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Islamic Studies Lessons Quran

Surah al-Fatiha | Lesson 2

Part 1 | Part 2

Last time when talking about Surah al-Fatiha for kids we covered a little bit about the various names of Surah al-Fatiha. This time we want to look at an amazing hadith about the Surah and what happens when we read it.

THE AMAZING HADITH

Abu Huraira reported: The Apostle of Allah (ﷺ) said: If anyone observes prayer in which he does not recite Umm al-Qur’an, It is deficient [he said this three times] and not complete. It was said to Abu Huraira: At times we are behind the Imam.

He said: Recite it inwardly, for he had heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) declare that Allah the Exalted had said: I have divided the prayer into two halves between Me and My servant, and My servant will receive what he asks.

When the servant says: Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the universe, Allah the Most High says: My servant has praised Me.

And when he (the servant) says: The Most Compassionate, the Merciful, Allah the Most High says: My servant has lauded Me.

And when he (the servant) says: Master of the Day of judgment, He remarks: My servant has glorified Me, and sometimes He would say: My servant entrusted (his affairs) to Me.

And when he (the worshipper) says: You we worship and of You we ask help, He (Allah) says: This is between Me and My servant, and My servant will receive what he asks for.

Then, when he (the worshipper) says: Guide us to the straight path, the path of those to whom Thou hast been Gracious not of those who have incurred Thy displeasure, nor of those who have gone astray, He (Allah) says: This is for My servant, and My servant will receive what he asks for (Muslim #395).

via GIPHY

REFLECTIONS

This hadith gives us a glimpse of just how important this surah is. When we are reciting it, especially in prayer, it would help us to focus if we try to keep this hadith in mind and really engage in the conversation that is happening between us and our Lord when we are reciting the surah.

It is also the reason why people often recite Surah al-Fatiha as a kind of dua for whatever it is that they want. So they might say, “Let’s read Surah al-Fatiha with the intention of our exams being easy for us.” When you stick this in the context of the hadith above you realize how powerful it is because “This is for My servant and My servant will receive what he/she asks for.”

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Islamic Studies Lessons Quran

Surah al-Fatiha | Lesson 1

*This article is part of the articles I’ve written on Islamic Studies lessons kids and focuses on Surah al-Fatiha for kids.

Part 1 | Part 2

INTRODUCTION

Surah al-Fatiha is one of the most important surahs in the Quran and our starting point for understanding the Book. The word surah basically refers to something that distinguishes something from something else, like a fence or a gate. So each surah of the Quran is part of the whole but at the same time its own part.

Al-Fatiha means “The Opener” and carries many of the broad meanings of that concept. It obviously is the the chapter that opens the Quran. It has also been used in Muslim societies in the form of a prayer that opens up various things. So it can be used in an engagement party for example to ask for openings of goodness in the relationship. It can also be used at the conclusion of a business transactions to ask for blessings to be opened in the business relationship. There are many other examples as well. One of the most common of them is reading it for those who have passed away.

Discussion question:

What are some occasions where you think it would be a good idea to read Surah al-Fatiha?

Before we go into detailed discussion of the meaning of the Surah we want to cover some of the many names that it is known by. Its official title is The Opener, but there are other names that it has been known by as well from the time of the Prophet (pbuh) and through the ages.

Its Names

Some of its names:

  1. The Praise (al-Hamd). It starts by declaring that all praise is due to God. Human beings are actually incapable of praising God in a way that He deserves for his magnificence and beauty. So part of His generosity to us is that He showed us how to praise Him by giving us this expression in the beginning of this surah.
  2. The Prayer (al-Salah). This is one of its titles because the Prophet said, “There is no acceptable prayer except by reciting al-Fatiha.” The hadith teaches us that reading Surah al-Fatiha is a required part of prayer and because of its position and importance in prayer that became one of the titles for it.
  3. The Mother of the Book (Umm al-Kitab). In Arabic the mother or umm refers not only to the biological mother but also anything that brings other things together. An example of this is God referring to Mecca in the Quran as Umm al-Qura or The Mother of the Towns because of its central position in Arabia and the world. The surah is called this because it contains all the meanings of the rest of the Quran. It is said that everything that God wanted to share with the world is in the scriptures: Scrolls of Abraham, Torah of Moses, Psalms of David, Gospel of Jesus, and Quran of Muhammad. Then it is said that everything in those is in the Quran and that all of the Quran is in al-Fatiha, so it is The Mother of the Book.
  4. The Healing (al-Shifa). It is called this because one time some of the Companions were came to a people and sought their hospitality. They didn’t treat them well, but after some time their leader became ill and they came to the Muslims asking if they had anything to cure him. They said yes and then read Surah al-Fatiha on the man, healing him completely. They then went back to the Prophet and told him the story and he affirmed their experience saying, “How did you know it was a healing?!”
  5. The Seven Oft-Repeated. This name is tied to the second one about prayer because it is such an important part of prayer and the units of prayer are so repeated during the day the surah itself became a surah that is repeated often.

CONCLUSION

One of many cool stories from Muslim history about this surah is told by Ibn al-Qayyim, one of the famous and great scholars of the middle period. He said the following:

“I had some troublesome pains that were nearly preventing me from moving while in my tawaf and other worships. I would read al-Fatiha and wipe it on my places of pain and it would be as if pebbles were falling (meaning the pain would fall away). I tried it many times [and it was effective]. I would also take a container of zamzam water and read al-Fatiha over it and drink it. When doing so I would find benefit and strength that I would not find in any other treatment.”

