The Meaning of Al-Fatihah and its Various Name
This Surah is called Al-Fatihah, that is, the Opener of the Book, the Surah with which prayers are begun. It is also called, Umm Al-Kitab (the Mother of the Book), according to the majority of the scholars. In an authentic Hadith recorded by At-Tirmidhi, who graded it Sahih, Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said, (Al-Hamdu lillahi Rabbil-` Alamin is the Mother of the Qur’an, the Mother of the Book, and the seven repeated Ayat of the Glorious Qur’an.)
It is also called Al-Hamd and As-Salah, because the Prophet said that his Lord said, (`The prayer (i.e., Al-Fatihah) is divided into two halves between Me and My servants.’ When the servant says, `All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of existence,’ Allah says, ‘My servant has praised Me.’) Al-Fatihah was called the Salah, because reciting it is a condition for the correctness of Salah – the prayer.
Al-Fatihah was also called Ash-Shifa’ (the Cure). It is also called Ar-Ruqyah (remedy), since in the Sahih, there is the narration of Abu Sa`id telling the story of the Companion who used Al-Fatihah as a remedy for the tribal chief who was poisoned. Later, the Messenger of Allah said to a Companion, (How did you know that it is a Ruqyah) Al-Fatihah was revealed in Makkah as Ibn `Abbas, Qatadah and Abu Al-`Aliyah stated. Allah said, (And indeed, We have bestowed upon you the seven Mathani) (seven repeatedly recited verses), (i.e. Surat Al-Fatihah) (15:87).
How many Ayat does Al-Fatihah contain
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.
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 AlQura, (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, (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, (It is Umm Al-Qur’an, Al-Fatihah of the Book (the Opener of the Qur’an) and the seven repeated (verses).)
Virtues of Al-Fatihah
Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal recorded in the Musnad that Abu Sa`id bin Al-Mu`alla said, “I was praying when the Prophet called me, so I did not answer him until I finished the prayer. I then went to him and he said, (What prevented you from coming) I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah ! I was praying.’ He said, (`Didn’t Allah say), (O you who believe! Answer Allah (by obeying Him) and (His) Messenger when he calls you to that which gives you life) He then said, (I will teach you the greatest Surah in the Qur’an before you leave the Masjid.)
He held my hand and when he was about to leave the Masjid, I said, `O Messenger of Allah! You said: I will teach you the greatest Surah in the Qur’an.’ He said, (Yes.) (Al-Hamdu lillahi Rabbil-`Alamin)” (It is the seven repeated (verses) and the Glorious Qur’an that I was given.)” Al-Bukhari, Abu Dawud, An-Nasa’i and Ibn Majah also recorded this Hadith.
Also, Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Hurayrah said, “The Messenger of Allah went out while Ubayy bin Ka`b was praying and said, (O Ubayy!) Ubayy did not answer him. The Prophet said, (O Ubayy!) Ubayy prayed faster then went to the Messenger of Allah saying, `Peace be unto you, O Messenger of Allah!’ He said, (Peace be unto you. O Ubayy, what prevented you from answering me when I called you)
He said, `O Messenger of Allah! I was praying.’ He said, (Did you not read among what Allah has sent down to me,) (Answer Allah (by obeying Him) and (His) Messenger when he calls you to that which gives you life) He said, `Yes, O Messenger of Allah! I will not do it again.’ the Prophet said, (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.’ He said, (By Him in Whose Hand is my soul! Allah has never revealed in the Tawrah, the Injil, the Zabur or the Furqan a Surah like it. It is the seven repeated verses that I was given.)” Also, At-Tirmidhi recorded this Hadith and in his narration, the Prophet said, (It is the seven repeated verses and the Glorious Qur’an that I was given.) At-Tirmidhi then commented that this Hadith is Hasan Sahih.
There is a similar Hadith on this subject narrated from Anas bin Malik Further, `Abdullah, the son of Imam Ahmad, recorded this Hadith from Abu Hurayrah from Ubayy bin Ka`b, and he mentioned a longer but similar wording for the above Hadith. In addition, At-Tirmidhi and An- Nasa’i recorded this Hadith from Abu Hurayrah from Ubayy bin Ka`b who said that the Messenger of Allah said, (Allah has never revealed in the Tawrah or the Injil anything similar to Umm Al-Qur’an. It is the seven repeated verses and it is divided into two halves between Allah and His servant.) This is the wording reported by An-Nasa’i. At-Tirmidhi said that this Hadith is Hasan Gharib.
