Surah Al-Fatihah : In Depth Analysis And Tafsir

Surah Al-Fatiha: Part-1

AL-HAMD : Praise & Thanks To Allah SWT 

Alhamdulillah, the most beautiful Surah of the Quran, is the first Surah of the Quran. It's the first complete Surah revealed, many of you are familiar that there are a lot of narrations that ٱقْرَأْ بِٱسْمِ رَبِّكَ ٱلَّذِى خَلَقَ was the first revelation.

But that was a passage of a Surah, but not the entire Surah, so the Fatiha by many accounts is the first complete Surah given to the prophet sallallahu alaihi wasallam.

Historically there's been a difference, what is the first Ayah of suratul Fatiha? Some people believe that the first ayah of Surah Al-Fatiha is Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem, other scholars believe that the first Ayah of suratul Fatiha is Alhamdulillahi rabbil alamin.

So, there's a difference, now, today I'm not going to discuss the details of that difference. I'm just going to share with you the position, that I personally find more convincing, and that position is that the Al-Fatiha actually begins with Alhamdulillahi rabbil alamin.

Though I do respect the position, on the other side I feel, there are plenty of strong indications in the Quran itself, and also in the sayings of the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wasallam, that Al-Fatiha begins with Alhamdulillahi rabbil alamin, that it begins from there.

For instance, in a very famous Hadith Qudsi, if you ever get a chance to read, an explanation of the Quran from a classical scholar, they'll mention this Hadith, when they're explaining the surah Al-Fatiha, and the Hadith is very famous it says, I divided the prayer between myself and my slave into two halves, and then the Hadith walks us through the entire Al-Fatiha, but it doesn't begin with Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem.

That Hadith, actually walks us through Alhamdulillahi rabbil alamin, it begins with when my slave says Alhamdulillahi rabbil alamin, and then goes on and on and on, which means it's a pretty cool indication that Fatiha begins with Alhamdulillahi rabbil alamin. 

Let's see if you're awake now, what does it begin with Alhamdulillahi rabbil alamin, so that's what we're going to begin with.
Now, the first phrase of the Fatiha is something Muslims use all the time.

What is that phrase? Alhamdulillah, we use it like in our daily conversation, when we meet each other, you ask somebody how they're doing, and immediately the first thing that comes out is Alhamdulillah, right.

You even use it, when you want somebody to stop talking, okay alhamdulillah. So, we use it in funny ways, but you know this first phrase we're going to try to pay a little extra attention to it, one of the things that I'm a student of this language, and not just what Allah says? But, how he says it? 
And, are there other ways of saying it? So, let me begin with a very simple exercise, and what translation of alhamdulillah have you read before? Try to call it out, praise belongs to Allah. So, a lot of translations say praise belongs to Allah, thanks to Allah.

But, today I want to start with something, the word humd in the Arabic language means two things, and I want you to remember that hamd means two things, the first thing, it means is Hosanna, which means praise, and the second thing it means is thanks, so, praise and thanks. 

And, these are two different things.  They're not the same thing, so the first conversation I want to have with you is, what is the difference between praise and thanks? that's the first thing, I want you and myself to be reminded of.

You're walking on the street you see a really nice car what do you do? praise it or thanks it, hopefully you don't thanks it, like go over to the car, and Pat it on the hood, and say thank you so much BMW. You know, you don't do that, you say nice car, you praise it, praise is a separate issue.

Now for instance, you go to somebody's house, who just had a baby, and even though my personal opinion is, new babies are really look like very old men, but you know you're supposed to go, and be nice, and say so cute, oh so beautiful, even though it looks like a weird, and like a dinosaur.

So, you go over to a child or a family, and you say what a cute baby, and what have you just done, have you praised, or thanked. You don't think a baby, you praise it, you understand, you don't thanks. When you're watching Sports and you see an incredible athlete, you don't thank the athlete, you praise the athlete, you understand.

But, thanks is something entirely different, thanks is only done when someone does something for you. So, when you see something impressive, when you see something beautiful,  when you see something that intrigues you, and interests you, then you will praise it, but when someone does you a favor, when someone does something nice for you, then you will thank, and you won't necessarily praise.

Someone you praise is not necessarily someone you thank, is that clear. When you pray something you don't necessarily thank it, but the opposite is also true, the converse is also true, when you thank something or you thank someone you don't necessarily praise them.

