What This Project Is
This Ramadan, rekindle your spirituality and relationship with God by reading the Quran in a language you understand! To facilitate those who find reading the Quran for the first time daunting, I, at Quranalyze It, will be posting short chapter summaries to get you acquainted with the basic theme and content of a particular chapter. It is important to note, however, that these summaries are no substitute for reading the Quran and should be used as a bridge toward the Quran, or as an additional tool.
Chapter 1 (Fatiha) is possibly the most-read chapter of the Quran. It is an integral part of Muslim prayers and is repeated tens of times in a day. Yet we must ask ourselves: What purpose does it serve? Why is it the very first chapter of the Quran?
I think the answers to those questions lie in Chapter 2, verse 2: "Quran, as a revealed message, will only serve as a guide for the Muttaqeen [those who are conscious of God]." This is because everyone else wouldn't embrace the message holistically to allow it to have a meaningful and drastic impact in their life.
So, to me, Chapter 1 demonstrates the attributes of a person who has figuratively awoken from sleep, suddenly becoming conscious of God (Muttaqi). These six verses could be considered as universal truths of a spiritual awakening, regardless of the faith one subscribes to. They immediately grab the attention of the reader and go on to demonstrate Islam in a nutshell.
(Note: I am not referring to the bismillah as verse 1.)
Verses 1 through 4 deal with the symptoms of a spiritual awakening. What are they?
First symptom: An immense feeling of praise and gratefulness for God, who is:
- The Nourisher-Sustainer of the universe.
- The Almighty (Rahman), and at the same time the Merciful (Raheem).
Since both of the above words come from Rahm (literally, womb), these attributes outline the protective and evolutionizing aspect of the Beloved. The Muttaqi has experienced these attributes on a personal level (v. 1-2).
Second symptom: The realization of being dependent on a higher being (Maalik), and the fact that the Muttaqi is accountable for his own actions. Therefore, it is only He whom he would seek to serve, and only His aid that he would seek (v. 3-4).
Verses 5 and 6 are the prayer of the Muttaqi. What does he ask for?
He only implores God for guidance toward the straight path, a path on which there is positivity (favor and blessings), not a path involving negativity (wrath) and misguided people.
This, again, signifies the utmost importance given to God, while moving away from human authorities (idols). Furthermore, Islam is defined thusly:
- It is supposed to be a straight path (without contradictions).
- It is path on which you encounter positivity.
- It is a path devoid of negativity and misguidance.
This short chapter includes much-repeated key words in the Quran, such as deen, ibadah, and rabb, and includes major themes of the Quran such as:
- The oneness and other predominant attributes of God.
- Accountability for our actions.
- Dependence on a higher power.
- Avoiding shirk (association).
- Seeking guidance and aid.
- What Islam is as a system.
An introduction of grandeur, isn't it? So rich with detail, despite its briefness! Needless to say, I am completely awed!
At the risk of repeating myself, I would say that Chapter 1 is the Quran in a nutshell! If your Quran reading can be considered a spiritual workout, then Fatiha is the nutrient-dense pre-workout snack.