We live in a time when everyone has a story of sorrow to narrate; stories of doors that have closed after they were open, or doors that simply will not open in their lives. Never have we been more in need of a particular name of Allāh that rekindles the flame of hope within the hearts of those who were on the verge of despair.
This name of Allāh has appeared only once in the Qur’ān, where He said:
قُلْ يَجْمَعُ بَيْنَنَا رَبُّنَا ثُمَّ يَفْتَحُ بَيْنَنَا بِالْحَقِّ وَهُوَ الْفَتَّاحُ الْعَلِيمُ
“Say, ‘Our Lord will bring us together; then He will judge between us in truth. And He is Al-Fattāḥ, the All-Knowing.’”
(1) The linguistic meaning of Al-Fatḥ
Al-Fatḥ: نقيض الإغلاق / The opposite of closure. A key in Arabic is called miftāḥ, for it is the apparatus by which closed doors are opened.
الفتح إزالة الإغـلاق والإشـكال وذلك ضـربان أحدهما: يدرك بالبصـر كفتح الباب ونحـوه: وَلَمَّا فَتَحُوا مَتَاعَهُمْ
“Al-Fatḥ is the removal of closure and problems, and this takes two forms. The first: one which is observable by sight, like the opening of a door, as Allāh said: “And when they opened (fataḥu) their luggage…” 
والثاني: يدرك بالبصيرة كفتح الهم وهو إزالة الغم، وذلك على ضروب، أحدها: في الأمور الدنيوية كغم يفرج، وفقر يزال بإعطاء المال ونحوه، كقوله تعالى: لَفَتَحْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ بَرَكَاتٍ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ وَالْأَرْضِ [الأعراف: 96] والثاني: فتح المستغلق من العلوم، نحو قولك: فلان فتح من العلم بابًا مغلقًا [..]»
The second: one which is observable by insight, like the opening of relief from grief. This also takes forms:
(a) In matters of life, like the removal of grief or alleviation of poverty, as Allāh said: “We would have opened up (fatāḥna) for them blessing from the heavens and the earth…” 
(b) In matters of knowledge, like the removal of locks from one’s understanding.”
Therefore, we see that in order to engage in the fatḥ of something, logic says that it must be closed, and Al-Rāghib informed us that those elements that need unlocking are both inward and outward, as well as material and immaterial.
Who, then, is Allāh Al-Fattāḥ? He is The One who opens up every difficulty that you thought could never be unlocked.
If we look at most of what scholars have said about Allāh’s name of Al-Fattāḥ, we can summarise it by saying that Al-Fattāḥ is:
هو الحاكم الذي يحكم بين عباده/ The One who judges between His creation
وهو الذي يفتح أبواب الرزق والرحمة لعباده / The One who opens the doors of provisions and mercy for them
ويفتح قلوبهم وعيون بصائرهم ليبصروا الحق / The One who opens their eyes and insights to enable them to see the truth
وهو الناصر الذي ينصر عباده المؤمنين / The giver of victory to His righteous servants. 
In all of these explanations, notice how the concept of unlocking something that was locked applies; a judge who unlocks the truth of a case that was locked, the unlocking of provisions after it was locked, the unlocking of blind eyes to the truth, and the unlocking of victory from the claws of defeat.
(2) Examples of Fatḥ/openings in our lives
The opening of hearts to act upon acts of worship is one such example. Why is it that some are far more inclined than others to pray, fast, recite the Qur’ān, pray in congregation, and plan for Islam? It is because the degree to which Allāh has opened hearts to do this varies from person to person.
‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Abd al-’Azīz al-‘Umari wrote a letter to Imam Malik encouraging him to distance himself and to free up his time for worship. Imam Malik responded:
إنَّ اللَّهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ قَسَّمَ الْأَعْمَالَ كَمَا قَسَّمَ الْأَرْزَاقَ فَرُبَّ رَجُلٍ فُتِحَ لَهُ فِي الصَّلَاةِ وَلَمْ يُفْتَحْ لَهُ فِي الصَّوْمِ وَآخَرَ فُتِحَ لَهُ فِي الصَّدَقَةِ وَلَمْ يُفْتَحْ لَهُ فِي الصِّيَامِ وَآخَرَ فُتِحَ لَهُ فِي الْجِهَادِ وَلَمْ يُفْتَحْ لَهُ فِي الصَّلَاةِ وَنَشْرُ الْعِلْمِ وَتَعْلِيمُهُ مِنْ أَفْضَلِ أَعْمَالِ الْبِرِّ وَقَدْ رَضِيتُ بِمَا فَتَحَ اللَّهُ لِي فِيهِ مِنْ ذَلِكَ وَمَا أَظُنُّ مَا أَنَا فِيهِ بِدُونِ مَا أَنْتَ فِيهِ وَأَرْجُو أَنْ يَكُونَ كِلَانَا عَلَى خَيْرٍ وَيَجِبُ عَلَى كُلِّ وَاحِدٍ مِنَّا أَنْ يَرْضَى بِمَا قُسِّمَ لَهُ وَالسَّلَام
“Allāh has distributed the actions of good deeds between people the same way He has distributed the provisions between them, and so a person’s heart may be opened towards prayer but has not been (opened) towards fasting, whilst a second (person’s heart) may be opened towards charity but not towards fasting, whilst another’s may be opened towards Jihad but is not towards prayer. The teaching of knowledge is one of the most rewarding good deeds and I am satisfied with what Allāh has opened for me, and I do not believe that what I am occupied with is any lesser than what you’re occupied with. My hopes are that we are both upon goodness and it is incumbent upon both of us to be satisfied with what Allāh has blessed us with. Peace be on you.” 
Allāh has opened our hearts for different matters, making us more inclined to it. Our duty is to pinpoint it urgently, and then redirect it for the cause of Allāh and the Hereafter.
Some find their joy in life in fasting. They fast every other day and find it easy. Others find their joy in Du’ā, where hours may pass by doing so without realising.
Imam Malik said:
ربما انصرف عامر بن عبد الله (بن الزبير) من العتمة، فيعرض له الدعاء – يعني بعد العشاء – يخطر بباله، فلا يزال يدعو إلى الفجر
“It has happened before where ‘Āmir Ibn ‘Abdillāh would make Du’ā after the ‘Ishā prayer, and would continue to do so until Fajr.”
Others find that Allāh has opened their hearts towards the establishing of family ties. They are on good terms with every family member and their efforts towards them are consistent.
Others find that Allāh has created an opening for them in the field of Dhikr/remembrance:
– Abu Huraira’s daily portion of Tasbīh (saying “Subḥān Allāh”) was 12,000 times.
– Khalid Ibn Ma’dān’s portion was 40,000 times a day, excluding his recitation of the Qur’ān. He was seen moving his finger in remembrance after his soul had left him.
– Ibn Hāni’s portion was 100,000 times a day.
– Ibn Taymiyya would perform the Fajr prayer, then would remain sat down remembering Allāh until around just before noon time, when he would say: “This is my lunch. If I don’t have it, my strength forsakes me.”
Others find that their opening in life is in the helping of the needy, the feeding of the hungry, the sponsoring of the orphan, the supporting of the widow, the visiting of the ill, and the alleviating of the burden.
Ibn Qayyim said:
كان شيخ الإسلام ابن تيمية يسعى في حوائج الناس سعياً شديداً؛ لأنه يعلم أنه كلما أعان غيره أعانه الله؛ ولذا تجد الكسالى أكثر الناس هماً وغماً وحزناً، ليس لهم فرح ولا سرور، بخلاف أرباب النشاط والجد في العمل – أي عمل كان
“The service by Shaykh al-Islam (Ibn Taymiyya) of others was enormous as he knew that the more he helped others, the more Allāh will help him. This is why you will find that lazy people are the most grieved, burdened, and saddened. They have no real happiness or joy, as opposed to the energetic ones and people of hard work, regardless of the nature of that work.”
