What is Surat Al-Fatihah?
When you open the Mushaf, the first thing you find is. . . probably some info about the publishing company 😁
But after that, you will find a gorgeous page of one Surah (Chapter) of the Quran.
Even though this Surah is very small, it takes up a whole page.
That’s not a random choice or for decoration purposes. There is a reason for that.
This surah is the greatest surah in the entire Holy Quran.
It is the summary of the whole Quran and it contains all its information. That is why they sometimes call it the Great Quran.
Any book or article begins with an opening that tells you a bit about what to expect and teases you with it.
Surat Al-Fatihah does the same. It’s The Opening of the Quran.
The name “Fatihah” means the Opening in Arabic.
And because it’s the greatest Surah in the Quran, it doesn’t have one name only. It has many names.
Other names of Surat Al-Fatihah:
[Drawing of mindmap of names]
- Fatihat Al-Kitab (the opening of the Book).
- As-Sab’ Al-Mathani (the seven repeatedly recited Verses).
- Al-Quran Al-Adheem (the Grand Quran)
- Umm Al-Quran (the mother of the Quran).
- Umm Al-Kitab (the mother of the Book).
- Al-Hamd (the praise).
- Al-kafiah (the sufficient).
- As-Salah (the prayer).
- Ad-Du’a (the supplication).
- Ash-Shukr (the thanks).
- Ash-Shifa’ (the cure).
- Ar-Ruqiah (the remedy).
- Al-Wafiyah (the complete one).
- Al-Asas (the foundation).
- Al-Waqiyah (the protection)
- Al-Munajah (the whispering).
- An-Noor (the light).
- Al-Kanz (the treasure).
Surat Al-Fatihah General Information
|Place of Reveal||Makkah|
|Number of Verses||7|
|Main Themes||– The relationship of Allah with mankind.|
– How to pray/supplicate and to whom.
[Surat Al-Fatihah image]
Meanings of Surat Al-Fatihah (The Opening) in English:
1. In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
2. All praise and thanks are Allah’s, the Lord of the ‘Alamin (mankind, jinn, and all that exists).
3. The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
Why is the first Surah in the Quran so short?
Arabs loved poetry before prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, was sent to them.
They usually began their poetry with a verse or two of filtration.
It was very common to open by praising something about a woman, even when the poet wanted to say something serious in his poem.
[Arabic man saying poem to an audience while thinking of a woman]
The opening to them had nothing to do with the poem itself.
But nowadays, any opening in any book or article has to be a summary of what’s to come.
A tease of what you are about to read that grabs your attention and makes you enthusiastic to read more.
Both the old way and the new one required brief introductions so that you don’t bore the reader before they even start reading.
The miracle of the Quran is that it used both the old method of praise and the new method of summary and tease in its introduction.
And more importantly, it did that in less than 30 words.
Allah summarized 77437 words of the Quran in 29 words only!
You should also notice that Surat Al-Fatihah did not praise a person’s qualities, but praised the only God you are invited to worship.
It also preceded to summarize what you are about to read.
Every topic in the Quran is present in Surat Al-Fatihah as an introduction.
Who is God and what are His attributes? Check.
How to worship God (including beliefs and actions like prayers)? Check.
What is Judgment day (including the Resurrection/Trials//Heaven/Hell)? Check.
What path you should take and what to avoid (right and wrong/sins and good deeds)? Check.
What can we learn from Allah’s method in starting the Quran?
Many people suffer from the fear of starting something, especially when that something is a big and difficult project.
Some productivity influencers recommend that you count to three and just do it.
Some recommend that you schedule your time.
Some say you should divide your projects into smaller steps to make them easier.
[count,schedule,planner break goals]
All of these tips are great. But the #1 thing you should never neglect is Allah’s guidance and blessing.
You achieve that by saying two simple Arabic words: بسم الله Bismillah (i.e. in the name of Allah).
So Allah began his speech in the Quran with Bismillah (In the name of Allah) to teach us to do the same.
When you start something, you should start everything in your life with Bismillah as well.
Bismillah-start Examples that you can use in your daily life:
- Waking up.
- Eating & drinking.
- Entering a place.
- Entering and leaving home.
- Entering & leaving a Mosque.
- Entering the bathroom.
- When closing a door.
- When covering a plate or a pot.
- When you pour water or a drink.