The special virtue of Fatihah
Also, Imam Ahmad recorded that Ibn Jabir said, “I went to the Messenger of Allah after he had poured water (for purification) and said, Peace be unto you, O Messenger of Allah!’ He did not answer me. So I said again, `Peace be unto you, O Messenger of Allah!’ Again, he did not answer me, so I said again, `Peace be unto you, O Messenger of Allah!’ Still he did not answer me. The Messenger of Allah went while I was following him, until he arrived at his residence.
I went to the Masjid and sat there sad and depressed. The Messenger of Allah came out after he performed his purification and said, (Peace and Allah’s mercy be unto you, peace and Allah’s mercy be unto you, peace and Allah’s mercy be unto you.) He then said, (O `Abdullah bin Jabir! Should I inform you of the best Surah in the Qur’an) I said, `Yes, O Messenger of Allah!’ He said, (Read, `All praise be to Allah, the Lord of the existence,’ until you finish it.)” This Hadith has a good chain of narrators. Some scholars relied on this Hadith as evidence that some Ayat and Surahs have more virtues than others.
Fatihah as a ruqyah
Furthermore, in the chapter about the virtues of the Qur’an, Al-Bukhari recorded that Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri said, “Once, we were on a journey when a female servant came and said, `The leader of this area has been poisoned and our people are away. Is there a healer among you’ Then a man whose healing expertise did not interest us stood for her, he read a Ruqyah for him, and he was healed. The chief gave him thirty sheep as a gift and some milk. When he came back to us we said to him, `You know of a (new) Ruqyah, or did you do this before’ He said, `I only used Umm Al-Kitab as Ruqyah.’ We said, `Do not do anything further until we ask the Messenger of Allah.’ When we went back to Al-Madinah we mentioned what had happened to the Prophet . The Prophet said, (Who told him that it is a Ruqyah Divide (the sheep) and reserve a share for me.)”
The two lights only given to the Messenger of Allah
Also, Muslim recorded in his Sahih, and An-Nasa’i in his Sunan that Ibn `Abbas said, “While Jibril (Gabriel) was with the Messenger of Allah, he heard a noise from above. Jibril lifted his sight to the sky and said, `This is a door in heaven being open, and it has never been opened before now.’ An angel descended from that door and came to the Prophet and said, ` Receive the glad tidings of two lights that you have been given, which no other Prophet before you was given: the Opening of the Book and the last (three) Ayat of Surat Al-Baqarah. You will not read a letter of them, but will gain its benefit.”’ This is the wording collected by An-Nasa’i (Al-Kubra 5:12) and Muslim recorded similar wording (1:554).
Al-Fatihah and the Prayer
Muslim recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Prophet said, (Whoever performs any prayer in which he did not read Umm Al-Qur’an, then his prayer is incomplete.) He said it thrice. Abu Hurayrah was asked, ” When we stand behind the Imam” He said, “Read it to yourself, for I heard the Messenger of Allah say, (Allah, the Exalted, said, `I have divided the prayer (Al-Fatihah) into two halves between Myself and My servant, and My servant shall have what he asks for.’ If he says, (All praise and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of existence.) Allah says, `My servant has praised Me.’
When the servant says, (The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.) Allah says, `My servant has glorified Me.’ When he says, (The Owner of the Day of Recompense.) Allah says, ` My servant has glorified Me,’ or `My servant has related all matters to Me.’ When he says, (You (alone) we worship, and You (alone) we ask for help.) Allah says, `This is between Me and My servant, and My servant shall acquire what he sought.’ When he says, (Guide us to the straight path. The way of those on whom You have granted Your grace, not (the way) of those who earned Your anger, nor of those who went astray), Allah says, `This is for My servant, and My servant shall acquire what he asked for.’).” These are the words of An-Nasa’i, while both Muslim and An-Nasa’i collected the following wording, “A half of it is for Me and a half for My servant, and My servant shall acquire what he asked for.”
Explaining this Hadith
The last Hadith used the word Salah `prayer’ in reference to reciting the Qur’an, (Al-Fatihah in this case) just as Allah said in another Ayah, (And offer your Salah (prayer) neither aloud nor in a low voice, but follow a way between.) meaning, with your recitation of the Qur’an, as the Sahih related from Ibn `Abbas. Also, in the last Hadith, Allah said, “I have divided the prayer between Myself and My servant into two halves, a half for Me and a half for My servant. My servant shall have what he asked for.” Allah next explained the division that involves reciting Al-Fatihah, demonstrating the importance of reciting the Qur’an during the prayer, which is one of the prayer’s greatest pillars.
