Posted on December 8, 2011


In the name of God, the infinitely Compassionate and Merciful.
Praise be to God, Lord of all the worlds.
The Compassionate, the Merciful. Ruler on the Day of Reckoning.
You alone do we worship, and You alone do we ask for help.
Guide us on the straight path,
the path of those who have received your grace;
not the path of those who have brought down wrath, nor of those who wander astray.

That is surat Al-fatiha, the greatest surah in the Qur’an. This is why the companions of the prophet chose it to be the beginning of Qur’an. Also, Allah chose it to be repeated seventeen times per day in the prayer. As a Muslim, it is easy to take for granted the message of Surah Al-Fatiha as it expresses one of the most fundamental aspects of Islam, that is the strict oneness of God and relying on none other for guidance and blessings in one’s spiritual life.

Although Al-Fatiha is a small surah, it contains a lot of meanings therefore it is called Umm-ul-Qur’an (the mother of the Qur’an). Surah Al-Fatiha is unique in that as one of the shortest chapters (of the 114 in the Quran) and in only seven short verses, it is an accurate and simplistic summary of man’s place in the universe in relation to Allah and the rest of His creation. It is also a unique Surah in that its format is one of man addressing God as opposed to all other chapters in which God is addressing man [through Prophet Muhammad(saw)]. In other words, it is a prayer TO God as much as it is a revelation FROM God and due to this special nature, it is the single most common prayer recited by Muslims and is memorized (in Arabic) by almost all Muslims, regardless of one’s native language.The Surah can be compared to Christianity’s “The Lord’s Prayer” in that it lays out the creed of the believer as a Muslim in a concise form. It establishes a foundation onto which subsequent Surahs are to be understood and “sets the scene” for the coming Divine revelation.

It is important to note that before any Muslim reads or recites the Quran he initially says the following “I Seek refuge in Allah (God), From Satan the accursed.”

Let’s take an analytical look at each verse from this Surah.

The first of which is “In the name of Allah, The most Gracious, The most merciful.”

However before we continue I’d like to point out one thing. The name Allah is simply the Arabic word for God. Al- means Thy, The, Uniquely, and ilaha or ilah means “deity, supreme being, a god etc.” So Al-ilah or Allah means The One God.

Furthermore, The first two words after In the name of Allah are The Most Gracious, The most Mericful. In arabic however, The words are Ar-Rahmaan Ar-Raheem. They are both formed from a trilateral root R-H-M con-notating “Mercy” So it can be also read as “The most merciful, the Ever so merciful.”

The next verse is “All Praise is due to Allah, The Lord of the worlds.” The initial is self explanatory, while the latter needs some explanation. The Lord of the worlds means Of the seen and unseen. This includes the physical universe and everything that exists in it, and the unseen universe. In the seen universe this includes mankind, animals, the planets, the stars, the moon etc. The Unseen world is the angels, the jinn, heaven and hell, the throne, etc. The word in arabic for Lord is Rabb, but Rabb also has a dual meaning. While yes indeed it means “Lord” It also means “The cherisher, evolver, and sustainer.” The word Rabb also means to bring to maturity or to raise. So while in fact he is the Lord, he is also the Evolver and Cherisher of the worlds.

Ar Rahmaan Ar Raheem is then repeated.

The next verse is “Owner of the Day of Judgment”. The word for owner in arabic MAALIKI, It also can mean “King” MALAK. Both words come from the TRI-Lateral root of “M-L-K” denoting “Ownership over” The word for Judgment in this verse is not actually judgment, rather it is “Religion.” However the word in Arabic for religion shares the same root as the word for “debt”. Deen, or Dayn, means to have borrowed something for which you have to return. So he (God) is the one owner and who we have to bring forth all the things we indebted to him on that day.

The next verse is “You alone we worship, and you along we seek help” This is to show and then repeat the same motif of pure monotheism that there is nothing in this universe that deserves worship or has power except God, he is the only one were help can be sought from. This is also the muslim’s contract between him and God.

The next is “Guide us to the straight path.” This is because man is weak and bound to fall away, go astray, commit sin, so this part of al fatiha is essential to keep the muslim upright.

The last part explains the latter verse. “The path of which you have blessed upon them, not the path of which wrath is upon them, nor the ones who have gone astray” The early scholars have explained the verse very vividly. The path which he has blessed is The path Allah has revealed to his Messenger Muhammad, peace be upon him. This is the path of pure monotheism which Moses, Jesus and Muhammad all called too. So one might ask which is the path of those who have earned God’s anger or wrath and who are the ones who have gone astray. The commentators and early scholars have made it clear that the path of the Jews is what God is referring too when it is read “Not the path of those who have earned your anger. This is because The Jews were given and had the knowledge, yet did not apply it. Whereas the Christians yearned to be believers and righteous people yet did not have the correct creed. Both made an attempt to follow the “straight path” but after the messengers came, the disputed and split amongst themselves causing confusion, diversion, and ultimately leading to a path other then the correct one.

Finally the prayer is concluded with “Ameen” which means “So it may be.”