Let's think about that for a second, how do you thank someone without praising them? I'll give you an example or two from the Quran, you know Musa (AS) was raised in a pretty interesting household, where was he raised? what's his address? Pretty famous address yes, and so he's been adopted by firaun (Pharaoh), now firaun has raised him and years later when Musa alaihi salaam came back, firaun basically said how dare you talk to me this way, didn't we raise you as a newborn in this house, didn't we raise you here in our midst, didn't you spend many years of your life here, you talked to me like that what is he saying, aren't you, what? fill in the blank for me, no the answer is not aren't you sleepy, that's not the answer.

Aren't you what? aren't you grateful, and Musa actually when he responds, he says that is in fact a favor you did for me thanks, that's his way of saying thanks, in other words even firaun who will never be praised, a guy will never be praised not by a prophet, not by a Muslim, but when he does a favor he will still be what? thanked, thanks can exist without praise.

Quran talks about the rights of parents, the parents here know that because they use it all the time, but anyway the Quran talks about the rights of parents, and Allah says about parents, be grateful to me and to both of your parents, if your parents are struggling against you, don't obey them, but the Ayah began you still have to be grateful to them.

In other words if they are doing shirk, would you praise what they're doing, you wouldn't praise, but even though they're still your parents, so you would still what? You'd still thank, think about Ibrahim he does not praise what his father does, but he's still thankful, isn't he? 

So, what I'm trying to get at my first conversation with you is al-hamd two things, now you tell me what they were praise and thanks, and are those two things, different or the same, they're different, and sometimes you can have praise without things, and sometimes you can have thanks without praise, now we turn to what Allah is saying in alhamdulillah, he's saying praise is for Allah, and he's also saying thanks is for Allah, and he's not just saying one of them, or the other one.

Now, in the Arabic language says al-madhulillah means praise is for Allah. I'll be okay with the translation because madhulillah actually just means praise, if it said Ash-shukrulillah, then I would have been okay with thanks is for Allah, gratitude is for Allah, but Allah said alhamdulillah which means he combined both of them.

So, how is this better, well it's better for a number of reasons, the first reason is when you praise something, sometimes it's not genuine, for example you're driving a little too fast, and the police officer pulls you over, and the first thing you look at them is a nice hat officer, looking very dashing today.

Well you're praising the guy, but you're actually not really praising the guy, you're hoping you don't get a ticket, that's what that is right, or some of you younger students or younger people get a really bad report card, and you walk home, and you say mom your cooking today is so delicious, she hasn't even cooked yet, you're praising, but it's not genuine, praise could be fake.

There's fake praise that's done for Kings, there's fake praise that's done for bosses or for judges, it's done all the time overly, formal praise just to impress somebody, but you don't really mean it right, for example when you go to a job interview, and it was a terrible interview, it was the worst job interview you ever took, even then when you were leaving you say nice to meet you, it wasn't nice but you still have to say that, it's fake praise, you understand.

So, when the word Mudh is used, it could be fake, it's actually not entirely appropriate for Allah. Now, let's think about shukr, if Allah said shukrulillah which means thanks is for Allah, you know what thanks is only done when you acknowledge a favor, something was done for you, and you realize it was done for you, and then you finally thank, you had a flat tire somebody came and helped you out, you say thank you, if you had a flat tire and you had no idea that somebody else is even going trying to help you, you're sleeping in the car or whatever, you have no one to thank, thanks can only happen when you have somebody to thank, and you realize the favor that's been done.

In other words thank you is a reaction, is that clear to everybody? Thank you is always a reaction, thank you is not something you start with ever you don't meet somebody just walking out, hey thanks, you don't do that, that's strange.

Allah SWT use the word hamd, which combines praise and thanks, and by the way hamd in the Arabic sense of the word can only be genuine, it cannot be manufactured, it cannot be fake, and it's not necessarily reactionary, it's more powerful than saying al-madhulillah, it's more powerful than saying Ash-shukrulillah, it is more comprehensive than both of them, Allah chose something to say that is more better than both of them combined, subhanallah.

Then here's the final thing, in English how many words do I have to use for hamd? So far, how many words do I have to use? Two, but Allah used how many words? One. So, you're learning about our complication in the Quran, and when we translate the Quran, sometimes Allah uses one word, but to get the idea across you need a couple of words, isn't that true? But what if Allah himself used both words, what if Allah said al-madhu wa-shukrulillah, if Allah himself used two words praise and thanks is for Allah, if you use both of them would it be the same? Actually no.

It won't be the same because of a very beautiful principle of the Arabic language, and it's actually a principle of all languages, and as a matter of fact, they say in Arabic Khair-ul-kalam-e-ma-qalla-wa-dalla, which means in simple English the best kind of speech is that's very few words, and gets the point across, you use lesser words and get your point across, that is the best kind of speech. 

