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Question: Which is that sűrah the like of which was never given to any prophet before Rasűlullâh and the like of which was never revealed in the Torah, Injîl, Zabűr, or Qur’ân?
Answer: It is Sűrah al-Fâtihah, the first sűrah of the Qur’ân.
Hadrat Ibn ‘Abbâs reported: When Jibra’îl, peace be upon him, was seated near the Prophet , he heard a voice from above. He raised up his head and said, “It is a door from heaven which has been opened today and which was never opened before except today.” Then an angel descended from it. He said, “It is an angel who has come down to the earth today and who did never come down before.” He greeted and said, “Give good news of two lights which you have been given and which no prophet before you was given: the Opening of the Book (al-Fâtihah), and the last portion of Sűrah al-Baqarah (2:284-6). You will never read a letter from them for which you will not be given [reward] thereof.” [Muslim, Mishkât (Al-Hadis III:677)]
Hadrat Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allâh asked ‘Ubay ibn Ka’b: “How do you read (the Qur’ân) in prayer?” Then he read “the Mother of the Qur’ân” (i.e. Sűrah al-Fâtihah). The Messenger of Allâh said: “By the One in whose hand there is my life, the like of it was never revealed either in the Torah, Injîl, Zabűr, or in the Qur’ân; and it is the ‘seven oft-repeated verses’ and the ‘great Qur’ân’ (see 15:87) which I have been given.” [Tirmidhi, Mishkât (Al-Hadis III:682)]
Sűrah al-Fâtihah: This sűrah of the Holy Qur’ân possesses a number of merits peculiar to it. Firstly, the Holy Qur’ân begins with it; the prescribed prayer begins with it; and even in the order of revelation this is the first sűrah which was revealed to the Holy Prophet in its complete form. Some verses of the sűrahs Iqra’ (al-‘Alaq), al-Muzzammil, and al-Muddaththir had no doubt been revealed earlier, but the first sűrah to be revealed in a complete form is no other than this. Certain companions of the Holy Prophet have reported that this was the first sűrah to be revealed. Most probably they meant that no sűrah had been revealed in a complete form before this. Perhaps that is why the sűrah has been named as Fâtihatul-Kitâb (the Opening of the Book).
The other important peculiarity of the sűrah is that it is, so to say, the quintessence of the Holy Qur’ân, and the rest of the Qur’ân is its elaboration. The sűrah may thus be delineated for two reasons. Firstly, all that the Holy Qur’ân has to say is, in one way or another, related to either of the two themes, faith (îmân) and virtuous deeds (al-‘amal as-sâlih), and the basic principles of the two have been indicated in this sűrah (see Rűh al-Ma’âni and Rűh al-Bayân). That is why authentic ahâdîth (traditions) give to this sűrah such titles as Umm-ul-Qur’ân (Essence of the Qur’ân), Umm-ul-Kitâb (Essence of the Book), and al-Qur’ân-ul-Azîm (the Great Qur’ân).
Secondly, this sűrah gives a special instruction to the person who begins the recitation or the study of the Qur’ân—that he should approach this book with a mind cleansed of all his previous thoughts and opinions, seeking nothing but the Truth and the right path, praying to Allâh for being guided in the right path. The sűrah begins with the praise of Him before whom the request is to be submitted, and ends with the request for guidance. The whole of the Qur’ân is the answer to this request. The answer begins with the words: “Alif Lâm Mîm. This is the Book…”, which is an indication that the guidance man had prayed for has been provided in this Book.
The Holy Prophet has said, “I swear by Allâh who is the master of my life! Neither the Torah, nor the Evangile, nor the Psalms have anything to compare with the Opening Chapter of the Qur’ân, and no other chapter of the Qur’ân itself can compare with it.” (Reported by the companion Abu Hurairah )
The Holy Prophet has also said that this sűrah is a cure for all kinds of illnesses. According to another hadîth, the sűrah has also been named “the Cure” (ash-Shifâ) [Qurtubi], and al-Bukhâri reports from the companion Anas that the Holy Prophet has called this sűrah the greatest among all the sűrahs of the Holy Qur’ân. [Qurtubi]
[Taken from Ml. Mufti Muhammad Shafî’, Ma’âriful-Qur’ân, vol. 1]
It is said by some sufiya that whatever there was in the earlier Divine Books is condensed in the Glorious Qur’ân; and the contents of Qur’ân are condensed into Sűrah Fâtihah; and that which is in Sűrah Fâtihah is found in “Bismillâh”; and that which is in “Bismillâh” is to be found in its first letter (bâ). It is explained that bâ is a coordinating conjunction and stands for uniting. Surely the ultimate aim is to effect union of a worshipper with Almighty Allâh. Some have gone still further and have said that whatever there is in bâ is to be found in its dot, which signifies the Unity of Allâh—a thing which is indivisible as a dot.
[Shaikhul-Hadîth Ml. Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhlavi, Virtues of the Holy Qur’ân, part 2, hadîth 1.]
Published: July 2003
Last modified 08/12/05 09:25 AM - Iqra - ISSN #1062-2756