Al-Fatihah And The Wisdom It Contains

Man’s endeavors in life arise from two main capacities: (i) a theoretical capacity of awareness, and (ii) a practical capacity of willingness to act. Therefore his complete happiness depends on both. The perfection of the theoretical capacity of awareness comes about by knowing his Creator, and His Beautiful Names and Attributes. It also lies in knowing the road that leads to Him and its obstacles, and by knowing his own self and its flaws. By means of these things, he will attain perfection of the theoretical capacity of awareness. The most knowledgeable people are those who know them best.

The perfection of the practical capacity of willingness to act, does not occur unless the rights of Allah, the Almighty are observed by the servant. The rights of Allah are fulfilled by performing one’s obligations with sincerity, honesty, advice, kindness, and acknowledging His favor upon him.

Therefore, the servant of Allah feels shy to stand before Him with the small amount of service he did for Allah, because he knows that it is far below what He deserves. He also knows that there is no way to perfect these two capacities unless Allah helps Him. So he desires to be guided to the Straight Way, to which He guides His sincere servants and helps them avoid the things that would let them stray from that Way, either by an imperfection in his capacity of awareness, or by an imperfection in his practical capacity. Going astray incurs the wrath of Allah, the Almighty.

Therefore, man’s perfection and happiness cannot be complete without these things. Sûrat Al-Fâtihah has mentioned them and has arranged them perfectly.

 Allah, the Almighty says,

ٱلْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ ٱلْعَـٰلَمِينَ ٢ ٱلرَّحْمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ ٣ مَـٰلِكِ يَوْمِ ٱلدِّينِ ٤

which means, “All praise and thanks are due to Allah, the Lord of the Alamin (mankind, jinn and all that exits). The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. The Only Owner (and Only Ruling Judge) of the Day of Recompense (i.e. the Day of Resurrection).” (Al-Fatihah, 1:2-4)

These Qur’anic verses contain the first principle, and that is to have knowledge of the Lord, Exalted be He, and to have knowledge of His Beautiful Names, Attributes and Deeds. The Names that are mentioned in this Surat are the bases of the Beautiful Names of Allah, the Almighty, namely Ar-Rabb and Ar-Rahman.

The Name ‘Allah’ belongs to the Divine Attributes, and the Name ‘Ar-Rabb’ belongs to His attributes of Lordship and the Name ‘Ar-Rahman’ belongs to the qualities of Benevolence and Generosity.

 His statement,

إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ ٥

which means, “You (Alone) we worship, and You (Alone) we ask for help (for each and everything). (Al-Fatihah, 1:5)

 This Qur’anic verse contains the knowledge of the road that leads to Him, which is only found by worshipping Him Alone with that which He loves and prefers, and by asking His Help to worship Him properly.

 And His statement,

ٱهْدِنَا ٱلصِّرَٰطَ ٱلْمُسْتَقِيمَ ٦

which means, “Guide us to the Straight Way” (Al-Fatihah, 1:6)

This Qur’anic verse declares that the servant has no way to achieve happiness except by keeping on the Straight Way, and that there is no way to this straight path without the guidance of Allah. And just as he cannot worship Him, except with His Help, he cannot stand firm on the road except with His guidance. 

The following Qur’anic statement,

صِرَٰطَ ٱلَّذِينَ أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ غَيْرِ ٱلْمَغْضُوبِ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا ٱلضَّآلِّينَ ٧

which means, “Not (the way) of those who earned Your Anger (such as the Jews), nor of those who went astray (such as the Christians). (Al-Fatihah, 1:7)

This Qur’anic verse declares that there are two ways to deviate from the Straight Way, and that one way is corruption of knowledge and belief, and the other is that concerned with the corruption of one’s intentions and actions.

 Therefore, the beginning of the Surat speaks about mercy, the middle speaks about guidance and the end speaks about favor and blessings. The servant receives blessings according to his level of guidance, and the guidance he receives is according to the amount of mercy he receives from Allah. So the whole issue returns to His Blessings and Mercy, which are the characteristics of Lordship.

Therefore, He is Merciful and the Benefactor, and that is one of the characteristics of Divinity. He is the true God, even if the ungrateful choose to deny it and even if the polytheists treat others like they should only treat Him. So, whoever complies with the meaning of Al-Fatihah in terms of knowledge, action, and a way of life, the person will have then successfully perfected himself, and his submission will have become the same as those whose degree has been raised above the common worshippers. And it is Allah whose aid is to be implored.

[Al-Fawaid by Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah, p. 30-33]

Previous articleLet Us Be Muslims by Syed Abul A’la Maududi
Next articleThe Evolution Of Fiqh by Dr. Bilal Philips