بســــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــم الله الرحمن الرحــيــم
السلام عليكم و رحمة الله وبركاته
For those of you who’ve asked me about Bayyinah TV, it has 3 archives : Arabic with Husna, Cover to Cover and Divine Speech. The Cover to Cover series is “a flowing translation of the Qur’an with attention to historical context and subtleties that are lost in translation. This series is the recommended place to start in one’s quest to understand the relevance and counsel of the Qur’an in easy language. ” The following are my notes for this program and are probably the next best thing for those who can’t access Bayyinah TV. So Surah #1, Ayah #1 is our starting point. Bismillah!
الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ
Surah Fatiha is the first complete Surah to be revealed. There is a scholarly discussion about the 1st Ayah of this Surah. Some say that the 1st Ayah is بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ while others say that the 1st Ayah is the one mentioned first. Ustadh Nouman sides with the opinion that the 1st Ayah is الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ.
Because of a Hadith Qudsi where the Prophet peace be upon him describes this Surah and he peace be upon him himself starts with الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ.
Alhamdulillah : الحمد لله. Here’s what some translations say:
Sahih International :[All] praise is [due] to Allah
Muhsin Khan: All the praises and thanks be to Allah
Pickthall/ Yousuf Ali/Dr. Ghali :Praise be to Allah,
Shakir: All praise is due to Allah
Hamd (حمد) is a combination of praise (مدح) & gratitude (شكر). So حمد= مدح + شكر right?
Difference between praise and gratitude:
Exhibit A: You see a Ferrari 458 Italia in a parking lot. You’ll probably something like “Awesome car!!”
You don’t go over to the car and say “JazakhaAllah Khair 458 for looking so nice”. Therefore you show praise without gratitude.
Exhibit B: You have a flat tire and something fixes the whole thing for you. You probably won’t say something like “MashaAllah that’s a nice arm you got there. Keep it up!”
You better not!
You should probably say something like “JazakhaAllah Khair”. Therefore you show gratitude without praise.
Therefore, they are separate and not necessarily combined together.
Even Ibrahim AS showed only gratitude towards his father. He AS didn’t praise him because his father owned a company called Shirk Inc. Same was the case of Musa AS with Firaun i.e. gratitude without praise.
Now back to our previous equation.
حمد= مدح + شكر ?? Wrong!
Firstly, حمد is better because it’s precise. Secondly, the “+” or “و” in between مدح and شكر indicates that they are 2 different things.
So if we say “Praise and Gratitude belongs to Allah”, linguistically it means that sometimes Allah deserves gratitude while other times Allah deserves praise. It doesn’t make sure that both things occur at the same time therefore حمد is once again better.
Thirdly, praise (مدح) can be done for both genuine and not as genuine reasons. Praise can also be done for both living and non-living things. Hamd (حمد ) is better because it is necessarily sincere and can only be done for the living.
As for gratitude (شكر), we say “Thanks” when a favor has been done for us i.e. it’s a reaction/ a response. Hamd (حمد ) is not a reaction. It’s independent. It gets even better. Instead of commanding us, Allah lets us know that whether we do it or not, Allah still has Hamd (حمد ). Because when one is given a command, one has the choice to obey or disobey whereas in الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ it doesn’t depend on us.
Furthermore, instead of using a verb (which has a dimension of time i.e. past, present and future); using a noun and their timeless characteristics implies permanence. Therefore, Hamd (حمد ) takes care of the past, present and future and consequently Hamd (حمد ) has always belonged to Allah, belongs to Allah and will always belong to Allah. A lack of a verb also means that there is no need of a subject for the verb. So a noun is permanent and independent.
الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ. As a whole, Alhamdulilah means that everything Allah does deserves praise and gratitude. This phrase is psychologically transformational. Before Allah even mentioned His name, He mentioned Hamd first. Most atheists have this problem of not appreciating God. That complaint cycle is the very antithesis of Hamd. The Quran begins with Hamd and if don’t understand this then we don’t get the rest of it.
Instead of using one of His many names, Allah uses the word “Allah”. In His introduction, Allah chooses to introduce Himself this way. Fatiha is Allah introducing Himself. When we introduce ourselves, we begin with our names first and then our titles (student, doctor etc.).
Remember when the magicians threw themselves into Sajdah in the time of Musa AS and Firaun. Firaun was confused i.e. he was wondering if the magicians were getting ready for Round 2. So when the magicians used the word “Master”, Firaun thought they were referring to him. But then the magicians then clarified by saying “the Master of Musa and Haroon”. So in order to avoid confusion, Allah uses His name and not one of His descriptions/attributes. If we say “Hamd belongs to the Creator”, even though the statement is correct, the Hamd is only there for the attribute of Creator. Therefore Alhamdulilah captures everything about Allah.
