Category: Tafseer




By Fadia Bint Ismail 

In preparing for Ramadan i think it is best that we try to perfect our Salaah and therefore to understand the first Surah that we commence every Salaah with Surah Al Fatihah.

Bismillaah ar-Rahman ar-Raheem
Al hamdu lillaahi rabbil ‘alameen
Ar-Rahman ar-Raheem Maaliki yaumid Deen
Iyyaaka na’abudu wa iyyaaka nasta’een
Ihdinas siraatal mustaqeem
Siraatal ladheena an ‘amta’ alaihim
Ghairil maghduubi’ alaihim waladaaleen

In the name of God, the infinitely Compassionate and Merciful.
Praise be to God, Lord of all the worlds.
The Compassionate, the Merciful. Ruler on the Day of Reckoning.
You alone do we worship, and You alone do we ask for help.
Guide us on the straight path,
the path of those who have received your grace;
not the path of those who have brought down wrath, nor of those who wander astray.

Al Fatihah- The opening- because it opens the book and by it the recitation in prayer commences. It is recited 17 times a day in a Fard (compulsory prayer) This Surah is also called Umm Al Kitab (The mother of the book). Surah Al Fatihah contains 7 Ayat, 25 words and 113 letters.


In an authentic Hadith recorded by At-Tirmidhi, who graded it Sahih, Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said,

Al-Hamdu lillahi Rabbil-`Alamin is the Mother of the Qur’an, the Mother of the Book, and the seven repeated Ayat of the Glorious Qur’an”


It is also called Al-Hamd and As-Salah, because the Prophet said that his Lord said

The prayer (i.e., Al-Fatihah) is divided into two halves between Me and My servants.’ When the servant says, `All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of existence,’ Allah says, ‘My servant has praised Me”


Al-Fatihah was revealed in Makkah as Ibn `Abbas, Qatadah and Abu Al-`Aliyah stated. Allah said,

And indeed, We have bestowed upon you the seven Mathani) (seven repeatedly recited verses), (i.e. Surat Al-Fatihah) (15:87). Allah knows best”


The Glorious Names of Surah Fatihah 

  • Al-Fatihah (The Opening) – It is named Al-Fatihah, the Opening – because it opens the Book and by it the recitation in prayer commences.
  • Umm al-Quran (Mother of the Quran) – According to At-Tirmidhi on the authority of Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “The chapter commencing with] “All praises and thanks are due to Allah the Lord of the Worlds” is the Mother of the Quran, the Mother of the Book, the Seven Oft Repeated Verses and the Great Quran.” Ibn Jarir at-Tabari said that it was named so because the meaning of the entire Quran is summarized therein. The Arabs named anything that concisely summarizes something or comprises its most important part, Umm, or Mother.
  • Umm al-Kitab (Mother of the Book) – Al-Bukhari said in the beginning of the Book of Tafsir in his Sahih: “It is named Umm al-Quran because it is the first chapter written in the Quranic texts and the recitation in prayer commences with it.”
  • Sab’ul-Mathani (The Seven Oft Repeated Verses) – It is also named Sab’ul-Mathani, the Seven Oft Repeated Verses, because they are frequently recited and indeed recited in every rakaah of the prayer. Allah says in the Quran:
  • Al-Hamd (Praises to Allah) – It is also named Al-Hamd, the Praise, because it contains mention of hamd just as Al-Baqarah is named so because it contains mention of the cow. Some scholars also gave the reasoning that Al-Hamd comprises heart of Al-Fatihah.
  • As-Salah (The Prayer) – It is named the Prayer because its recitation is a condition for the validity of the prayer.
  • Ash-Shifa – It is also named Ash-Shifa’, the Cure, due to what Ad-Darimi reports on the authority of Abu Sa’id that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “The Opening of the Book is a cure to every poison.”
  • Ar-Ruqyah – It is also named Ar-Ruqya, the Spiritual Cure due to the hadith of Abu Sa’id reported by Bukhari that after he had recited it to cure a person who had been bitten by a scorpion, the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) asked him, “…And what made you to know that it was a ruqyah.”
  • Asas al-Quran (the Foundation of the Quran) – Ash-Sha’bi records on the authority of Ibn Abbas that he named it , and that he said, “The foundation of Al-Fatihah is, “Bismillah…” (with the Name of Allah, the All-Merciful, the Most Merciful.)


