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Sura al-Fatiha

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Sura al-Fatiha
سوره فاتحه.jpg
Sura Number 1
Juz' 1
Revelation Number 5
Makki/Madani Makki
Verse Count 7
Word Count 29
Letter Count 143
This article is an introduction to the Sura al-Fatiha; to read its text see text:Sura al-Fatiha.

Sūra al-Fātiḥa (Arabic: سورة الفاتحه) or Sūra al-Ḥamd (سورة الحمد) is the first sura of the Qur'an, which is known as Umm al-Kitāb (the Mother of the Book). It is a Makki Sura in the first juz' of the Qur'an. It counts as one of the Qisar Suras. According to hadiths, in spite of its shortness, "Sura al-Hamd" contains great meanings and counts as the base of the Qur'an. The Sura must be recited in obligatory and recommended prayers, and its main themes are monotheism and the praise of God.

It is said that one of the virtues of the Sura is that its revelation has prevented the descent of divine punishment on the Islamic nation. It is recommended to recite Sura al-Hamd after obligatory prayers, for a patient, and when laying a corpse in the grave.


  • Appellations and their Occasions

The main appellation of the Sura is "Fātihat al-Kitāb" (فاتحة الکتاب, Opening of the Book), because it is the first sura of the Qur'an with which it opens. It is the first complete sura revealed to the Prophet (s).

Because of its significance, the Sura has been known with over twenty appellations, the best-known of which are "Hamd", "Umm al-Qur'an" (Mother of the Qur'an), "Sab' al-Mathani", "Kanz" (treasure), "Asas" (base), "Shifa'" (healing), "Du'a'" (supplication), "Kafiya" (sufficient), "Wafiya" (adequate), "Raqiya" (protector or refuge).

  • Place and Order of Revelation

Sura al-Hamd was revealed twice: once early after Bi'that in Mecca, and once more after the redirection of the Qibla in Medina. This is why it is known as "Mathani" (two-timer). However, it counts as a Makki Sura because it was first revealed in Mecca. It is the first Quranic sura in the current order of compilation, and according to some hadiths, it was the fifth sura in the order of revelation. It was the first complete sura revealed to the Prophet (s).

  • Number of Verses and Words

Sura al-Fatiha has seven verses, twenty nine words, and 143 letters. With regard to its length, it counts as one of the small or Mufassilat Suras, and among the Mufassilat, it counts as one of the Qisar (short suras). According to hadiths, despite its shortness, the Sura has great meanings and is "Umm al-Kitab" (Mother of the Book) and the base of the Qur'an.


Sura al-Hamd plays a crucial role in the religious and cultural life of Muslims. According to the Imami jurisprudence, the Sura must be recited ten times in daily prayers, and according to the Sunni jurisprudence, it must be recited seventeen times in these prayers. According to a hadith from Imam al-Rida (a), Sura al-Hamd is recited at the start of prayers, because it encompasses all good and wisdom of this world and the afterlife such that there is no word more comprehensive than this Sura.


The main themes of Sura al-Fatiha are monotheism, the praise of God, worship, asking for God's help, and asking God for guidance. The Sura talks about Divine attributes, the indications of righteous servants of God, the issue of guidance, and the "Right Path" in terms of supplications and expressions of aversion to misguidance and astray. The Sura can be divided into two sections: the praise of God and the needs of His servants. According to a Qudsi Hadith, God says that He has divided Sura al-Hamd between Him and His servant; half of it is His, and the other half is theirs.

