1 - Al Fatiha (The opening)

7 Tafsir(s) related to verse 1.1


In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful:


In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful.

The bāÌ in bismillāh ['in the Name of God'] is a grammatical particle of implication. That is to say 'by means of God' (bi-llāh), new things become manifest and by means of Him created things exist. There is nothing from any newly created thing (ḥādith makhlūq) or sequence of events (ḥāṣil mansūq); or from any perceived thing (ʿayn) or trace of a thing (athar), etc.; or anything else from rocks or clay, grass or trees, any impression left on the ground (rasm) or standing remains (ṭalal), or any judgment (ḥukm) or causes (ʿilal), that has existence except by means of the Real. The Real is its sovereign. Its beginning is from the Real and its return is to the Real. Through Him the one who declares the unity [of God] finds and through Him the rejecter abandons faith. Through Him the one who acknowledges knows, and through Him the one who perpetrates lags behind.

He said, 'In the Name of God' rather than 'In God'. According to some people, this is a way of seeking blessing through mentioning His name. According to others, it is because of the difference between this [wording] and oaths. According to scholars, it is because the name (ism) is the thing that is named (musammā). In the view of the people of mystical knowledge (ʿirfān), [the wording is such] in order to seek the purification of hearts from attachments and the liberation of the innermost selves from obstacles so that the word 'God' may enter into a clean heart and purified innermost self.

Upon the mention of this verse, some people are reminded from the [letter] bāÌ of His beneficence (birr) with His friends, and from the [letter] sīn of His secret (sirr) with his chosen ones, and from the [letter] mīm of His grace (minna) to the people of His friendship (ahl al-walāya). They know that by His beneficence, they come to know His secret, and by His grace to them, they preserve His command, and by Him (glory be to Him Most High) they recognize His measure.

Other people, upon hearing 'In the Name of God', are reminded by the [letter] bāÌ of the immunity (barāÌa) of God (swt) from every evil, and by the [letter] sīn of His soundness (salāma) from any defect, and by the [letter] mīm of His magnificence (majd) in the exaltedness of His description.

Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi

There is some scholarly disagreement concerning this Surah [i.e. concerning where it was revealed]; the majority is however of the opinion that it was revealed in Mecca, one among the first Surahs of the Qur'an to be revealed. Abu 'Uthman Sa'id ibn Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Zahid informed us> his grandfather>Abu 'Amr al-Hiri> Ibrahim ibn al-Harith and 'Ali ibn Sahl ibn al-Mughirah who said: Yahya ibn Abi Bukayr informed us> Isra'il> Abu Ishaq> Abu Maysarah ['Amr ibn Shurahbil] who said: "The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, whenever he went out, used to hear someone calling him 'O Muhammad!' And whenever he heard this, he used to flee. Waraqah ibn Nawfal advised the Prophet to remain in his place when the caller calls him so that he hears what he has to tell him. And so when he went out, he heard the calling: 'O Muhammad!' He said: 'Here I am! At your service!' The caller said: 'Say: I bear witness that there is no god but Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah'. Then he said: 'Say (Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, the Beneficent, the Merciful. Owner of the Day of Judgement")' and he read until the end of the Opening of the Book". This is also the opinion of 'Ali ibn Abi Talib. Abu Ishaq Ahmad ibn Muhammad, the Qur'anic commentator, informed us>al-Hasan ibn Ja'far, the commentator who said: Abu'l-Hasan ibn Muhammad ibn Mahmud al-Marwazi> 'Abd Allah ibn Mahmud al-Sa'di> Abu Yahya al-Qasri> Marwan ibn Mu'awiyah> al-'Ala' ibn al-Musayyab> al-Fudayl ibn 'Amr> 'Ali ibn Abi Talib who said: "The Opening of the Book was revealed in Mecca from a treasure beneath the divine Throne". And through the same chain of transmission> al-Sa'di who said: 'Amr ibn Salih informed us> his father> al-Kalbi> Abu Salih> ibn 'Abbas who said: "The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, stood up once in Mecca and said: 'In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds'. The people of Quraysh said: 'May Allah strike your mouth' or something to this effect". This was related by al-Hasan and Qatadah. But according to Mujahid, the Opening of the Book was revealed in Medina. About this opinion al-Husayn ibn al-Fadl said: "Every scholar has a lapse, and this is one lapse from Mujahid, since he is the only scholar who holds this opinion while all the other scholars disagree with him". What makes the Opening of the Book categorically a Meccan Surah is the saying of Allah, exalted is He: (We have given thee seven of the oft-repeated (verses) and the great Qur'an), i.e. the Opening of the Book. Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Rahman al-Nahwi informed us> Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn 'Ali al-Hiri> Ahmad ibn 'Ali ibn al-Muthanna> Yahya ibn Ayyub> Isma'il ibn Ja'far> al-'Ala'> his father> Abu Hurayrah who said: "When Ubayy ibn Ka'b finished reading the Opening of the Book to him, the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: 'By Him in Whose Hand is my soul, Allah has not revealed the like of it in the Torah, the Gospel, the Psalm or in the Qur'an. Verily, I was given the seven oft-repeated [i.e. al-Fatihah] and the great Qur'an' ". Furthermore, there is no disagreement that Surah al-Hijr was revealed in Mecca. It follows therefore that Allah would not mention His bounty on the Prophet for giving him the Opening of the Book while in Mecca and then reveal this to him in Medina. Again, one cannot possibly say that Allah's Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace, stayed over ten years in Mecca and prayed during this time without the Opening of the Book. This is inconceivable.


