by Murshid F. A. Ali ElSenossi

In the Name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful.


It is difficult to explain even basic Islam to people who do not want to listen or read and that goes for Muslim and non-Muslim alike. And when you touch on the most powerful, luminous, celestial, and divine and Holy Book as the Holy Qur'an, which contains the words of the Merciful and Loving Allah, be aware, because the Holy Qur'an contains the teaching of 124,000 Prophets and Messengers of Allah to humanity.

As Allah has said "Nothing have we omitted from the Book, and they (all) shall be gathered to their Lord in the end" (The Cattle 6:38).

In his book, The Jewels of the Qur'an, Imam al Ghazali puts it this way:

"The Qur'an is like an ocean which covers various types of jewels and valuables.

"Do they not ponder over the Qur'an in order to understand its deep meaning, or is it that their hearts are locked up from within?"(Qur'an 47:24)

In the name of God, Most Gracious, Ever Merciful

After mentioning the name of God, I glorify Him with His praise which should constitute the beginning of every book. May His blessings be upon His messengers! - A prayer which should form the completion of every discourse.

I then wish to rouse you from your sleep, oh you who recite the Qur'an to a great length, who take its study as an occupation, and who imbibe some of its outward meanings and sentences. How long will you ramble on the shore of the ocean, closing your eyes to the wonders of the meanings of the Qur'an? Was it not your duty to sail to the midst of the fathomless ocean of these meanings in order to see their wonders, to travel to their islands in order to gather their best produce, and to dive into their depths so that you might become rich by obtaining their jewels? Do you not feel ashamed of being deprived of their pearls and jewels by your persistence in looking at their shores and outward appearances?
Has it not come to your knowledge that the Qur'an is [like] an ocean and that it is from the Qur'an that the sciences of the ancients and the moderns branch off, just as rivers and brooks branch off from the shores of an ocean? Why do you not emulate those people who waded through their waves and thus gained red brimstone, dived into their depths and thus drew out red corundum, shining pearls and green chrysolite, travelled along their coasts and thus gathered grey ambergris and fresh blooming aloe-wood, and became attached to their islands and thus derived from their animals the greatest antidote and the strongest musk? Take notice that, fulfilling the duty of [Islamic] brotherhood and hoping the blessing of your prayer to God, I now wish to guide you to the manner of the journey of these people, of their diving and of their swimming.

The Chapter of Opening is the Key to all doors of Paradise
At this point we [should like to] make you aware of a subtle matter. So we say that this sura (chapter) is the opening of the Book [the Qur'an] and the key to Paradise. It is the key only because the doors of Paradise are eight, and the meanings of the Chapter of Opening [too] amount to eight. So know with certainty that each of these is a key to one of the doors of Paradise. This is testified to by Tradition.

If you are such a one whose mind by chance does not have a belief in this [that the Sura of Opening is the key to Paradise] and yet you seek to understand the relationship [between the two], then abandon what you understood about the outward aspect of Paradise. [Should you do so] it will not be hidden from you that each meaning [of the Sura of Opening] will open the door of one of the gardens of gnosis (ma'rifa), as we have indicated in [our discussion of] the signs of God's mercy (may He be exalted!), the wonders of His works, and so on. Do not imagine that the repose of a gnostic [which proceeds] from delight in the watery meadows of gnosis and its gardens is less than the repose of the one who will enter the Paradise which he knows and in which he will satisfy his desires for food, drink and sex.

How can they be equal? On the contrary, it cannot be denied that among the gnostics there may be one whose desire for opening the door of gnosis in order to behold the kingdom of the heavens and the earth and the glory of their Creator and Disposer is more intense than his desire for women, food and clothing. How cannot the former be predominating in the discerning gnostic when it is shared with the angels in the highest Paradise, since they have no enjoyment in food, drink, women and clothing? Perhaps the enjoyment of animals in food, drink and copulation exceeds the enjoyment of men.

