Sūrat al-Fatḥ (Part 1)
Part 1 of observations on the coherence, structure, and organization of Sūrat al-Fatḥ
Sūrat al-Fatḥ (The Triumph) is best known for being revealed during the Messenger and his companions’ return from Makkah during their failed attempt at making ‘umrah (the minor pilgrimage). Though they did not succeed at visiting the Kaʿbah, the Muslims were able to negotiate a truce with the disbelievers, better known as the Treaty of Ḥudaybiyyah1.
This sūrah was revealed all at once to inform the Muslims of how great a victory they had just secured through their treaty - a treaty which would pave the way for an unprecedented spreading of the religion around Arabia.
When observed on a macro-level2, the sūrah appears to be in a ring structure as depicted below:
[A/A’] - The sūrah begins with Allah ﷻ informing the dejected Muslim group that they had indeed been granted a clear triumph, without spelling out the details of said victory. In addition to this victory, the Muslims were also promised forgiveness. The sūrah then ends on the same note, with Allah ﷻ explaining what He meant by “victory” and praises the Messenger ﷺ and companions for their resolve. Because of their belief and good actions Allah ﷻ again promises them forgiveness.
[B/B’] - [B] begins with mention of Allah ﷻ sending his tranquility “fī (into)” the hearts of the believers. The corresponding section speaks of Allah’s tranquility being sent “ʿalā (upon)” the believers.3
[C/C’] – In [C], Allah ﷻ states emphatically that He alone owns the armies and forces of the heavens and the earth in. This is further reinforced in [C’] wherein Allah ﷻ tells the Muslims that if the disbelievers had even thought of fighting that they would have been soundly defeated through Allah’s help, just as Allah ﷻ had aided the believers many times over in the past.
[D/D’] - Both sections praise the believers for pledging themselves to the cause of Islam and promises them reward for their endeavoring in both this life - in the form of conquests and spoils of war - and the next life.
[E/E’] – Both sections speak of those people who could not and did not travel with the Muslim expeditions; the former group being blameworthy and the latter excused.
[F/F’] - The entire ring centers on Allah’s dominion over everything and His power to forgive whom He wills. The central theme of forgiveness beautifully matches how the sūrah began and ended.
Next week we’ll conclude this analysis with a look at the micro-structuring of this sūrah.
After being prevented from entering Mecca and a lengthy negotiation, the Muslims agreed on the following (summarized) terms with the hostile Quraysh:
A suspension of all war activities, public and private, for ten years.
If anyone during that period from among the Quraish went over to the Messenger ﷺ, without his guardian's permission, he would return him to them, but if a Companion of the Messenger ﷺ came over to the Quraysh, they would not return him to him.
Every Arab tribe would have the option to join either side as its ally and enter the treaty.
The Messenger ﷺ and his men would go back to Medina that year and could come to Mecca the following year to perform ʿumrah.
At face value, these seem like disadvantageous terms to the Muslims, but Allah ﷻ corrects that understanding through His messaging in this sūrah.
The macro-level observations are thanks to:
Ali Khan, Nouman. “08. Al-Fath - A Deeper Look” Bayyinah TV, https://bayyinahtv.com/topics/1/categories/9/series/161/videos/1614
In addition to the shared topics, both sections appropriately summarize the state of the Muslims at the time with their different usages of prepositions (fī (into) vs ʿalā (upon)). In [B], when the Muslims were angry from being rejected so close to the Kaʿbah, they needed tranquility to be sent “into” their hearts to subdue the boiling rage in their chests. In [B’], when the Muslims faced the possibility of fighting the Meccans unprepared, the fear that was creeping in was assuaged by the tranquility coming “upon” them - which might be better understood if one considers that fear is a more temporary emotion than anger and is typically described with external illustrations such as “skin crawling”, “goosebumps”, “sweaty palms” and “chattering teeth”.