Narrated ‘Ubâdah bin As-Sâmit Allâh’s Messenger said,

“Whoever does not recite Sûrat Al-Fâtihah in his prayer, his prayer is invalid. (Sahih Al-Bukhâri, Vol.1, Hadîth No. 723).




Surah At-Takathur (The Piling up)

Alhaakumut Takaathur Hatta Zurtumul Maqabbir Kalla sawfa-ta-lamounThumma Kalla sawfa ta-lamoun Kalla a low ta-lamouna Ilma-yaqeen Latara-wunnal-jaheem Thumma Latara-wunnaha aynal-yaqeen Thumma la-tus-alunna yawma-idhin anin-na’eem

“The Mutual rivalry for piling up (the good things of this world) diverts you (from the more serious things) until you visit the graves, but no, you soon shall know (the reality).Again, you shall soon know, nay were you to know with certainty of mind (you would be aware).you shall certainly see hellfire. Again you shall see it with certainty of sight. Then shall you be questions that day about the joy (you indulged in)”

This Surah has a connection with Surah’s before it

Ayah 1:

Alhakumu attakathur– The Piling up of worldly things diverts you,

Alha – lahwan (past tense) – il-haa. Literally means Entertainment.

That which keeps you busy and distracts you from what you should really be doing. This is the essence of Lahw.

il-haa – To be distracted and pulled away from something. This word means that you are wasting your time on something which is less important, when you could be doing something a lot more important.

O you who believe, do not put [tulhikum] your wealth and children from the remembrance of Allah.

[al Munafiqun 69:3]

Our wealth and children should make us remember Allah and not be a source of distraction which distances us from Him. That lesson – we will learn in this surah.

Allah will tell us how to get the things which distract us of this worldly life, and think of them in a way which will bring us closer to Allah’s remembrance.


Alhakumu attakathur

The Piling up of worldly things diverts you, It deluded you.

What did? Al Takathur deluded you/distracted you.

Takathur – kathra – katheer = A lot / Plentifulness.



1 – The desire of having alot – distracts you.

“I want more money, a better car, a bigger house”.

2 – Competing with others in getting alot.

Competing in wanting to get a better job than someone else. Even in petty things like; Competing in wanting a better chair than another co-worker in the workplace.

Even in social issues; i.e. Weddings, “we need to have a more expensive wedding than theirs.” Even amongst children; “I want to have his toy.”

3 – Taking Pride in the Fact that you have more.

“I just got that brand new car for a special offer before anyone else found out about the offer.” “I’ve got that brand new house which everyone wanted.”

4 – You want more and more.

All of you have the same thing – not one of you wants less, you all want more and more. The one thing that unites humans is the fact that you all always want more.

Takathur [Tafa’ul] – Mufa’alla, Ta’adhun – competition. This attitude – it deluded you, it distracted you.

il-ha-distracted. But distracted you from What? The word following il-ha has to have the word ‘An after it.


Links to other Surah’s


Surah al Munafiqun

O you who believe, do not put [tulhikum] your wealth and children from [‘an] the remembrance of Allah.[al Munafiqun 69:3]


Surah al Qari’ah

This distraction distracted you from Judgment Day: preparing for it.

