By studying the Qur’an we can become the people of Allah swt. Famous hadith states that “Allah swt has a special group of believers.” Prophet saw said they are the people of the Qur’an and they are elite.”
Anas ibn Malik reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Verily, Allah has his own people among humanity.” They said, “O Messenger of Allah, who are they?” The Prophet said, “They are the people of the Quran, the people of Allah and his chosen ones.” Source: Sunan Ibn Mājah 215
Order of Surahs in the Qur’an: Not arranged in chronological order. Surah Fatiha not the first Surah or first ayah.
There is a classical scholarly debate, whether the order of the surahs was based on divine decree or decided by the companions. However we will look at the order of the Surahs as if they are divinely inspired. As we see there are a connection between each chapter and you will find one chapter is connected to another.
When studying a surah:
- Understand title and it’s significance
- Understand whether it is a makki or madani surah. Qur’an revealed over 23 years. Parts revealed before hijrah and some after.
Allows us to develop a stronger understand the context of surahs. In Makkah, surahs relate to aqeedah; belief matters related to polytheism, related to God, nature of God and hereafter and akhlaq. Whereas post hijrah the madani stage of revelation we find a lot of the surahs pertain to laws, social dealings, interactions with people of other faith other than the mushrikeen as well as people of the book and the munafiqeen.
Fatiha: The Opening
It is the chapter that opens the Qur’an.
Umm Al Kitab as it encompasses the major teachings of the religion. Al Fattah. Seven oft repeated veres.
- Professor Abdul Haleem said that this surah is like a table of contents for the Qur’an message.
- It is considered to be the greatest surah in the Qur’an and we have memorised it and it is in our prayers and it is a pillar of our prayer.
The Basmala is considered to be the first verse. This is what the scholars differ on. Some considered basmala to be a separate verse. A verse from the Qur’an but seperate to Surah Al Fatiha.
Some mushafs will put 1 next to Basmala, others not. It’s a difference of opinion.
We begin “In the name” à Various interpretations but main view is that here it means seeking the aid of Allah swt through his name. As does the other surahs of the Qu’ran.
That is why the “baa” is the baa of seeking help (baa of istiana). When we say the basmala we say that it is in seeking aid of seeking Allah. The basmala is not just a statement of the tongue but it is an action of the heart. It is a state of dependency on Allah swt.
In the name of Allah who is Rahman and Rahim.
Abdul Haleem translation/understanding: Rahman – Lord of Mercy and Rahim – Giver of Mercy. So Allah is the Lord of mercy and he also gives mercy.
Saheeh International translation/understanding: Entirely Merciful (includes muslims and non Muslims) and the Especially Merciful (for the Muslims alone).
Both interpretations are valid and accepted by scholars.
All Praise is due to Allah, Lord of the Worlds.
We are acknowledging that all praise is due to God.
When we say belongs to God, meaning He is entitled to it, entitled to complete and perfect praise. Begin the Qur’an with acknowledgement of who He is as well as the things He has given us. It’s important to realise that praise is not just for what He has given us.
He has written Lord of the worlds, showing that there is a reason for praise. Also we can say that the Basmala is a cause for saying Alhamdulilah, because He is Merciful which leads the believer to say Alhamdulillah.
This verse starts with the next name.
Beginning of Al Fatiha is explaining who Allah is.
Contrasting nature of these names. Ar-Rahman, Ar-Rahim in comparison to Malik. There is an element of hope when listening to Ar Rahman Ar Rahim whereas there is an element of fear when approaching Maliki-yawmi-deen. Which means we have to approach Allah with an element of hope and an element of fear.
Our relationship with Allah is not based only on fear as that would lead to despair and not just on hope as that will lead us to being lazy. So we need to balance between hope and fear. This is what the ayah teaches us.
Up until verse 4, it is a description of Allah swt.
It is now explaining, our relationship with Allah swt.
It is You we worship.
Notice the difference between saying: ‘We worship you’. Compare that to when you say: “It is you”, you bring the object first and that gives a meaning of exclusivity as if to say we only worship You and we do not worship anyone else.
It is a relationship of worship. Of devoting ourseves to Allah swt.
Worship in many ways is an archaic word.
It teaches us another aspect of our creed. It is You we ask for Help. It teaches us that everything happens by the decree of Allah swt. It happens by fate.
This is further reinforced by verse 6
Again showing our relationship with Allah swt.
