Surah Al Fatihah سورة الفاتحة: its meaning in English and learning how to recite it
NOW THAT YOU HAVE LEARNED:
a. the importance of prayer (salat) http://girlsguidetobeingmuslim.blogspot.com/2009/02/salat-importance-and-benefit-of-prayer.html
b. the times for prayer (salat)
c. how purify yourself for prayer (salat)
...It is time for you to start praying like a Muslim!!!! Yay! MashaAllah for all your good effort sisters! The most important thing for you to learn now is memorising Surah Al Fatihah (which is a chapter in the Qu'ran called "The Opening").
WHAT IS "SURAH AL FATIHAH"?
A surah is an Islamic word for chapter, and an ayah is an Islamic word for "verse". In English, the title Al Fatihah is often translating to "The Opening" or the "Exordium". Surah Al Fatihah is the first surah (chapter) in the Qu'ran, and it consists of seven ayahs (verses) that form a prayer for Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala's mercy and guidance, and express the believer's dependence on the lordship and mercy of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala.
WHY IS SURAH AL FATIHAH SO IMPORTANT TO LEARN?
Recitation of Surah Al Fatihah is considered a fard (obligatory) act during salat because Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa-sallam said: “Whoever offers a prayer in which he does not recite Umm al-Kitab (i.e., Al-Fatihah), it is defective” – he said so three times" [Narrated by Muslim]. Without a proper recitation of Surah Al Fatihah a prayer is defective, i.e invalid, so learning Surah Al Fatihah in arabic ASAP is of great importance.
WHY CAN I NOT JUST MEMORIZE A TRANSLATION OF SURAH AL FATIHAH IN MY OWN NATIVE TONGUE?
The Arabic language of the Qu'ran is a direct revelation (word for word) from Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala of what was taught to the Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa-sallam from the angel Jibreel (Gabriel). If it is translated, some of the original meaning is lost and that is something a Muslim never risks doing during his/her salat. The Qu'ran is recited ONLY in Arabic when it is used as a form of worship. So the worshipper must recite it properly in Arabic, because we are commanded to read and recite the Qur’an as it was revealed. Whoever is unable to pronounce it properly because of some defect in her tongue or because she is not an Arabic-speaker must learn to correct her pronunciation as much as she can. If she cannot, then she is relieved of this obligation, because Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala does not burden people with more than they are able to bear. Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala says: “Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope” [Al-Baqarah 2:286]
THE MEANING OF SURAH AL FATIHAH IN ENGLISH
One should still know the meaning of what they are reciting so that they can have good intentions while they say the words of a certain surah or ayah of the Qu'ran, and so that they can really mean what they are saying. Surah Al Fatihah has a meaning roughly as follows in English:
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
Master of the worlds and Sovereign of the Day of Judgement
You alone we worship, and from You alone we seek our aid
Guide us to the straight path
The path of those You have earned Your favour
Not of those who have earned Your anger
Or those who have gone astray.
