How to Say Surah al-Fatihah Like You Really Mean It - Part 2
[Just to let you know, the text below is a transcription of what I've said in this video. So please excuse any words or phrases that don't quite look right.]
Here are a few important points about how to say Surah al-Fatihah in our prayer.
When Reciting Aloud
If we are reciting loudly, then it is appropriate that we should try to beautify our recitation as much as possible. But don't do that in such a way that all you're focusing on is your melody.
Instead, focus on the meanings of the words that you're actually saying:
- You need to actually offer the praise and the recognition of Allah's attributes in the way that you should.
- Tell Him you alone we serve and You alone we ask for help in a statement of devotion and need.
- Ask for guidance as though you actually feel the need for guidance.
- Then elaborate on what the path is, the straight path that you want to be on, who you want to be with, and who you don't want to be with.
So we need to be mindful of the communication going on; this is not something that we just sing to make a nice sound, and then that's it. No, the whole point is to actually express this with meaning to our Lord.
When Reciting Silently
Secondly (and importantly), I want to draw your attention to the way that we say this in a silent prayer.
In a silent prayer, the opportunity to be melodious isn't there. But the way in which we say the words of Surah al-Fatihah now reveals a lot about what's actually going on for us, in reality, when it comes to our prayer.
Many of us, because it's a silent prayer, just mumble through the words. But there is a way to actually say the words in Surah al-Fatihah, even in a silent prayer, in such a way that it's still meaningful.
Reciting Surah Al-Fatihah in English
For example, if I were to now say in English, relatively quietly, the words of Surah al-Fatihah, I would say something like this (see video):
I begin in the name of God the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy.
All praise belongs to God, Lord of all that exists.
The Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy.
Master of the Day of Judgement.
You alone we serve and You alone we ask for help.
Guide us on the straight path.
The path of those whom you favoured, not of those who encourage your anger, nor of those who have gone astray.
May it be so.
Now, if that is even in a quiet voice, you're still able to be expressive enough.
Reciting Surah Al-Fatihah in Arabic (Rushed vs Mindful)
Often, when we are silently saying the words, we might rush through them. Even though we might be familiar with al-Fatihah’s meanings, we're not familiar with the Arabic. Sometimes, because of the repetitive nature, we can lose connection with what we're saying. So we're not expressing any meaning through the words.
Whereas, if we were to be mindful of the meanings of the words, then our expression might slow down a little bit (see video).
If we are saying these words with even a minimum understanding of their meaning, it's quite hard to say al-Fatihah much faster than how I've said it (see video). That’s because it's just inappropriate for the words we're saying and who we're talking to.
Just as we would consider it inappropriate or disrespectful for us to speak to someone, or for someone to talk to us in a fast way, mumbling and being unclear, we should be careful about our manner of expression with our lord.
- In a loud prayer, recite beautifully, but be mindful of the meaning.
- In a silent prayer, don't just mumble, but try to express the words meaningfully, conscious of what you're saying.
You will truly experience the power of al-Fatihah and you will be on the way to making your prayer a presentable one and hopefully an acceptable one, too.
Try that out in your next Salat and see how it goes.