Knowing Allah through His beautiful names 9 – Al Fattah
The interconnected meanings of Al-Fattah
Al-Fattah is one of Allah Almighty’s names. It has different meanings, but its primary meaning is the Opener, or the One who opens things for you. It also has other meanings which we will look at. For instance, in the only ayah that Al-Fattah has been mentioned in the Quran, Al-Fattah means the Judge:
‘Say our Lord will bring us together, then He will judge between us in truth and He is the Knowing Judge.’ (34:26)
When you delve into the Arabic meaning of Al-Fattah, you find multiple meanings, depending on the use and context and structure of the sentence. It can also mean the Solver and the Victory Giver. However, the main two meanings of the names are the Opener and the Judge derived from the Arabic verb fattaha, meaning to open, used in the obvious example of opening the door – fattahal baab. And the word for key ‘miftaah’ is from that.
The verb fattaha appears in various places, for instance in Surat al Araf.
رَبَّنَا ٱفْتَحْ بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَ قَوْمِنَا بِٱلْحَقِّ وَأَنتَ خَيْرُ ٱلْفَـٰتِحِينَ ٨٩
Our Lord! Judge between us and our people with truth. You are the best of those who judge.” (7:89)
Here Allah Almighty, although the word iftaah means open, in this structure it means judge. Beautifully some scholars commented on this saying that here we see the depth of the meaning of Al-Fattah as He gives the solution to a problem, thereby unlocking the issue. When something is blocked, judgement opens and unblocks it by giving the solution. Thus we see the link between Fattah and judgement. This links further with fath being victory, as victory is success in resolving the issue.
Imam Al-Ghazali his book Al-Maqsid Al-Asna Fi Sharh Asma’ Allah Al-Husna commented that it is out of Allah’s care that everything that is locked will be opened, which is beautiful. Therefore when anything is locked, blocked and obstructed in your life, appeal to Allah Almighty to open it for you, using His name, Al Fattah: ‘Ya Fattah’, O Fattah.
Allah Almighty said to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in Surat al Fath:
إِنَّا فَتَحْنَا لَكَ فَتْحًۭا مُّبِينًۭا
‘We have given you an opening, this is a great clear opening.’ (48:1)
This is referring to Fattah Makkah, the Conquest of Makkah. The people of Makkah was were resisting the message of Islam, and the revelation and Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). They expelled him from Makkah rejecting his dawah and the word of Allah Almighty until Allah Almighty created the opening in Makkah for Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to bring Islam to the hearts of the people and their acceptance of the faith. It is also mentioned in the opening verse of Surat Nasr:
إذا جاء نصر الله والفتح
When the victory of Allah Almighty comes and the opening (110:1)
‘Fattah’ is opening and ‘fath’ is victory, so when Allah says in the ayah above idha ja’a nasrullaahi wal fath, the gates of Makkah were opened for Muhammad and he achieved great success.
Al-Qushayri said beautifully that the Arabs call the judge fattah because his judgement resolves disputes between two parties and also that Al-Fattah is the One who opens the doors and gates of rizq for you, which you cannot attain through your own intellect and efforts. He is the One who opens these doors for you. Then Qushayri says if you recognise that Al-Fattah is the one who judges between His servants, then be careful not to overstep the limits or treat anyone badly or commit any oppression towards anyone because Allah Almighty will be the Judge on the Day of Judgement and no one will be able to get away any wrongdoing.
He illustrates this point with a story: A father asked his son to memorise and report back to him everything he said that day. The son agreed; he tried his best to memorise everything he had said and report back to his dad. The next day his father told him to do the same thing. The son came back and said ‘Ask me anything else you want, but not this, this is torture.’ The father, in response, reminded his son that if he could not bear repeating back in detail what happened in one day of his life, what would the Day of Judgement be like, when he will have every single day of his entire life scrutinised – everything he said and did hour by hour, minute by minute, second by second? Standing before Allah Almighty with your records will be excruciating. A whole lifespan could be 70, 60, 80, 100 years all you will be accountable for every day of these years. The moral of the story is be careful what you say and do because you will stand before Allah Almighty and He will ask you about your actions.
The one who opens the gates of provision
وَلَوۡ أَنَّ أَهۡلَ ٱلۡقُرَىٰٓ ءَامَنُواْ وَٱتَّقَوۡاْ لَفَتَحۡنَا عَلَيۡهِم بَرَكَٰتٖ مِّنَ ٱلسَّمَآءِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضِ وَلَٰكِن كَذَّبُواْ فَأَخَذۡنَٰهُم بِمَا كَانُواْ يَكۡسِبُونَ
And if only the people of the cities had believed and were cautious, We would have opened upon them blessings from the heaven and the earth; but they denied [the messengers], so We seized them for what they were earning.” (7:96)
Here Allah Almighty made it clear that if you want Allah Almighty to open the gates of rizq and rahma for you, then you need to have imaan and taqwa of Allah Almighty – amanu wattaqow. Imaan is belief in Allah Almighty and taqwa of Allah Almighty means submission to Him.
In Surat Fatir, Allah Almighty says:
مَّا يَفۡتَحِ ٱللَّهُ لِلنَّاسِ مِن رَّحۡمَةٖ فَلَا مُمۡسِكَ لَهَاۖ
whatever mercy Allah Almighty unfolds for the people, none can withhold it. (35:2)
This ayah shows that rahma is in Allah Almighty’s Hands, not in peoples’ hands. It is a blessing that our sustenance and well-being are not dependent on human mercy, as human mercy is limited and not everyone may choose to show mercy to others.