If you consider the sharing with animals and their pleasures as more necessary to seek than sharing with the angels in their joy and delight in the study of the beauty of Lordly Excellency, then how great are your error, ignorance and stupidity, and how lowly is your ambition! Your worth is in accordance with the worth of your ambition.

As to the gnostic, when eight of the doors of the Paradise of gnosis are opened to him and he [enters and] secludes himself in it, he will never pay heed to the Paradise of the fools, since most of the people of Paradise are fools and the 'Illiyyun are indeed the possessors of intelligence, as is held in a Tradition.

0h, you who fall short [of the highest stage], your ambition for pleasures is also excessive and oscillating like that of animals! Do not deny that stages in Paradise are obtained by different kinds of gnosis. If the watery meadows of gnosis do not themselves deserve to be named Paradise, they [at least] deserve to be the means of obtainment of Paradise, and thus they will be the key to Paradise. Do not, therefore, deny that in the Sura of Opening are to be found the keys to all doors of Paradise".

Everyone who knows of the last Universal Teaching will be familiar with the opening Chapter of the Holy Qur'an, (Al Fatihah) known as the Mother of the Qur'an. This Chapter is also known as the 'seven oft-repeated verses' and refers to the seven stages of the self.

Ummul Kitab, the Mother of the Book, Al Fatihah, the first chapter of the Holy Qur'an. It is known by all of these names. This is not intended to be a commentary on the Holy Qur'an, but a Divine taste of how 7 verses can expand our consciousness.

What is in the Holy Book (the Qur'an), is detailed, complete, beyond doubt - the clear book which contains everything, but the Fatihah, the first 'Mother of the Book' is the highly concentrated and complete form of the Holy Qur'an. The Fatihah is one of the names and the meanings that are indicated by the phrase 'Ummul Kitab', the Mother of the Book. The Fatihah contains everything that is in the Holy Qur'an in condensed form.

Ummul Kitab = the Essence of the Creative Truth (Al Haqq). This is the Mother of the Book of the detailed realities of the Divinity, Who is All Knowing in every minute detail in His knowledge.

In our realm, Ummul Kitab is the first chapter of the Holy Qur'an. In the higher realm, Ummul Kitab is the Essence of Allah. (The Holy Qur'an has four directions, inward, outward, up and down).

The Fatihah is the Mother of the Book, which is the Holy Qur'an. Everything in the Holy Book is detailed in the Fatihah, in condensed form. For this reason, because it contains all that has been detailed in the Holy Qur'an, it was given the name Ummul Kitab, the Mother of the Book.

What is, in reality, the Ummul Kitab? It is the dot underneath the 'Ba' of 'Bismillah'. The opening is 'By the Name of Allah'. The 'Ba' in the 'Bismillah' is in the dot - everything is connected to it so it is also the Mother of the Book and all the Divine Books have been outlined in that letter, and the letter is in the dot of the 'Ba'.

"He it is Who has sent down to thee the Book: In it are verses basic or fundamental (of established meaning); they are the foundation of the Book: others are allegorical. But those in whose hearts is perversity follow the part thereof that is allegorical, seeking discord, and searching for its hidden meanings, but no one knows its hidden meanings except Allah. And those who are firmly grounded in knowledge say:

"We believe in the Book; the whole of it is from our Lord:" and none will grasp the Message except men of understanding" (The family of Imran 3:7).

"Allah doth blot out or confirm what He pleaseth: with Him is the Mother of the Book" (The Thunder 13:39).

"And verily, it is in the Mother of the Book, in Our Presence, high (in dignity), full of wisdom" (Gold Ornaments 43:4).

One of the great commentaries on the Holy Qur'an by Ibn Abbas with regards to the Mother of the Book refers to it as the 'Lawh al Mahfuz' (The Preserved Tablet). As for the book itself, it is the Holy Qur'an. In this case, when the book referred to is the Holy Qur'an, Al Fatihah becomes the Mother of the Qur'an, or as we have said before, the Mother of the Book.