Hence, the word `prayer’ was used here although only a part of it was actually being referred to, that is, reciting the Qur’an. Similarly, the word `recite’ was used where prayer is meant, as demonstrated by Allah’s statement, (And recite the Qur’an in the early dawn.Verily, the recitation of the Qur’an in the early dawn is ever witnessed.) in reference to the Fajr prayer. The Two Sahihs recorded that the angels of the night and the day attend this prayer.
Reciting Al-Fatihah is required in Every Rak`ah of the Prayer
All of these facts testify to the requirement that reciting the Qur’an (Al-Fatihah) in the prayer is required, and there is a consensus between the scholars on this ruling. The Hadith that we mentioned also testifies to this fact, for the Prophet said, (Whoever performs any prayer in which he did not recite Umm Al-Qur’an, his prayer is incomplete.) Also, the Two Sahihs recorded that `Ubadah bin As-Samit said that the Messenger of Allah said, (There is no prayer for whoever does not recite the Opening of the Book.)
Also, the Sahihs of Ibn Khuzaymah and Ibn Hibban recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said, (The prayer during which Umm Al-Qur’an is not recited is invalid.) There are many other Hadiths on this subject. Therefore, reciting the Opening of the Book, during the prayer by the Imam and those praying behind him, is required in every prayer, and in every Rak`ah
Bismillah is the First Ayah of Al-Fatihah
The Companions started the Book of Allah with Bismillah: (1. In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.) The scholars also agree that Bismillah is a part of an Ayah in Surat An-Naml (chapter 27). They disagree over whether it is a separate Ayah before every Surah, or if it is an Ayah, or a part of an Ayah, included in every Surah where the Bismillah appears in its beginning. Ad-Daraqutni also recorded a Hadith from Abu Hurayrah from the Prophet that supports this Hadith by Ibn Khuzaymah. Also, similar statements were attributed to `Ali, Ibn `Abbas and others.
The opinion that Bismillah is an Ayah of every Surah, except Al-Bara’ah (chapter 9), was attributed to (the Companions) Ibn `Abbas, Ibn `Umar, Ibn Az-Zubayr, Abu Hurayrah and `Ali. This opinion was also attributed to the Tabi`in: `Ata’, Tawus, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Makhul and Az-Zuhri. This is also the view of `Abdullah bin Al-Mubarak, Ash-Shafi`i, Ahmad bin Hanbal, (in one report from him) Ishaq bin Rahwayh and Abu `Ubayd Al-Qasim bin Salam. On the other hand, Malik, Abu Hanifah and their followers said that Bismillah is not an Ayah in Al-Fatihah or any other Surah. Dawud said that it is a separate Ayah in the beginning of every Surah, not part of the Surah itself, and this opinion was also attributed to Ahmad bin Hanbal.
Basmalah aloud in the Prayer
As for Basmalah aloud during the prayer, those who did not agree that it is a part of Al-Fatihah, state that the Basmalah should not be aloud. The scholars who stated that Bismillah is a part of every Surah (except chapter 9) had different opinions; some of them, such as Ash-Shafi`i, said that one should recite Bismillah with Al-Fatihah aloud. This is also the opinion of many among the Companions, the Tabi`in and the Imams of Muslims from the Salaf and the later generations. For instance, this is the opinion of Abu Hurayrah, Ibn `Umar, Ibn `Abbas, Mu`awiyah, `Umar and `Ali – according to Ibn `Abdul-Barr and Al-Bayhaqi. Also, the Four Khalifahs – as Al-Khatib reported – were said to have held this view although the report from them is contradicted.
The Tabi`in scholars who gave this Tafsir include Sa`id bin Jubayr, `Ikrimah, Abu Qilabah, Az-Zuhri, `Ali bin Al-Hasan, his son Muhammad, Sa`id bin Al-Musayyib, `Ata’, Tawus, Mujahid, Salim, Muhammad bin Ka`b Al-Qurazi, Abu Bakr bin Muhammad bin `Amr bin Hazm, Abu Wa’il, Ibn Sirin, Muhammad bin Al-Munkadir, `Ali bin `Abdullah bin `Abbas, his son Muhammad, Nafi` the freed slave of Ibn `Umar, Zayd bin Aslam, `Umar bin `Abdul-Aziz, Al-Azraq bin Qays, Habib bin Abi Thabit, Abu Ash-Sha`tha’, Makhul and `Abdullah bin Ma`qil bin Muqarrin. Also, Al-Bayhaqi added `Abdullah bin Safwan, and Muhammad bin Al-Hanafiyyah to this list. In addition, Ibn `Abdul-Barr added `Amr bin Dinar.
