This Surah is called Al-Fatihah, that is, the Opener of the Book, the Surah with which prayers are begun. It is also called, Umm Al-Kitab (the Mother of the Book), according to the majority of the scholars. In an authentic Hadith recorded by At-Tirmidhi, who graded it Sahih, Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said,
«الْحَمْدُ للهِ رَبَ الْعَالَمِينَ أُمُّ الْقُرْآنِ وَأُمُّ الْكِتَابِ وَالسَّبْعُ الْمَثَانِي وَالْقُرْآنُ الْعَظِيمُ»
(Al-Hamdu lillahi Rabbil-`Alamin is the Mother of the Qur'an, the Mother of the Book, and the seven repeated Ayat of the Glorious Qur'an.)
It is also called Al-Hamd and As-Salah, because the Prophet said that his Lord said,
«قَسَمْتُ الصَّلَاةَ بَيْنِي وَبَيْنَ عَبْدِي نِصْفَيْنِ، فَإِذَا قَالَ الْعَبْدُ:الْحَمْدُدِلله رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ، قَالَ اللهُ: حَمِدَنِي عَبْدِي»
(`The prayer (i.e., Al-Fatihah) is divided into two halves between Me and My servants.' When the servant says, `All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of existence,' Allah says, 'My servant has praised Me.')
Al-Fatihah was called the Salah, because reciting it is a condition for the correctness of Salah - the prayer. Al-Fatihah was also called Ash-Shifa' (the Cure).
It is also called Ar-Ruqyah (remedy), since in the Sahih, there is the narration of Abu Sa`id telling the the story of the Companion who used Al-Fatihah as a remedy for the tribal chief who was poisoned. Later, the Messenger of Allah said to a Companion,
«وَمَا يُدْرِيكَ أَنَّهَا رُقْيَةٌ»
(How did you know that it is a Ruqyah)
Al-Fatihah was revealed in Makkah as Ibn `Abbas, Qatadah and Abu Al-`Aliyah stated. Allah said,
﴿وَلَقَدْ ءاتَيْنَـكَ سَبْعًا مِّنَ الْمَثَانِي﴾
(And indeed, We have bestowed upon you the seven Mathani) (seven repeatedly recited verses), (i.e. Surat Al-Fatihah) (15:87). Allah knows best.
-Tafsir Ibn Kathir
Narrated Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri: While we were on one of our journeys, we dismounted at a place where a slave girl came and said, "The chief of this tribe has been stung by a scorpion and our men are not present; is there anybody among you who can treat him (by reciting something)?" Then one of our men went along with her though we did not think that he knew any such treatment. But he treated the chief by reciting something, and the sick man recovered whereupon he gave him thirty sheep and gave us milk to drink (as a reward). When he returned, we asked our friend, "Did you know how to treat with the recitation of something?" He said, "No, but I treated him only with the recitation of the Mother of the Book (i.e., Al-Fatiha)." We said, "Do not say anything (about it) till we reach or ask the Prophet (ﷺ) so when we reached Medina, we mentioned that to the Prophet (in order to know whether the sheep which we had taken were lawful to take or not). The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "How did he come to know that it (Al-Fatiha) could be used for treatment? Distribute your reward and assign for me one share thereof as well."
Ibn Al Qayyim said:
It (Al Fatiha) is the easiest remedy, and if the servant has perfected using Surat al-Fatiha as a treatment, he would see the most amazing results in healing. I had spent some time in Mecca and was stricken with a number of sicknesses, and I couldn’t find any doctors or medication. So I used to treat myself with Surat al-Fatiha, and I would see the most amazing results. I used to prescribe this to anyone who complained of pain, and many of them would be cured quickly.