A relationship of devotion and of us, lowering ourself in front of Allah. We need to have that level of desperation.
Teaches us something important about our creed as well.
A path that has incurred no anger.
Teaches us about Prophethood and the importance of believers and the footsteps of the righteous. What is that path? Is it the path that we can invent for ourselves? Is it a path that we can decide what is good and what is bad?
This teaches us that we should be worried and concerned for our own states. Yes we want to be on the straight path but we should have a level of fear of misguidance, of hypocrisy, fear that Allah swt can take away the light of Islam from our hearts. This is something we should fear. Something that this surah teaches us.
Notice here: the translation.
“those who incur no anger” à had knowledge
“who have gone astray” à no knowledge. Wanted goodness but didn’t act upon knowledge.
Al Baqarah in reference to story regarding Bani Isra’eel about slaughtering a cow and they didn’t listen to Musa AS which showed their characteristic as they generally were obstinate and rebellious. Lesson shows that not to allow your internal whims to dictate to you how you respond to revelation. Whether it be the story of Bani Isra’eel or the story of Iblees. This khibr which they all had, prevented them from truly grasping the meanings and teachings of the law itself. It teaches humility and to submit to the revelation of Allah swt.
Madani surah. That’s why it speaks about Bani Isra’eel and a lot of rulings on social dealings.
- Longest surah of the Qur’an
- Revealed over a period of several years. Not a particular number that we are aware of.
- The relationship between surah al fatiha and surah al Baqarah? Surah Al Fatiha ends with a supplication for guidance and for protection. This surah begins explaining the quality of those who are guided and protected. It is as if, the beginning part of surah is an exposition and response for the du’a made in Surah Al Fatiha.
Alif. Lam. Meem.
These letters, disjointed letters are called the Huruf Muqatta’ah. They do not have a meaning that we know of or what they represent.
Why put something in the Qur’an that we do not understand and there is no benefit in? There is a benefit. The purpose of this: the beginning of a person’s speech or discourse it brings attention particularly Arabs. It is like an indirect challenge: use these letters to produce something like the Qur’an.
Only found in the Qur’an. Does this have a meaning? Has led to a lot of discussion.
There is a collection of articles by Jamal Zarabozo: A book Towards understanding our religion. Which has more on the subject. He wrote a detailed article on this or look into Tafsir Ibn Kathir on this.
The three dots are mu’anaqah. If you stop on one. You can’t stop on the other. This is from science: waqf and ibtidah (related to where to stop and where to start).
This is the book about which there is no doubt.
Dhalika – This is. Which usually means that and this is usually as hadha. Hadha is usually closer and thalik is usually further away.
Why would we say it in this manner? Sometimes when referring to something of immense effect or status, you refer it to a more distant way. As it is something that is far above you.
When the Qur’an was being revealed it was still being written down on parchment, bones, leather. It was a form of kitab even at the time of the Prophet saw.
It is a book for Muttaqeen.
Now Allah describing the path of those he favoured. The muttaqeen.
Those who believed in the unseen (matter of belief) , keep up the prayer (worship)and give out that which we provided for them (charity – act of worship and an act of worship which involves engaging with others).
These 3 qualities represent 3 different types of acts of worship.
Those who believe in the revelations sent down to you and that which was sent before you.
It mentioned the revelations. One of the benefits and fruits is to connect the revelation of Muhammad ﷺ to the message of the other Prophets.
He is merely conveying the same message of the other Prophets and they have certainty and firm faith of the hereafter.
Those are upon right guidance from their Lord, and it is they are who are successful.
We asked in Surah Al Fatiha asked for guidance.
What is the point of warning them? At the end of the day – we do not know whose hearts have been sealed.
Allah is clearly talking about disbelievers here, whereas before it was believers. Different section.
Disbelievers are of different categories. Those who disbeliever but may be close to Islam, those who disbeliever but may have never heard of Islam. Those who disbeliever and whose hearts are sealed, they know it’s truth but do not want to accept it. There will be signs of what kind of disbeliever but not our responsibility to determine their internal state. Our responsibility is to give dawah regardless of their nature of their disbelief.
Allah speaks about the nature of the disbelievers and the hypocrites more than he does about the believers in this part of the surah. First page of Baqarah: describes believers in simple way. Then Allah speaks in great length of these people.
This seal Allah placed on their heart is a recompense of their own deeds. Allah swt would not put a seal on their hearts if they did good.