The proof that these scholars relied on is that, since Bismillah is a part of Al-Fatihah, it should be recited aloud like the rest of Al-Fatihah. Also, An-Nasa’i recorded in his Sunan, Ibn Hibban and Ibn Khuzaymah in their Sahihs and Al-Hakim in the Mustadrak, that Abu Hurayrah once performed the prayer and recited Bismillah aloud.
After he finished the prayer, he said, “Among you, I perform the prayer that is the closest to the prayer of the Messenger of Allah .” Ad-Daraqutni, Al-Khatib and Al-Bayhaqi graded this Hadith Sahih Furthermore, in Sahih Al-Bukhari it is recorded that Anas bin Malik was asked about the recitation of the Prophet. He said, “His recitation was unhurried.” He then demonstrated that and recited, while lengthening the recitation of Bismillah Ar-Rahman Ar-Rahim, Also, in the Musnad of Imam Ahmad, the Sunan of Abu Dawud, the Sahih of Ibn Hibban and the Mustadrak of Al-Hakim – it is recorded that Umm Salamah said, “The Messenger of Allah used to distinguish each Ayah during his recitation, (In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. All praise and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of all that exists, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
The Owner of the Day of Recompense.)” Ad-Daraqutni graded the chain of narration for this Hadith Sahih Furthermore, Imam Abu `Abdullah Ash-Shafi`i and Al-Hakim in his Mustadrak, recorded that Mu`awiyah led the prayer in Al-Madinah and did not recite the Bismillah. The Muhajirin who were present at that prayer criticized that. When Mu`awiyah led the following prayer, he recited the Bismillah aloud.
The Hadiths mentioned above provide sufficient proof for the opinion that the Bismillah is recited aloud. As for the opposing evidences and the scientific analysis of the narrations mentioned their weaknesses or otherwise it is not our desire to discuss this subject at this time. Other scholars stated that the Bismillah should not be recited aloud in the prayer, and this is the established practice of the Four Khalifahs, as well as `Abdullah bin Mughaffal and several scholars among the Tabi`in and later generations. It is also the Madhhab (view) of Abu Hanifah, Ath-Thawri and Ahmad bin Hanbal. Imam Malik stated that the Bismillah is not recited aloud or silently.
This group based their view upon what Imam Muslim recorded that `A’ishah said that the Messenger of Allah used to start the prayer by reciting the Takbir (Allahu Akbar; Allah is Greater) and then recite, (All praise and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of all that exists.) (Ibn Abi Hatim 1:12). Also, the Two Sahihs recorded that Anas bin Malik said, “I prayed behind the Prophet , Abu Bakr, `Umar and `Uthman and they used to start their prayer with, (All praise and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of all that exists.) Muslim added, “And they did not mention, (In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful) whether in the beginning or the end of the recitation.” Similar is recorded in the Sunan books from `Abdullah bin Mughaffal, may Allah be pleased with him. These are the opinions held by the respected Imams, and their statements are similar in that they agree that the prayer of those who recite Al-Fatihah aloud or in secret is correct. All the favour is from Allah.
The Virtue of Al-Fatihah
Imam Ahmad recorded in his Musnad, that a person who was riding behind the Prophet said, “The Prophet’s animal tripped, so I said, `Cursed Shaytan.’ The Prophet said, (Do not say, ‘Cursed Shaytan,’ for if you say these words, Satan becomes arrogant and says, ‘With my strength I made him fall.’ When you say, ‘Bismillah,’ Satan will become as small as a fly.) Further, An-Nasa’i recorded in his book Al-Yawm wal-Laylah, and also Ibn Marduwyah in his Tafsir that Usamah bin `Umayr said, “I was riding behind the Prophet…” and he mentioned the rest of the above Hadith. The Prophet said in this narration, (Do not say these words, because then Satan becomes larger; as large as a house. Rather, say, ‘Bismillah,’ because Satan then becomes as small as a fly.) This is the blessing of reciting Bismillah.
