Is reciting the Fatiha part of engagement?
Is reciting the Fatiha part of engagement?
It is legally permissible to recite the chapter of Al-Fatiha on the following occasions:
- When beginning or ending du'a [supplication].
- For fulfilling needs.
- When commencing reconciliation gatherings.
- When conducting marriage contracts and the like.
This is based on general legal evidences recommending reading the Quran on the one hand and the numerous legal evidences denoting the special importance of Al-Fatiha for achieving goals, fulfilling needs and facilitating matters on the other.
General evidences from primary texts
God the Almighty says, “Those who recite the Book of Allah, establish regular prayers, and spend (in charity) out of what we have provided for them, secretly and openly, hope for a commerce that will never fail” [35: 29].
Abu Umama Al-Bahli (may God be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: "Read the Quran for verily it will come on the Day of Judgment as an intercessor for its reciters" [Muslim].
It is established in Islamic legal theory that unconditional commands demand their general applicability with regards to people, circumstances, times and places. This means that, when God the Almighty legislates a matter in a general or unconditional fashion, it must be applied as such; it is not permissible to restrict or specify it in any manner without evidence from Islamic law. Restricting matters that God the Almighty and His Messenger have left open and capacious leads to innovation in religion.
The Prophet's observance of certain parts of general comprehensive rulings or general rulings denoting specificity does not specify what is general or restrict what is unconditional as long as he did not prohibit otherwise. Legal theorists have explained this through the legal axiom "Abstention is not proof." This means that the fact that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) refrained from performing certain acts does not prove their prohibition. Muslim scholars from among the Predecessors and Successors have unanimously agreed on this.
Applying the legal axiom
Despite his thorough understanding of the concept of offensive innovation in religion, the Hanbali scholar Ibn Taymiyya, fathomed this legal axiom and applied it to his acts of worship by making Al-Fatiha part of his daily portion of recitations. Ibn Taymiyya's student, Abu Hafs Al-Bazzar, wrote in his book Al-Alam Al-Aliya fi Manaqib Ibn Taymiyya that his teacher [Ibn Taymiyya] would continue to recite Al-Fatiha from after dawn prayer until sunrise. If the Prophet's abstention from reading Al-Fatiha in this manner evidences its impermissibility, Ibn Taymiyya's practice would have been considered an innovation that contradicts the Sunnah. However, since making remembrance of God and Quranic recitations are unrestricted and are only determined by what a Muslim finds in his heart, Ibn Taymiyya's act is legally permissible.
In general, Al-Fatiha is a part of the Quran and a kind of remembrance. It is permissible to recite it under all circumstances in the absence of restrictive evidence, such as the prohibition of reciting the Quran while in a state of major ritual impurity.
The virtues of Al-Fatiha
Legal evidences have established that Al-Fatiha in particular is superior to other Quranic chapters in achieving goals, fulfilling needs, facilitating matters and answering prayers. God the Almighty says: “And We have bestowed upon you [Muhammad] the seven oft-repeated (verses) and the great Quran” [15: 87].
- Abu Sa'id Ibn Al-Mualla (may God be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: "’All praise be to God, the Lord of the Worlds' [i.e. Al-Fatiha] is the seven oft-repeated verses and the great Quran which I was given" [Bukhari].
- The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) told Jabir Ibn Abdullah (may God be pleased with them): "O Jabir, shall I inform you of the best Surah in the Quran?" Jabir replied, "Yes, O Messenger of God." The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: "The Opening of the Book." Jabir, the narrator of the hadith, said: "I think the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) added "It [Al-Fatiha] is a cure for every disease" [recorded by Al-Baihaqi in Shuab Al-Iman].
- Ubada Ibn As-Samit (may God be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: "The Mother of the Quran [i.e. Al-Fatiha] is a substitute for other Surahs while other Surahs do not substitute it" [recorded by Al-Darqutni and Al-Hakim).
Status of Al-Fatiha in Islamic law
• It is an integral of prayer
The majority of scholars have agreed that reciting Al-Fatiha in every cycle of prescribed and voluntary prayers is obligatory for their validity. It is also an integral of the funeral prayer.
• Healing words
The special virtues of Al-Fatiha is what led Abu Said Al-Khudri to recite it as healing words without prior permission from the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and without being informed by him that it comprises healing words. When Abu Said told the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) of what he did, he not only did not censure him or consider his action an innovation, but accepted and confirmed his action and asked him: "How did you know it was of the words which heal?" [Bukhari and Muslim]. [In another narration], the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) told the Companions: "You were right" [Bukhari].
• A protection from evil
Although there were no legal texts specifying the merit of reciting of Al-Fatiha on certain occasions, it was reported that the Companions exhorted the people to do so. Asma Bint Abu Bakr (may God be pleased with them both) said: "Whoever reads Al-Fatiha, Al- Ikhlas, Al-Falaq and Al-Nas after performing the Friday prayer, will be protected [from evil] until the next Friday" [recorded by Ibn Abu Shaybah in his Musannaf].
• A means to bring blessings
Commencing any matter with Al-Fatiha is patterned after its order in the noble Quran. The word ‘fatiha’ means beginning and this is [precisely] the reason why the Surah was so called since it occurs at the beginning of the Quran. Therefore, reciting it at the inception of any matter is by way of seeking God’s guidance and support.