Surah ‘Aadiyat

“Allah says in surah Aadiyat; “Indeed mankind, to his Lord, is ungrateful/unloyal. And indeed, he is to that a witness.And indeed he is, in love of wealth, intense”.[al Aadiyat 100: 6-8]


Surah Al Kahf

There were two farmers, one had a better garden:And he had fruit, so he said to his companion while he was conversing with him, “I am greater than you in wealth and mightier in [numbers of] men.”[al Kahf 18:34]


Surah Saba

And they said, “We are more [than the believers] in wealth and children, and we are not to be punished.”[Saba’ 34:35]

Some scholars said it distracted you from:

– The truth

– The One who sent the truth (Allah/God),Your worldly affairs kept you away from Allah.

– Looking into yourself: “What am I doing in life? What is my purpose?” You waste your life in worldly   pursuits, forgetting what your real purpose is.

– Paying Attention to this Message: It was supposed to give you guidance in this life

Your love for wealth is so intense – it distracts you. To show off and to be proud of it and say We have more, and others argue they have more, and they compete to get more and more.

Know that the life of this world is but amusement and diversion and adornment and boasting to one another and competition in increase of wealth and children – like the example of a rain whose [resulting] plant growth pleases the tillers; then it dries and you see it turned yellow; then it becomes [scattered] debris. And in the Hereafter is severe punishment and forgiveness from Allah and approval. And what is the worldly life except the enjoyment of delusion.

So both wealth and children – we want more and more for them / of them. Plentiness in terms of children does not necessarily mean having a lot of children. In fact, playing against Allah’s commands can bring about harm. The Chinese would restrict the people to having one child per family out of fear the country will fall into economic crisis. However, now they are in another crisis because they do not have enough children for the future generation to support their boosting economy system.

When Allah says; Takathur fil amwal wal awlad – competing in wealth and children [Hadeed 57:20] – it means my child should have better goodness than other people’s children.





Ayah 2:

Hatta zurtumu almaqabir “Until you visit the graves (i.e. till you die)”.

Zur – zaara – ziyaara – go to meet someone. In ancient Arabic it also means to hug someone too. A Temporary visit.

Zurtum – until you came to greet the graves.

When you meet someone – you are going to be temporarily with them. And this is why He says this word for graves and not for Paradise or Hell, which people will stay in forever. Graves however, are a temporary location for before the Day of Resurrection.

Surah Aadiyat:

“Doesn’t he know when everything in the graves will be upturned”[Aadiyat 100:9]

Quboor was used there for grave. Maqaabir is used now (because it is more closely related to ziyaara – a visit). This is the plural of maqbara – and a noun prefixed with a Ma prefix illustrates a Place (makaan [a location]) = the grave is a place, which you will visit [ziyaara].

So you visit (ziyaara) the Maqaabir – the graves. (Because you will die and temporarily remain there, and after that Judgment Day will begin).

Competing in Remembering Heroes by Visiting their Graves

Some commented that there were tribes who would compete with everything; we have more people than you, we have better weapons than you, and they would even say we have better dead people who are buried than your people. They would then point at the graves and say – “do you have someone like that person?”i.e. Like showing off about historical figures of their own.

Allah is telling us; you should go to the graves and remember where you are headed. So even the graves which remind you of death, you compete in them for worldly competition and pride! Don’t you remember your own death?!

Which is why al-ha (past tense) has been alluded to show that you are wasting your time in competing – when you should really be remembering death by remembering that these heroes have died, that you don’t even benefit from the dead as a reminder of your own end.

Ash-Shawkani: they would visit the graves and they would take heroic pride in the people buried in them.





Ayah 3 and 4:

Ayah 3:


Kalla sawfa taAAlamoon– Not at all! (But) eventually you will know.

Ayah 4:


Thumma Kalla sawfa taAAlamoon– Again, Not at all! (But) eventually you will know.

Kal-laa – for sure. (Literally: no! Not at all).

When you wake up on the Day of Ressurection – you will be saying; What have i done?

Some people – you try to help them and remind them of death, but they won’t listen to you. You think they’re hopeless.

So Allah is saying – kal-laa – No! They will soon come to know.This is after they have been buried.

SA – soon

Sawfa -very soon.

TaAAlamoon – You [all] will know.


