It is one of the very earliest Revelations. In fact, we learn from authentic Traditions that it was the first complete S urah revealed to the Prophet (pbuh). Before this, only a few miscellaneous verses were revealed which form parts of S urah 'Alaq, Muzzammil and Muddaththir.
- This Surah is known as Sab'a Mathani (Seven Oft-Repeated Verses).
- It is also called Umm-ul-Kitab (Mother of the Book), foundation and essence of the Qur'an.
- It is a mandatory part of each Islamic Prayer (Salah), 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 the Qur'an, he should offer this prayer to the Rabb of the Universe. Al-Fatiha teaches that the best thing for a man is to pray for "Guidance towards the Right Way" and to study the Qur'an with the mental attitude of a seeker of truth, and to recognize that the Rabb of the Universe is the source of all knowledge. They should, therefore, begin the study of Al-Qur'an with a prayer to Allah for Guidance.
It is important to know that the real relation between Al-Fatiha and the 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 Qur'an is the answer from Allah. The devotee prays to Allah to show the "Right Way" and Allah places the whole of the Qur'an before him in answer to his prayer, as if to say: "This is the Guidance that you have asked for".