Explaining Surah Al-Fatiha – The Language of the Quran

One of the major reasons behind the popularity and propagation of the Arabic language is the Holy Quran. The Quran was revealed in the Arabic language, and the language of the Quran is the most eloquent and beautiful. The Quran challenges those who don’t believe that the Quran is a work of God, by asking the mankind to write anything better than it. It further challenges the humans to produce a single verse as eloquent as each verse of the Quran. Quran has been preserved in its original language, and not a single alphabet has been changed since its revelation. The Holy Quran has been translated in many languages by many different translators, but it is impossible for a mere human to fully explain the original text in the translation! In this blog, we will be explaining Surah Al-Fatiha briefly and closely analyze its verses to understand the deeper meaning that is often lost in translation.

This lesson is intended to explain the meaning that is often misunderstood with translation, or the meaning is not that evident, and the cases in which the translation fails to explain the deeper meaning of the verses.

Surah Fatiha is the first chapter of the Quran and is the word ‘Al-Fatiha’ means ‘the opening’, i,e, the first chapter of the Quran. The surah is very different to any other surah of the Quran in terms of the tone and structure. In most Surah of the Quran, Allah gives commands and instructions to us, but in Surah Al-Fatiha, the words are uttered on our behalf. In this Surah, Allah teaches us how to ask and supplicate!

The Surah can be divided into three sections – the first one is stating the attributes of Allah, the second section deals with the acknowledgment that we owe everything to Allah, and the final section teaches to pray for the righteous path. Surah Fatiha teaches us the right way of asking and praying and reminds us we owe everything to him, and it is only through his mercy and kindness that we enjoy whatever we have in this world. We praise Allah for everything, acknowledge that he is the only one who can

Explaining Surah Al-Fatiha

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِ
Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim
In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

A Muslim is supposed to begin everything and activity with the name of Allah, by reciting the above verse. It ensures Barakah in every act and is very recommended. This is the most common translation of the verse that you will read. The translation is perfect, but most people would find it hard to understand the difference between the words Gracious and Merciful. Both the words ‘Rahman’ and ‘Rahim’ are derived from the same root words ‘Rahama’ which means Mercy. The translations Gracious and Merciful are accurate but does take away the simplicity of the two Arabic words. The words Rahman means someone who is Entirely merciful, and the word Rahim means someone who especially merciful. The words ‘Rahman’ and ‘Rahim’ are very common words in Arabic language, but the words Gracious and Merciful are not that integral to the English language and are not the easiest of words. This is why we need explanations to explain the real meanings and in most cases, the meaning is not that clear. We should also note that ‘Allah’ is the most complete of all his names and contains all his attributes, and is the most used name in the Quran.

الْحَمْدُ للّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ
Alhamdu Lillahi Rabbil Aalameen
Praise be to Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds

The first Ayah of the Surah teaches us to praise Allah who is the creator of all the worlds. It teaches the etiquettes of dua by reminding that every prayer should begin by praising the Master of the Worlds. It should be noted that the world ‘Rab’ refers to the Master Slave relationship between the Creator and his creation. It reminds us that Allah is our Master and it is our duty to obey his commands in every situation.

الرَّحْمـنِ الرَّحِيمِ
Ar Rahmanir Rahim
Most Gracious, Most Merciful

The next ayah states the attributes of the Master that he is the most Gracious and the most merciful. He is Gracious to the entire universe and his mercy is intended for the Believers.

مَالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ
Maaliki Youmad Din
Master of the Day of Judgement

This Verse reminds us in every prayer and every time this verse is recited that there is a day of judgement and that Allah is the Master/King of that day. We get busied with our daily life and forget the day of reckoning that awaits us in which will be asked about every action of ours. This verse reminds us in every prayer that our Master will judge each and every single of our action on that fateful day.

إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ
Iyyaka Na’budu wa Iyyaka Nastaeen
Thee (alone) do we worship and of Thee (only) do we seek help.

This ayah teaches us to worship only one Lord, and reminds us that he alone can help us. No power in the world deserves to be worshipped and Allah alone is the one who can has the power to help us. No one can help us against Allah’s will, and no one can harm us against Allah’s decree. Worship is not limited to the 5 daily prayers, fasting, hajj and charity; but includes every day to day task done for the sake of Allah. Smiling is an act of worship, removing a stone from the path is an act of worship, eating in the name of Allah is an act of worship, and even sleeping by praising the lord is an act of worship! In this section we acknowledge that we worship him alone and only seek help from him.

اهدِنَــــا الصِّرَاطَ المُستَقِيمَ
Ihdinas Siratal Mustaqeem
Guide us on the Straight Path

This is the last section of the surah, and in this section, we seek guidance from Allah, the guidance towards the straight path. A Muslim is always supposed to do an introspection of his life and this ayah reminds the person praying that he is fallible and only Allah can guide him unto the right path, and he should constantly ask Allah to keep him on that path.

صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنعَمتَ عَلَيهِمْ غَيرِ المَغضُوبِ عَلَيهِمْ وَلاَ الضَّالِّينَ
Siratal Lazeena Anamta Alayhim. Ghayril Maghdoobi Alayhim Waladdalleen
The path of those upon whom Thou hast bestowed Thy bounties, not (the path) of those inflicted with Thy wrath, nor (of those) gone astray

This Ayah reminds us what right path is. The straight path is the path that takes us towards the jannah and rewards, and we seek from Allah, the path of success, and we seek to avoid the path of those who have been punished with hellfire and have gone astray!

The Language of the Quran

Surah Al-Fatiha is a prayer form Allah, and a complete guidance for the mankind. This Chapter is also known as ‘Sab’al Masani’ – ‘The Seven repeatedly recited Verses’ and also known as ‘Ummul Quran’ – ‘The Mother of Quran’. A Muslim who understand the meaning of this Surah realises the Master-Slave relationship between him and Allah, appreciates the Grace and Mercy of the Lord who has showered upon us his numerous blessings, realises that he answerable for all his actions on the day of judgement, acknowledges that he alone can help and is alone worthy of-of worship, and seeks the righteous path from his Lord!

The next time you read this Surah or recite it in your prayers, remember the meanings of each word, and you will appreciate the change it will bring to you and to your prayers.

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