Now, some of you masha'allah have friends that you talk to for 30 minutes, but they still haven't made a point yet, they say a lot, but they actually don't say anything, you're still hoping they get to the point, and some people use too many words to even describe the simplest things, like today I was going over this architectural device, that is used one step after the other to go from one floor to another, just say I took the stairs, you don't have to go into unnecessary details, the best kind of speech is the one that's brief, that's less, that's easier on the tongue.

So, Al-hamd is even better than saying al-madhu wa-shukrulillah, but there's another difference and that is, in Old Arabic when you put and, in between two things, the word and is very simple, we use it all the time, when you use and in Arabic, what's the Arabic word for and, it separates two things even in meaning, you know what that means? 

If you say al-madhu wa-shukrulillah,  you're saying praise belongs to Allah for some things, and thanks belongs to Allah for some other things, they're not always combined because the word isn't combined since you separated them, sometimes you're in the mood to praise Allah but not thank him, and sometimes you're in the mood to thank Allah but not praise him, but when you say alhamdulillah, for whatever you're saying alhamdulillah, what's the reality you're praising him, and you are thanking him at the same time you don't get to pick which one.

So, now for example you're walking by a nice car, and you look at a nice car, and you say alhamdulillah, what have you just done, you praised Allah, forgiving human beings the ability to do that, to design that, to manufacture that, and you thanked Allah, you thanked Allah to be able to give you the chance to sit in one without the owner realizing or something, but you're praising and thinking at the same time that's what you're doing. 

Now, this informs the attitude of the Muslim, so often when somebody comes and talks to you, you're having a bad day, how's it going, um alhamdulillah, you're not really praising Allah when you say that, you're not really thanking him when you say that, alhamdulillah is not just something we say, it's an attitude, Allah is not interested in what comes out of our tongues, he's more interested in what comes out of our tongues that is connected to our hearts.

So, we have to mean what we say, when we say alhamdulillah for instance you got stuck in traffic, and you say alhamdulillah, what are you saying? Ya Allah as bad as this might seem, I'm sure there's wisdom in it, and there's something good in this for me, and I thank you for it, and I praise you, and I have praised the fact that I am safe, I'm happy for the fact that I have a car that I can get stuck in traffic with, but at least I have a car, that I have a job, you start thinking positively, what alhamdulillah does, it forces the Muslim to start thinking positively, that's what it does.

The second thing I want to talk to you about in alhamdulillah, so in the Arabic language you can use nouns and you can use verbs, and now this is going to sound like a grammar lesson, but hopefully I mean you guys are probably much better at English grammar. So, nouns and verbs, now which one of these has like past tense and present tense and future tense, verbs have tense, nouns don't have a tense, there's no past tense noun or present tense noun or future intense.

Now, when I say I praise Allah, and I mean praise and thank, because I've already covered that, but I'm being brief in English, now when I say I praise Allah, did I use a noun or a verb here's?  that's a verb isn't it? If I say we praise Allah is that a noun or a verb, that's a verb, what tense is it, past tense or present tense, that's present tense yes, when I say praise belongs to Allah, is the word praise a noun or a verb? Is that clear to you that Praises a noun.

Allah could have used a verb, I mean in Arabic you could say Ahmadullah I praise Allah, so it's a verb. Nahmaduhu we praise him, Ahmaduhu I praise him, but Allah didn't say I or we, he didn't use the present tense, he actually used a noun. 

Now, the thing I told you very basically was, nouns don't have a tense, there's no past no present or no future, but verbs have what? They have tenses, they have present tense, past tense, future tense, now the thing of it is, here's what makes this beautiful, if I say I praise Allah then I'm only talking about the present, I said nothing about the past, and I said nothing about the future, if I use the past tense then I'm not guaranteeing anything about the present or the future, because it tense has to be one or the other, and by the way just because I'm praising Allah right now,  does it guarantee the next hour or no? No, it's limited, isn't it? It's not permanent.

