A Lecture by Suhaib Webb | Transcribed by Fuseina Mohamad
The third objective of Surat al-Fatiha is that it trains us in the correct concept of worship and it causes us to love worship, as is shown by the verse “Iyaka na`budu, wa iyaka nasta`een (It is You we worship and You we ask for help).” (Qur’an, 1:5)
The fourth objective is to show us how to purify our souls, i.e. tazkiyatul nafs or tassawuf, how to be pure. As Ibn Qayyim mentioned, human beings are going to be divided into three categories: al latheena an`amta `alayhim (those upon whom Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) has bestowed favor), al maghdoobi `alayhim (those who have invoked Allah’s anger), and ad-dalleen (those led astray). Everyone is in one of these three categories. Either they are from those whom Allah (swt) has favored, those whom His wrath is upon (we ask Allah (swt) to protect us), or those who went astray.
The last objective is stories and news. Stories of the righteous inform us of what happened to good people, or convey the stories of Fir`aun and Qaroon and others who were disobedient to Allah. The people in these stories can be broken down into three groups: those whom Allah (swt) has favored, those who have earned His wrath, and those who have gone astray. Apply this to any story in the Qur’an and you can categorize people accordingly. All of this is beautifully encapsulated in Surat al-Fatiha (1).
Where was al-Fatiha revealed?
Audience member: “During Isra and Miraaj?”
No, not in Isra and Miraaj, because salah (prayer) began in the very early days of Islam and Prophethood. In fact, who was the first person to pray in jama’a (congregation) with the Prophet ﷺ? It was Khadija radi Allahu `anha (may Allah be pleased with her). The first person to ever pray, and to be taught salah was Khadija bint Khuwaylid (ra).
Al-Fatiha came in the early days. Some `ulema (scholars) say that it was the first surah (chapter) of the Quran, but this is not generally accepted because most people agree that iqra (i.e. Surah Al Qalam, 68) was the first. But al-Fatiha was an early surah. Salah started in Makkah in the early days, twice a day: once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Through Isra and Miraaj, it was changed to five times a day.
Some `ulema said that al-Fatiha was revealed in Makkah, as it is mentioned in Surat al-Hijr. By the agreement of the scholars, Surat al-Hijr (15) is a Makkan Surah. In the surah, Allah says “And We have certainly given you, [O Muhammad], seven of the often repeated [verses] and the great Qur’an.” (15:87).
But at the same time we find a hadith in Sahih Muslim where the Prophet ﷺ was in Madina and Jibreel came to him. The Prophet ﷺ said suddenly Jibreel heard a noise, so Jibreel turned his head and said, “I heard today the sound of a door open that was never opened before in the Heavens.” Then an angel came who never came before. The angel said, “Assalaam `alaykum ya rasool Allah (Peace be upon you, oh Messenger of Allah)” to the Prophet ﷺ and then he said, “I give you the good news of two lights that have never been given to any Prophet before you: al-Fatiha and the end of Surat al-Baqarah.”
Here we find Fatiha sent in Madina. Fatiha was revealed twice.
But why? This is the trivia question. Why was Surah al-Fatiha sent twice?
The second question is – which angel always brought the Qur’an to the Prophet ﷺ? Jibreel. But here we find a special angel bringing al-Fatiha and the end of Surat al-Baqarah. Why?
So these are the trivia questions for next time, and we plan to talk about the dynamics of `ibada (worship) found in Surat al-Fatiha. After that, we’re going to talk about al-Fatiha and the purification of the soul, and then we’re going to talk about al-Fatiha and the university student. Because on campus, you can divide yourselves into three types of groups: those Allah has favored, those who have earned His wrath, and those who have gone astray.
For example, someone who goes to the club and dances with Shireen and you tell him, “Yo, Abdul, why are you dancing with Shireen?” And Abdul says, “Oh, I’m giving her da’wah (invitation to Islam).” Abdul is like those who have earned Allah’s wrath and those who have gone astray (we don’t say that he is one of them, we say that he is like them).
Muslim brothers who meet and say, “You know, let’s go play cricket, because now is the cricket world cup, so let’s go act like those cricket players.” And then they play cricket all night and miss Fajr. This is the quality of those who have gone astray.
A sister who hangs out with guys and she knows she’s not supposed to hang out with guys and she gets herself into trouble. Now, astaghfir Allah (I seek refuge in Allah), we have some cases of AIDS among Muslims on campuses. We have some cases of pregnancy among Muslim women on campus. This is like those who have earned Allah’s wrath, because they know that they’re not supposed to do that. And the first thing that happens when a woman discovers that she’s pregnant is she says, “I know I should never have done that.” Exactly. Whenever we make any sin the person will say, “I should never have done that.” Exactly! Another example is Muslims who drink. They are like those who have earned Allah’s anger. Those who have been led astray are like Muslims who don’t know how to pray.
Then we’ll talk about the twelve proofs of Prophethood found in al-Fatiha. For example, when we say ar-Rahman ar-Raheem (Allah is Most Gracious, Most Merciful), would Allah be Most Gracious and Most Merciful if He put us in this life without any connection to Him? So ar-Rahman ar-Raheem is indicative of the fact that Allah (swt) has sent us Prophets, because He is ar-Rahman ar-Raheem.
After that, we’ll talk about everyone’s favorite: al-Fatiha and the attacks of Shaytan (Satan). Shaytan has seven ways to try and throw you in Hell and he uses three doors to come at you from these seven ways. I’ll give you the three doors as an appetizer. The first one is the door of anger, the second is the door of desires, and the third (probably the most common in California) is neglect. This is called al-ghafla (a state of negligence).