Names and virtues of the Opening chapter of the Qur’an
Period of revelation
Surah Al-Fatihah was the one of the earliest revelations and the first complete surah to be revealed, with most scholars of Qur’an agreeing it was the 5th Surah to be revealed.
Names of this Surah
This surah opens up and summarises the Qur’an. The popular names of this Surah include:
- Al-Fatihah (The Opening) – It is named Al-Fatihah, the Opening – because it opens the Book and by it the recitation in prayer commences.
- Umm al-Quran (Mother of the Quran) – According to At-Tirmidhi on the authority of Abu Hurayrah, the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “The chapter commencing with] “All praises and thanks are due to Allah the Lord of the Worlds” is the Mother of the Quran, the Mother of the Book, the Seven Oft Repeated Verses and the Great Quran.” Ibn Jarir at-Tabari said that it was named so because the meaning of the entire Quran is summarized therein. The Arabs named anything that concisely summarizes something or comprises its most important part, Umm, or Mother.
- Umm al-Kitab (Mother of the Book) – Al-Bukhari said in the beginning of the Book of Tafsir in his Sahih: “It is named Umm al-Quran because it is the first chapter written in the Quranic texts and the recitation in prayer commences with it.”
- Sab’ul-Mathani (The Seven Oft Repeated Verses) – It is also named Sab’ul-Mathani, the Seven Oft Repeated Verses, because they are frequently recited and indeed recited in every rakaah of the prayer. Allah says in the Quran:“And indeed, We have bestowed upon you seven of Al-Mathani (the seven repeatedly recited Verses), (i.e. Surat Al-Fatiha) and the Grand Quran. [Quran: Surah Al-Hijr (87)]”Scholars have differed concerning the statement “Bismillah-ir-Rahman-ir-Raheem” (with the Name of Allah, the All-Merciful, the Most Merciful.” The majority of the reciters of Kufa postulate that the “verse of Bismillah” comprises an independent verse of Al-Fatihah and this is also the opinion of a group of the Sahabah, Tabi’in and a large group of the later scholars. However the reciters and jurists of Madinah regard it to be part of a verse, and not an independent verse, or not a verse at all.Those who postulate that “Bismillah” is not a verse of Al-Fatihah state that the seventh verse commences with the words, “not [the path] of those who have earned [Your] Anger … ” (This is because there is no disagreement that Surah Al-Fatihah has seven verses.)
- Al-Hamd (Praises to Allah) – It is also named Al-Hamd, the Praise, because it contains mention of hamd just as Al-Baqarah is named so because it contains mention of the cow. Some scholars also gave the reasoning that Al-Hamd comprises heart of Al-Fatihah.
- As-Salah (The Prayer) – It is named the Prayer because its recitation is a condition for the validity of the prayer. Narrated ‘Ubâdah bin As-Sâmit Allâh’s Messenger said, “Whoever does not recite Sûrat Al-Fâtihah in his prayer, his prayer is invalid. (Sahih Al-Bukhâri, Vol.1, Hadîth No. 723).The prayer is taught by Allah(SWT) Himself as a favour to mankind to let them know the format of prayer which is acceptable to Him. Allah(SWT) also responds to each segment of the prayer.Al Fatihah is the prayer from the reader and the rest of the Qur’an is the answer from Allah.
- Ash-Shifa – It is also named Ash-Shifa’, the Cure, due to what Ad-Darimi reports on the authority of Abu Sa’id that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “The Opening of the Book is a cure to every poison.”
- Ar-Ruqyah – It is also named Ar-Ruqya, the Spiritual Cure due to the hadith of Abu Sa’id reported by Bukhari that after he had recited it to cure a person who had been bitten by a scorpion, the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) asked him, “…And what made you to know that it was a ruqya.”
- Asas al-Quran (the Foundation of the Quran) – Ash-Sha’bi records on the authority of Ibn Abbas that he named it , and that he said, “The foundation of Al-Fatihah is, “Bismillah…” (with the Name of Allah, the All-Merciful, the Most Merciful.)
- Other scholars have also named it as Al-Kanz (the Treasure), Ash-Shukr (Gratitude), ad-Dua (Supplication), Ash-Shafiyah (the sufficient), Al-Kafiyah (the Sufficient), Al-Wafiyah, the Fulfillment and more.
Virtues of this Surah
1) The greatest Surah in the Qur’an
Abu Sa’ad ibn Al-Mu’alla narrated the Apostle ﷺ of Allah saying as:
“…I will teach you a Surah which is the greatest Surah in the Quran before you leave the Masjid.’ Then he took hold of my hand and when he intended to leave [the Masjid], I asked him, “Did you not say that you would teach me a Surah which is the greatest Surah in the Qur’an?” He replied, ‘Yes. It is [the Surah commencing with], “All praise and thanks are due to Allah.” It is the Seven Oft-Repeated verses and the Great Qur’an that has been given to me.’ “(Ahmad)
In another narration “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.”
2) Resulting in Answering Of One`s Prayer By Allah SWT
“Allah, the Glorious and Exalted said, “I have divided the prayer between Myself and my servant equally and My servant shall be granted what he asked for.”
Therefore, when the servant says, ‘All praises and thanks are due to Allah, the Lord of the worlds’, Allah says, ‘My servant has praised Me.’
When he says, ’The All-Merciful, the Most Merciful, ‘Allah says, ‘My servant has extolled Me.’
When he says, ‘Master of the Day of Judgment,’ Allah says, ‘My servant has glorified Me.’
When he says, ‘You Alone we worship and Your aid Alone do we seek,’ Allah says, ‘this is between Me and My servant and My servant shall have what he requested.’
When he says, ‘Guide us to the Straight Path, the Path of those whom You have favored, not [the path] of those who have earned [Your] anger, nor of those who have gone astray,’ Allah says, ‘this is for My servant and My servant shall have what he asked for.’ “(Muslim)
3) Being part of two lights given to the Prophet(SAW)
“While the Messenger ﷺ of Allah was sitting with Jibril he heard a creaking sound above him. Jibril looked up and said, “This is [the sound of] a gate that has been opened in heaven today and has never been previously opened.”
Then an Angel descended through it and came to the Prophet ﷺ and said, ‘Rejoice in the good news of two lights that have been given to you such as no Prophet before you has been given. [They are] Surah Al-Fatihah and the concluding [two] verses of Surah Al-Baqarah. You will never recite a word from them without being given the blessings they contain.’ “
4) Being the most noble part of Quran
Anas (R.A) reported the Holy Prophet ﷺ saying as: “Should I not inform you of the most noble and excellent part of the Quran?” He then recited “All praise and thanks are due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds” (An Nisai)