Tafseer Surah al-Faatihah: vs. 1

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The saying of the Exalted, “With the Name of Allah, The Most Beneficent, The Most Merciful”:

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From the manners that Islaam has taught us is to begin all of our actions by mentioning the Name of Allah first. The purpose behind this far-reaching and manifold:

It brings Allah to mind before one does the action.

It prevents one from doing evil actions.

He will attain Allah’s support and succour in that action.

It reminds one of the purpose, the source of fulfillment of that need, the source of blessings for that action and its final destination.
Ibn al-Qayyim explained this final point further in ‘al-Fawaa`id’,

Allah says, “there is not a single thing except that its depositories and treasures are with Us.”
[Al-Hijr (15): 21]

This verse comprises a [great] treasure from the treasures [of the Qur`aan], this being that nothing is sought except from the One Who possesses its depositories and treasures, the One in Whose Hands lie the keys to these treasures. Seeking [things] from anyone else is seeking something from one who does not possess them or possess any authority over them.

The saying of Allah, “and that to your Lord is the final goal.”
[An-Najm (53): 42]

Comprises an immense treasure, this being that every desired objective that is not desired for His sake and is not connected [in any form or fashion] to Him then it is temporary and soon to disappear for its final goal is not with Him. The final goal lies only with the One to Whom all matters find their conclusion, terminating at His creation, Will, Wisdom and Knowledge. Therefore He is the source of every desired matter.

Everything that is loved – if it is not loved for His sake then this love is nothing but distress and punishment. Every action that is not performed for His sake then it is wasted and severed. Every heart that does not reach Him is wretched, veiled from achieving its success and happiness.

Therefore Allah has gathered everything that could be desired from Him in His saying, “there is not a single thing except that its depositories and treasures are with Us.”
[Al-Hijr (15): 21]

And He has gathered everything that is done for His sake in His saying, “and that to your Lord is the final goal.”
[An-Najm (53): 42]

Therefore there is nothing beyond Allah that deserves to be sought and nothing finds its conclusion with other than Him.

The baa (with) is known as the baa of isti`aanah or seeking help and support, meaning that the servant is seeking the aid of Allah in the action he is about to perform.

“With the Name of Allah” meaning I start with every name that belongs to Allah, the Exalted. This is because the word ‘name’ is singular and in the genitive form and therefore it includes all of the Beautiful Names.

“Allah” He is the Lord and the One Who is worshipped, the One deserving of being singled out for worship due to the Perfect Godly Attributes that He is described with. Ibn Uthaymeen states,

This is the Name of His from which all other Names follow on from as occurs in His saying,

  “Alif Laam Raa. This is a Book which We sent down to you in order that you might lead mankind out of darkness into the light by the permission of their Lord, to the Path of the All-Mighty, the one worthy of all praise: Allah, to who belongs everything that is in the heavens and the earth.” [Ibraaheem (14): 1-2]

So in this saying of Allah, the Most High, the noun which is the name of the Majestic Lord, ‘Allah’ is not a descriptive attribute, rather it is a word which follows as an explanation and clarification of what has preceded. [1]

The action that the servant intends to do has been omitted in the sentence in order to generalise the statement [known as the basmAllah]. Hence no matter what the servant intends to do, the basmAllah is applicable to it. We also understand that the action is to come at the end of the sentence for two vital reasons:

To seek blessings by beginning with the name of Allah.

To express the fact that the action is only for Allah.

Therefore it is as if the servant is saying ‘I seek the help of Allah with every Name of His, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful in the action I am about to do.’

There are a number of texts explaining to us the virtue of the basmAllah:

1. Imaam Ahmad reports from Abu Tameemah that,

I was riding behind the Prophet ﷺ when his mount stumbled and so I said, ‘may Shaytaan perish!’ Upon hearing this the Prophet ﷺ said, “do not say may Shaytaan perish for when you say this Shaytaan becomes exultant and grows in stature and says, ‘it was by my power that I injured him.’ But when you say, ‘with the Name of Allah’ he becomes humiliated and grows small until he ends up the size of a fly.” [2]

2. Abu Daawood reports from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said,

 “ There is no wudu for the one who does not [commence] by mentioning the Name of Allah. [3]]

3. Bukhari reports from ibn Abbaas (RA) that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said,

 “ If, when one of you wishes to go to his wife [for sexual intercourse] says, ‘With the Name of Allah, O Allah! Protect us from the Shaytaan and keep the Shaytaan away from what You will provide us.’ Then if it is decreed that they should have a child out of that act then the Shaytaan will never be able to harm him. [4]

4. Al-Khateeb reports from Abu Hurayrah (RA) that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said,

 “ Every important matter that is not begun with, ‘with the Name of Allah’ is deprived of good. [5]

Ibn Mas`ud said,

  Whosoever wishes to the saved from the nineteen Angels over Hellfire then let him recite with the Name of Allah, Most Beneficient, Most Merciful.

The scholars are agreed that the basmAllah comprises part of the verse of Surah an-Nahl wherein Allah says,

  “She said: O eminent ones, indeed to me has been delivered a noble letter. Indeed it is from Sulaymaan and it [reads], ‘with the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.'” [An-Naml (27): 29-30]

However the scholars have differed as to whether or not this statement comprises a verse of the Qur`aan when it is found in the beginning of each Surah and they have fallen into four opinions:

1. That it is a verse of every Surah except Surah at-Tawbah.

This was the opinion of Abdullaah bin Abbaas, ibn Umar, ibn Zubair, Abu Hurayrah, `Ataa, Taawoos, Sa`eed bin Jubair, Makhool, az-Zuhree, Abdullaah bin Mubaarak, ash-Shaafi`ee, Ahmad – in one of the reports from him, Ishaaq bin Rahwayyah and Abu Ubayd al-Qaasim bin Salaam.