TRANSLITERATION OF HOW TO SAY SURAH AL FATIHAH IN ARABIC
Al-Hamdu Lil-lahi Rabbil-'Alameen
'Iyaka Na'budu Wa' Iyaka Nasta'een
Siratal-Ladheena 'An'amta 'Alay-him
Ghayril-Maghdhoubi 'Alay-him Wa La-dhaalleen
(Ameen) [this is sunnah to say but is not printed in the Qu'ran]
I personally found this to be a very good online tutorial teaching one how to recite Al Fatihah: http://www.mounthira.com/learning/surah/001-al-fatihah/
As newbie Muslimah you don't have to worry too much about your tajweed yet just good pronunciation of all the Arabic sounds forming the ayahs of Al Fatihah. Here are some others reading Al-Fatiha with tajweed (tajweed is a term for correct and beautiful and sometimes even artistic recitiation of the Qu'ran):
Surah Al-Fatihah recited by Sa'id Al Ghamdi: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCz3UUKiPtw&feature=PlayList&p=346B966A2BA20FB9&index=14
Surah Al Fatihah recited by Mishary Rashid Alafasy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=za-V0_X_AAM
Surah Al Fatihah recited by Fahd Al-Kanderi: =JqbPcAp_k-8&feature=related
Surah Al Fatihah recited by an Albanian boy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4RD1d1qKd0
STARTING TO RECITE AL FATIHAH IN SALAT
When the time for salat comes now that you have learnt Al Fatihah make the proper ablution and then recite Surah Al Fatihah. If, in the middle of salat, you can only remember a few lines of Surah Al Fatihah, recite what you know because the Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa-sallam said: “Whatever you know of Qur’an, recite it, otherwise praise Allah, proclaim His Oneness and magnify Him.” [Narrated by Abu Dawud][Al-Mughni, 1/289, 290] and then you may add after what you know, that God is One and the Creator/Maintainer of all to finish up your salat. Some sisters write down Surah Al Fatihah one something they can read while preforming salat in order to memorize it. So you must try hard and keep practising it. You can do this by reciting it to another Muslim sister who can recite it well, and by listening to surahs recited by skilled reciters on tapes or broadcasts.There is no need to feel nervous and anxious, because Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala knows what is in people’s hearts, and He knows who is trying hard and making the effort, and who is lazy and heedless.The difficulty that you find in reciting Qur’an will increase your hasanaat (good deeds) and rewards. It was narrated that ‘Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) said: the Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa-sallam said: “The one who is skilled in reciting Qur’aan will be with the noble and obedient scribes (i.e., the angels?) and the one who reads the Qur’aan and struggles with it because it is difficult for him will have two rewards.”
(Narrated by Muslim, 798) Al-Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) said: The one who struggles with it is the one who is hesitant in his recitation because he is not able to memorize it well. He will have two rewards: the reward for reciting it and the reward for his efforts in reciting it. There is no need to repeat verses more than once, because this is not what the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) did or taught. Rather that opens the door to waswaas (whispers from the Shaytaan), detracts from the prayer, makes you lose your focus, distracts you from pondering the meaning of the verses and makes the shaytaan happy, because from that he can find a way to make you suffer so that you will ultimately give up praying. But Allah is Most Gracious and Most Merciful, and He is more merciful towards us than we are to ourselves, and He does not burden us with more than we can bear.
WHAT IS THE BENEFIT OF SURAH AL FATIHAH?
a. A recitiation of Al Fatihah is necessary for salat to be valid since the Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa-sallam said: “Whoever offers a prayer in which he does not recite Umm al-Kitab (i.e., Al-Fatihah), it is defective”
b. Besides being an obligation in the five fard prayers, there is hassanat (reward) for the act. The Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa-sallam said: the Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa-sallam said: “The one who is skilled in reciting Qur’aan will be with the noble and obedient scribes (i.e., the angels?) and the one who reads the Qur’aan and struggles with it because it is difficult for him will have two rewards.”
c. It was said to Abu Hurayrah: "...I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:“Allah said: I have divided prayer between Myself and My slave into two halves and My slave shall have what he has asked for. When the slave says: Al-hamdu lillahi rabbi l-alamin (All the praises and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of the ‘Aalameen (mankind, jinn and all that exists), Allah says: My slave has praised Me. And when he says: Ar-Rahmaan ir-Raheem (The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful), Allah (mighty and sublime be He) says: My slave has extolled Me. and when he says: Maaliki yawm id-deen (The Only Owner (and the Only Ruling Judge) of the Day of Recompense (i.e. the Day of Resurrection)), Allah says: My slave has glorified Me - and on one occasion He said: My slave has submitted to My power. And when he says: Iyyaaka na’budu wa iyyaaka nasta’een (You (Alone) we worship, and You (Alone) we ask for help (for each and everything)), He says: This is between Me and My servant, and My servant shall have what he is asking for. And when he says: Ihdina’s-siraata’l- mustaqeem, siraat alladzeena an’amta alaihim ghayril-maghdubi alayhim wa la’ d-dhalleen (Guide us to the Straight Way. The way of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace, not (the way) of those who earned Your Anger, nor of those who went astray), He says: This is for My servant, and My servant shall have what he has asked for.” [Narrated by Muslim]