Al-Fatiha

سورة الفاتحة

Surah Al-Fâtihah

(The Opener)

This surah (chapter) has been named Al-Fâtihah (The Opener) because the Qur’ân begins with it. It has also been called Al-Mathânî (the oft-repeated), and it also has other names. It is recited in each daily prayer (Salâh).

([1]) With the name of Allah, the most beneficent, very merciful. بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ
([2]) All praise is Allah’s, lord of all beings. الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ
([3]) The most beneficent, very merciful. الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ
([4]) Master of the Day of Judgment مَالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ
([5]) It is you we serve and it is you we ask for help إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ
([6]) Guide us on the straight way اهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ
([7]) The way of those upon whom you have bestowed much good, not of those upon whom is anger nor of those who are astray. صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ غَيْرِ الْمَغْضُوبِ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا الضَّالِّينَ
  1. By invoking the name of Allah and his attributes of mercy at the beginning of each chapter, we seek his aid that our reading may be of benefit, that Allah’s words penetrate our hearts, and that we be blessed with an understanding of them and the ability to act upon them. When we are about to recite the Qur’ân, this invoking of his name comes right after seeking refuge in Allah from Shaytân (satan), as we have been instructed to do in surah An-Nahl.{So when you recite the Qur’ân, seek refuge with Allah from the accursed Shaytân”}[An-Nahl (The Bee): 98]This verse is frequently translated as “In the name of Allah…” which is a more familiar expression in English, but its meaning is more like “I speak on behalf of…” and that is not the meaning here. Rather, it is “I invoke Allah’s name and his perfect attributes as being his humble slave in order to seek his aid and guidance in what I am about to read.” So, either “By the name…” or “With the name…” is a better translation. It is essentially an invocation seeking Allah’s help.
  2. All praise is due to Allah with all of his attributes of perfection. Although Allah’s attributes share names with [human] attributes we know like mercy, anger, etc. with regard to Allah they are attributes of absolute perfection and beyond our ability to fully comprehend. Implicit in this wording (“Praise is to Allah” or “Praise is Allah’s”) is a command to serve and exalt only Allah as he is the only one deserving of such. In other words, it is both an invocation and a statement of fact: “[I render] praise to Allah” which is an invocation and, “Praise [rightfully] belongs to Allah” which is a statement of fact. He is the initial creator of all creation, the one who maintains them and sustains them with his provisions and, in the case of his friends (allies), meaning those who believe in him, obey him and seek his acceptance, He grants them the greatest gift of all: faith and righteous action which lead to his acceptance and his Paradise. The word translated as “all beings” is the Arabic word Al-`Âlamîn. This word occurs 61 times in the Qur’ân. Several of them are in this same construction appended to “lord of”. In all other cases, the meaning is “the people of the world” or “all peoples of the world”. However, Ibn Abbâs, the foremost interpreter of the Qur’ân who learned directly from Allah’s messenger stated that it also includes the Jinn. This word indicates all those, from whatever species, world, time or place who have been given responsibility for their choices and actions and to whom Allah’s commands and messages are directed. This is clear from surah Al-Furqân:{“Exalted is he who sent the clear proofs to his slave that he may be a warner to Al-`Âlamîn.”}[Al-Furqân (The Criterion): 1] Thus, though in most contexts this word would be translated as “the people” or “the peoples of the world”, that translation would not include the Jinn. Also, we cannot rule out yet other groups or beings which we do not even know about. Hence the translation “all beings” and the meaning is all beings with the ability to reason and make choices which are the object of Allah’s messages and commands and bear responsibility for their actions.
  3. Ar-Rahmân (translated as the most beneficent) is the extremely merciful whose mercy encompasses all creation and Ar-Rahîm (translated as very merciful) refers to the special mercy that Allah has for the believers who worship and serve him. These are just two of the many names/attributes of Allah, the most high. Both are emphatic adjective forms derived from the same Arabic root “rahma” which means “mercy”, the first being more emphatic than the second. The aforementioned distinction between their meanings was taught by those first generations who learned the Qur’ân from the Prophet. Ar-Rahîm was a known word in use among speakers of Arabic. Ar-Rahmân, on the other hand had never been used by anyone prior to Allah revealing that it is one of his names/attributes. Its derivation is nonetheless clear according to Arabic morphology.
  4. Allah is the sole authority and only sovereign on the judgment day. All other powers and authorities will have vanished and no one can help anyone but Allah. As a Muslim reads this every day in every prayer, it serves as a constant reminder of the day of reckoning to come and encourages them to prepare for that day by righteous actions, acts of kindness and charity and also by avoiding all disobedience, oppression and cruelty, all of this being based on the knowledge that we will all face Allah with our deeds. On that day, whatever they have done and not done will be present, recorded and accounted for before them. Nothing is hidden from Allah and each one will clearly see all of their actions (commissions and omissions) on that day.
  5. Our service and our worship are for you, O Allah. And we seek aid and assistance from you, O Allah. The emphatic wording implies that it is only Allah who deserves to be worshiped, and it is only Allah that is asked for help. All matters are in your hands and no one else has any portion thereof. In this verse there is a reminder that no form of worship may be directed either partially or completely to other than Allah. This includes all forms of worship, ritual or otherwise, including supplication, prostration, seeking aid, sacrifice, ultimate obedience and the like. In this verse there is also a cure for the diseases of the heart that result from being attached to other than Allah and to the many ills which result therefrom such as ostentation, arrogance, pride, discontent and the like.
  6. Guide us to and keep us on the straight path. Keep us steadfast on the path of surrender and of submission to you, O Allah (i.e., the literal meaning of “islam”), until we return to you. This surrender is the path to Allah’s acceptance and pleasure. It is the path to which all of Allah’s messengers called the people – and the path which the final message given to Muhammad has completed and finalized. There is no path to joy in both this life and in the hereafter except this.
  7. “The way of those upon whom you have bestowed much good.” These are the prophets, the messengers, their closest followers, the martyrs and all righteous people. They are the people of guidance and uprightness. “And do not make us among those who follow the path of those upon whom there is anger. (See verse 161 in the next chapter, Al-Baqarah.) “Those upon whom there is anger” are the ones who came to know the truth but failed to act upon it. “Nor of those who are lost”. Those who are lost are the ones who, after receiving the truth, neglected it, failed to preserve it, did not bother to learn it, and went astray due to their ignorance and their negligence. In this verse there is a cure for arrogance which may lead the heart to disobedience (referring to those who earned Allah’s anger, i.e. the first case), and a warning against neglecting or not learning about, preserving and following the truth after clearly recognizing it (referring to those who went astray, i.e. the second case). There is also a reminder that the one most knowledgeable of the truth and most ardent in implementing it in real life, avoiding the pitfalls of both arrogance and ignorance, is the one closest to the straight path to Allah. It is highly recommended to say “Âmîn” after reciting this surah, the meaning of which is “O Allah, answer my prayer.” However, it is not a verse of the Qur’ân, and as such is not written here.

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