The key to the Quran – Surah al-Fatiha

Sheikh Yahya Ibrahim starts his Journey through the Quran series by looking at Surah al-Fatiha

This is the greatest chapter of the Quran. It is the essence of all of Islam. In the first half of the surah, Allah SWT magnifies Himself, praises Himself; and in the second half, He speaks about our need to develop sincerity and worship of Him. Allah SWT speaks about the reality of guidance for us in life as being an avoidance of misguidance, which He warns us about.  

We come to understand that true guidance comes from Allah, alone. It is something we have to ask Him for, and we then demonstrate our viability of faith by practising what has been received by us.  

Therefore, the root of guidance is to put into practise the knowledge we have understood of the revelation and follow the path set for us by the al-Mighty Allah SWT. Allah then juxtaposes all of that by giving us the reality of misguidance.  

The warning of misguidance

Allah SWT warns of misguidance in two ways. There are those who earn His wrath & anger – those who have understood the knowledge of revelation and obstinately refuse to put it into practice. Equally, there are those who have chosen a dark path of misguided pursuits of deviance by claiming to live a life of good intentions but have no desire to adopt ruth and a life of faith through knowledge.  

These are the two warnings at the end of surah al-Fatiha – where we ask Allah to protect us from being like those who angered Allah SWT, in reference to those who have knowledge and don’t practice it. And then there are those who have been led astray – who commit to life as it suits their desires and immediate gratifications.  

Fundamentally, the knowledge, wisdom, and necessary Islamic lifestyle of submission to the will and commands of Allah are demonstrated in this opening chapter of the Quran. It is the key that unlocks the message of faith and purity and is essentially a preface and a summary of the whole Quran, which is the encapsulation of Islam as a whole.

All of the basic principles, which are elaborated on in the Quran, are the main topics of Surah al-Fatiha. The Surah begins with the praise of Allah Almighty and ends with the request for guidance. The whole Quran is the answer to that request.


Alhamdulillah — this phrase in Surah al-Fatiha essentially encloses all of Allah’s praise & majesty.  

There is a clear, albeit, subtle difference between praise and Hamd. Hamd is a noun but praise is a verb. Hamd is permanent but praising is temporary either for past, present, or future. It means Allah is eternal. Allah has chosen specifically for himself the word “Hamd” as it denotes his eternality.  We may praise something or someone for an action, moment or deed. We of course recognise that it is temporal and not lasting and if they engage in a variance to that which is praise worthy we restrict it from them. Allah SWT is praised for being the Lord & Master of all realms and all that is in His Dominion and creation.  

Alhamdulillah that ar-Rahman (The Lord of Mercy) is the Master and not other than Him.

Alhamdulillah that ar-Raheem (The Especially Merciful) is the One in charge and not the creation.

As we continue our Journey through the Quran we will explore more of the beauty of this chapter and others that follow.

I pray that the Quran remains a light for us in the darkness of excess and that it leads us to the moderate, straight path of righteousness. I pray that we practise it faithfully by day and busy ourselves with its recitation by night.

May Allah grant us its guidance and guide others to it through us.  


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