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Sura Al-Fatiha ( , Sūratu al-Fātihah, "The Opening") is the first chapter of the Muslim holy book, the Qur'an. Its seven verses are a prayer for God's guidance and stress the lordship and mercy of God. This chapter has a special role in daily prayers, being recited at the start of each unit of prayer.

Interpretation

Muslims believe that the Qur'an is a revelation from God in the Arabic language. Translations into other languages are considered by many to be merely superficial "interpretations" of the meanings and not authentic versions of the Qur'an.

The Arabic text with transliteration and translation in English is as follows: .

1:1
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Ever Merciful:


1:2
All Praises to Allah, Lord/Cherisher/Sustainer of the Universe.


1:3
The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.


1:4
Sovereign of the Day of Judgment.


1:5
You alone we worship, and You alone we ask for help


1:6
Guide us to the true path;


1:7
The path of those on whom You have bestowed your favor, not of those who have earned Your anger, nor of those who go astray.


When recited during daily prayers, some schools of thought follow Al-Fatihah by the word Amin. ==

Notes

The first verse, transliterated as "bismillāhir rahmānir rahīm", may be familiar to non-Arabic speakers and non-Muslims because of its ubiquity in Arabic and Muslim societies. This verse appears at the start of every chapter in the Qur'an with the exception of the ninth chapter. The verse is normally said before reciting a chapter or part of a chapter during daily prayer, and also before public proclamations and indeed before many personal and everyday activities in many Arabic and Muslim societies as a way to invoke God's blessing and proclaim one's motives before an undertaking.

The two words "ar rahmān" and "ar rahīm" are often translated in English as "the beneficent" and "the merciful" or "the generous" and "the merciful." They are often also translated as superlatives, for example, "the most generous" and "the most merciful". Grammatically the two words "rahmaan" and "raheem" are different linguistic forms of the triconsonantal root R-H-M, connoting "mercy". (For more information, see the section on root forms in Semitic languages). The form "rahmaan" denotes degree or extent, i.e., "most merciful," while "raheem" denotes time permanence, i.e., "ever merciful".

The second verse's "الحمد الله" ranks as one of the most popular phrases in all of Arabic, being used to express one's well-being, general happiness, or even consolation in a disaster. The verse is also significant in that it includes a relationship between the two most common names for God in Arabic "الله" and "رب". The first word is a ubiquitous name for God, and the second roughly translates to "Lord." It shares the same root with the Hebrew "rabbi". In some printings of the Qur'an, both words appear in red everywhere in the Qur'an.

The reading of the first word of the fourth verse, translated as "master/king" above, has been the subject of debate. The two main recitations, of the Qur'an, Warsh and Hafs, differ on whether it should be "maliki" with a short "a," which means "king" (Warsh, from Nafi'; Ibn Kathir; Ibn Amir; Abu 'Amr; Hamza), or "māliki" with a long "a," which means "master" or "owner" (Hafs, from Asim, and al-Kisa'i). Both "maliki" and "māliki" derive from the same triconsonantal root in Arabic, M-L-K. Both readings are considered valid by many practitioners, since both can be seen as describing God.

In some Muslim societies, Al-Fatiha is traditionally read together by a couple to seal their engagement, however this act is not recorded in the sunnah and is seen by many to be an innovation.

Revelation

Islamic scholarly tradition is concerned, amongst other things, with when and where verses and chapters of the Qur'an were revealed to Muhammad - for example, whether a verse was revealed while Muhammad was in Meccamarker or Medinamarker. According to Ibn Abbas and others, Sura Al-Fatiha is a Meccan sura; according to Abu Hurayrah and others, it is a Medinan sura. The former view is more widely accepted, although some believe that it was revealed in both Mecca and Medina.

Alternate names

This surah is sometimes known in English as "the Exordium". In various Hadith it is described as "the mother of the Book" (Umm al-Kitab) and "the mother of the Qur'an" (Umm al-Qur'an), and "the cure of diseases" ("Sura-tul-shifa") and said to be the seven verses alluded to in Al-Hijr .

Statistics

This sura contains 7 verses, 29 words and 139 letters (or 25 and 120, not counting the first verse), although Ibn Kathir says "The scholars say that Al-Fatiha consists of 25 words, and that it contains 113 letters." It falls in the first hizb, and hence the first juz', which are sections of the Qur'an.

Translations, interpretations and commentaries

Because of a hadith which states that "whoever does not recite Surah Al-fatihah in his prayer his prayer is invalid", many Islamic scholars emphasise the importance of this chapter in their commentaries. In practice, this means that Muslims who perform daily prayers according to traditional rules will recite Surah Al-Fatiha at least 17 times a day.

See also



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