Al-Fatihah : Introduction 1

>> Tuesday, October 27, 2009

How Many Ayah in Surat Alfatihah?

There is no disagreement over the view that Al-Fatihah contains seven Ayat. According to the majority of the reciters of Al-Kufah, a group of the Companions, the Tabi`in, and a number of scholars from the successive generations, the Bismillah is a separate Ayah in its beginning. We will mention this subject again soon, if Allah wills, and in Him we trust.

The Number of Words and Letters in Al-Fatihah

The scholars say that Al-Fatihah consists of twenty-five words, and that it contains one hundred and thirteen letters.

The Reason it is called Umm Al-Kitab

In the beginning of the Book of Tafsir, in his Sahih, Al-Bukhari said; "It is called Umm Al-Kitab, because the Qur'an starts with it and because the prayer is started by reciting it.'' It was also said that it is called Umm Al-Kitab, because it contains the meanings of the entire Qur'an. Ibn Jarir said, "The Arabs call every comprehensive matter that contains several specific areas an Umm. For instance, they call the skin that surrounds the brain, Umm Ar-Ra's. They also call the flag that gathers the ranks of the army an Umm.'' He also said, "Makkah was called Umm Al-Qura, (the Mother of the Villages) because it is the grandest and the leader of all villages. It was also said that the earth was made starting from Makkah.''

Further, Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Hurayrah narrated about Umm Al-Qur'an that the Prophet said,

«هِيَ أُمُّ الْقُرْآنِ وَهِيَ السَّبْعُ الْمَثَانِي وَهِيَ الْقُرْآنُ الْعَظِيمُ»

(It is Umm Al-Qur'an, the seven repeated (verses) and the Glorious Qur'an.)

Also, Abu Ja`far, Muhammad bin Jarir At-Tabari recorded Abu Hurayrah saying that the Messenger of Allah said about Al-Fatihah,

«هِيَ أُمُّ الْقُرْآنِ وَهِيَ فَاتِحَةُ الْكِتَابِ وَهِيَ السَّبْعُ الْمَثَانِي»

(It is Umm Al-Qur'an, Al-Fatihah of the Book (the Opener of the Qur'an) and the seven repeated (verses).)


Introduction - The Source of Tafseer

If someone asks about the best methods of Tafsir, we reply that the best method is to explain the Qur'an with the Qur'an itself. What is mentioned in general terms in one place in the Qur'an, is usually explained in another place. When one does not find this easily, he should look to the Sunnah because its purpose is to explain the Qur'an and elaborate upon itsmeanings. Allah said,

‘Surely, We have sent down to you (O Muhammad SAW) [1] the Book (this Quran) in truth that you might judge between men by that which Allah has shown you, so be not a pleader for the treacherous.’ (An Nisa 4:105)

‘And We have also sent down unto you (O Muhammad SAW) the reminder and the advice (the Quran), that you may explain clearly to men what is sent down to them, and that they may give thought.’ (An Nahl 16:44) and,

‘This is why the Messenger of Allah said,

‘The Sunnah was a revelation from Allah just as the Qur'an, although it is not recited as the Qur'an is recited.’

So one seeks the Tafsir of the Qur'an with the Qur'an itself and with the Sunnah. If one cannot find the Tafsir in the Qur'anor Sunnah, he should refer to the statements of the Companions, who were the most knowledgeable of Tafsir, for they witnessed the situations and incidents that we did not witness. They also had the deepest comprehension, the most correct knowledge, and the most righteous works. Especially the scholars and leaders among them, such as the FourRightly Guided Khalifahs and righteous Imams, and `Abdullah bin Mas`ud, may Allah be pleased with them all. Imam Abu Ja'far bin Jarir At-Tabari narrated that 'Abdullah bin Mas`ud said,

"By He other than Whom there is no God, no Ayah in the Book of Allah was revealed but I have knowledge about whomand where it was revealed. Verily, if I know of a person who has more knowledge than me in the Book of Allah that the animals can reach (by travelling on them), I will travel to meet him."