Basmalah is recommended before performing any Deed
Basmalah (reciting Bismillah) is recommended before starting any action or deed. For instance, Basmalah is recommended before starting a Khutbah (speech). The Basmalah is also recommended before one enters the place where he wants to relieve himself, there is a Hadith concerning this practice. Further, Basmalah is recommended at the beginning of ablution, for Imam Ahmad and the Sunan compilers recorded that Abu Hurayrah, Sa`id bin Zayd and Abu Sa`id narrated from the Prophet , (There is no valid ablution for he who did not mention Allah’s Name in it.) This Hadith is Hasan (good). Also, the Basmalah is recommended before eating, for Muslim recorded in his Sahih that the Messenger of Allah said to `Umar bin Abi Salamah while he was a child under his care, (Say Bismillah, eat with your right hand and eat from whatever is next to you.)
Some of the scholars stated that Basmalah before eating is obligatory. Basmalah before having sexual intercourse is also recommended. The Two Sahihs recorded that Ibn `Abbas said that the Messenger of Allah said, (If anyone of you before having sexual relations with his wife says, ‘In the Name of Allah. O Allah! Protect us from Satan and also protect what you grant us (meaning the coming offspring) from Satan,’ and if it is destined that they should have a child then, Satan will never be able to harm that child.)
The Meaning of Allah
Allah is the Name of the Lord, the Exalted. It is said that Allah is the Greatest Name of Allah, because it is referred to when describing Allah by the various attributes. For instance, Allah said, (He is Allah, beside Whom La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He) the Knower of the unseen and the seen.
He is the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. He is Allah, beside Whom La ilaha illa Huwa, the King, the Holy, the One free from all defects, the Giver of security, the Watcher over His creatures, the Almighty, the Compeller, the Supreme. Glory be to Allah! (High is He) above all that they associate as partners with Him. He is Allah, the Creator, the Inventor of all things, the Bestower of forms. To Him belong the Best Names. All that is in the heavens and the earth glorify Him. And He is the Almighty, the Wise) (59:22-24).
Hence, Allah mentioned several of His Names as Attributes for His Name Allah. Similarly, Allah said, (And (all) the Most Beautiful Names belong to Allah, so call on Him by them) (7:180), and, (Say (O Muhammad “Invoke Allah or invoke the Most Gracious (Allah), by whatever name you invoke Him (it is the same), for to Him belong the Best Names.”) (17:110) Also, the Two Sahihs recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said, (Allah has ninety-nine Names, one hundred minus one, whoever counts (and preserves) them, will enter Paradise.) These Names were mentioned in a Hadith recorded by At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah, and there are several differences between these two narrations.
The Meaning of Ar-Rahman Ar-Rahim – the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Ar-Rahman and Ar-Rahim are two names derived from Ar-Rahmah (the mercy), but Rahman has more meanings that pertain to mercy than Ar-Rahim. There is a statement by Ibn Jarir that indicates that there is a consensus on this meaning. Further, Al-Qurtubi said, “The proof that these names are derived (from Ar-Rahmah), is what At-Tirmidhi recorded – and graded Sahih from `Abdur-Rahman bin `Awf that he heard the Messenger of Allah say, (Allah the Exalted said, ‘I Am Ar-Rahman. I created the Raham (womb, i.e. family relations) and derived a name for it from My Name.
Hence, whoever keeps it, I will keep ties to him, and whoever severs it, I will sever ties with him.’) He then said, “This is a text that indicates the derivation.” He then said, “The Arabs denied the name Ar-Rahman, because of their ignorance about Allah and His attributes.” Al-Qurtubi said, “It was said that both Ar-Rahman and Ar-Rahim have the same meaning, such as the words Nadman and Nadim, as Abu `Ubayd has stated.
Abu `Ali Al-Farisi said, `Ar-Rahman, which is exclusively for Allah, is a name that encompasses every type of mercy that Allah has. Ar-Rahim is what effects the believers, for Allah said, (And He is ever Rahim (merciful) to the believers.)’ (33:43) Also, Ibn `Abbas said – about Ar-Rahman and Ar-Rahim, `They are two soft names, one of them is softer than the other (meaning it carries more implications of mercy).”’ Ibn Jarir said; As-Surri bin Yahya At-Tamimi narrated to me that `Uthman bin Zufar related that Al-`Azrami said about Ar-Rahman and Ar-Rahim, “He is Ar-Rahman with all creation and Ar-Rahim with the believers.”
Hence. Allah’s statements, (Then He rose over (Istawa) the Throne (in a manner that suits His majesty), Ar-Rahman) (25:59),) and, (Ar-Rahman (Allah) rose over (Istawa) the (Mighty) Throne (in a manner that suits His majesty).) (20:5) Allah thus mentioned the Istawa – rising over the Throne – along with His Name Ar-Rahman, to indicate that His mercy encompasses all of His creation. Allah also said, (And He is ever Rahim (merciful) to the believers), thus encompassing the believers with His Name Ar-Rahim.