Allah swt covered their ears, eyes etc
Here Allah swt is now speaking about the munafiqeen.
Hypocrisy is of different levels. Hypocrisy of belief and hypocrisy of actions. Here Allah swt is speaking about hypocrisy of belief.
For example we believe but we can sins, for example lying, it’s an act of hypocrisy but doesn’t make the person a hypocrite. Hypocrisy of belief is belief outwardly but not inwardly. Why were there munafiqeen? It was revealed in Madinah where there were many hypocrites. There wasn’t any in Makkah as people were afraid to even become Muslim so they had need to pretend. In Madinah on the other hand, there was so many Muslims, the disbelievers converted for their protect out of fear after wrongly assuming they would be mistreated or they had ulterior motives to sabotage Islam, to work within.
Some of them say they believe in Allah and the last day but they do not believe. They seek to deceive God but they only deceive themselves.
There is a disease in their hearts.
Allah does not explain what this disease is but some say that this is a literal disease, a pain that they find in their hearts due to the fear they have. When a person is in a state of extreme anxiety, sometimes they get palpitations, they worry, they stress they get that pain in the chest.
Others say that this a figurative type of disease of doubt. Others say it is the disease of envy. In reality we can say all are applicable.
Due to their obstinate nature., Allah swt increased it.
Due to their lies to the believers, saying they believe an agonizing torment awaits them.
When it is said to them, do not cause destruction upon the earth they say we are but reformers.
This is the believers speaking to the hypocrites. What is the corruption? When a person trs to fake their religion and pretend to be a believer, it will cause controversy and animosity and leads to corruption.
Is this what they genuinely believed? As reformers. It shows you, that when you are blinded from seeing the truth, it is a dangerous thing. One of the worst forms of ignorance is when you don’t know you are ignorant and unaware of the truth.
Importance of nature of humility – submit to the truth regardless of nature of people that follow it.
Do not compare Qur’an to other forms of literature as it is in it’s own field.
Evil ones are in relation to their leaders. It shows the two-faced nature of these hypocrites.
God is mocking them and allowing them more slack to wander blindly in insolence.
This goes into a lot of discussion. Is it really right to say that Allah mocks people? Can we say that? Mocking clearly is an action that is not appropriate for Allah swt. We do not say Allah is a mocker. An Arabic mechanism: sometimes we name the punishment by the sin that was perpetrated. Over here the sin is the mockery of the mushrikeen. Meaning Allah will punish them as a result of their mockery.
The way that Allah swt mocks them: Allah swt speaks about the hypocrites and how they try to follow the believers in the afterlife and it will be said to them, go from behind and seek light elsewhere and then they will go running around looking for light. Allah will put a barrier between them. People are recompensed accordingly to the nature of this sin.
Allah swt then goes on to say they had emaan but exchanged for guidance. Did munafiqeen possess emaan at any stage or did they never believe? It seems there was both types of hypocrites. They clearly bought error in term for guidance.
Mathal – Is example. Allah swt describes. Allah swt is now going to use a prable using imagery to illustrate their qualities. They are like people who labour to kindle a fire. When it lights up, everything around them is lit up but then as soon as everything goes light, Allah takes their light, leaving them in utter darkness unable to see.
Light itself or fire, is symbolic for light and warmth. It is symbolic for guidance. About this parable: whenever you take away light after possessing, that darkness you experience tends to be more severe. When the light suddenly goes, you are in pitch darkness and find it difficult to navigate around.
So here, Allah swt is describing these people as people who are unable to live a true spiritual life.
Because of not having this light, they are deaf, dumb and blind and will never return. Because of the nature of this darkness, they will never find their way around and repent.
Another parable: O r like people who under a cloudburst from the sky, with its darkness, thunder and lightning put their fingers into their ears to keep out the thunderclaps for fear of death and God surrounds the disbelievers.
Cloud benefits. In reference to the sparks of guidance, of light. Sometimes they want to take in but due to diseases of hearts they find it difficult, they put fingers in ear. They do not like hearing about this. So they are the cause for their own demise by putting fingers into ears.
Allah swt surrounds the disbelievers.
So every time they see or benefit from some form of revelation, they walk therein but when darkness comes over them they stand still.
They act like believers but because of darkness in hearts, they are not seeing that light properly.
- Parables take time to understand. Only the people of knowledge truly understand them. This parable is worth a lot of thought and reflection. Use other books of tafsir to understand them.