This chapter is named AL-FATIHA because of its subject-matter. Fatiha is that which opens a subject or a book or any other thing. In other words, Al-Fatiha is a sort of preface.
Period of Revelation:
It is one of the very earlier Revelations. In fact, we learn from authentic Traditions that it was the first complete Surah (Chapter) revealed to the Prophet (pbuh). Before this, only a few miscellaneous verses were revealed which form parts of Surah Al-Alaq(The Clot), Al-Muzzammil(The Enshrouded One) and Al-Muddaththir(The Cloaked One) etc.
- This Surah (chapter) is known as "Sab’a Mathani" (Seven Oft-Repeated Verses).
- It is also called "Umm-al-Kitab" (Mother of the book), foundation and essence of the Qur’an.
- Its recitation is mandatory in each Islamic Prayer (Salah). It is recited at least seventeen times daily in the five obligatory prayers.
- This Prayer is taught by Allah (Almighty God) Himself to mankind, as a favor, to let them know the format of a Prayer which is acceptable to Him.
This prayer is for all those who want to study His Message. It is placed at the very beginning to teach the reader that if he sincerely wants to benefit from Al-Qur’an, he should offer this prayer to the Rabb (Lord) of the Universe. Al-Fatiha teaches that the best thing for a man is to pray for “Guidance towards the Right Path” and to study Al-Qur’an with the mental attitude of a seeker of truth, and to recognize that the Rabb (Lord) of the Universe is the source of all knowledge. One should, therefore, begin the study of Al-Qur’an with a prayer to Allah (Almighty God) for seeking His guidance.
It is important to know that the real relation between Al-Fatiha and Al-Qur’an is not that of an introduction to a book but that of a prayer and its answer. Al-Fatiha is the prayer from the devotee and the rest of the Al-Qur’an is the answer from Allah. The devotee prays to Allah to show him the Right Path and Allah(One True God) places the whole of Al-Qur’an before him in answer to his prayer, as if to say: “This is the Guidance that you have asked for”.
Available translations on Wikisource
- Alcoran of Mahomet, translation from the French by Alexander Ross , 1649
- The Koran (1734), as translated by George Sale
- The Koran (1861), by John Medows Rodwell
- The Holy Qur'an (1917, revised 1920), by Maulana Muhammad Ali
- El-Kor'an: The Suras Arranged in Chronological Order, 1876 by Author:John Medows Rodwell
- The Holy Qur'an, translation by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, 1938.
- The Meaning of the Glorious Koran, translation by Marmaduke Pickthall, 1930
- Al-Qur'an, A contemporary Translation by Ahmed Ali, Akrash Publishing, 1984; Princeton University Press, New Jersey, 1988, revised 9th printing, 2001. "Ahmed Ali's work is clear, direct and elegant - a combination of stylistic virtues almost never found in translations of the Qur'an. His is the best I have read." Dr. F.E. Peters, New York University.
- The Quran, translation attributed to Mohammed Habib Shakir, is a plagiarism of Maulana Muhammad Ali's translation, published in 1983.
- Quran (Progressive Muslims Organization), a translation by Progressive Muslims Organization, of unknown copyright status. Includes a transliteration of the Arabic.
- Verses in Chapter 1