2. That it is not a verse of any Surah of the Qur`aan at all and that it is placed at the beginning of every Surah merely to distinguish it from another.

This was the opinion of Maalik, Abu Haneefah and their companions. Abu Daawood reports from ibn Abbaas (RA) that :

 “ The Messenger of Allah ﷺ did not use to know the beginning and end of a Surah until ‘with the Name of Allah, Most Beneficent, Most Merciful’ was revealed. [6]

3. That it is a verse of al-Faatihah but not of any other Surah or it is part of the first verse of every Surah.

This is another opinion reported from ash-Shaafi`ee but it is ghareeb.

4. That it is an independent verse of the Qur`aan heading every Surah but not actually part of that Surah.

This is the opinion of Daawood and Ahmad in the second of the two reports from him. Abu Bakr ar-Raazee also relates this from Abu al-Hasan al-Karkhee and these two are from the greatest of the Hanafi scholars.

As regard to whether one should recite it loudly in prayer then the fiqh of this branches off from the difference mentioned above.

So those who follow the second and fourth opinions are not of the view that one recites it loudly. Indeed Maalik was of the opinion that one does not recite it at all, depending upon the literal sense of the following hadeeth and its likes,

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ used to commence his prayer by saying the takbeer and reciting,
‘all praise and thanks are due to Allah.’

[7]

As for those who follow the first opinion then they differ falling into two opinions:

1. That one recites it loudly as it is a part of al-Faatihah and therefore it should be recited in the same way as the rest of the Surah.

This is the view of a group of the Sahaabah, and a number of the scholars after them, from amongst them ash-Shaafi`ee.

Al-Haakim reports from ibn Abbaas (RA) that,

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ recited, ‘with the Name of Allah, Most Beneficent, Most Merciful’ loudly. [8]

Bukhari reports from Anas bin Maalik (RA) that he said in reply to one who asked him about the recitation of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ,

  His recitation would be elongated, then he recited ‘with the Name of Allah, Most Beneficent, Most Merciful’ elongating bismillaah, elongating ar-Rahmaan and elongating ar-Raheem. [9]

Abu Daawood reports from Umm Salamah (RA) that she said,

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ used to cut his recitation at each verse [pausing before going on to the next. He would recite], ‘with the Name of Allah, Most Beneficent, Most Merciful’ [then] ‘all praise and thanks are due to Allah the Lord of the Universe,’ [then], ‘the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful’ [then], ‘Master of the Day of Judgement.’[10]

2. That it is not to be recited loudly.

This is reported from the Prophet ﷺ by Bukhari and Muslim, it is the view of a number of the Sahaabah, and it is established from the Four Khaleefs. It is also the view of a group of the scholars after them from amongst them Abu Haneefah, ath-Thawree and Ahmad.

So this is a summary of the views of the scholars with regards it recitation and they are all close to each other, and all praise is due to Allah, for they are agreed that the prayer of the one who recites loudly or silently is valid.


Footnotes

{1} Ibn Uthaymeen, ‘Explanation of the Three Fundamental Principles of Islaam’ [pg. 36]

{2} Abu Daawood [Eng. Trans. 3/1387 no. 4964], Ahmad [5/59, 365] and the wording is his. It was declared saheeh by al-Albaanee in ‘Saheeh Abu Daawood’ [no. 4168]. Muqbil bin Haadee said that the isnaad of Ahmad contains the narrators of the Saheeh.

{3} Abu Daawood [Eng. Trans. 1/26 no. 101] and it is saheeh as in ‘Saheeh Abu Daawood’ [no. 92]

{4} Saheeh Bukhari [Eng. Trans. 1/105 no. 143], Saheeh Muslim [Eng. Trans. 2/731 no. 3361]

{5} As-Subkee, ‘Tabaqaat ash-Shaafi`iyyah’ [1/6] and others. Al-Albaanee ruled it to be da`eef jiddan in ‘Irwaa’ [no. 1]

{6} Abu Daawood [Eng. Trans. 1/202 no. 787]. Ibn Katheer says that its isnaad is saheeh and it is in ‘Saheeh Abu Daawood’ [no. 707]

{7} Saheeh Muslim [Eng. Trans. 1/258 no. 1005] from Aa`ishah (RA)

{8} Mustadrak [1/326 no. 750], wherein he said that it was saheeh. However az-Zayla`i said in ‘Nasb ar-Raayah’ [1/345] that its isnaad contains Abdullaah bin `Amr bin Hisaan about who Alee bin al-Madeenee said that he used to fabricate ahaadeeth. Adh-Dhahabee mentioned the same in his ‘Talkhees.’

{9} Saheeh Bukhari [Eng. Trans. 6/513 no. 566]

{10} Sunan Abu Daawood [Eng. Trans. 3/1120 no. 3990]. Ad-Daarqutnee said that it has a saheeh isnaad and it is in ‘Saheeh Abu Daawood’ [no. 3379]

(NOTE: If you want to build a strong and powerful relationship with Allah, check out Islamia TV, where you can watch Islamic speakers from across the globe deliver inspiring and motivational courses. Learn more at www.islamia.tv.)



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