The Great Sufi Master, Al Hassan al Basri, may Allah be pleased with him, in explaining the first chapter of the Holy Qur'an, has said 'Allah Most High has revealed 104 heavenly books for the guidance of the creations. Among them, there are four, the Torah, the New Testament, the Psalms of David and the Criterion. The first three He merged into the Criterion, and then He put all of the detailed Divine knowledge in the detailed Qur'an. Allah has condensed all of the knowledge of the details into the opening chapter of the book. Anyone who knows the interpretations will be like the one who has the knowledge of all the Divine books that have been revealed to humanity. Whoever reads Al Fatihah (Ummul Kitab) it is like he has read the Torah, the New Testament, the Psalms of David and the Criterion' ('The Criterion' is also one of the Names of the Holy Qur'an).

Sayyidina Ali, may Allah honour his face, the son in law, the cousin and the fourth successor of the Holy ProphetSalutations on The Prophet has said "Moses, may peace be upon him, has made 70 volumes of commentary on the Torah. If the Holy ProphetSalutations on The Prophet gave his permission, I would have loaded 70 camels with commentary on Al Fatihah (Ummul Kitab)".

Because of this state of consciousness, the great People of Allah enter the state of perfection, which is the station of "Worship Allah like you see Him, and if you cannot see Him, be certain that He sees you".

Insha'Allah we will now give a small glimpse of why Al Fatihah contains everything that is contained in the Holy Qur'an.

With regards to Divinity, it is in the saying of Allah: "In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful, Most Compassionate, All Praise be to Allah, the Lord of all the worlds," This explains Divinity.

With regards to the hereafter, it is in the saying of Allah: "Master of the Day of Judgement".

With regards to all the exoteric spiritual practices (the Law), this is in the saying of Allah: "It is You alone that we worship" and the inward of the self (the esoteric) is contained in "And it is You alone that we rely upon".

With regards to all previous prophecies and guidance, it is in: "Guide us to the straight path". You have to know the way of the prophets and messengers.

As for narratives and history and the news of those who have gone before us; those who enter a state of bliss and those who have missed the way; it is: "The path of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace, not the Path of those who earn Your anger nor of those who go astray."

Divine Knowledge, as the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, has said, is in three categories: knowledge, secrets and stations. The religion (deen) is in three levels, Submission, Faith and Perfection. Islam, Iman and Ihsan.

1) "Islam is to declare that there is no god, only Allah, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah; to say the prayers, to pay zakat, to fast during Ramadan and to perform the Pilgrimage, if one is able". (Saying of the Holy Prophet Muhammad).

The desert Arabs say, "We believe." [amana] Say, "Ye believe not, but rather say 'we submit' [aslama] for the faith [iman] hath not yet entered into your hearts" (The Inner Apartments 49:14).

2) "Iman is to believe in Allah, His angels, His Books, His Messengers, fate and the Hereafter" (Saying of the Holy Prophet).

"Each one [of the men of faith] believeth in Allah, His angels, His books, and His Messengers"(The Cow 2:285).
3) "Ihsan is to worship Allah like you see Him, and though you do not see Him, be certain that He sees you" (Saying of the Holy Prophet).

"Verily, in the Messenger of Allah, ye have a beautiful example..." (The Confederates 33:21).

"Behold! His Lord said to him [Ibrahim]: "Surrender! (aslim)", he said: "I have surrendered (aslamtu) to the Lord of the Worlds""(The Cow 2:131).

With regards to the three categories of knowledge, the Holy ProphetSalutations on The Prophet also said "What I say is Shari'ah, what I do is Tariqa and my inner state is Haqiqah". The Law, the Way and the Realities. This can also be expressed as The World of Manifestations, The Angelic, Heavenly Realm and The World of Invincibility, (Al Mulk, Al Malakut and Al Jabarut).

In the true words of our Beloved Holy Prophet (peace be upon him), the people of knowledge are the inheritors of the Prophets. And Allah speaks the truth and He guides to the Straight Path.