Ali bin Abu Talib; “People are sleeping and when they die – they wake up. “Man will only realise how they wasted their life away.

Some scholars said;

Ayah 3 was about; when you enter the grave, you will find out the reality.

Ayah 4 was; the second time you come out of the graves on Judgment Day.

The word Thumma [Again!] adds takhfeem (heaviness) to the first ayah.

Az-Zamakhshari: this is a warning, a benefit so the people wake up from their distraction.

When a repeat occurs – the warning is stronger and emphasises urgency in the situation. (i.e. “stop! Stop!)

The Qur’an is in the form of a Book, but the Qur’an was being revealed in speech – the Qur’an has more of an effect when you listen to it, even more than when you read it. Words are closer to the heart.

This is why the companions said;

sami’na wa atta’na (an-Noor 24:51) – we Hear and obey.


Ayah 5:


Kalla law taAAlamoona AAilma alyaqeen– No! If you only knew with knowledge of certainty…

Kal-la – no not at all.

Laww – expresses regret. IF you only knew.

‘Ilm al yaqeen – knowledge of certainty.

And indeed, it is the truth of certainty. [Surah al Haqqah 69:51]

Yaqeen – yaqeen is a kind of knowledge more than just ‘knowing’.yaqeen = Solid conviction. Absolutely convinced. Even stronger than Emaan. Yaqeen is something you are so convinced of – that you are fully sure of it. As sure as yesterday. It is no doubt. You don’t think about it again out of uncertainty. (sukoon an-nafs – completely internally satisified).Yaqeen – a certainty – used in the Qur’an for Death (mawt.) And worship your Lord until there comes to you the certainty [yaqeen] (death). [Hijr 15:99]

Death is something both the believer and disbeliever have yaqeen/certainty in.

In the Qur’an – we know that people can understand the concept of Judgment Day, but they don’t want to internalise it.

“And when it was said that the promise of Allah was true, and that the Hour- there was no doubt about it (coming), you used to say, ‘We know not what is the hour: we only think it is an idea, and we have no firm assurance.'”[al Jathiyah 45:32]

There are 3 types of Yaqeen [Certainty]:

 –Ilm al yaqeen – certainty based on knowledge. I.e. seeing smoke signifies a fire (even if we don’t see a fire). Or wet grass is most likely due to rain.

Ayn al yaqeen – certainty based on seeing. I.e. seeing the fire.

Haq al yaqeen – Certainty Feeling the fire and it warms you or burns you = haq al yaqeen.

Allah gives us the two Yaqeen’s in this life (ilm [knowledge] and haq [certainty] al yaqeen).

The Qur’an is ‘Ilm al Yaqeen [Certain Knowledge]: This perfect Book which is not similar to any human Book – is an ‘ilm al yaqeen [knowledge of certainty].

And indeed, it is the truth of certainty. [Surah al Haqqah 69:51]

The disbelievers did not want Ilm al yaqeen, they wanted Ayn al yaqeen [Certainty of Vision].

An animal can be convinced with Ayn al Yaqeen [knowledge of Vision], but you were created of a higher level – you should be convinced by Ilm al yaqeen [Certainty of Knowledge] because of the high Intellect (‘aql) Allah has given you.

Ayah 5:

Kalla law taAAlamoona AAilma alyaqeen– No! If you only knew with knowledge of certainty…

‘Ilm al Yaqeen refers to; Qatadah – knowledge of death. I.e. Your soul would want an answer to see what happens after death.

Even philosophers and intellectuals wish their name lives on; i.e. they name buildings and organisations and monuments in their name – the human wants to live forever, even if it’s just by name. The people want to live forever, through any means possible. They have this feeling because Allah has really made humans so they will live forever. [either in Paradise or Hell]. Allah placed this feeling in the human of wanting to live forever in the human fitrah (natural disposition).

Allah answered to it by making a next life.


Ayah 6:


La ta Rawunn a aljaheem– Surely, You [all] shall see the blazing Fire (Hell)!