They said, “This testifies to the fact that Ar-Rahman carries a broader scope of meanings pertaining to the mercy of Allah with His creation in both lives. Meanwhile, Ar-Rahim is exclusively for the believers.” Yet, we should mention that there is a supplication that reads, (The Rahman and the Rahim of this life and the Hereafter) Allah’s Name Ar-Rahman is exclusively His. For instance, Allah said, (Say (O Muhammad ): “Invoke Allah or invoke Ar-Rahman (Allah), by whatever name you invoke Him (it is the same), for to Him belong the Best Names) (17:110),) and, (And ask (O Muhammad ) those of Our Messengers whom We sent before you: “Did We ever appoint alihah (gods) to be worshipped besides Ar-Rahman (Most Gracious, Allah)”) (43:45).
Further, when Musaylimah the Liar called himself the Rahman of Yamamah, Allah made him known by the name `Liar’ and exposed him. Hence, whenever Musaylimah is mentioned, he is described as `the Liar’. He became an example for lying among the residents of the cities and villages and the residents of the deserts, the bedouins.
The names Allah and Ar-Rahman are exclusively for Allah
Therefore, Allah first mentioned His Name – Allah – that is exclusively His and described this Name by Ar-Rahman, which no one else is allowed to use, just as Allah said, (Say (O Muhammad ): “Invoke Allah or invoke Ar-Rahman (Allah), by whatever name you invoke Him (it is the same), for to Him belong the Best Names.”) (17:110) Only Musaylimah and those who followed his misguided ways described Musaylimah by Ar-Rahman. As for Allah’s Name Ar-Rahim, Allah has described others by it.
For instance, Allah said, (Verily, there has come unto you a Messenger (Muhammad ) from amongst yourselves (i.e. whom you know well). It grieves him that you should receive any injury or difficulty. He (Muhammad ) is anxious over you (to be rightly guided) for the believers (he is) kind (full of pity), and Rahim (merciful)) (9:128). Allah has also described some of His creation using some of His other Names. For instance, Allah said, (Verily, We have created man from Nutfah (drops) of mixed semen (sexual discharge of man and woman), in order to try him, so We made him hearer (Sami`) and seer (Basir) (76:2).
In conclusion, there are several of Allah’s Names that are used as names for others besides Allah. Further, some of Allah’s Names are exclusive for Allah alone, such as Allah, Ar-Rahman, Al-Khaliq (the Creator), Ar-Raziq (the Sustainer), and so forth. Hence, Allah started the Tasmiyah (meaning, `In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious Most Merciful’) with His Name, Allah, and described Himself as Ar-Rahman, (Most Gracious) which is softer and more general than Ar-Rahim.
The most honourable Names are mentioned first, just as Allah did here. A Hadith narrated by Umm Salamah stated that the recitation of the Messenger of Allah was slow and clear, letter by letter, (In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. All the praises and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of all that exists. The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. The Owner of the Day of Recompense) (1:1-4). And this is how a group of scholars recite it. Others connected the recitation of the Tasmiyah to Al-Hamd. (2. Al-Hamd be to Allah, the Lord of all that exists.)
The Meaning of Al-Hamd
Abu Ja`far bin Jarir said, “The meaning of (Al-Hamdu Lillah) (all praise and thanks be to Allah) is: all thanks are due purely to Allah, alone, not any of the objects that are being worshipped instead of Him, nor any of His creation. These thanks are due to Allah’s innumerable favours and bounties, that only He knows the amount of. Allah’s bounties include creating the tools that help the creation worship Him, the physical bodies with which they are able to implement His commands, the sustenance that He provides them in this life, and the comfortable life He has granted them, without anything or anyone compelling Him to do so. Allah also warned His creation and alerted them about the means and methods with which they can earn eternal dwelling in the residence of everlasting happiness.
All thanks and praise are due to Allah for these favours from beginning to end.” Further, Ibn Jarir commented on the Ayah, (Al-Hamdu Lillah), that it means, “A praise that Allah praised Himself with, indicating to His servants that they too should praise Him, as if Allah had said, `Say: All thanks and praise is due to Allah.’ It was said that the statement, (All praise and thanks be to Allah), entails praising Allah by mentioning His most beautiful Names and most honourable Attributes. When one proclaims, `All thanks are due to Allah,’ he will be thanking Him for His favours and bounties.”
The Difference between Praise and Thanks
Hamd is more general, in that it is a statement of praise for one’s characteristics, or for what he has done. Thanks are given for what was done, not merely for characteristics.