In the Name of God: the name of a thing is that by which it can be known. The Names of God, exalted be He, are the [arche]typal forms (ṣuwar nawʿiyya) whose specificities and ipseities (hūwiyya) indicate the attributes of God and His essence, and [which indicate] by their very existence His countenance, and by their individuation His oneness. For, these are the outward manifestations through which He can be known; Allāh is a name for the divine essence qua essence absolutely, without taking into consideration that it may be qualified by the attributes or indeed taking into consideration that it may not be [so] qualified; the Compassionate, is the one who causes existence and perfection to flow upon all [things] in the measure that [divine] wisdom requires and to the capacity of the receiving entities (qawābil) from the outset [of their creation]; the Merciful: (al-Raḥīm) is the one who bestows the spiritual perfection (kamāl maʿnawī) that has been earmarked for the human species in the end [sc. in the Hereafter]. It is for this reason that they say O [You Who are the] Compassionate One of this world and of the Hereafter (yā raḥmān al-dunyā wa'l-ākhira), but [say] O Merciful One of the Hereafter (raḥīm al-ākhira): the meaning then is, in the perfect human all-encompassing form, general and specific mercy, which is the locus of manifestation of the divine essence and the greatest truth with the totality of attributes, I commence and I recite. It [Allāh] is the Greatest Name [of God]. It is to this meaning that the Prophet's (ṣlʿm) alluded when he said, 'I have been given the sum of all [excellent] speech [sc. The QurÌān] and have been sent to complete the noble character traits (makārim al-akhlāq). For words constitute the realities (ḥaqāÌiq) of existents (mawjūdāt) and their concrete substances (aʿyān), just as Jesus, peace be upon him, was called a Word from God [cf. 3:39,45]. The noble character traits are the perfections [of these existents] and [represent] their specifities, constituting the sources of their [the existents'] actions in their entirety, contained as they are in the comprehensive human microcosm (kawn insānī). Herein lies a subtlety (laṭīfa), namely that the prophets, peace be upon them, have made the letters of the alphabet analogous to the ranks of existents (marātib al-mawjūdāt).

Kashf Al-Asrar

In the name of God, the All-Merciful, the Ever-Merciful.

In terms of allusion and in keeping with the tasting of the lords of recognition, the bi of bism ["In the name"] alludes to the "splendor" [bahāÌ] of Unity, the s to the "brilliance" [sanāÌ] of the Self-Suffi- cient, and the m to the "kingship" [mulk] of the Divinity. His splendor is self-standing, His brilliance self-sustaining, and His kingship everlasting. His splendor is eternal, His brilliance generous, His kingship tremendous. His splendor is with majesty, His brilliance with beauty, His kingship without decline. His splendor steals the heart, His brilliance increases love, His kingship has no annihilation.