Jaheem – Juhm – The stare of a lion when he is about to pounce on his prey. The stare makes the animal petrified/horrified – so it can’t move. You will see – the stare of the hunting hell.

La – used to respond to an oath. It is a qasam – for certainty. Surely, you will surely surely see the blazing fire.

The ayah could be like this;

La tarawwu al jaheem – surely you will see hellfire staring at you as if it is going to pounce at you.

But this is how the Allah has said the ayah;

La tarawuNNa al jaheem – surely you will see hellfire staring at you as if it is going to pounce at you.

There is not one of you but will pass over it (Hell); this is with your Lord; a Decree which must be accomplished.

Then We will save those who feared Allah and leave the wrongdoers within it, on their knees.[Surah Maryam 19: 71-72]

Even the believers who will not go to hell – will see it – to be grateful to Allah that He has saved them from that.You will all see it.

Some say it is is specifically talking about those who were distracted in this worldly life (mentioned in ayah 1).They will see it for sure.


Ayah 7:


Thumma la taRawunnahaa ‘ayna al Yaqeen-Then you shall most certainly see it with certainty of sight

Thumma – not just after that. But also means Moreover. You will be convinced because of Ayn al Yaqeen [certainty of Vision].So if you will only believe it through seeing it – then you will see it, and when you see it – that’s when you will go into it.


Ayah 8:


Thumma latus-alunna yawma-idhin AAaniannaAAeem– Then certainly you will be asked – on that Day – you will be interrogated thoroughly about the comforts.

tus’aloona – you will be asked for sure.

la tus’aloona – you will certainly be asked.

Definitely – Allah is angry, that is why He has emphasised 3 times that you will be interrogated thoroughly [tus’aloon].

Allah’s Messenger said;

laysa yuhasib yawm al qiyamah il-la halak -There is none who is questioned/taken to account on Ressurection Day except [he] is destroyed.

na’eem ni’mah (ni’am / an’um – plural).

Na’eem – has a Ya in it which means ‘extra continuous comforts’:

You will be asked because you were in a state of continuous blessing. What did you do with them luxuries?

The Prophet was starving with no food, and Abu Bakr and Umar were also starving. So they went to another wealthy Companions/sahabi’s house. So they gave Salaam twice, and then they said it last third time. The door opened. The wife in the house told that they wanted to recieve Salaam from Allah’s Messenger three times. So this companion gave them some food and water. And Allah’sMessenger told the companion that he would be asked about this food [i.e. us humans will be asked about our luxuries.] Imagine ourselves in comparison to them. We have alot more blessings (na’eem than the companions of Allah’s Messenger).

The less we have – the less we will be asked. The more you have – the more you will be asked on Judgment Day.

And us Muslims have sadly started to compete with each other for blessings (na’eem). If we have more, we might say alhamdulillah [the praise is for Allah], but we should fear that we will be asked about the more we have too.

The Beginning of the Surah and it’s Relation to its End: ash-Shawkani: the surah began with the worldly possessions (takathur) distracted you, and if we remember the blessings will be a form of questioning – these blessings will be a means by which we can get closer to Allah.

The na’eem were given to us – so they are Allah’s. They will be taken away – we will visit the maqaabir/graves [in death].

The na’eem [comfort] is also the; Qur’an and the Sunnah [ways] of the Messengers’. We will also be asked about what we did with that knowledge we recieved from the Messengers’.

Qatadah – Allah will question the people about every blessing Allah has given us.

Ibn Abi Hatim: the urge of plentifulness deluded us from the obedience of Allah until we met the graves, and no – we will soon find out. If only you had found out, had you known when you will come out of your graves and come on Ressurection Day, and you will see hell before your eyes; if you are a righteous Muslim – you will be pulled away from it, but if you are a disbeliever – you will fall into it. Then you will be asked about your blessings; the food, drink, the balance of your creation (left, right etc.) even the sleeps (nawm) that you take.

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