The Statements of the Salaf about Al-Hamd
Hafs mentioned that `Umar said to `Ali, “We know La ilaha illallah, Subhan Allah and Allahu Akbar. What about Al-Hamdu Lillah” ` Ali said, “A statement that Allah liked for Himself, was pleased with for Himself and He likes that it be repeated.” Also, Ibn `Abbas said, “Al-Hamdu Lillah is the statement of appreciation. When the servant says Al-Hamdu Lillah, Allah says, `My servant has praised Me.” Ibn Abi Hatim recorded this Hadith
The Virtues of Al-Hamd
Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal recorded that Al-Aswad bin Sari` said, “I said, `O Messenger of Allah! Should I recite to you words of praise for My Lord, the Exalted, that I have collected’ He said, (Verily, your Lord likes Al-Hamd.)” An-Nasa’i also recorded this Hadith. Furthermore, Abu `Isa At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasa’i and Ibn Majah recorded that Musa bin Ibrahim bin Kathir related that Talhah bin Khirash said that Jabir bin `Abdullah said that the Messenger of Allah said, (The best Dhikr (remembering Allah) is La ilaha illallah and the best supplication is Al-Hamdu Lillah.)
At-Tirmidhi said that this Hadith is Hasan Gharib. Also, Ibn Majah recorded that Anas bin Malik said that the Messenger of Allah said, (No servant is blessed by Allah and says,`Al-Hamdu Lillah’, except that what he was given is better than that which he has himself acquired.) Further, in his Sunan, Ibn Majah recorded that Ibn `Umar said that the Messenger of Allah said, (A servant of Allah once said, `O Allah! Yours is the Hamd that is suitable for the grace of Your Face and the greatness of Your Supreme Authority.’ The two angels were confused as to how to write these words. They ascended to Allah and said, `O our Lord! A servant has just uttered a statement and we are unsure how to record it for him.’ Allah said while having more knowledge in what His servant has said, ‘What did My servant say’ They said, `He said, `O Allah! Yours is the Hamd that is suitable for the grace of Your Face and the greatness of Your Supreme Authority.’ Allah said to them, `Write it as My servant has said it, until he meets Me and then I shall reward him for it.)
Al- before Hamd encompasses all Types of Thanks and Appreciation for Allah
The letters Alif and Lam before the word Hamd serve to encompass all types of thanks and appreciation for Allah, the Exalted. A Hadith stated, (O Allah! All of Al-Hamd is due to You, You own all the ownership, all types of good are in Your Hand and all affairs belong to You.)
The Meaning of Ar-Rabb, the Lord
Ar-Rabb is the owner who has full authority over his property. Ar-Rabb, linguistically means, the master or the one who has the authority to lead. All of these meanings are correct for Allah. When it is alone, the word Rabb is used only for Allah. As for other than Allah, it can be used to say Rabb Ad-Dar, the master of such and such object. Further, it was reported that Ar-Rabb is Allah’s Greatest Name.
The Meaning of Al-`Alamin
Al-`Alamin is plural for `Alam, which encompasses everything in existence except Allah. The word `Alam is itself a plural word, having no singular form. The `Alamin are different creations that exist in the heavens and the earth, on land and at sea. Every generation of creation is called an `Alam. Al-Farra` and Abu `Ubayd said, “`Alam includes all that has a mind, the Jinns, mankind, the angels and the devils, but not the animals.” Also, Zayd bin Aslam and Abu Muhaysin said, `Alam includes all that Allah has created with a soul.” Further, Qatadah said about, (The Lord of the ` Alamin), “Every type of creation is an `Alam.” Az-Zajjaj also said, “Alam encompasses everything that Allah created, in this life and in the Hereafter.” Al-Qurtubi commented, “This is the correct meaning, that the `Alam encompasses everything that Allah created in both worlds. Similarly, Allah said, (Fir`awn (Pharaoh) said: “And what is the Lord of the `Alamin” Musa (Moses) said: “The Lord of the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them, if you seek to be convinced with certainty”) (26:23-24).
Why is the Creation called `Alam
`Alam is derived from `Alamah, that is because it is a sign testifying to the existence of its Creator and to His Oneness.”
