Surah Fatiha or Hamd is the very first whole chapter of the Quran that Allah revealed to Prophet Muhammad (s) in the city of Mecca. We recite this surah at least ten times daily in our prayers. Therefore, we should all memorize this surah. In this article, we will discuss the following topics:
Different Names of Surah Fatiha and Their Meanings
Fatiha, also known as Fatihat al-Kitāb, means the opening or opener. The reason for this naming is that it is the very first surah in the Quran. The surah also has the name Umm al-Kitāb, which means Mother of the Book. Some other names of this surah are:
- Al-Hamd (the Praise)
- Al-Shifā (the Cure)
- Sab‘ al-Mathānī (the Seven Oft-Repeated Verses)
- Asās al-Quran (the Foundation of the Quran)
Benefits of Surah Fatiha
Reciting Surah Fatiha brings countless rewards. Prophet Muhammad (s) has said, “Reciting surah Fatiha once is equal to reciting two-thirds of the Quran and having donated charity to all Muslims.”1
A Cure for All Ailments
The Noble Prophet (s) has said, “Surah Fatiha is the cure for all ailments except death.”2 What you must do is recite Surah Fatiha to cure a specific person who is ill. Inshallah, they will be cured. This is why Surah Fatiha is also known as Shifā, which means cure. However, one should also note that by Shifā, we also mean spiritual diseases. Surah Fatiha can also cure spiritual diseases, such as lying, backbiting, bribing, cheating, stealing, and deceiving. When we recite Surah Fatiha in our daily obligatory prayers, it helps us stay away from sins that will corrupt our spirit and make it sick. That is why the Quran has said:
إِنَّ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ تَنْهَىٰ عَنِ ٱلْفَحْشَآءِ وَٱلْمُنكَرِ
Indeed the prayer restrains from indecent and wrongful conduct. (29:45 All translations are by Qarai)
Was Surah Fatiha the First Surah to Be Revealed?
Historians have debated whether Surah Fatiha was the first revealed surah to the Noble Prophet (s). Some argue that if Surah Fatiha was not the first revealed Surah, how would the Prophet (s) perform His daily prayers? One could argue that the exact way of performing prayer the way it is now performed was not yet legislated, although this might not be true. Most Muslims agree that the first three or five verses of Surah Alaq were the first verses Allah revealed to Prophet Muhammad (s). Some scholars say that Surah Fatiha was the first whole surah that Allah revealed to Prophet Muhammad (s).
The Quran Starts With Allah’s Name in Surah Fatiha
The first verse of Surah Fatiha reads:
بِسْمِ ٱللَّهِ ٱلرَّحْمَٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
In the Name of Allah, the All-beneficent, the All-merciful. (1:1)
According to the Prophet (s) and his Ahlul Bayt (a), Bismillah is part of every surah but not the first verse. However, the Bismillah of Surah Fatiha is the first verse of the surah. What makes Bismillah significant? Allah wants to tell us that we should begin every activity—especially reciting the Quran—with Bismillah. A narration from the Prophet (s) reads:
“The act that initiates without the name of God will remain fruitless and cut off.”
For this reason, we as Muslims say Bismillah before starting any activity, such as waking up in the morning, eating breakfast, going to work or school, and going to bed.
All Praise Belongs to Allah
ٱلْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ ٱلْعَٰلَمِينَ
All praise belongs to Allah, Lord of all the worlds. (1:2)
Like Bismillah, Alhamdulillah is also one of the phrases that Muslims say daily. Alhamdulillah is, in fact, a way of saying thanks to Allah. All praise belongs to Allah because He has created and has power over everything. Every time we want to thank Allah for the blessings He has given us, we say Alhamdulillah.
Allah’s Mercy Encompasses All
The All-beneficent, the All-merciful. (1:3)
Al-Raḥmān means Allah’s all-encompassing mercy. Allah has mercy on all people, whether or not they believe in Him. However, there is a special kind of mercy exclusive to His righteous and virtuous servants. Al-Raḥīm means the specific mercy Allah only bestows on those who believe in Him and are righteous. Therefore, Allah is just and fair in that He does not treat everyone in the same way but rather based on their beliefs and deeds. Those who believe in Him and are righteous enjoy Allah’s special mercy and compassion.
The True Master and Owner
مَٰلِكِ يَوْمِ ٱلدِّينِ
Indeed, with Allah religion is Islam. (3:19)
Mālik means master or owner of something. We are not the true owners of what we assume to belong. Allah owns everything, including us. On the Day of Judgment, Allah reigns supreme. He says who goes to hell and who goes to heaven. He completely controls everything that happens on the Day of Judgment. Does not such a master deserve our praise and gratitude?
The Believers’ Confession
إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ
You [alone] do we worship, and to You [alone] do we turn for help. (1:5)
In this verse, Allah tells us what we must say, especially when we are reciting Surah Fatiha in our daily prayers. We confess that we only worship Allah and only ask Him to help us. This verse reflects monotheism because Allah is our only God, and He is the one who provides for us. If we are faithful to this confession, then we must never forget Allah and know that when we ask for others’ help, it is because Allah has made them a means for us.
The Most Significant Prayer in Surah Fatiha
ٱهْدِنَا ٱلصِّرَٰطَ ٱلْمُسْتَقِيمَ
Guide us on the straight path. (1:6)
The sole prayer that Allah tells us to say in Surah Fatiha is to guide us on the straight path. What is the straight path? The straight path is essentially the teachings of Islam. That is the pure and uncorrupted version of Islam. It is an Islam based on the Quran, Sunnah, and the teachings of the Prophet (s) and his Ahl al-Bayt (a).
How Does Allah Describe the Straight Path?
صِرَٰطَ ٱلَّذِينَ أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ غَيْرِ ٱلْمَغْضُوبِ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا ٱلضَّآلِّينَ
The path of those whom You have blessed — such as have not incurred Your wrath, nor are astray. (1:7)
We should try to be on the path of those Allah has blessed. Who are they? The remaining part of the verse explains it. We should not make Allah angry by disobeying Him, and we should not stray from the straight path of Islam. We must follow the religion of Islam, just as Allah has said in the Quran:
إِنَّ ٱلدِّينَ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ ٱلْإِسْلَٰمُ
Indeed, with Allah religion is Islam. (3:19)
If we follow all of the laws of Islam, the ones mentioned in the Quran and the ones taught to us by the Prophet (s) and his household, we would be on the straight and blessed path.
Surah Fatiha for Kids
Surah Fatiha is one of the first surahs that every Muslim child should learn. Memorizing this surah is very easy for kids. You must repeat each verse several times and ask your child to repeat after you. In this way, kids will quickly learn and memorize the surah. Even better, by enrolling in our Quran Kids course, your child will memorize Surah Fatiha and eight other surahs. Download the app now.
Surah Fatiha, which means the opening, is the first chapter of the Quran. We can learn many things from this surah that only has seven verses. We learn that:
1. We should begin everything with the name of Allah
2. We should always praise Allah as everything belongs to Him.
3. Allah has mercy and compassion on everyone, especially His special servants.
4. Allah is the manager and master of the Day of Judgment.
5. We should only worship Allah and ask Him for help.
6. We should pray to Allah to guide us on the straight path.
7. The straight path is the blessed path of Allah, meaning Islam in the true sense of the word.
- Fadl bin Hassan, Tabarsi, Majma‘ al-Bayan fi Tafsir al-Quran, vol. 1, p. 88.
- Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 89, p. 237.