Others find their openings in life in amassing of knowledge and teaching it to others, as some find their hearts within the Qur’ānic sciences, legal sciences, Hadeeth sciences, Tajwīd, or the Arabic language. These are openings from Allāh, hence why many of the scholars of the past would title their books as a “Fatḥ/opening from Allāh (or one of His names)”:
فتح الباري / “Fatḥ al-Bāri” فتح رب البرية / “Fatḥ Rabb al-Bariyya”
الفتح الرباني / “Al-Fatḥ al-Rabbāni” فتح المنعم / “Fatḥ al-Mun’im”
فتح المغيث / “Fatḥ al-Mughīth” فتح المجيد / “Fatḥ al-Majīd”
فتح المعين / “Fatḥ al-Mu’īn” فتح القدير / “Fatḥ al-Qadīr”
فتح العزيز / “Fatḥ al-‘Azīz” فتح الوهاب / “Fatḥ al-Wahhāb”
Others find that their openings in their lives culminate in their opinions; Allāh allows the truth to flow from their mouths, always guiding them to choose the best of options.
The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said:
لَقَدْ كَانَ فِيمَا قَبْلَكُمْ مِنْ الْأُمَمِ مُحَدَّثُونَ فَإِنْ يَكُ فِي أُمَّتِي أَحَدٌ فَإِنَّهُ عُمَرُ
“Among the nations who came before you there were people who were spoken to (i.e. by angels or inspired). If there are any such men among my Ummah, then ʿUmar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb is one of them.”
The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) would say about him:
إِنَّ اللَّهَ جَعَلَ الْحَقَّ عَلَى لِسَانِ عُمَرَ وَقَلْبِهِ
“Allāh has placed the truth on the tongue of ʿUmar and his heart.”
This is why Umar’s rulings were so frequently in line with those of Allāh, as Ibn Hajar said:
وقفنا منها على خمسة عشر موضعاً
“We have come across 15 such circumstances.”
Others find that their openings in life culminate in the enjoining of good and forbidding of evil, not fearing the repercussions of their mission, displaying patience and wisdom. Allāh allows much goodness to appear on the land through this work.
The signs of Al-Fattāḥ are not exclusive, however, to the world of Islam and worship. They extend to every avenue of life. Consider the following:
In 1928, Alexander Fleming, a professor of bacteriology, returned to his lab after a vacation. While sorting through his Petri dishes of colonies of the bacteria Staphylococcus, he noticed that mould had started to grow on these dishes. Looking for what colonies he could salvage from those infected with the mould, he noticed something intriguing. Bacteria was not growing around the mould. The mould actually turned out to be a rare strain of Penicillium notatum that secreted a substance that inhibited bacterial growth. Penicillin was introduced in the 1940s, opening up the era of antibiotics.
Who was the one who guided him to this? It was Al-Fattāḥ.
In 1895, a German physicist named Wilhelm Roentgen was working with a cathode ray tube. Despite the fact that the tube was covered, he saw that a nearby fluorescent screen would glow when the tube was on and the room was dark. The rays were somehow illuminating the screen. Roentgen tried to block the rays, but most things he placed in front of them did not seem to make a difference. When he placed his hand in front of the tube, he noticed he could see his bones in the image that was projected on the screen. He replaced the tube with a photographic plate to capture the images, creating the first x-ray images. The technology was soon adopted by medical institutions and research departments.
Who was the one who guided him to this? It was Al-Fattāḥ.
In fact, statistics show that 50% of all discoveries happen by accidents. Perhaps this is one of the secrets of why the name Al-Fattāḥ comes side by side with the Al-‘Alīm (the All-Knowing).
The signs of Al-Fattāḥ also appear in Muslims who find themselves advancing the causes of justice. We have seen this in the past, where Al-Fattāḥ assisted the Prophet Muhammad (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) and his companions until the entirety of the Arabian Peninsula made its way to the fold of Islam. Again, Al-Fattāḥ was with them during their conquests of Persia, Rome, Egypt, and other places. Until this day, Al-Fattāḥ continues to support His allies, whether we realise it or not.
The opportunities for repentance
Ask people their reason for repentance. The majority of people do not view repentance as a spur-of-the-moment decision, but an occurrence that Allāh allowed to open. I remember the story of a young Egyptian man who said that he once embarked on a train journey from Cairo to Alexandria with the intention of perpetrating one of the most heinous sins. He found himself sat next to a young man who was reciting the Qur’ān. He said, “Allāh made me hear one of those verses which he was reciting:
يَسْتَخْفُونَ مِنَ النَّاسِ وَلاَ يَسْتَخْفُونَ مِنَ اللّهِ وَهُوَ مَعَهُمْ إِذْ يُبَيِّتُونَ مَا لاَ يَرْضَى مِنَ الْقَوْلِ
“They may hide from men, but they cannot hide from Allāh; for He is with them when they plot by night in words that which He does not approve…”
He continued to cry until he arrived at Alexandria. He got off the train and the first thing he did was book a ticket back home, and this was the beginning of his repentance. Who was the One who opened this opportunity for this young man? It was Al-Fattāḥ.
