Analysing Al Fatiha in 5 minutes

“Allah must have given up on me! I forgot how to recite Al Fatihah, nobody forgets how to recite Al- fatihah”. That was the logic given to me by a friend when asked how he accomplished an overnight U-turn.

He made a full transformation, from getting high in nightclubs to reading the Quran in the mosque. That is the kind of connection that Muslim have with this amazing surah, regardless whether they are practicing, seasonal or just passport Muslim. 

So today we are going to take a word from the Surah Fatiha and analyse it.  You already know how to analyse the phrase Alhamdu in the Miracle of Alhamdulillah. So now we are going to look at Rabbil Alamin. Now the word Rabb is often translated either as Lord or Sustainer. 

Even if you say the word Rabb means Lord and Sustainer, that translation is still incomplete and does not do justice to the Arabic word Rabb. 

Rabb is not Lord

The word Rabb if you understand in Arabic you will automatically know how your relationship with Allah should be. Now let’s look at the word Rabb as explained by Ustadh Nouman Khan in one of his lectures on Bayyinah tv.

When I first understood the word Rabb and compared it with the usual translation. It is almost like an insult. It is like you achieve something that nobody in the entire world can accomplish but the response that you get is “so what”? This is not, because the translators of the Quran did a bad job but our understanding of a word changes through time. 

The meaning of the word Rabb

You know that the Arabic word hamd means at least both praise and thanks, the word Rabb is much more comprehensive. There are at least 5 characteristics combined into this single three letter word. 

The word Rabb in Arabic means all the characteristics listed below

Al Malik –The Owner

The owner is somebody who owns something, he is the possessor of all things. You might think this is the highest possession. But it is not enough and the word alone is not enough to describe our creator.  You’ll see why in just a moment.

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As sayyid- Someone who is in charge

The word Rabb also means As sayyid which means someone is in charge. You might own a property, but when you rent it out you no longer have total control of the property. But with Rab He has both control and ownership. Not just that because both of these words Al Malik As sayyid are nouns. It is permanent. Allah as a Rab has complete ownership over you and has control over what you do all the time.

Al Qayyim- Maintainer

The word Rab also includes maintainer. You can’t grow, your basic needs are not taken care of. What if your heart stops beating. Without this quality we all would cease to exist. It is the thing that we usually take for granted. Like our ability to see, hear and other senses. They don’t magically happen, there is a power that makes sure everything is running smoothly. 

Al Murrabi -Ensure Growth

The word Rabb also includes the characteristics of Al Murrabi. You might have owned a land and have full control over it but you might not be able to take care of it. You don’t have the time to create a garden on it, or make sure that it is neat and tidy. Rabb on the other hand includes the characteristics of Al Murrabi, someone who is always there for you to take care of you and most importantly to ensure that you grow. 

If you understand this, when bad things happen to you, you’ll be happy instead of sad (easier said than done)  because you are being mentored by your creator. 

Al Mu’nim –  Generous

This characteristic of Rabb demonstrates the relationship between us and our Rabb. What do we mean by generous? Somebody is generous if he gives you gifts. Gifts are not something you earn, entitled to or deserve. It is given purely out of generosity.So our Rab don’t owe us anything. Even if something is taken away from us we do not have the right to get upset because it was not ours in the first place.

All these five qualities are compressed into one arabic word. So there is no possible way that a translation like ‘Lord’ or ‘Sustainer’ can do justice to the word. The word alone bearing in mind all the above qualities you can’t help feeling that Rab is someone deserving of your worship and total submission. 

Disclaimer: I am just sharing what I learn from Bayyinah TV. I am not an expert, I am sharing what I understand as a student. So this article should not be treated or quoted as sources of fiqh.

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