Content of Sura al-Fatiha[1]
Manners of God's praise and servitude
Introduction: Verse 1
In the name of God the possessor of all perfections
First discourse: Verses 2-4
Reasons why God deserves to be worshiped
Second discourse: Verses 5-7
people's obligations with respect to God
First reason: Verse 2
God's inclusive Lordship
First duty: Verse 5
Worship and servitude of God
Second reason: Verse 3
God’s infinite mercy
Second duty: 5
Asking for God's help
Third reason: Verse 3
God's sovereignty of the Day of Recompense
Third duty: Verses 6-7
Asking God for guidance


  • It is obligatory for mukallaf (accountable people) to learn and correctly recite Sura al-Hamd in the first and the second rak'as of obligatory and recommended prayers.
  • In the third and fourth rak'as of prayers, the worshiper has an option to either recite Sura al-Hamd or recite al-Tasbihat al-Arba'a. There is a disagreement as to which one is better.
  • It is recommended to recite "A'udh bi-llah min al-shaytan al-rajim" (I refuge to Allah from the Outcast Satan) before the recitation of Sura al-Hamd in the first rak'a, and it is forbidden to recite "Amen" after the recitation of Sura al-Hamd in the prayer, and indeed, it will invalidate the prayer.
  • It is permissible to merely recite Sura al-Hamd in a Nafila in which the recitation of no other sura (besides al-Hamd) is commanded.
  • There are many cases in which it is recommended to recite Sura al-Hamd, including when visiting a patient, when laying a corpse inside the grave, and when taking a piece of earth from al-Ha'ir al-Husayni.


Sura al-Hamd has been interpreted in exegeses of the whole Qur'an. However, in addition to that, there are independent exegeses of the Sura as well, including:

  • I'jaz al-bayan fi tafsir umm al-Qur'an]], by Sadr al-Din al-Qunawi (edited by Jalal al-Din Ashtiyani),
  • Lum'a fi tafsir al-hamd (a ray from the exegesis of Sura al-Hamd) by Muhammad Kazim ('Imad al-Din) Jaza'iri,
  • An exegesis of Sura al-Hamd by Sayyid Izz al-Din Husayni Zanjani,
  • Fatihat al-kitab: tafsir-i sura-yi sharifa-yi hamd by Sayyid Abd al-Husayn Dastghayb,

The Verse, "It is You we worship and You we ask for help," in Imam al-Mahdi Prayer

In some sources of hadiths, a prayer is recommended in which the verse, "It is You we worship and You we ask for help," is recited one hundred times. In this prayer, which is known as Imam al-Mahdi's Prayer, the verse is recited one hundred times in each rak'a when reciting Sura al-Hamd. The hadith of Imam al-Mahdi's Prayer was cited by Qutb al-Din al-Rawandi and Sayyid b. Tawus.

Virtues and Effects

There are many hadiths concerning the virtues and significance of Sura al-Hamd. According to a hadith, Gabriel told the Prophet (s) that the revelation of this Sura has prevented the descent of divine punishment on the Islamic nation. And according to another hadith, the sura heals every illness. Imam Ali (a) has quoted the Prophet (s) as saying that Sura al-Hamd is a treasure in the Divine Throne (Arsh), which has exclusively been given to the Prophet Muhammad (s) and was never shared by any other prophets, except its "bism Allah" (in the name of Allah), which was given to Solomon (a) the prophet as well … if the Sura is recited by someone who believes in, loves, and follows Muhammad and his household, the reward he will receive in exchange for each letter of the sura will be greater than this world and what it contains.

The Prophet (s) has said that Sura al-Fatiha is the best Quranic sura and that no sura like this can be found in the Torah, the Gospel, Zabur, and the Qur'an. According to another hadith from the Prophet (s), the reward for the recitation of Sura al-Fatiha equals that of reciting two-thirds of the Qur'an or that of giving charity to all believers. Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (a) said about the sura: "if one recites it, then God will open to him the way to the good in this world and the afterlife." He also said that God's Greatest Name is scattered in this sura. In his al-Ikhtisas, al-Shaykh al-Mufid cites a hadith according to which the Prophet (s) said that the reward for the recitation of Sura al-Fatiha equals that of the recitation of all Holy Scriptures.


  1. Khamagar, Muhammad, Sakhtar-i suraha-yi Qur'an-i karim, Mu'assisa-yi Farhangi-yi Qur'an wa 'Itrat-i Nur al-Thaqalayn, Qom: Nashra, ed.1, 1392 Sh.

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