I recently subscribed to Bayyinah TV, and am excited about the prospect of listening to these wonderful lectures by Shaykh Nouman Ali. I’ve only heard the first lecture on the first ayah of the Qur’an and it was an incredible listen. There are so many gems and lessons in Shaykh Nouman’s words (the notes below are just a bit of what he said), and I never realised there was so much to reflect on in the words alhamidullah, rabb and alameen. May Allah bless and increase this endeavour, and help us to take advantage.
Notes on Ayah 1 of Surah al Fatihah
- hamd = praise and gratitude
- gratitude (shukr)
- The Qur’an recounts that when Prophet Musa (alayhis salaam) spoke to Pharaoh, Pharaoh reminded him of his favours on Musa, and Prophet Musa (alayhis salaam) acknowledged his favours. But didn’t praise him.
- Praise and thanks are very different
- Alhamidullah means praise and thanks belong to Allah (are for Allah)
- Best of speech is speech that is concise and gets point across
- If say praise and gratitude separately, saying praise and gratitude are separate. Alhamidullah is better because puts praise and gratitude together
- Praise can be genuine or not. Can be done for anything but hamd is only for living
- Hamd is more appropriate for Allah and necessarily sincere.
- We say thank you in response to favour, which means that first have to recognise something done to you. And then ball is in your court to thank or not. Gratitude is a reaction, hamd is not a reaction
- Hamd is independent. Doesn’t need anything. Can just feel it.
- If have a command: two possibilites. To do it or not do it. Once command given, ball in other’s court to follow command. Allah did not begin Quran saying “Praise Allah!” If Allah began the Qur’an saying “Praise Allah!” then responsibility is with you. But He is saying that whether praise Me or not, I still have it. It doesn’t depend on you. I didn’t tell you to do it because whether you do it or not, doesn’t change anything. The ball is not in your court.
- Verb is very different from noun. Noun has no tense. Tense about time. Noun is timeless. Nouns permanent, verb temporary. It we say “We praise Allah’ in present tense, doesn’t cover all time. When Allah says “All praise is Allah, praise belongs to Allah – permanent. Verbs are like humans, temporary.
- Also, need a subject of verb for verb make sense. Problem is verb depends on doer. But praise of Allah doesn’t need a a doer. It is permanent and doesn’t need anyone. Noun is permanent and independent.
- We tend to say alhamidullah as if its the opening to complaint when someone asks us how are we are. (“alhamidullah I have a lot of problems..”) But if you understand alhamidullah understand:
- a) everything Allah does deserves to be praised
- b) we also thank Him for doing it
- So not only thank him for what He did, but say “thank You it was beautiful. The attitude should be not only do I praise everything Allah does, but I thank Him that He did it. What You did was beautiful -thank you for doing it.
- The phrase alhamidullah is psychologically transformational – can transform your life. Just understanding the phrase alhamidullah can transform your life.
- In difficult situations – have to say alhamidullah. First of all, everything Allah does, we have to praise by default. Starting point of my relationship with Allah. Allah is saying, before get to my Name, pay attention to hamd. Learn to appreciate.
- Complaint cycle is antithesis of hamd.
- To be a believer first thing have to feel is hamd. Appreciation and gratitude is the first step.
- Fatihah is an introduction to God. Fatihah is Allah introducing Himself
- Name and attributes are diffferent. Fatihah is about absolute clarity. When I say praise belongs to the Creator, have thanked Him for attribute of Creating. Same with any other name. But want to thank Allah for everything. What I know and what I don’t know. So only word left is Allah.
- Quran: precise language.
- In the Fatihah, Allah is introducing Himself to all decent human beings. Saying all decent human beings do not doubt this, in their fitra. This is different to the opening of Surah al-Asr, that says “No doubt, mankind in loss” because there are many people who do doubt this.
- If Allah says hamd only belongs to Allah (lillahi hamd), in parenthesis saying hamd belongs to Allah and doesn’t belong to anyone else (exclamation mark)
- But Fatihah is not a debate. Fatihah is Allah introducing himself.
And the word Allah uses is Rabb. Rabb has the meaning of:
- Master (that has the following qualities)
- the Owner
- the One in charge
- the Caretaker
- the Giver of Gifts
- The Maintainer (makes sure continues to exist, stay alive)
- Allah gave us His Name when He said the word Allah. And of all the descriptions He could have given us, He said the first thing you need to know is what will be your relationship with Me.
- in relationship, 2 parties involved.
- if Allah called Himself Master, what does that make us? (slave). And if He is Owner, that makes us property. If He is the One in charge, we are under His authority. If He is the caretaker, we are the ones taken care of. If He is the Giver of Gifts, we are the receiver of gifts. And if He is the Maintainer, we are the ones that exist.
- The word rabb is the beginning of the definition of our relationship with Allah.
- He said alhamidullah, and hten said this is who I am to you. I am your Rabb.
If we would just understand this!
Entire Quran: Accept Allah as Master and you as slave. Everything else is a byproduct.
- If haven’t understood that, haven’t understood Islam and haven’t understood Qur’an, and haven’t understood what Allah wants from you.
- …why does God do this? why does God do that? All comes from not understanding that Allah is the Master.
- We are slaves all the time. When we are online. When we are at school, all the time.
- And Allah is different from all other Masters. He is the Master that is sincerely praised. That Gives gifts.
- alameen means worlds of people. Nations of people. Tribes of people. Ethnicities of people. Generations of people.
- Entire surah is about relationship between Master and slave, and no word in surah goes out of that relationship. Every word is perfectly placed.
- Surah about you and me and our Lord.
- this word kills nationalism, tribalism, everything.