In the Spirit of the Gracious and Compassionate
Creator of the Heavens and the Earth
Lester A. Knibbs aka Doctor Hakeem
The Qur’an consists of soorahs (which could be called “chapters”) and aayats (which could be called “verses”). I prefer to use the Arabic words because they mean things which the English words do not mean. A soorah is a step or stage in an ongoing process. An aayah is a sign — such as a stop-sign, or clouds being a sign of rain. In the Qur’an, the word aayah is used both to refer to the small units of the Qur’an and to signs in the common sense or in a more profound sense. (In Arabic, soorah is singular and suwar is plural; aayah is singular and aayaat is plural; both soorah and aayah end with a letter that is pronounced as a “t” in connected speech but as an “h” when not connected to a following word.)
Al-Faatihah is the first soorah of the Qur’an. The expression al-Faatihah means “the opening”. It is required to be recited at the beginning of each unit of salaah (which is usually called “prayer”, but, as usual, this is a poor effort to translate an Arabic word that has no English equivalent). In the course of performing the five daily salaawaat (plural of salaah), a Muslim will recite al-Faatihah at least 17 and perhaps over 30 times. (This must be done in its original Arabic language.)
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
الحمد لله رب العالمين
al-hamdu lil-Laahi rabb-il-`Aalameen
Praise be to Allah, the Guardian-Evolver of the worlds,
The Beneficent, the Merciful,
مالك يوم الدين
Master of the day of judgment.
اياك نعبد واياك نستعين
eeyaaka na`budu wa-eeyaaka nasta`een
You alone do we serve, and you alone do we ask for aid.
اهدنا الصراط المستقيم
Guide us to the upright path,
صراط الذين انعمت عليهم غير المغضوب عليهم ولا الضالين
siraat-alladheena an`amta `alaihim ghair-il-magh–doobi `alaihim wa-lad–daalleen
The path of those you have blessed, not of those who earn your anger, nor of those who go astray.
Go to http://quran.com/1 for a recitation of al-Faatihah. (Click on the “play” wedge to the immediate right of “Verses” on the menu bar near the top of the page.)