Al-Fatihah: The Essence of the Quran

By IOL Living Shariah Staff

[In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. Praise be to God, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds; Most Gracious, Most Merciful; Master of the Day of Judgment. Thee do we worship, and Thine aid we seek, Show us the straight way, The way of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy Grace, those whose (portion) is not wrath, and who go not astray.] (Al-Fatihah: 1-7)
Surat Al-Fatihah is both a prayer and a full introduction to the message of the Quran.

Surat Al-Fatihah is both a prayer and a full introduction to the message of the Quran.
Surat(chapter) Al-Fatihah is the first chapter of the Quran. According to most of the scholars this was the first complete surah that was revealed to Prophet Muhammad when he was in Makkah.

Before this he received some verses of Surat Al-Alaq, Surat Al-Muzzammil and Surat Al-Muddaththir, but as a complete surah, Al-Fatihah was the first one.

The word "Al-Fatihah" means "opener". So this chapter is the "opener" of the Quran. It has seven verses that are repeated by every Muslim many times during the course of his or her daily prayers.

Thus the chapter is also called the As-Sab Al-Mathani,that is, "the Seven Oft-Repeated." (Al-Hijr 15:87)

This surah also has many other names: Umm Al-Quran(the Essence of the Quran), Al-Asas (the Foundation), Ash-Shafiyah (the Healer), and Al-Kafiyah (the Sufficient).

Prophet Muhammad said that Al-Fatihah is "the greatest chapter in the Quran". (Al-Bukhari)

Surat Al-Fatihah is both a prayer and a full introduction to the message of the Quran.

As a prayer it contains the praise and glorification of God and the human request for God's guidance, direction, and blessings.

Prophet Muhammad said:

God says, I' have divided the prayer between Me and My servant in two halves and for My servant is whatever He asks for.' When the servant says, ‘Praise be to God the Lord of the worlds,' God says, ‘My servant has thanked Me.' When he says, ‘the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate,' God says, ‘My servant has praised Me.' When he says, ‘Master of the Day of Judgment,' God says, ‘My servant has glorified Me.' And He says, ‘My servant has submitted to Me.' When he says, ‘You Alone we worship and You Alone we ask for help,' God says, ‘This is between Me and My servant and for My servant whatever he asks.' When he says, ‘Guide us to the straight path' God says, ‘This is for My servant and for My servant whatever he asks for. (Muslim)

As an introduction to the Quran, Al-Fatihah contains all the basic principles that are given in detail in the Quran.

It tells us that we are surrounded by God's grace and favors; He is the Source of all love and mercy, and for that, we should be thankful to Him.

It also teaches the following lessons: Life on earth is not permanent. Everyone will die one day and God will judge us. He alone is the Master of that Day and we must worship Him and Him alone.

It reminds us that God is the only One Who can really guide;We must seek His help and He has all the power to give us whatever we need.

It calls for righteous actions in this life. It speaks about life after death and the consequences of human action and behavior. It tells us that the true guidance comes through God's prophets and messengers. They were the people who were truly guided, and they received God's grace and mercy. Those who turned away from that path were those who went astray and they incurred the wrath of God and His punishment.

Basic Principles in Al-Fatihah

-The essence of religion is thankfulness to God.

-God is the Lord and Sustainer of the whole universe.

-God is very kind, loving, and merciful.

-God is also the Judge, and He does not tolerate injustice, evil, and sin.

-The Day of Judgment will inevitably come.

-Worship should be only for God, and all prayers for requests should be directed to Him alone.

-One should continuously seek God's guidance and remain on the path of truth and righteousness.

-True righteousness comes when we follow the example of those who were righteous and who were under God's grace: the prophets, messengers, and pious and devoted people of God.

-One should always be careful not to make the Most Merciful angry.

-One should never ignore the path of guidance and should always be careful not to go astray.

After this introduction comes the rest of the Quran. Muslims consider Al-Fatihah as the prayer and the Quran as the answer to that prayer.