Lit. “The opening one.” The first chapter of the Qur’an, called also the Suratu ‘l-Hamd, or the Chapter of Praise.” It is held in great veneration by Muslims, and is used by them very much as the Paternester is recited by Roman Catholics. It is repeated over sick persons as a means of healing and also recited as an intercession for the souls of the departed, and occurs in each rak’ah of the daily prayer. Muhammad is related to have said it was the greatest Surah in the Qur’an and to have called it the Qur’anu ‘l-Azim, or the “exalted reading.” It is also entitle the Sab’u ‘l-Masam, or the “seven recitals”, as it contains seven verses; also Ummu ‘l-Qur’an, the “Mother of the Qur’an.” According to a saying of the Prophet, the fatihah was revealed twice, once at Makkah and once at al-Madinah. The Amin always said at the conclusion of this prayer.
The following transliteration of the Arabic of the Fatihah into English characters may give some idea of the rhythm in which the Qur’an is written: –
“Al-hamdu li-‘llahi Rabbi ‘l-alamin.
Maliki yaumi ‘d-din.
Iyaka na’budu, wa-iyaka nasta’in.
Ihdina’s s-strata ‘l-mustaqun.
Ghairi ‘l-maghzubi ‘alahim, wala ‘z-zallin.
Which is translated by Rodwell in his English Qur’an as follows: –
“Praise be to God, Lord of all the worlds!
The Compassionate, the Merciful!
King of the Day of Judgement!
Thee do we worship, and to Thee do we cry for help!
Guide Thou us on the right path!
The path of those to whom Thou art gracious!
Not of those with who Thou art angered, not of those who go astray.”
Based on Hughes, Dictionary of Islam