A verb is not permanent, Allah used a noun, and nouns are permanent, Allah's praise is described with permanence, you know what that does? That means I am only praising Allah now, but the praise of Allah has always been there, and I may not be there forever, but the praise of Allah will always be there, the thanks to Allah will always be there, it is not dependent on me, huge reality in alhamdulillah is that alhamdulillah does not depend on me, and that's the second point I want to make about nouns and verbs, pay attention to this part, I think we can get this across, when you use a verb? Somebody needs to do the verb is called the subject. Somebody needs to do a verb, you can't just go into a conversation and say, fill the test, who fill the test, you know you can't just say disappeared, who disappear, oh my pen disappeared like, you see when you use a verb you need to have someone who does it, you need a subject, you can't just have a verb by itself, it doesn't make sense, it creates confusion, but a noun doesn't need someone to do it, a noun doesn't need a subject, a noun is independent by itself, an apple is an apple, you don't have to say who ate it, you don't have to do that, it's by itself. 

You know when Allah use the word alhamd, he made it independent, it doesn't need anyone, if he use the verb then it need someone, doesn't it? It needs someone to do the praise either I praise or you praise or we praise, but Allah made it independent of a person or a bean, it's even more powerful than everything praises Allah and everyone praises Allah, because even if everything and everyone was mentioned, then it will still be only the ones everything or everyone right now, but Allah didn't want to limit it by time or by the people who do it. 

Allah isn't in need of you and me saying alhamdulillah, when we say alhamdulillah we acknowledge to Allah that Allah doesn't need us, we need him, that's what we're acknowledge in just the phrase alhamdulillah, so what have I given you so far, when we say alhamdulillah, it makes us optimistic, that's the first thing I gave you, when we say alhamdulillah, now it makes us humble, it makes us realize things don't depend on us, we depend on Allah, you know Allah doesn't depend on us, and he doesn't need us, we're not doing him a favor by saying alhamdulillah, we're only doing ourselves a favor by saying alhamdulillah. 

And here's the last bit I think I can make this one happen, a special kind of verb is commands, like for example in Arabic you could say praise Allah, it could be made as a request too, let's pray magrib, or you can tell your child bring me water, for example when I'm home and I tell you my daughter, hey husna bring me water, she has two choices, when you give someone a command or there're two choices, either they do it or they don't do it, so if I tell husna bring me water, she has two choices, either she will bring me water, or she'll not bring me water, even if Allah says to praise me, some people will do it, and some people will not do it, and therefore when you tell someone to do something the ball is in their court, it depends on them maybe they'll do it and maybe they won't. 

Allah didn't talk about praise in a way that depends on us, he didn't put the ball in our court, he said whether you do it or not, who cares, alhamdulillah is still there, it's been there forever, human beings will come and go, generation will come and go, this world will come and go, the hamd of Allah still be there, it's a matter of fact. 

One last thing about alhamd, there're two kinds of communication the Arab linguist argues in linguistics, they argue that there're two kinds of communication, it's informative or emotional, they say that's technical term, either you have speech that is expressing your feelings or you've speech that is communicating information, for example, when I say I sit somebody down, and I explain something to them, is that an act of delivering information or is that emotion, when I explain something to someone information, for example, as I'm discussing the Fatiha with you, or saying things about alhamdulillah, this is informative speech. 

We take a break for maghrib, you're leaving your chair, and you're making dua, Ya Allah I have the front row seat let no one thake this place, and so as you're sitting there before salaams are said, and then you desh back here and elbow, as many people as you can get back in your chair, and you see that it's empty, and the first thing that comes out of your mouth is what? 

Alhamdulillah, now at that point maybe nobody's in the hall yet, yet you're like am I on the wrong floor, but When you say alhamdulillah and nobody is even there, are you informing someone about alhamdulillah? No, at that time you use the same phrases alhamdulillah for what? Expressing your emotions. 
If I'm teaching someone then I'm actually being informative, but if I'm saying it to myself the same phrase, it can be emotional, you understand the difference. 

Now let's talk about this, in the Khutbah, it begins innal handha lillah, you ever heard this, what inna means? Certainly, for sure or absolutely hamd is for Allah, now what's more powerful? is saying hamd is for Allah, more powerful, or saying absolutely hamd is for Allah, what sounds more powerful? Absolutely hamd is for Allah, inna sounds more powerful, and khatib uses it every jumma, now the question is, how come Allah didn't use or say Inna hamda lillah. 

Because it's a very powerful statement, why not make it more powerful by adding Inna, after all you've been listening your whole life, Quraan is perfect, you can't even add one word it's perfect the way it's, so what difference would it make? The only difference is, when you use Inna in Arabic linguistics, the statement can only be informative, it can't be emotional statement, if you don't use Inna your statement could be informative, and could be emotional. 

By not using Inna, Allah actually made alhamdulillah a statement that we use to tell others, and also we tell ourselves, the beauty of it's, now it's used in the communicating the feelings of our hearts, and also a massage we want to give somebody else both of them. 

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