Sunday, March 29, 2009

Surah Al Fatiha

At least 17 times a day we stand in prayer asking for God’s guidance and commend His lordship and mercy. We speak directly to Allah (SWT), yet do we realize the depth and intensity of the Surah we read repetitively? Wouldn’t one then think that because so much emphasis has been put on this one Surah alone that it would be of much importance? Yet unfortunately these days it seems that praying has just become a routine in our daily lives, something we quickly want to get over with in order to start with our other worldly tasks.

Surah Al-Fatiha is not only a dua which we read in every rakah of our prayers, but it is also “The Opening” of the Quran, and is also known as “Umm al Kitab”. It is the beginning of a Book which guides us completely in both Deeni and Dunyawi affairs. How do we start reading the Quran? By saying, “Aa’odu billahi min ashaytan irrajeem”. [I seek refuge with Allah from the cursed devil]. We say this before we start to read the Quran because this is a Book given to us by Allah, and it leads us to the straight path. Of course, Satan will try his best to keep us away from it so that we don’t gain the knowledge that we need, so we say this line to drive him away and start with a clear mind.

Bismillâhi r-raḥmâni r-raḥîm
1:1 In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

Al hamdu lillâhi rabbi l-'âlamîn
1:2 All the Praises and thanks be to God, the Lord of the Universe.

Thanking Allah is a simple task, and one can never thank Him enough for all that He has provided for us. Notice all of the blessings that you have been endowed with instead of constantly looking for more, and you will be amazed. Family, health, shelter, any type of food at any time of day, a comfortable lifestyle, nature and much more-these are all blessings we tend to overlook and take for granted. Why is it that only when something is taken away from us do we realize its significance? In a hadith it is narrated that you should look at people who are below you in this world, for this will keep you from denying Allah's favor to you. Also, “The Lord of the Universe” reminds us that we should not worship the world which Allah created, but instead, worship He who created it.

Ar raḥmâni r-raḥîm
1:3 The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

Allah alone is the Most Compassionate. He shows His mercy to both believers and disbelievers. He looks at your intentions. The Prophet said, 'O people! The reward of deeds depends upon the intentions, and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended… If anybody comes on the Day of Resurrection who has said: La ilaha illal-lah, sincerely, with the intention to win Allah's Pleasure, Allah will make the Hell-Fire forbidden for him." Also, He is ever-forgiving. We are all humans and we are sinful, there is no doubt about that. However, Allah (SWT) is always waiting for us to repent, and is ready to pardon us if our intentions are clear. In the Quran (5:74) God asks us, “Will they not, then, turn towards God in repentance, and ask His forgiveness? For God is much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace.” The doors of repentance are always opened, no matter what age you are or what you have done. Allah loves us more than 70 mothers, such is His love for us.

Mâliki yawmi d-dîn
1:4 Master of the Day of Judgment.

When we claim that we know that Allah (SWT) is the Master of the Day of Judgment, we should get our acts straight. We have been sent down to Earth to be tested, and our results will be given on the Day of Judgment itself. Yet, are we prepared? Before doing any act one should think about how it will affect oneself on the day we get resurrected.

Iyyâka na'budu wa iyyâka nasta'în

1:5 You alone we worship, and You alone we ask for help

This is a declaration to the Lord Himself. At least 17 times a day in prayer a Muslim testifies that he or she has strong faith in Allah, and believes in Allah alone. However, we see that shirk is common these days even amongst Muslims. Shirk can come in many forms-it does not necessarily just have to do with worshipping idols. Being obsessed with worldly matters so much so that you give priority to it more than Allah is also a form of shirk.

Ihdinâ ṣ-ṣirâṭ al mustaqîm
1:6 Guide us to the straight way
This is one of the best duas one can ask for –guidance towards the straight path. Without the guidance of Allah, how can we reach our goal? Also, when one takes one step towards Allah, Allah takes 10 steps towards him. All we need to do is put in some effort and have clean intentions. Whoever Allah guides will never be misguided.

Ṣirâṭ al-laḏîna an'amta 'alayhim ġayril maġḍûbi 'alayhim walâḍ ḍâllîn

1:7 The way of those whom you have blessed, not of those who have deserved anger, nor of those who stray.

Those who deserved anger are the Jews and those who went astray are the Christians because they believe that Jesus (AS) is the son of God (Naudhubillah). This does not mean that we have to discriminate against them or act unfairly with them. Muslims are a mirror to Islam, thus, a Muslim should act with Non-Muslims with kindness and care. However, we are asking for guidance from Allah in this surah, and we ask Him to save us from the path of those who went astray and the wrong-doers, yet we follow the West in many ways. We wear their clothes, adopt their attitudes, and basically act like “Western wannabes”. What happened to the Muslim identity? If only all Muslims stood together as one ummah there would be harmony.

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