Al-hamdu lillaahi rabbil-‛aalameen “Praise be to Allah, the Lord of all the worlds.” (1:2): I extol Allah with all His attributes, acts and apparent and hidden blessings, with due love and reverence. Rabb (translated here ‘Lord’) refers to Almighty Allah, the Creator, Owner, Provider and Disposer of all affairs. The ‘worlds’ refers to anything apart from Allah ﷻ and includes, among other things, the world of human beings, that of the jinn, that of the angels and that of animals.
Ar-Rahmaan-ir-Raheem “The Beneficent, the Merciful.” (1:3): Ar-Rahmaan (Most Beneficent) and Raheem (Most Merciful) are two of Allah’s names. Ar-Rahmaan is more intensive, in that Allah’s mercy includes in its objects the believers and the unbelievers, while Ar-Raheem has for its peculiar object the believers only.
Maaliki yawmid-Deen “Master of the Day of Judgement.” (1:4): He is the only Judge on the Day of Judgement. This statement reminds the believers of the Last Day and prompts them to do righteous deeds.
Iyyaaka na‛budu wa iyyaaka nasta‛een “You alone we worship. You alone we ask for help.” (1:5): We worship none but You, and we do not associate anyone with You in worship. We also seek only Your assistance and support in all our affairs, for the power of decision rests with you alone.
Ihdinassiraat-al-mustaqeem “Guide us on the Straight Path.” (1:6): Show us to the Straight Path and help us adhere to it until we meet You. The Straight Path (as-siraat al-mustaqeem) is nothing but Islam, the clear religion that leads to Allah’s good pleasure and Paradise. It was Muhammad r, the Seal of Prophets, who guided us to it, and man’s happiness entirely depends on adhering to it.
Siraatalladheena an‛amta ‛alayhim “The path of those You have blessed;” (1:7): That is, the path to which You have guided to, the prophets, the righteous people who know the truth and follow it.
Ghayril maghdoobi ‛alayhim waladh-daalleen “not of those who have incurred Your wrath, nor of those who have gone astray.” (1:7): Keep us away from the path of those with whom You are angry because they know the truth but have chosen not to follow it, namely the Jews and their likes; also keep us away from the path of those who have not been guided to the truth due to their ignorance, namely the Christians and their likes.
What Should a Person Who Does not Know Soorat Al-Faatihah and the Post-Obligatory Prayer Supplications by Heart Do?
A new Muslim who does not know Soorat Al-Faatihah and the post-obligatory prayer supplications by heart must do the following:
- He must do his best to memorise the obligatory supplications in the prayer, for the prayer will not be valid except by reciting these supplications in the Arabic language. These supplications are: Soorat Al-Faatihah, Allaahu akbar (Allah is Most Great), Subhaana rabbiy-al-‛adheem (Glory be to my Lord, the Almighty), Sami‛allaahu li man hamidah (Allah listens to him who praises Him), Rabbanaa wa lakal-hamd (Our Lord, to You is due all praise), Subhaana rabbiyal-a‛laa (Glory be to my Lord, Most High), Rabbighfir lee, (O Lord, forgive me), the first tashahhud, the final tashahhud, and Assalaamu ‛alaykum wa rahmatu llaah (Peace and mercy of Allah be on you).
- He must, before completing memorisation of these utterances, repeat, to the best of his ability, whatever of them he has committed to memory during the prayer and repeat whatever part of Soorat Al-Faatihah he has memorised, which is normally recited in the standing posture, for the Qur’an states, “Keep your duty to Allah as best you can.” (Soorat At-Taghaabun, 64:16)
- It is recommended that he attends the congregational prayers during this period so he can perfect his prayers and because the prayer leader (imaam) covers part of the shortcomings in the prayer of those praying behind him