(3. Ar-Rahman (the Most Gracious), Ar-Rahim (the Most Merciful)). Allah said next, (Ar-Rahman (the Most Gracious), Ar-Rahim (the Most Merciful)) We explained these Names in the Basmalah. Al-Qurtubi said, “Allah has described Himself by `Ar-Rahman, Ar-Rahim’ after saying `the Lord of the Alamin’, so His statement here includes a warning, and then an encouragement. Similarly, Allah said, (Declare (O Muhammad ) unto My servants, that truly, I am the Oft-Forgiving, the Most Merciful. And that My torment is indeed the most painful torment.) (15:49-50) Allah said, (Surely, your Lord is swift in retribution, and certainly He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.) (6:165) Hence, Rabb contains a warning while Ar-Rahman Ar-Rahim encourages. Further, Muslim recorded in his Sahih that the Messenger of Allah said, (If the believer knew what punishment Allah has, none would have hope in acquiring His Paradise, and if the disbeliever knew what mercy Allah has, none will lose hope of earning His earning.) (4. The Owner of the Day of Recompense.)
Indicating Sovereignty on the Day of Judgment
Allah mentioned His sovereignty of the Day of Resurrection, but this does not negate His sovereignty over all other things. For Allah mentioned that He is the Lord of existence, including this earthly life and the Hereafter. Allah only mentioned the Day of Recompense here because on that Day, no one except Him will be able to claim ownership of anything whatsoever. On that Day, no one will be allowed to speak without His permission. Similarly, Allah said, (The Day that Ar-Ruh (Jibril (Gabriel) or another angel) and the angels will stand forth in rows, they will not speak except him whom the Most Gracious (Allah) allows, and he will speak what is right.) (78:38), (And all voices will be humbled for the Most Gracious (Allah), and nothing shall you hear but the low voice of their footsteps.)(20:108), and, (On the Day when it comes, no person shall speak except by His (Allah’s) leave. Some among them will be wretched and (others) blessed) (11:105). Ad-Dahhak said that Ibn `Abbas commented, “Allah says, `On that Day, no one owns anything that they used to own in the world.”’
The Meaning of Yawm Ad-Din Ibn
`Abbas said, “Yawm Ad-Din is the Day of Recompense for the creatures, meaning the Day of Judgment. On that Day, Allah will reckon the creation for their deeds, evil for evil, good for good, except for those whom He pardons.” In addition, several other Companions, Tabi`in and scholars of the Salaf, said similarly, for this meaning is apparent and clear from the Ayah.
Allah is Al-Malik (King or Owner)
Allah is the True Owner (Malik) (of everything and everyone). Allah said, (He is Allah, beside Whom La ilaha illa Huwa, the King, the Holy, the One free from all defects) (59:23). Also, the Two Sahihs recorded Abu Hurayrah saying that the Prophet said, (The most despicable name to Allah is a person who calls himself the king of kings, while there are no owners except Allah.) Also the Two Sahihs recorded that the Messenger of Allah said, ((On the Day of Judgement) Allah will grasp the earth and fold up the heavens with His Right Hand and proclaim, ‘I Am the King! Where are the kings of the earth Where are the tyrants Where are the arrogant’) Also, in the Glorious Qur’an; (Whose is the kingdom this Day Allah’s, the One, the Irresistible.)(40:16).
As for calling someone other than Allah a king in this life, then it is done as a figure of speech. For instance, Allah said, (Indeed Allah appointed Talut (Saul) as a king over you.) (2:247), (As there was a king behind them)(18:79), and, When He made Prophets among you, and made you kings )5:20(Also, the Two Sahihs recorded, (Just like kings reclining on their thrones)
The Meaning of Ad-Din
Ad-Din means the reckoning, the reward or punishment. Similarly, Allah said, (On that Day Allah will pay them the (Dinahum) recompense (of their deeds) in full) (24:25), and, (Shall we indeed (be raised up) to receive reward or punishment (according to our deeds)) (37:53). A Hadith stated, (The wise person is he who reckons himself and works for (his life) after death.) meaning, he holds himself accountable. Also, `Umar said, “Hold yourself accountable before you are held accountable, weigh yourselves before you are weighed, and be prepared for the biggest gathering before He Whose knowledge encompasses your deeds, (That Day shall you be brought to Judgement, not a secret of yours will be hidden) (69:18).” (5. You we worship, and You we ask for help.) (1:5)
The Linguistic and Religious Meaning of `Ibadah
Linguistically, `Ibadah means subdued. For instance, a road is described as Mu`abbadah, meaning, `paved’. In religious terminology, `Ibadah implies the utmost love, humility and fear. The Merit of stating the Object of the Action before the Doer of the Act, and the Merit of these Negations
You…”, means, we worship You alone and none else, and rely on You alone and none else. This is the perfect form of obedience and the