O You whose majesty runs before all that is beauteous!

O You whose perfection is far from deficiency's blight!

Venus rejoices on hearing Your music,

the sun is jealous on seeing Your beauty.

B is His kindness [birr] to His servants, s His secret [sirr] with His friends, m His favor [minna] toward His yearners. If not for His kindness, how could the servant make ready for His secret? If not for His favor, how could the servant reach union with Him; how could the servant find a place at the threshold of His majesty? If not for the beginningless affection, how could the servant be endlessly familiar?

How could water and clay have the gall to love You

had You not chosen them with Your beginningless gentleness?

Love is Your Essence, O God, this is the friends' belief-

remembering Your description, O Lord, dispels the sorrow of the sorrowful! [DS 211]

This world is goodly only through His name, the afterworld goodly only through His pardon, and the Garden goodly only through His vision. If not for the message and name of God in this world, how could it be the servant's home? If not for His pardon and generosity in the afterworld, the servant's work would be difficult. If not for the heart-brightening vision of Him in paradise, what would make a poor man happy?

One of the pirs of the Tariqah said, "O God, we see through Your marks, we live in Your recogni- tion, we flourish though Your name, we are happy in Your remembrance, we are joyful through finding You. It is we who are drunk with love from Your cup, we who are prey to passion in Your snare.

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an

Islamic culture requires a man to commence everything with the name of Allah. If this is done consciously and sincerely, it will surely produce three good results. First, it will keep him away from evil, because the very name of Allah will impel him to consider whether he is justified in associating His name with a wrong deed or an evil intention. Secondly, the very mention of the name of Allah will create in him the right attitude of mind and direct him to the right direction. Thirdly,he will receive Allah's help and blessing and will be protected from the temptations of Satan, for Allah turns to a man when he turns to Him.

It has been stated in the Introduction to this Surah that AI-Fatihah is a prayer. It begins with the praise of Allah to Whom it is addressed in order to teach us the right way of making a supplication. We should not put forward our request bluntly and abruptly without an appropriate introduction. The right way is to acknowledge the excellences and the favors and the high position of the One to Whom we address our prayer. That is why we begin our prayer with the praise of Allah, for He is the perfection of all excellences and.is also our Benefactor. We pay homage to Allah to show that we sincerely acknowledge His excellences and also are grateful to Him for His countless favours. It should also be noted that not only Praise is for Allah but also Praise is only for Allah. This distinction is very important because it cuts at the root of the worship of any of His creation. As none of them is worthy of praise, none is worthy of worship. No man, no angel, no prophet, no so-called god, no star, no idol, in short. none of His creation inherently possesses any good quality. If one has any, it is given by Allah. Hence the Creator of these qualities alone deserves devotion, worship, gratitude, and none of His creation.

The word Rab which has been translated into `Lord' stands for (a) Master and Owner, (b) Sustainer, Provider and Guardian, (c) Sovereign, Ruler, Administrator and Organizer. Allah is the Lord of the Universe in all these senses.

Although the Arabic word Rahman itself is in the superlative form and denotes the attributes of beneficence and mercy in the highest degree, even this word fails to express the boundless extent of these attributes of Allah. Hence another word Rahim of the same root has been added to make up for the deficiency.

After saying that Allah is Beneficent and Merciful, it has immediately been added that He is the Master of the Day of Judgment, so that the qualities of mercy and kindness might not mislead anyone into forgetting that on that Day He will gather together all human beings from the first to the last and require each and every one to give an account of all of one's acts to Him. A Muslim should, therefore, always keep in view the fact that Allah is not only Merciful, but He is also Just. He has, however, full authority to pardon or punish anyone He pleases, for He has complete power over everything. Therefore we should have full conviction that it lies absolutely in His power to make our end happy or sorrowful.

Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.