The one who opens the gates of tests and trials
The second meaning of Al-Fattah is the One who opens the doors of tests through trials and tribulations and illnesses and sicknesses and losses, this that and the other. As Allah Almighty stated in Surat Al-Anam:
فَلَمَّا نَسُواْ مَا ذُكِّرُواْ بِهِۦ فَتَحۡنَا عَلَيۡهِمۡ أَبۡوَٰبَ كُلِّ شَيۡءٍ حَتَّىٰٓ إِذَا فَرِحُواْ بِمَآ أُوتُوٓاْ أَخَذۡنَٰهُم بَغۡتَةٗ فَإِذَا هُم مُّبۡلِسُونَ
Then when they disregarded what they were reminded of, We opened the gates of all things for them’ testing them.’ (6:44)
The one who opens Judgement
Whatever differences we have, Allah Almighty is the Judge in the dunya and in the akhirah, and Allah Almighty has called the Day of Judgement, Yawm ul-Fath, the Day of Opening because it’s the Day of Judgment. That day, the Day of Fath, those who disbelieve, will not be gain any benefit from imaan accepting imaan because it will be too late. They will have missed the boat:
قُلْ يَوْمَ ٱلْفَتْحِ لَا يَنفَعُ ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوٓا۟ إِيمَـٰنُهُمْ وَلَا هُمْ يُنظَرُونَ ٢٩
Say, ˹O Prophet,˺ “On the Day of Decision it will not benefit the disbelievers to believe then, nor will they be delayed ˹from punishment˺.” (32:29)
The one who inspires
Imam Qushayri mentioned something else regarding openings, we should know that Allah Almighty opens special blessings and special barakah for the heart and gives hearts special meanings. This is why we see many books with Fath in their title, for instance the commentary of Imam Hajar al Asqalaani on Sahih al-Bukhari, is called Fath ul Baari, The Opening of the Creator, indicating that it was inspired by Allah.
If you want to be inspired then say Ya Fattah; and if you want things to open for you then say Ya Fattah.
Have patience because Allah will resolve everything. Don’t be hasty
A deep insight Qushayri shares in his book on the Beautiful Names of Allah, At-Tahbeer is that if you know that Al-Fattah is the Judge, then be patient knowing that Allah Almighty will resolve your issues, and all your matters which are pending. Be patient and polite whilst you are waiting for His opening, His resolution and His solution.
In fact, we should always expect goodness, bounties and favours from Allah. Always have a good opinion of Allah Almighty. Otherwise it’s disastrous if you’re always thinking that what is coming will be bad, and you will be punished and you will not be able to do things. This negativity is bad for you. Instead, in your heart say ‘Allah Almighty will open the way for me. Allah Almighty will save me from this. Allah Almighty will facilitate the best for me. These are positive vibes and they will boost you.
Qushayri says you don’t be hasty. Wait. Because Allah Almighty is testing you in a particular timeframe, you cannot push it forward, just as you cannot delay it. You can ask Him and you can keep asking and Allah Almighty will facilitate what is good for you.
How do you emulate Al Fattah in your life?
Once you understand that Allah Almighty is the One who opens the gates – gates of rahmah, gates of rizq, gates of solutions, be a key of goodness. In the hadith, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) says there are among the servants of Allah Almighty those who are like keys for goodness:
Anas bin Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:
٢٢٨. عَنْ أَنَسِ بْنِ مَالِكٍ رَضِيَ اللّٰهُ عَنْهُ قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللّٰهِ صَلَّى اللّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ:
«إِنَّ مِنَ النَّاسِ مَفَاتِيحَ لِلْخَيْرِ مَغَالِيقَ لِلشَّرِّ وَإِنَّ مِنَ النَّاسِ مَفَاتِيحَ لِلشَّرِّ مَغَالِيقَ لِلْخَيْرِ فَطُوبَى لِمَنْ جَعَلَ اللّٰهُ مَفَاتِيحَ الْخَيْرِ عَلَى يَدَيْهِ وَوَيْلٌ لِمَنْ جَعَلَ اللّٰهُ مَفَاتِيحَ الشَّرِّ عَلَى يَدَيْهِ».
“There are people who are keys to what is good and locks to what is evil. There are also others who are keys to what is evil and locks to what is good. How happy are those to whom Allah has given them to be the keys of the good! Woe to those to whom Allah has given to be the keys of the evil!” (Ibn Majah, Bayhaqi in Shuab al Imaan)
There are some people in every community who are keys for goodness. Whenever someone needs anything, they know there is person in the community who will resolve it or point them to someone who can help. These are people who are keys for goodness. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) says there is ‘tooba’, good news for those who are keys of goodness. Unfortunately there are some people who are keys for evil. They open the gates of evil or lock the gates of goodness. There is bad news for those who are the lockers of goodness and openers of evil.
Reflect on Allah’s name Al Fattah to be among those who are keys for goodness and ask Allah Almighty in every matter you have to give you an opening and facilitate what is best for you. Openings are inspiration that comes to your heart, good things that come to your life and good people who come your way.
We ask Allah Almighty to enable us to live by this name and grant us openings from Allah Almighty and make us keys for goodness and locks for evil, Ameen.
Shaykh Haytham Tamim 20 June 2023 – Transcribed by S Jawaid
Major Principles 2 – Beautiful names
Major Principles 1 – Imaan
February 23, 2024
The reality behind the curtain: How the story of Musa and Al Khidr helps us bear the pain of Palestine
February 16, 2024
February 16, 2024