Also, most Khateebs begin with “Innaalhamdulilah” which means “absolutely, Alhamdulilah”. The Inna(absolutely) makes the phrase more powerful but that doesn’t necessarily make it better.
Informational Sentences vs Emotional Sentences:
Informational Sentences can be something like 1+1=2
They are true/false. And the Inna can only be used for informational sentences in old Arabic. Never for emotional sentences.
Emotional Sentences can be something like you saying Alhamdulilah if we survived an accident. They don’t have true/false.
They fact that the Fatiha doesn’t have Inna means that it’s both informational and emotional at the same time!
The Inna is added when the audience is not sure. When there is no disagreement, there is no need to add Inna. This Surah is an intro to all decent human beings and there is no need to add Inna and we are preprogrammed to understand Alhamdulilah.
In Eid prayers, we say و لِلّه الحمدَ.This is basically a reverse of Alhamdulilah (الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ). Rough translations:
Alhamdulilah: All praise and gratitude belongs to Allah.
Lillahilhamd: To Allah belongs praise and gratitude.
Alhamdulilah even in English sounds more normal. Even in Arabic.
Alhamdulilah is more natural even though we can understand both of them. The Arabs reversed this structure because of aspecial reason. Lillahilhamd adds the word “only” to the phrase. The word “only” implies that it (Hamd) doesn’t belong to anyone else. This makes Lillahilhamd a stronger version. However, Lillahilhamd is used in Surah Al-Jathiyah (The Kneeling) which is a debate with people who commit Shirk. People who do Shirk also praise Allah but they also praise other stuff therefore for them Lillahilhamd is more appropriate for them. Surah Fatiha is not a debate and is talking to decent people. Allah doesn’t even want us to think about anything else.
Rab: Owner, the One in charge, the Caretaker, Giver of gifts.
The primary meaning is “Master” Who has the above mentioned qualities.
Out of all of Allah’s descriptions, Allah chose the word which shows our relationship with Him. A relationship involves at least 2 parties.
If Allah called Himself Master, that automatically makes us His slaves. If Allah chose the word “Owner” that makes us property. “The One in charge” makes us those under His Authority. Etc.
“Rab” is what Allah is to us. This is basically the summary of the entire Quran : Accept Allah as your Master.
Allah doesn’t want us to accept Him only as the Creator, the One we pray/make Sadjah/make Dua. That’s all secondary. If we don’t understand Allah as our Rab then we haven’t understood Islam, the Quran and what Allah wants from us. People who suffer from doubts in the religion just can’t accept the authority of a Master. They can’t humble themselves.
E.g. Your mobile goes dark and stays that way. Therefore you smash it. A mobile rights activist comes to you and says that you can’t do that to your mobile. But you say you can do so because you own it. You have the right to do whatever you want with it especially if it doesn’t do what you want it to do.
Allah is not like any other Master. All other masters are hated and even their praise is not genuine. Allah already told us Alhamdulilah. Then He told us that He is our Master and He is like no other Master. A Master :
- Has the right to give instructions any time.
- Is the Master at all times. 24/7
- Can give any instructions.
We’re slaves all the time. We’re slaves while eating,sleeping,dancing,driving,talking etc.
Also, owning something doesn’t mean that you are fully in charge. We own our car but we still have to get a liscene,registration,pay taxes,drive ccording to traffic laws etc. We own our car but are not fully in charge. Also, owning something doesn’t necessarily mean that we take care of it. Allah owns with full authority and takes care.
Most common translation is “worlds”. Ustadh strongly disagrees because the word for worlds is “Al-Awalim”. The “een” in Aalameen is only used for people (humans,jins,angels). Allah is not talking about the skies,heavens but Aalameen means worlds of people/nations of people/tribes of people. This is important because this entire Surah is about a relationship and every word in this Surah has something to do with that relationship. This Surah is about Allah and us. So Allah says that He is the Master of Aalameen and Ustadh Nouman adds that this also include generations of people. The first, last and every generation in between. Because people in the 21st century say that we need to rethink this Master-slave thing. Our understanding of Islam is backward and needs “reform”, some say. They don’t even realize that they’re talking about their Master. We’re so used to expiration dates that some are ready to put one on Islam. All of us are slaves and no one can claim to be the best. RIP racism, nationalism, cityism, backroundism, educationis etc. We’re all children of Adam AS.
And that was the first Ayah of Surah Fatiha.