In his book Zad Al-Mi'ad, the Hanbali scholar, Ibn Al-Qayyim wrote on the virtues of Al-Fatiha: "[The attributes of Al-Fatiha]—Fatihat Al-Kitab [Opening of the Book], Um Al-Quran [the mother of the Quran], As-Saba Al-Mathani [the seven oft-repeated verses], Ash-Shifa At-Tam [the perfect cure], Ad-Dawa Al-Nafi [the useful treatment], Al-Ruqya At-Tama [the perfect healing], Muftah Al-Ghina wa Al-Falah [the key to richness and success], Hafizat Al-Quwah [the protective shield] and Dafiat Al-Ham wa Al-Gham wa Al-Khawf wa Al-Huzn [the relief from distress, fear and sorrow] are only actualized for a person who realizes its status, gives it its due right, is aware of the manner of its application for illness and seeking treatment through it and knows the secret of its potency. When some of the Companions realized these secrets, one of them read it over a person who was stung [by a scorpion] and he immediately recovered. The Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) asked them: "How did you know that it is a cure?"
A person who is granted success and insight will understand the mysteries of this Surah and what it comprises. It affirms monotheism; knowing the essence of God, His Names, Attributes, and decrees; establishes religious law; includes an acknowledgment of God’s right to being worshipped to the exception of everything else and His exclusive Lordship; absolute reliance on God and relegating all affairs to Him, the Disposer of all affairs to Whom belongs all praise and all that is good; professing our need for His help in guiding us which is the core of happiness both in this life and in the next; knowing the relevancy of its meanings to the fulfillment of our interests and for warding off evils of this world and the next; and knowing that the prosperous and perfect outcome of our lives and blessings are contingent upon following its meanings. This Surah is a remedy for the ailments of the mind and spirit; it opens the gates to abundant blessings and wards off evil. To realize this, a person must develop a sublime disposition and the faculty of reflection and must foster his faith."
A Means to Fulfilling Needs
Scholars have based their opinion on the permissibility of reading Al-Fatiha for fulfilling needs on the hadith narrated by Abu Huraira (may God be pleased with him) in which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: "God the Almighty says: 'I have divided the prayer into two halves between Me and My slave and My slave shall have what he asks for.' When the slave of God says, 'Praise be to God, the Lord of the Worlds', God the Almighty says, 'My slave has praised Me.' When the slave says, 'The All-Merciful, the Compassionate', God says, 'My slave has spoken well of Me'. When the slave says, 'Owner of the Day of Judgment', God says, 'My slave has glorified Me' [and in another narration 'My slave has submitted to Me']. When the slave says, 'You alone we worship and You alone we ask for help', God says, 'This is between Me and My slave, and for My slave is what he asks for.' When the slave says, 'Guide us to the straight Path, the Path of those whom You have blessed, not of those with whom You are angry, nor those who are in error,' God says, 'This is for My slave, and for My slave is what he asks for’ " [recorded by Muslim and others].
The righteous Predecessors followed this without censure. In his book Ath-Thawab, Abu Al-Sheikh reported that Atta (may God have mercy on him) said: "If you have a need, read Al-Fatiha in full and you will have [your need] fulfilled by the will of God." And in his book Al-Asrar Al-Marfua, Mulla Ali Al-Qari said: "This is the basis for the custom of reciting Al-Fatiha for fulfilling needs and achieving goals."
Established opinions of the four followed schools of jurisprudence
The Hanafi School
Hanafi scholars have maintained the recommendation of reading Al-Fatiha when sitting down for meals. In his book Bariqa Mahmuddiya , under the section on food etiquette, Al-Khadimi wrote: "As for reading Al-Fatiha, some scholars have reported the opinion of Ali Al-Qari in his book Sharh Mukhtasar Al-Ihya in which he said: ‘The common practice of reciting Al-Fatiha is recommended because it includes praising God and asking Him for guidance to the straight path.’ " According to the dominant opinion of the Hanafis, it is permissible to read Al-Fatiha after obligatory prayers. In his book Bariqa Mahmuddiya (vol.1, p.98), Al-Khadimi said: "There is a scholarly contention on reciting Al-Fatiha after obligatory prayers."
- In Miraj Ad-Diraya, it is considered an innovation though it is recommended because it has become a custom. It is therefore impermissible to prevent it.
- In Burhan Ad-Deen's collection of fatwas, it is disliked to read Al-Fatiha, silently or audibly, after obligatory prayers.
- In Al-Sadi's collection of fatwas, it is desirable [to read Al-Fatiha after obligatory prayers].
- From the collection of Fatawa Tatarkhaniya, Al-Quniya and Al-Ashbah, we read: “Reciting Al-Fatiha after obligatory prayers takes precedence over reciting traditional invocations made at their prescribed times. Among these are the numerous invocations which the master of mankind (may God’s peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have made at the conclusion of obligatory prayers."
- From Fusul Al-Asrushani, we read: "Reading Al-Fatiha takes precedence over the traditional invocations at their prescribed times."
Based on these citations, the preponderant opinion is its permissibility due to the great number of scholars who maintained it. An offensive innovation is that which is not based on evidence. Al-Fatiha teaches us the manner of supplicating God the Almighty and asking Him for help—it was revealed to show the best manner of making supplications. The best supplications are those that are made at the best times from among which are after the obligatory prayers. Thus, its permissibility is indisputable.
The Maliki School
The Malikis have maintained the permissibility of reciting Al-Fatiha when seeing someone off on a journey. In his commentary on Al-Sharh Al-Saghir, Al-Sawi said: "Sheikh Abd Al-Rahman At-Tajuri objected to reading Al-Fatiha when seeing someone off on a journey on the basis that it was not mentioned in the Sunnah. In response, Al-Ajhuri commented that it was mentioned in some Sunnah texts and is therefore permissible."