(Madarij al-Salikin 1:58)

These are just a few names to get us started on understanding this blessed chapter of the Quran. You can remember these five by remembering the following sentence:

My mother is the best, I see her all the time and she prays for me and takes care of me when I’m sick.

Can you find the five names of the surah in this sentence??

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Customs End of Life Fiqh Q and A

Sitting at Gravesites After Burial

The majority of scholars have said that it is recommended for those accompanying a burial to sit by the grave for a short amount of time afterwards. This is because of what has been narrated about the Prophet (pbuh) that one time he buried a Companion and said to those in attendance afterwards, “Ask forgiveness for your brother and ask that ask that he is made firm because right now he is being questioned” (Abu Dawud).

It is also said in this regard that Ibn Umar held it to be recommended to recite the beginning and end of Surah al-Baqarah at the gravesite after the burial.

And it is narrated from Amr ibn al-As that when he was on his death bed he advised those present saying, “When I’m buried sit by my grave for the amount of time it takes to slaughter and process a camel because I will be made at ease through your company.”

*Taken from the Kuwaiti Fiqh Encyclopedia

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Contemporary Issues Fiqh Living Islam Q and A

The Question of Talfiq: Combining Between Different Opinions

The issue of talfiq is an important one in discussions around Islamic law and ethics. It comes up all the time and can have major consequences on how one thinks about fiqh as well as the choices they make in their life.

Talfiq is basically to take an opinion from one school (i.e. Maliki, Hanbali, etc.) and combine it with another one in the same act of worship. So in the Shafi’i school for example bleeding does not break one’s wudu, but it does in the Hanafi school. Also, in the Shafi’i school reading “Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim” at the beginning of al-Fatiha is required while it is not in the Hanafi school. So if someone decided to go with their wudu not breaking during bleeding and then also choose not to recite “Bismillah” at the beginning of prayer then their prayer would be invalid according to both schools. This act of combining is referred to as talfiq.

Scholars take different positions on whether or not the prayer of an individual who did what is mentioned above would be valid. Recently I found a brilliant fatwa from Sh. Muhammad Bakhit al-Muti’i, former Mufti of Egypt during the early part of the 1900s. For anyone not familiar with the calibre of his scholarship I suggest browsing through some of his fatwas and books and reading about his life. This particular response is from November of 1919. I will include the PDF here which can be found in “al-Fatawa al-Islamiyyah” of Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyyah.

The summary points are the following:

  • It is permissible to do talfiq by taking a position from one madhhab and another from another madhhab as long as the consequence does not go against scholarly consensus.
  • If the consequence does go against scholarly consensus and it is inconceivable for another mujtahid (on the assumption that there is one) to come to that conclusion then that type of talfiq is invalid by scholarly consensus.

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Contemporary Issues

Marriage is a Public Institution in Islam

One of the most important relationships, spiritually and socially, is marriage. It is the bedrock of so many other relationships in life and its health or sickness has a ripple effect on the rest of life. For these reasons Islam has laid out a number of conditions for a marriage that is acceptable to God and blessed. In this article we simply intend to remind as to one of the most important of them: public knowledge.

Marriage is not easy. It takes a lot of maturity and discipline. It is not a fling and it definitely is not dating. It also is often made even more difficult by families that are unreasonable. Many times families will not even engage conversation with their children on the topic. The result is that they go elsewhere and start to search for loopholes to avoid dealing with reality. In this light a question that we’ve seen come up from a number of young people is whether or not they can do the marriage themselves with a couple of friends and not tell anyone. This is not only unacceptable in Islam, but also a very bad idea. Such a marriage that is riddled with secrecy and deception is not likely to last. The needed support, understanding, and tranquility will not be present and the nature of the relationship will be far from the way a marriage is supposed to be. It is unacceptable for reasons related to the absence of a wali or guardian for the bride as well as secrecy. We will only focus on the latter here.

Some scholars spoke of the need of “shuhrah/public knowledge” and not only witnesses. Indeed, those who spoke of the minimum witness requirement being two males did not speak of it in the context of people intending to hide their relationships, but rather merely from a legal minimum.

Shaykh Muhammad al-Tahir Ibn Ashur in a case study in his book Maqasid al-Sharia discusses the objectives behind marriage. He says,

“The third condition is a public declaration (shuhrah). The reason for this condition is that keeping marriage secret brings it closer to adultery and prevents people from honoring and protecting it” (257).

He also says,

“It has been maintained by some jurists that a marriage whose witnesses have agreed to keep it totally concealed from others is in fact a secret marriage, even if their number is as big as the crowd filling a mosque. Although this view is disputed, what is most likely is that total secrecy in marriage has a nullifying effect” (257).

Therefore, prominent scholars have concluded that secret marriages that are kept private from families and communities are not permissible and cause great harm. In our context today, this is especially true because such relationships cause far more harm than good. They should be avoided and people should not fall victim to the whisperings of shaytan and their base selves that encourage them towards such behavior.

Categories
Common Questions Contemporary Issues Current Issues Q and A

Did Islam Spread by the Sword?

When speaking on Islam or introducing Islam at various venues it is very common to face the question: Did Islam spread by the sword? 

Sometimes it is phrased as a question and sometimes as the more familiar embedded accusation in the middle of another question or comment, “but Islam spread by the sword…” 

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Contemporary Issues Living Islam

“Seek Me Among the Poor.” – Prophetic Guidance for Success, Victory, and Wealth

By Muslema Purmul

The suburban Muslim community in America has a problem. Our masajid are in shambles because we think money alone can save them. We believe the wealthy and powerful can change our condition.