Spiritual Disease and It's Cure, pg. 8
The Reason it is Called Umm Al-Kitab
In the beginning of the Book of Tafsir, in his Sahih, Al-Bukhari said; "It is called Umm Al-Kitab, because the Qur'an starts with it and because the prayer is started by reciting it.'' It was also said that it is called Umm Al-Kitab, because it contains the meanings of the entire Qur'an. Ibn Jarir said, "The Arabs call every comprehensive matter that contains several specific areas an Umm. For instance, they call the skin that surrounds the brain, Umm Ar-Ra's. They also call the flag that gathers the ranks of the army an Umm.'' He also said, "Makkah was called Umm Al-Qura, (the Mother of the Villages) because it is the grandest and the leader of all villages. It was also said that the earth was made starting from Makkah.'' Further, Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Hurayrah narrated about Umm Al-Qur'an that the Prophet said, «هِيَ أُمُّ الْقُرْآنِ وَهِيَ السَّبْعُ الْمَثَانِي وَهِيَ الْقُرْآنُ الْعَظِيمُ» (It is Umm Al-Qur'an, the seven repeated (verses) and the Glorious Qur'an.) Also, Abu Ja`far, Muhammad bin Jarir At-Tabari recorded Abu Hurayrah saying that the Messenger of Allah said about Al-Fatihah, «هِيَ أُمُّ الْقُرْآنِ وَهِيَ فَاتِحَةُ الْكِتَابِ وَهِيَ السَّبْعُ الْمَثَانِي» (It is Umm Al-Qur'an, Al-Fatihah of the Book (the Opener of the Qur'an) and the seven repeated (verses).)
Tafsir Ibn Kathir
The results of a person's negative upbringing can have dire effects on society. We live in a time that there are many adults who are actually children in their emotional age. This often leads to social ills like fornication, the inability to form and maintain lasting relationships, poor health, and most importantly- lack of awareness (Taqwa) of Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى.
When a child is reared in a negative environment by caregivers who fail to demonstrate the true practice of Islam (i.e. the way The Prophet سلى الله علىه و سلم and his companions practiced) they become lost in their attempts to "understand" the world. Further, when traumatic events happen, and child is left to themselves to figure things out, they may become "stuck". In this circumstance the child body grows yet mentally and emotionally they remain unchanged.
Ibnul-Qayyim (رَحِمَهُ ٱللّٰ, d. 752H) stated,
"Whoever pays no attention to teaching his child that which will benefit him and he leaves him to waste away without care then he is extremely sinful. Most children are corrupted (and led to failure) due to their parents. They pay no attention to them and leave off teaching them the obligations of the religion and the Sunan. So they ruin them whilst they are still children. And they (the children) are not able to benefit themselves and their parents do not benefit them."
[Tuhfatul-Mawdood fee Ahkaamil-Mawlood, p.80]
This is especially true in the times in which we live. Today there is a generation of many wounded men and women who are angry at the one who they wanted guidance from the most and that is- The Mother.
Many Muslims, those born into Muslim homes and reverts, come from homes like this. What is unfortunate is that even with the guidance of Islam some psychological factors are so deeply repressed in patterns of behavior that a person may not even know that they are silently suffering due to childhood traumas.
Allah says in The Qur'an:
۞ وَقَضَىٰ رَبُّكَ أَلَّا تَعْبُدُوٓا۟ إِلَّآ إِيَّاهُ وَبِٱلْوَٰلِدَيْنِ إِحْسَـٰنًا ۚ إِمَّا يَبْلُغَنَّ عِندَكَ ٱلْكِبَرَ أَحَدُهُمَآ أَوْ كِلَاهُمَا فَلَا تَقُل لَّهُمَآ أُفٍّۢ وَلَا تَنْهَرْهُمَا وَقُل لَّهُمَا قَوْلًۭا كَرِيمًۭا
Thy Lord hath decreed, that ye worship none save Him, and (that ye show) kindness to parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age with thee, say not "Fie" unto them nor repulse them, but speak unto them a gracious word.
Surah Al-Isra, 17:23
A fundamental rules of Islam is to honor and respect your parents. This is especially true for the Mother as Jennah lies under her feet.