During testing times
At times, Allāh closes certain doors ahead of you in order to open up doors in your life, which, without this trial of yours, would never have opened. For example, health deteriorates, a loved one passes away, finances plummet, your reputation is tarnished – all these cause you to retreat to Allāh in desperation, which boosts your iman in ways that you could never have imagined. During testing times when doors shut, Al-Fattāḥ opens doors that are far greater.
Ibn Taymiyya sent a letter to his students from his prison in Alexandria. In his letter, he wrote:
فإني -والله العظيم الذي لا إله إلا هو- في نعم من الله ما رأيت مثلها قط في عمري كله، وقد فتح الله سبحانه وتعالى من أبواب فضله ونعمته وخزائن جوده ورحمته ما لم يكن بالبال ولا يدور في الخيال.
“I am – by Allāh The Mighty, besides whom none has the right to be worshipped – indulging in blessings from Allāh, the likes of which I have never seen before in my enter life. Allāh has opened for me from the doors of his bounty, favours and stores of His generosity and mercy which my mind and imagination could never have expected.”
Call upon Al-Fattāḥ.
Whether it’s a job that you’re struggling to find despite the many financial responsibilities on you, or a spouse that isn’t crossing paths with you, or a marital relationship that you’re desperate to mend or desperate to end, or an enemy that’s on your back, or liars who are threatening to soil your pure track record, or any other door that seems locked for good – who do you have other than Al-Fattāḥ?
When the narrative of other people is one of despair, one of “there is no solution”, “there is nothing we can do about it”, your narrative should be “O Allāh, you are Al-Fattāḥ, so open up those matters in my life that people are claiming cannot be opened.”
You have no idea how many doors He will open up for you after they were vaulted shut without you even asking for it, so how would it be if you had asked?
“Ya Fattāḥ, open up the heart of my child to iman.”
“Ya Fattāḥ, open up the opportunity for marriage for such and such.”
“Ya Fattāḥ, open up the truth between me and my enemy.”
“Ya Fattāḥ, open up my mind to the correct understanding of this Dīn.”
What is it that you require from this world or the next? Recall it, then realise that Allāh has the key to that door. Don’t overthink matters. Excessive thinking isn’t what opens such doors. What opens them is persistent Du’ā by His name, Al-Fattāḥ.
Finally, when the opportunities to do good open up in your life, do not think twice.
Hakīm Ibn ‘Umair said:
من فتح له باب خير فلينتهزه، فإنه لا يدري متى يغلق عنه
“Whoever has a door of goodness opened for him, then let him make best use of it, for he does not know when that door shall be closed.”
 Al-Qur’ān, 34:26
 Al-Qur’ān, 12:65
 Al-Qur’ān, 7:96
 Sha’n al-Du’ā
 Siyar A’lām Al-Nubalā
 Rawdat al-Muhibbīn
 Narrated by Al-Bukhārī and Muslim, on the authority of Abū Huraira
 Narrated by Imām Aḥmad in his Musnad and Al-Tirmithi in his Sunan, on the authority of ʿAbdullāh ibn ʿUmar
 Al-Qur’ān. 4:108
Shaykh Ali Ihsan Hammuda is Islam21c’s Tarbiya Editor. A UK national of Palestinian origin, he gained bachelors and masters’ degrees in Architecture & Planning from the University of the West of England, before achieving a BA in Shari’ah from al-Azhar University in Egypt. He is currently based in Wales and is a visiting Imām at Al-Manar Centre in Cardiff, and also a senior researcher and lecturer for the Muslim Research & Development Foundation in London. Shaykh Ali is the author of several books including ‘The Daily Revivals’, ‘The Ten Lanterns’ and ‘The Friday Reminder’. He delivers sermons, lectures and regular classes across the country.