Also, among the scholars of the Companions is the great scholar, the sea of knowledge, 'Abdullah bin `Abbas, the cousin of the Messenger of Allah, and the explainer of the Qur'an, as a result of the blessing of the supplication of the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him. The Prophet invoked Allah for the benefit of Ibn `Abbas,

(O Allah! Teach him Fiqh in the religion and interpretation.) [3]

Further, Ibn Jarir At-Tabari reported that `Abdullah bin Mas`ud said, "Yes, Ibn 'Abbas is the interpreter of the Qur'an." ThisHadith has an authentic chain of narrators. [4] Ibn Mas`ud died in the thirty-second years of Hijrah and 'Abdullah bin `Abbas lived for thirty-six years after that. Hence, what do you think about the knowledge that Ibn 'Abbas collected after Ibn Mas`ud? Al-A'mash said that Abu Wa'il said, "Ali once appointed 'Abdullah bin `Abbas to lead the Haj season. Ibn 'Abbas gave a speech to the people in which he read and explained Surat Al Baqarah (according to another narration,Surat An-Nur) in such a way, that if the Romans, Turks and the Daylam heard him, they would have embraced Islam." [5]

This is why the majority of the knowledge Ismail bin `Abdur Rahman As-Suddi Al-Kabir collected in his Tafsir is from thesetwo men, Ibn Mas`ud and Ibn `Abbas. Yet, he sometimes mentions what they narrated of the Israelite accounts that theMessenger of Allah has allowed when he said,

‘Convey on my behalf, even if it is one Ayah (sentence), and narrate from the Children of Israel, as there is no sin in this.And whoever intentionally lies on me, let him assume his assured seat in the Fire.’

This Hadith from 'Abdullah bin Amr was collected by Al- Bukhari (Fath Al-Bari 6:572). This is why when `Abdullah bin 'Amr had possession of two books from the People of the Scripture on the Day (battle) of the Yarmuk, he used to narrate what was in- them, because of what he understood of the Hadith that allowed this practice.

Israelite Accounts and Tales

Yet, the Israelite accounts and stories should only be used Not supporting evidence, not as evidence themselves. There are three types of these accounts and tales; a kind that we are `tire is authentic because we have in our religion something that testifies to its truth. The second type is what we know to be false based on what we have. The third is of neither type. Hence, we neither affirm nor deny this type, and we are allowed to narrate it, because of the Hadith that we mentioned. The majority of these are of no religious benefit. 'In instance, an Israelite tale mentions the names and number of the people of the Cave (Al-Kahj) and the color of their dog. They also include the type of tree Moses' staff was made of, the kind of the birds Ibrahim brought back to life by Allah's leave, the part of the cow the dead Israelite was struck with to resurrect him, and the kind of tree that Allah spoke to Moses through. Such examples of things that Allah kept unexplained in the Qur'an do not carry any daily or religious significance for responsible adults.

Tafsir of the Tabi`in

When unable to find the Tafsir in the Qur'an, the Sunnah or with the Companions, the scholars then look to the Tafsir ofthe Tabi`in, (second generation of Islam) such as Mujahid bin Jabr, who was a wonder himself in Tafsir. Muhammad binIshaq narrated that Abban bin Salih said that Mujahid said, "I reviewed the Mushaf with Ibn `Abbas thrice from beginning toend asking him about each and every Ayah in it." Also, Ibn Jarir narrated that Ibn Abi Mulaykah said, "I saw Mujahidasking Ibn `Abbas about the Tafsir of the Quran while he was holding his tablets (papers). Ibn 'Abbas would say to him,Write,' until Mujahid asked him about the entire Tafstr." This is why Sufyan Ath-Thawri said, "If the Tafsir reaches you fromMujahid, then it is sufficient for you." [5]

The scholars of Tafsir also include Sa`id bin Jubayr, 'Ikrimah-the freed servant of Ibn 'Abbas, 'Ata' bin Abi Rabah, Al-Hasan Al-Basri, Masruq bin Al-Ajda`, Sa'Id bin AlMusayyib, Abu Al-`Aliyah, Ar-Rabi` bin Anas, Qatadah, Ad Dahhak bin Muzahim and other scholars among the Tabi`in and the following generations.

The statements of these Imams should be mentioned and referred to for Tafsir. We should mention here that these scholars use a variety of meanings for some words, leading those who do not have enough knowledge to think that they conflict, and thus, they consider them opposing statements. This is not correct, for some of these scholars would use variations of the same expressions and some of them would use the precise terms.

These meanings are all the same in the majority of instances, and those who have sound comprehension see this, and Allah is the One Who guides and directs to success.

Tafsir by mere Opinion

It is prohibited to indulge in Tafsir by mere opinion. Muhammad bin Jarir reported that Ibn 'Abbas said that the ProphetPeace be upon him said,

(For this, and the previous quotes, see At-Tabari 1:90-91)

[Whoever explains the Qur'an with his opinion or with what he has no knowledge of, then let him assume his seat in the Fire.]

At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasa'i and Abu Dawud also recorded this Hadith. At-Tirmidhi said, "Hasan".

