Al-Fatihah is a prayer, a dialogue between the abd(slave) and his Rabb, the Creator of everything. The prayer remains incomplete if this Surah is not recited in the Salah.
Beginning Surah al-Fatihah
The Surah opens up with basmalah, the saying that must be recited before beginning any work. By reciting the words BismiAllahi rrahmani rraheem, a Muslim seeks the blessings of the Most Merciful— “Ar-Rahman”— and the Especially Merciful— “Ar-Raheem”, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
Ayah 2: Learning the Etiquette of Du’a
After invoking the graciousness and mercy of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala we utter a few words in His praise.
In ayah two, we learn the etiquette of making du’a. We can put forward our request abruptly and selfishly with complete disregard to the Being we’re addressing or we can take time to think through our words and then present them beautifully.
We beautify our du’a by saying, Alhamdu lillahi rabbi lAAlameen which means: All praises and thanks (be) to Allah, (the) Lord (of all) the world.
Ayahs 3 and 4: Stating the Attributes
We then proceed to the next ayaat where we describe a few of His attributes. We say, ArRahmani ArRaheem meaning, The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful, and Maliki yawmi alddeen— (The) Master (of the) Day (of the) Judgment.
One may well wonder about the difference between being gracious and being merciful. This is an important aspect. He has not extended His graciousness to the mushrikeen and other disbelievers, yet He has not limited His mercy to the Muslims only. Subhan’Allah!
Ayah 4 and 5: Acknowledgment
In ayah 4, we’re acknowledging that there will be a day when we’ll return to our Creator and give account for every deed we’ve done. Acknowledging that our Hereafter depends on our life in dunya, we remind ourselves that we cannot spend our lives blinded by ignorance.
Immediately after, we recognize our weakness. We acknowledge that it’s Him we worship and from Whom we seek help. In this ayah, we’re admitting that we’re “slaves” and He is the “Master”.
Ayah 6: Prayer for the Righteous Path
After praising Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, identifying His attributes and acknowledging our slavery to Him, we make the du’a ih’dina l-sirata l-mustaqeema. Sirat in Arabic is used for path, whereas mustaqeem means straight. Hence, in this ayah we request guidance towards the straight path.
Ayah 7: Being Specific in Du’a: Setting Up Role Models
Continuing our du’a we say, sirat alladhina an’amta alayhim ghayri lmaghdubi alayhim wala l-dalina, which means, The path of those on whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked [Your] anger or of those who are astray.
This part indicates that we must set up role models for ourselves. By making this du’a in a way we’re seeking refuge from emulating the behavior of these two groups of people.
Narrated by Adi bin Hatim radhiAllahu anhu: I asked Allah’s Messenger sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam about the statement of Allah ghayri lmaghdubi alayhim, he replied, ‘they are the Jews’. And wala l-dalina. He replied, ‘the Christians, and they are the ones who went astray’. [At-Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud]
Concluding Surah al-Fatihah with Aameen
Aameen is like a full-stop at the end of the sentence. It seals our du’a. Many people utter aameen in a rush, not knowing the benefit of reciting it.
A hadith narrated by Abu Huraira radhiAllahu anhu tells us when the Imam says sirat alladhina an’amta alayhim ghayri lmaghdubi alayhim wala l-dalina then you must say aameen for if one’s utterance of aameen coincides with that of the angels then his past sins will be forgiven. [Bukhari]
If this article was beneficial to you , then today when you perform your salah try being conscious of every ayah that you recite. Take your time and recite it from your heart. Do you know that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala responds to each ayah that we utter? Wouldn’t you want to hold conversation with Him?