- Wearing a dress, socks, shoes, or anything (especially when it’s new).
- Before sleeping.
- Before sexual intercourse with your spouse.
- Daily & nightly athkar (special supplications).
- Before Wudu’ (ablution).
- Riding (an animal, a car, a bus, a train, a plane, etc).
- Reading the beginning of every Surah (Except Surat At-Tawbah).
- When you (or someone else) fall.
- The supplication for pain-relief.
- The beginning of a Ruqiah (remedy invocations).
- The beginning of a written message, letter, or book.
- The beginning of a speech.
- Before hunting or thabihah (slaughtering an animal for eating).
- Burying the dead.
[Drawing of Bismillah-start examples]
These are examples that were recommended by Islam to start with Bismillah, but you don’t need to limit yourself to them.
You can say Bismillah before you start anything where you need Allah’s blessing. Like writing, drawing, sewing, playing, working, starting a new business, etc.
What’s the difference between “Arrahman” and “Arraheem” and what’s the point in mentioning them twice in Surat Al-Fatihah?
Allah could have started the Quran with “Bismillah” and proceeded with Surat Al-Fatihah immediately.
But He made the beginning of the Quran and of every Surah after that a bit longer by including two words: “Arrahman Arraheem”.
Both words in Arabic mean “the Merciful”. They are synonymous.
Muslims only translate those words as “Gracious/Merciful” to avoid repeating the same translation and confusing the reader.
But why did Allah include both words?
The Arabs during the era of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, did not know the word “Arrahamn”.
It was a new word that Allah introduced to them as one of His names.
Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon Him, explained that Arrahman is the attribute of mercy that Allah bestows upon all his creations, whether they were Muslims, non-Muslims, or even animals and plants.
While “Arraheem” is a mercy that He only bestows upon the believers; The ones who worship Him alone.
So when we start the Quran and every Surah in it, Allah reminds us that He is merciful to us all. And the ones who get the most mercy are those who believe in Him.
But why did Allah repeat those two words in verse three?
IF you notice verse #2, you will find the words “Rabb Al-Aalamin” which means the Lord of the whole world, that includes mankind, jinn, and all that exists on this earth and outside it. That fact is meant to scare the person into submission. But to worship Allah, fear is not enough. You need hope as well.
Allah repeated the words “Arrahman Arraheem” to remind us of His mercy. Allah wanted us to remember that He is Merciful to the whole world in general and to the believers in particular.
This is meant to give us hope.
Why did Allah start Surat Al-Fatihah with Alhamdu-lillah?
Imagine this story:
Waleed is broke and he doesn’t have any money other than what feeds his family.
His child is sick and he’s really desperate for some money to cure him.
He finally had the chance to meet with his old school friend, Kareem, who is rich and the CEO of a successful company.
When he reached Kareem’s office, Waleed barged in and demanded:
“Kareem ! I really need some money to treat my child! He’s really sick! I know you can give me something!”
Don’t you think that would be extremely rude?
Do you think Kareem will give him the money immediately?
Being polite and showing gratitude and praise for someone before you require something of them is common courtesy. You don’t even need to be told to do it.
However, showing too much can also backfire on you.
If Waleed started praising Kareem for everything that he ever did, Kareem might think that he’s a hypocrite or a liar.
But Allah, the Almighty, never tires of your insistence in your supplications or your constant praise and gratitude.
Instead, He encourages you to do it.
After all, if you can’t ask your God, then who do you ask?
[Drawing of praying Muslim crying]
Surat Al-Fatihah is a supplication.
In it, Allah taught us how to supplicate to Him, word by word.
It’s the process you need to take in order to pray.
And the first step that Allah taught us is to be grateful to him by saying Alhamdulillah.
Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said:
“Any matter of importance which is not begun with Al-hamdu lillah (praise be to Allah) remains defective.”[Abu Dawud].
So from now on, start your supplications to Allah by showing your gratitude for some of His blessings.
Praise Allah, for He is the King of all kings. He deserves your respect more than anyone else.
And respect is shown through gratitude and praise.
You can praise Allah by learning His 99 Beautiful Names & Attributes and using them to pray politely.
For example, if you need money, praise Allah by His names: “Ar-Razzaq” which means (the Provider), “Al-Wahhab” which means (The Giver), or “Al-Mughny” which means (The Enricher).
Key Takeaways of these Verses:
[Drawing of a key & hand]