Explaining what One has Knowledge of, Silence otherwise

The Salaf used to refrain from explaining what they had no knowledge of. For instance, Ibn Jarir (At-Tabari) reported that Abu Ma'mar said that Abu Bakr As-Siddiq said, " Which land will carry me and which heaven will shade me if I said aboutAllah's Book that which I have no knowledge of? " [6]

Ibn Jarir also reported that Anas narrated that 'Umar bin Al-Khattab read the Ayah,~{And fruits and Abba (herbage, etc.)

while standing on the Minbar. He then said, " We know the fruit, so what is the Abba?" He then said, "O 'Umar! This is exaggeration." [7]

This statement means that 'Umar briefly wanted to know the exact nature of the Abba, for it was evident - to him - that it is a plant that grows on earth, just as Allah said,

And We cause therein the grain to grow. And grapes and clover plants’ (i.e. green fodder for the cattle) (80:27-28).

Ibn Jarir also recorded that Ibn Abi Mulaykah said that Ibn 'Abbas was asked about an Ayah, "That if any of you is asked about, he will indulge in its Tafsir." without hesitation Ibn 'Abbas refused to say anything about it (meaning with his opinion). This narration has an authentic chain of narrators. He also narrated that Ibn Abi Mulaykah said, "A man asked Ibn 'Abbas about, One Day, the space whereof is a thousand years.

Ibn 'Abbas asked him, What is, Day the measure whereof is fifty thousand years~?'

The man said, `I only asked you to tell me.' Ibn 'Abbas said, They are two Days that Allah has mentioned in His Book and He has better knowledge of them.' He disliked commenting on the Book of Allah when he had no knowledge about it."

Al-Layth narrated that Yahya bin Sa`id said that Said bin Al-Musayyib used to talk about what he knows of the Qur'an (At-Tabari 1:86). Also, Ayyub, Ibn 'Awn and Hisham AdDastuwa i narrated that Muhammad bin Sirin said, "I asked 'Ubaydah (meaning, As-Salmani ) about an Ayah of the Qur'an and he said,

"Those who had knowledge about the circumstances surrounding revelation of the Qur'an have perished. So fear Allah and seek the right way."

Ash-Sha`bi narrated that Masruq said, "Avoid Tafszr, because it is narration related to Allah." [8]

These authentic narrations from the Companions and the Imams of the Salaf (righteous ancestors) testify to theirhesitation to indulge in the Tafsir of what they have no knowledge of. As for those who speak about what they have linguistic and religious knowledge of, then there is no sin in this case. Hence, the scholars and the Imams, including the ones we mentioned, issued statements of Tafsir and spoke about what they had knowledge of, but avoided what they hadno knowledge of.

Refraining from indulging in what one has no knowledge of is required of everyone, just as everyone is required to convey the knowledge that they have when they are asked. Allah said,

‘To make it known and clear to mankind, and not to hide it’ (3:187);

Also, a Hadith narrated through several chains of narrators says, [9]
(Whoever is asked about knowledge that he knows but hid it, will be tied with a muzzle made of fire on the Day ofResurrection.)


[1] was given the Qur'an and its equal with it)), in reference to the Sunnah. 2

[2] Ahmad 4:131

[3] Fath Al-Bari 1:205.

[4] At-Tabari 1:90.

[5] At-Tabari 1:81.

[6] At-Tabari 1:78.

[7] At-Tabari 24:229.

[8] At Tabari 1:86, for these quotes.

[9] Ahmad, At-Tirmidhi, and others.


Introduction -Ibnu Katheer Tafseer

All praise is due to Allah, Who started His Book by saying,

‘All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all that exists. The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. The Owner of the Day of Recompense’ (AI-Fatihah 1:2-4)

and Who began His creation with the Hamd (His praise and appreciation), by saying,

‘All praise and thanks be to Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth, and originated the darkness and the light; yet those who disbelieve hold others equal to their Lords’ (Al An`am 6:1),

and ended it with the Hamd, by saying, after mentioning the destination of the people of Paradise and the people of the Fire,

‘(and you will see the angels surrounding the Throne (of Allah), glorifying their Lord with praise. And judgement will be made between them (creatures) with the truth. And it will be said “All Praise and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of all that exists.’ (Az Zumar 39:75)


‘He is Allah, there is no illah except for Him, His is the praise in the beginning and in the end, His is the judgment and to Him you (all) return.’ (Al Qasas 28:70),

All thanks are due to Allah in the beginning and in the end the end, for what He has created and what He shall create. Allah is the One praised for all things, just as the praying person says, "O Allah, Yours is the praise, praise that fills the heavens, the earth and whatever You will after that." [1]

