How does the sūrahcover all the fundamental teachings of the Qur’ān? The Qur’ān teaches us three fundamental themes: tawḥīd (unicity of God), al-sharā’i‘ (divine laws), and the Last Judgment. If we proceed to discuss these themes in detail, trying to cover all the Qur’ānic parts dealing with them, it would put us in an unending discussion. We do not afford such an exhaustive survey of the matter. This matter will reveal itself to those who study the Qur’ān with deliberation.
I do not mean to say that some of the Qur’ānic verses exclusively deal with tawḥīd, some with rulings and some with the Afterlife. Contrarily, all these themes are mixed in different parts of the revelation. They are not put independently and separately in the book. Thus, in Sūrah Fātiḥah, these themes have been put as follows: The theme of tawḥīd is put as a crown on the entire sūrah. Subsequently, the themes of the law and the afterlife are discussed as subsidiary of tawḥīd. You shall find the details of these points in the commentary on the sūrah in the following pages.
From the preceding discussion one can learn the wisdom behind making this sūrah a necessary part of the ṣalāh. Reciting Sūrah Fātiḥah is like reading the entire Qur’ān in brief. Reading a short version of something, after having learnt its detailed form, helps refresh the entire discussion. Shortly I shall explain to you how this sūrah completes one’s ṣalāh. No ṣalāhis better than that of one whose ṣalāh includes this text. This is perhaps because of this fact that the theme of this sūrah has been part of the ṣalāh even when it was not expressed in these exact words of miraculous beauty. Thus, no ṣalāh is possible without the theme this sūrahis expressive of. It is precisely for this reason that the Prophet (sws) stated that the ṣalāh is not valid unless the worshipper recites Fātiḥah. The Prophet (sws) showed unprecedented love for the ummah when he said that whoever did not recite this sūrah in his ṣalāh his worship would be incomplete. He repeated the word “incomplete” three times. By this he meant to stress the importance of this sūrah as part of the ṣalāh. He emphasized that the ṣalāh is not complete without the recitation of this sūrah, and that the believer should not keep this sūrah out of their ṣalāh, like the Jews and the Christians had done. The Jews, it should be noted, did not appreciate the importance of their Fātiḥah, in spite of the fact that it was written in the Scriptures. It formed part of the ṣalāhof their prophets. I will deal with this matter in … section.They ignored this supplication and introduced new ones in its place. They kept changing their replacements and entered into disputes on this issue.
The Almighty Allah has showed great benevolence to the ummah of the Last Prophet, Muḥammad (sws). It is only because of God’s blessings that no faction in this ummah has failed to acknowledge the importance of this sūrah. All the believers recite it in their ṣalāh. They are united on its status as a part of the ṣalāh just as they are unanimous on the number of daily prayers, the rak‘āt (units) to be offered in each, and its complete form, including the standing and sitting postures. The Almighty Allah has preserved the form of the ṣalāh just as He has saved the entire Qur’ān from alteration and adulteration.
We thank God on saving this ummahfrom falling into such error. He did not leave us fall into waywardness and error like the Jews and the Christians. This proves that Islam is still helped and protected by God. Its shades are expanding. Other nations continue to turn to it. God’s light still falls and shines on it. The Book of God is there to lead us. It is a covenant which we contracted with Him. The ṣalāhserves as a reminder of this covenant, as is evidenced by the Torah, the Gospels and the Qur’ān. This last fact shall be explained in the commentary on the last part of Sūrah Fatḥ.
I have only mentioned the above facts in order that you do not lose sight of the central importance and extraordinary status of this sūrah, as well as of the importance and status of the ṣalāh, during which you recite the sūrahwith full devotion. This shall also help you ignore the views of those who hold that Islam has lost God’s protection and that it is no longer under the divine light.
It is God Almighty Who sent the last of the Prophets, Muhammad (sws), whom He promised His help. He then of course fulfilled His promise. He helped the Prophet (sws) and perfected His blessings on him. The Almighty says: “It is He who has sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth, that He may proclaim it over all religions, even though the idolaters may detest it.” (61:9)
The glad tidings that the last Prophet (sws) would triumph over his enemies was so prevalent and conspicuously mentioned in the earlier scriptures that the Jews would pray for victory over the rejecters through the promised Prophet (sws) even before the advent of Muhammad (sws). We see that the earlier Scriptures praised those who would enter Jerusalem. The praise of these people has again been mentioned in the Qur’ān, developing on the previous scriptural statements. The Qur’ānic verse in the praise of this group is as follows: “That is their description in the Torah. And their description in the Gospel is like seed-produce that puts forth its sprout, then strengthens it, till it becomes stout and stands firm on its stem, delighting the sower.” (48:29)
Can a thing, the appearance of which has so profoundly been foretold, be like a shade destined to recede into oblivion? Was it something like a tree easily pulled out by the roots? Or was it merely a rainless cloud? No. Never! It is only the untruth and falsity which are destined to vanish. Truth, on the contrary, is destined to grow aloft.