْحَمْدُ لِلَّـهِ رَ‌بِّ الْعَالَمِينَ * الرَّ‌حْمَـٰنِ الرَّ‌حِيمِ * مَالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ * إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ * اهْدِنَا الصِّرَ‌اطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ * صِرَ‌اطَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ غَيْرِ‌ الْمَغْضُوبِ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا الضَّالِّينَ

In the name of Allah, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful. * [All] praise is [due] to Allah, Lord of the worlds – * The Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful, * Sovereign of the Day of Recompense. * It is You we worship and You we ask for help. * Guide us to the straight path – * The path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked [Your] anger or of those who are astray. [1:1-7]

أي: أبتدئ بكل اسم لله تعالى، لأن لفظ ” اسم ” مفرد مضاف، فيعم جميع أسماء الله الحسنى؛ فيكون العبد مستعينا بربه، وبكل اسم من أسمائه على ما يناسبه من المطالب، وأجل ما يستعان به على عبادة الله؛ وأجل ذلك الاستعانة على قراءة كلام الله، وتفهم معانيه، والاهتداء بهديه. ـ

Meaning: I begin with every name of Allah the Exalted, because the word “name” occurs in the singular and attached state, and it therefore includes all of Allah’s beautiful names. So the slave seeks the aid of his Lord with every one of His names according to what is appropriate for his goals, and the most lofty of things to seek His aid in is the worship of Allah. And the most lofty form of that is to seek His aid in reading the Words of Allah, understanding their meanings and being guided by their guidance.

ـ (الله) هو المألوه المستحق لإفراده بالمحبة والخوف والرجاء وأنواع العبادة كلها، لما اتصف به من صفات الكمال، وهي التي تدعو الخلق إلى عبادته والتأله له. ـ

Allah” – He is the One who is revered, the One deserving to be singled out exclusively with love, fear, hope and all varieties of acts of worship due to what He is characterized with of perfect attributes, and these are what call the creation to worship and revere Him.

ـ {الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ} [الفاتحة: 1] اسمان دالان على أنه تعالى ذو الرحمة الواسعة العظيمة التي وسعت كل شيء، وعمت كل مخلوق، وكتب الرحمة الكاملة للمتقين المتبعين لأنبيائه ورسله؛ فهؤلاء لهم الرحمة المطلقة المتصلة بالسعادة الأبدية، ومن عداهم محروم من هذه الرحمة الكاملة، لأنه الذي دفع هذه الرحمة وأباها بتكذيبه للخبر، وتوليه عن الأمر، فلا يلومن إلا نفسه. ـ

al-Rahman al-Raheem” – These two names show that He possesses the attribute of vast and tremendous Mercy which extends unto everything and encompasses every created being. And He decreed complete mercy for the muttaqoon – those who follow the His prophets and messengers. So for those ones, there is unrestricted mercy which leads them to everlasting joy, and whoever opposes them is deprived of this complete mercy because they are the ones who repel this mercy and refuse it by their denial of the message and their turning away from the command, so they only have themselves to blame. Continue reading

Tafsir of Surah al-Fatihah: al-Tafsir al-Muyassar

The book Al-Tafsir al-Muyassar was written by a group of scholars under the direction of sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh, Minister of Islamic Affairs for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It was designed to be a simple and easy-to-understand tafsir according to the understanding of the salaf. What follows is its brief tafsir of surah al-Fatihah and translation:

بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّ‌حْمَـٰنِ الرَّ‌حِيمِ

In the Name of Allah, al-Rahman al-Raheem (1)

سورة الفاتحة سميت هذه السورة بالفاتحة؛ لأنه يفتتح بها القرآن العظيم، وتسمى المثاني؛ لأنها تقرأ في كل ركعة، ولها أسماء أخر. ـ

Surah al-Fatihah – This surah is called al-Fatihah [the Opening] because it is what the magnificent Qur’an opens with. And it is called al-Mathaani [the oft-repeated] because it is recited in every unit of prayer. And it also has other names.

أبتدئ قراءة القرآن باسم الله مستعينا به . ـ

One begins reciting the Qur’an with the name of Allah, seeking aid in Him.

ـ {اللهِ} علم على الرب- تبارك وتعالى- المعبود بحق دون سواه، وهو أخص أسماء الله تعالى، ولا يسمى به غيره سبحانه. ـ

“Allah” is a designation indicating the Rabb – blessed and exalted is He – , the rightful object of worship to the exclusion of any others. And this is the most exclusive of Allah’s names, and none other than Him are called by it.

ـ {الرَّحْمَنِ} ذي الرحمة العامة الذي وسعت رحمته جميع الخلق . ـ

al-Rahman” is the possessor of a general rahmah [mercy], the One whose rahmah extends to all of the creation.

ـ {الرَّحِيمِ} بالمؤمنين، وهما اسمان من أسمائه تعالى، يتضمنان إثبات صفة الرحمة لله تعالى كما يليق بجلاله. ـ

al-Raheem” [the especially merciful] to the believers. And these are two of His names, both of which include an affirmation of Allah’s attribute of al-Rahmah as is befitting of His majesty. Continue reading