All the thanks are due to Allah Who sent His Messengers, whom He described as,

'Say, "What thing is greatest in testimony?" Say, "Allāh is witness between me and you. And this Qur’ān was revealed to me that I may warn you thereby and whomever it reaches. Do you [truly] testify that with Allāh there are other deities?" Say, "I will not testify [with you]." Say, "Indeed, He is but one God, and indeed, I am free of what you associate [with Him].' (An-Nisa 4:165)

And ended them with the unlettered, Arabian, Makkan Prophet who guides to the clear straight path. Allah sent the Prophet Muhammad Peace be upon him to all of His creation - the Jinns and mankind - from the time that his prophet hood began until the commencement of the Last Hour. Allah said,

‘Say (O Muhammad ) :"O mankind! Verily, I am the Messenger sent to you all by Allah, the One to Whom the dominion of the heavens and the earth belongs. There is no god (worthy of worship) but He. It is He Who gives life and causes death. So believe in Allah and His Messenger, the unlettered Prophet, who believes in Allah and His Words, and follow him so that you may be guided.’ (Al-A`raf 7:158) and,

‘That by it, I may warn you and whoever it reaches}’ (Al An`am 6:19).

Therefore, whether one is an Arab or non-Arab, black or red, human or Jinn's, whoever this Quran is conveyed to, it is a warning for them all. This is why Allah said,

'So is one who [stands] upon a clear evidence from his Lord [like the aforementioned]? And a witness from Him follows it, and before it was the Scripture of Moses to lead and as mercy. Those [believers in the former revelations] believe in the Qur’an. But whoever disbelieves in it from the [various] factions – the Fire is his promised destination. So be not in doubt about it. Indeed, it is the truth from your Lord, but most of the people do not believe.’ (Hud 11: 17)

Therefore, whoever disbelieves in the Qur'an among those whom we mentioned, then, according to Allah, the Fire will be then their destination. Allah said,

Then leave Me alone with those who deny this narration (the Ow-'an).

‘We shall gradually punish them from where they perceive not’. (Nun 68:44).

The Messenger of Allah Peace be upon him said, I was sent not to the white and red. Mujahid commented, "Meaning, unkind and the Jinns." [1]

Hence, Muhammad Peace be upon him is the Messenger to all creation, mankind and Jinn, conveying what Allah revealed to him in the Glorious Book that,

‘Falsehood cannot come to it from before it or behind it, (it is) sent down by the Wise, Worthy of all praise.’ (Fussilat 41:42)

Therefore, the scholars are required to elaborate upon the meanings of Allah's Speech and to convey these meanings, providing they seek them from their proper resources. The scholars are required to learn and convey these meanings, just as Allah said,

'And [mention, O Muhammad], when Allah took a covenant from those who were given the Scripture, [saying], "You must make it clear to the people and not conceal it." But they threw it away behind their backs and exchanged it for a small price. And wretched is that which they purchased.’

(Al Imran 3:187) and, Ahmad 5:145.

‘Verily, those who purchase a small gain at the cost of Allah's covenant and their oaths, they shall have no portion in the Hereafter (Paradise). Neither will Allah speak to them nor look at them on the Day of Resurrection, nor will He purify them, and they shall have a painful torment}’ (Al Imran 3:77).

Allah criticized the People of the Scriptures - Jews and Christians - who came before us, for ignoring Allah's Book that was revealed to them, and for acquiring and indulging in the affairs of this life, all the while being distracted from what they were commanded, that is, adhering to Allah's Book.

We Muslims are thus required to refrain from doing what Allah criticized the People of the Scriptures for, and to heed what He commanded us; learning and comprehending the Book of Allah, revealed to us, and to convey all that is in it. Allah said,

Has not the time come for the hearts of those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah - Islamic Monotheism) to be affected by Allah's Reminder (this Qur'an), and that which has been revealed of the truth, lest they become as those who received the Scripture before, and the term was prolonged for them and so their hearts were hardened? And many of them were Fasiqun (the rebellious, the disobedient to Allah) Know that Allah gives life to the earth after its death! Indeed We have made clear the Ayat to you, if you but understand}’ (Al Hadid 57:16-17).

Hence, Allah's mentioning this Ayah (57:17) after the Ayah that preceded it, alerts us to the fact that just as He brings life to the earth after it has died, He also softens the hearts with faith and guidance after they become hard because of committing sins and errors. We ask Allah to grant us this good end, He is Most Kind, Most Generous.

[1] Al-Bukhari, Muslim and others have recorded Hadiths mentioning this supplication.


  © Blogger template Werd by 2009

Back to TOP