Mu’awiyah ibn Jahima reported:
Jahima came to the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and he said, “O Messenger of Allah, I intend to join the expedition and I seek your counsel.” The Prophet said, “Do you have a mother?” He said yes. The Prophet said, “Stay with her, for Paradise is beneath her feet.”
Sunan al-Nasā’ī 3104
But how does a person who was deeply wounded by their mother truly heal so that they may sincerely uphold these tenants of Islam with their heart and not just their actions?
The answer is in forgiveness.
It is also in understanding your guidance to Islam was due to your circumstance. If a person would truly appreciate this fact, it would be enough motivation to forgive and have immense Mercy on the one that caused harm.
Healing and success in this matter can only be achieved through repeatedly turning to the womb with respect and Mercy.
Abu Huraira reported:
The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Verily, Allah made the creation and when he finished, the womb said: In this place, I seek refuge in you from those who sever me. Allah said: Are you not pleased that I keep good relations with those who are good to you and I will cut off whoever severs relations with you? The womb said: Yes, my Lord. Allah said: Thus, you will have it.” Then, the Prophet said, “Recite the verse if you wish: Will you then, if you were given authority, spread corruption in the land and sever your family ties?” (47:22)
Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 5641, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2554
We must learn to reverence the womb that bore us despite the conditions that shaped us.
We have so many beautiful miracles from the book of Allah namely, Umm Al-Kitab. How divine is it that this short, oft-repeated Surah, contains a complete healing for us! So much healing yet such a vast book!
Mothers, who are the children first teachers, should carry the Qur'an in her heart and exemplify it [The Qur'an] in her actions. Children will naturally search for understanding, explanations, and reasonings for life events from their Mothers who are [in most cases] more accessible than their Fathers. And so, the Mother should be a source of the vastness of The Qur'an and a bearer of light for the home.
It is unfortunate and very hurtful for a child when they cannot find these things (knowledge, wisdom, and understanding) from their mothers. It leaves the child feeling lost, confused, and ultimately angry.
Despite not having found the qualities of guidance in The Mother, a person in this circumstance must submit to Allah's decree. Perhaps through the pain of not having guidance from the one you wanted it from the most (the Mother) has led to seeking guidance from you need it from the most and that is Allah. One must realize that The Mother contains The Womb or "rahim" (i.e. mercy). Every mother, despite her being guided or not, has this quality of mercy because her womb is connected to the throne of Allah.
The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The bond of family is suspended from the Throne and it says: Whoever upholds me, Allah will uphold him. Whoever severs me, Allah will sever him.”
Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 5643, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2555
No matter the circumstance, Allah sends much good for mankind through the wombs of The Mother.
Allah says in the Qur'an:
وَعَاشِرُوهُنَّ بِٱلْمَعْرُوفِ ۚ فَإِن كَرِهْتُمُوهُنَّ فَعَسَىٰٓ أَن تَكْرَهُوا۟ شَيْـًۭٔا وَيَجْعَلَ ٱللَّهُ فِيهِ خَيْرًۭا كَثِيرًۭا
"And live with them honorably. If you dislike them, it may be that you dislike a thing and Allah brings through it a great deal of good."
Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Surah An-Nisa, 4:19
Though the advice in this Ayah is in reference to a man and his wife, we can apply this excellent standard to character to our relationship with our Mothers who are most deserving of our good character. Despite the circumstance, one must train the eye and most importantly the heart to see the good that comes forth from The Womb. Further, Allah must be praised as its a bounty flowing forth from Him.
As we seek to heal with Umm Al-Kitab we should also seek healing with our own Umm's (Mothers). For in that endeavor there is a cure for the hearts and a great reward.
May Allah Grant us Tawfeeq. Ameen.
Authors Note: Although the topics of "strained" parental / child relationships are difficult to discuss, due to the state of affairs it has become necessary to remind the believers with a message that is represents the true condition of mankind. Though hurtful and unimaginable to some, especially those living in Muslim countries who have been reared upon Islam and good manners towards the parent, these issues are real and must be addressed to help the Muslim see the path of correct action.