Today we will continue with discussing the meanings of al-Fatiha, the surah(chapter) we must recite in every prayer. As we mentioned previously, our purpose is to be truly devoted to Allah subhana wa ta’ala (Glory be unto Him) in our prayer and to have His words move our hearts. This takes more than just understanding the basic gist of what we are reciting, but it also requires reflecting on their meanings.
We discussed how Allah (swt) placed the verse Ar-Rahman Ar-Raheem (the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful) just before telling us that He is “Sovereign of the Day of Recompense”- this is so we know that the One who is the Sovereign of that day is the Most Merciful. Although the translation I have used interprets “Maalik” as “Sovereign,” in Arabic, the meaning slightly differs depending on the recitation. The most popular recitation reads:
(Maaliki yawm al-deen)
But according to another sound recitation, it is read as:
(Maliki yawm al-deen)
These are both valid ways of reciting it, and they are both from Allah’s Names; however, there are subtle differences between Maalik and Malik. Maalik means a possessor, while Malik means that you have sovereignty over something and can do with it as you wish. A person can be a maalik and not a malik, or the other way around; for example, a President is sovereign over a country and has power to act with the resources of that country, but after 4 or 8 years he does not have his post anymore. He was malik, but not a maalik because he did not have permanent possession over those things he had power over. Or conversely, you could have a king or a queen, whose reign over a country is inherited from generation to generation, but like in the United Kingdom for example, they have no power to act or to make decisions (the power to act is with the Prime Minister). So this king can be considered a maalik, but not a malik in the true sense of the meaning.
Allah (swt) is both Maalik and Malik. He fully controls and has ownership over the Day of Judgment and what occurs therein.
The Day of Recompense
When we recite,
“Sovereign of the Day of Recompense” (Qur’an 1:4).
We seldom reflect over the power of these words and what they signify. The Day of Recompense is the Day of Judgment, the day in which we will all return to our Lord to be judged for our time here on earth. Why does Allah (swt) emphasize this when He has already told us that He is the Lord of the Worlds, which includes the Day of Judgment? To remind us of our eventual return, and to show us that all possessions and power that people have in this world will fade away and nothing will remain except His Power over all things. On that day we will not even be able to utter a word unless He has given us permission, as Allah (swt) says:
“The Day that the Spirit and the angels will stand in rows, they will not speak except for one whom the Most Merciful permits, and he will say what is correct” (Qur’an 78:38).
No one will even be able to intercede unless He allows them:
“Who is it that can intercede with Him except by His permission?” (Qur’an 2:255).
We must also know that the Day of Judgment is closer than we think. Al-Qurtubi stated that for every person who dies, his personal Day of Judgment has already begun. No one can avoid this. If anybody had been able to bypass the process it would have been the beloved Prophet (ﷺ). But even as the Prophet (ﷺ) was dying, he wiped some water over his face and said:
“There is nothing worth of worship but Allah; surely death has its agonies” (Bukhari).
The scenario on that day
We all know the destruction that will come on the Day of Judgment. Allah (swt) tells us:
“When the sun is wrapped up [in darkness], and when the stars fall, dispersing, and when the mountains are removed, and when full-term she-camels are neglected, and when the wild beasts are gathered, and when the seas are filled with flame…” (Qur’an, 81:1-6).
To bring the point home, we can look at the numerous videos that show the destruction caused by storms, earthquakes, and volcanoes. This is nothing compared to what will happen on that day.
We will come out of our graves, and those who did not believe will say,
“They will say, ‘O woe to us! Who has raised us up from our sleeping place?’ [The reply will be], ‘This is what the Most Merciful had promised, and the messengers told the truth’” (Qur’an, 36:52).
On that day the sun will be brought closer, and everybody will be sweating such that the sweat of some people will reach their chins. The only people safe will be the seven types of people for whom Allah promised His shade. Everyone else will be in absolute terror, until suddenly
“And your Lord has come and the angels, rank upon rank” (Qur’an, 89:22).
And Allah’s light will fill up the skies,
“That Day, everyone will follow [the call of] the Caller [with] no deviation therefrom, and [all] voices will be stilled before the Most Merciful, so you will not hear except a whisper [of footsteps]” (Qur’an 20:108).
Who is going to be saved on that day?
The answer can be found in Surat al-Fatiha, in the following verse:
“It is You we worship and You we ask for help” (Qur’an 1:5).
“We had certainly sent Noah to his people, and he said, “O my people, worship Allah ; you have no deity other than Him. Indeed, I fear for you the punishment of a tremendous Day” (Qur’an 7:59).
Thus worshiping Allah, the Sovereign of the Day of Recompense, will save us from the punishment of that day, insha’Allah. When we recite these words, we should remember how Allah (swt) is the Maalik and the Malik, that we will return to Him, and that no one can save us on the day except Him.
May Allah grant us khushoo’ (concentration) in our prayers. Ameen.