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Lessons from the 7 Most Recited Verses of the Quran

It’s called the opener, the prayer, and the mother of the Quran. The Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) called it the seven most recited verses. It is the lens through which the entire Quran should be viewed.

But even though Al-Fatihah is repeated several times a day in salat (prayer), how often do we stop to think about this chapter of the Quran?

I have to admit that I have been guilty of neglecting the Fatihah, rushing through prayer, making lists instead of keeping khushoo (focus), thinking about what I have to do next instead of what is coming in the next life.

It’s shameful, but I know you get it. If modern life has taught us anything, it is how to have a deficit of attention in everything we do. Life today seems to demand that we multitask at. all. times.

And when we approach prayer, we forget to disconnect from that million miles a minute mindset. But one way to focus more in salah, one way to get the most out of the mother of the Quran is to reflect on the lessons it has to offer in and outside of prayer.

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Half and Half, but All in All

The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:

Allah the exalted said, ‘I have divided the prayer (Surah Al Fatihah) into two halves between Me and My servant. A half of it is for Me and a half for My servant, and My servant shall acquire what he asked for. […]. (Sahih Muslim and Sunan An-Nisai)

In this prophetic tradition, Allah (SWT) tells us that half of these verses is the reciter’s praise of Allah and the other half is the reciter’s seeking help from Allah.

And when we take a look at the verses, we will find this to be true. But on a deeper level, this entire chapter is for the reciter. Even when Allah (SWT) is being praised, it is not Allah who benefits, it is the reciter.

Even when the reciter remembers how great his or her Lord is, it will never be God who gains anything from this. How could He? He is not in need of anything. Even in the division of these verses, Al Fatihah will always be entirely for us, for our benefit, for our success.

Our Impulse and God’s Mercy

In the name of Allah, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful. (Quran 1:1)

The Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful. (Quran 1:3)

In the only chapter that is obligated to be recited during prayer, in the chapter that the entire Quran should be viewed through, in a chapter that is only seven concise verses, God uses two of those verses to tells that He is the Entirely Merciful, and the Especially Merciful.

Allah (SWT) does not stutter. He does not repeat Himself for His own benefit. He repeats things to emphasize something for us. Why does this matter when it comes to Allah’s Mercy? To me it seems to matter because of how the human being reacts when he has to face an authority for his crime.

Think of the child who runs and hides from his parent when he has broken something. Even as adults, our impulse is to avoid authority when we know we have done something wrong. It is our default to want to avoid someone’s wrath or judgment.

But Allah (SWT), as the supreme authority, emphasizes His mercy. He knows it is our impulse to run from an authority when we have done wrong. But He asks us to do the opposite, to return to Him when we make mistakes, as the human being will do. And it is with Him that we will find mercy.

If we return to Allah even when we have disobeyed Him, even when it is our impulse to run away, we will always find His love. As Allah (SWT) tells us in the next chapter:

{Surely, Allah loves those who repent and those who purify themselves.} (Quran 2:222)

Lord of the Worlds

{[All] praise is [due] to Allah, Lord of the Worlds} (Quran 1:2)

This verse makes me feel really small. But honestly that not a bad thing for the human ego.

We get so wrapped up in thinking we are all that matters. And we go about our day to day and think that our own little perspective of a small fragment of time in a small place in the vast creation is so very important. We can be so dramatic.

But when we look at the universe (possibly universes) and all that we know it contains and the vast majority of what we can only imagine of what it contains, we realize we are not that special or even important. We are a blip in time with an infinitesimally small amount of knowledge and ability.

When we compare our existence and capacity to that of the Lord of all of this, we can start to imagine our place. But even still, The Creator of all things, the Master and Controller of every single thing wants good for us.

He sent us guidance to map the safest, fastest course back to Him where we will find sublime peace and joy. And even though we stumble along the way, He shows us intense Mercy. If all that Allah has afforded us despite our weakness and unimportance isn’t worthy of praise, then nothing, utterly and absolutely nothing is.

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About Theresa Corbin
Theresa Corbin is the author of The Islamic, Adult Coloring Book and co-author of The New Muslim’s Field Guide. Corbin is a French-creole American and Muslimah who converted in 2001. She holds a BA in English Lit and is a writer, editor, and graphic artist who focuses on themes of conversion to Islam, Islamophobia, women's issues, and bridging gaps between peoples of different faiths and cultures. She is a regular contributor for and Al Jumuah magazine. Her work has also been featured on CNN and Washington Post, among other publications. Visit her blog, islamwich, where she discusses the intersection of culture and religion.