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Salah is a gift that Allah has bestowed on our community with much love, and Al-Fatiha – the chapter of the Quran we read in every single segment of the prayer – is a gift within that gift. When angel Jibreel was sitting with the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, he heard a noise from the sky and said that a door had been opened in the Heavens that had never been opened before. An angel who had never come down to Earth came through this door with Al-Fatiha.
When Omar bin Abdul-Aziz, a righteous caliph who was known for his justice and piety, would recite Surat Al-Fatiha, he would pause after reading every single verse. When asked for the reason, he answered: “Because I wanted to enjoy the reply from my Lord”.
He was referring to this beautiful authentic hadith. The Prophet ﷺ said: Allah said:
قسمت الصلاة بيني وبين عبدي نصفين ولعبدي ما سأل
I have split salah [Al-Fatiha] between Myself and My slave, half is for Me, and half for him, and My servant shall have what he asks for
Take a moment before you start reciting Al-Fatiha to renew your intentions, and be mentally and emotionally present, for you are about to have an actual dialogue with Allah. He will respond to you as you read this surah. Think about how honoring and humbling this is. We, His sinful slaves, who have been so consumed with this worldly life and its desires, have an opportunity to have a real dialogue with the Lord of the Heavens and Earth.
فإذا قال العبد : الحمد لله رب العالمين
قال الله تعالى : حمدني عبدي
When the slave says: All praise belongs to Allah, the Lord of all the worlds
Allah says: My slave has praised Me
Reflect on Allah’s infinite blessings on you specifically and really relish the feeling of being truly favored and blessed by your Maker. Let that gratitude wash over you and then consider focusing on one blessing every single time you recite Al-Fatiha thereafter to stay present.
وإذا قال : الرحمن الرحيم
قال الله تعالى : أثنى علي عبدي
When the slave says: The Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful
Allah says: My servant has layered praises upon Me
When you say this, take a few seconds to reflect on His Mercy that He has bestowed upon us in this world, and the 99% that He saved for when we meet Him. Think about all the times you felt despair or confusion and how you were able to overcome. Think about how things could have gone wrong so many times but miraculously did not. Bring to your mind the guiding watch of Allah’s Mercy that is encompassing you. Again, you can choose to focus on a single moment of weakness for each recitation of Al-Fatiha, or consider where you are most in need of mercy these days and expand that before Allah when you recite this verse.
وإذا قال : مالك يوم الدين
قال : مجدني عبدي
When the slave says: Master of the Day of Judgment
Allah says: My servant has glorified Me
Reflect on what will happen on the Day of Judgment: your fears, hopes, and plans. Then think that this might be your final prayer before your own personal Day of Judgment. Make it your best!
فإذا قال : إياك نعبد وإياك نستعين
قال : هذا بيني وبين عبدي ولعبدي ما سأل
When he says: It is You we worship and You we ask for help
Allah says: This is between Me and My servant and he will be given what he asks for
The Prophet ﷺ used to constantly ask Allah to keep his heart firm on the faith. If our own Prophet ﷺ who was guaranteed paradise, used to do that, then what about us?! Allah Himself knows how easy it can be for us to lose our way, so He obligated us to ask Him every single day multiple times (17 to be exact!) to help us. None of us can ever be sure about what will happen in the future but we do know that Allah wishes for us to be guided and He is willing to help us through it all.
فإذا قال :اهدنا الصراط المستقيم ، صراط الذين أنعمت عليهم ، غير المغضوب عليهم ولا الضالين
قال: هذا لعبدي ولعبدي ما سأل
When he says: Guide us to the Straight Path, The path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked [Your] anger or of those who are astray
He says: This is for My servant, and My servant shall have what he has asked for
Reflect on all of the prophets, the martyrs, the righteous men and women around our own Prophet ﷺ and really visualize yourself among them in Jannah. Feel it in your heart. Can you imagine how satisfied and pleased you would be? Well you’re on the journey right now, just as they were before, and Allah has promised to help you along the way. Take heart.
It is such a blessing that we are given the opportunity multiple times a day to really feel this connection with Allah. Allah is replying! Listen with gratitude and humility. Don’t let it pass you by. It is so sad that we keep missing out because we’re too busy with everything that is happening in the small worldly moments around us. In the hereafter we won’t consider this world worth even the weight of a fly’s wing …