Guide us on the straight path; the path of those on whom You have bestowed Your favours, not those who have incurred Your wrath, nor those who have gone astray. (Verses 6-7)
With these words a believer pleads to be shown the Right Way and to be helped along it, which cannot be achieved without God’s guidance, care and mercy. To acknowledge that is in itself a recognition of God’s sovereignty and dominance over all things and events.
Guidance to the right way of life guarantees man’s happiness in this world and in the hereafter. It comes about, in effect, by guiding human nature and man’s instincts, desires and inspirations towards the recognition and comprehension of the divine will, so bringing human activity into rhythm with the natural order and the physical world.
The sūrah reveals the nature of the “straight path” as being one taken by those whom God has favoured, not the way of those who have earned His displeasure by their deviation from the Truth, nor that of the heedless who have no knowledge of the truth. It is the path of happiness and salvation.
This, then, is al-Fātiĥah, the sūrah selected for frequent daily recitation, without which Islamic prayers are invalid. Despite its brevity, it contains some of the most fundamental principles of the Islamic faith and certain insights that arise from them.
The Prophet Muĥammad is reliably reported to have quoted God as saying that the fruits of prayer are shared equally between Me and My servant, and My servant will be granted what he asks for. As the worshipper recites [in Prayer]: “Praise be to God, the Lord of all the worlds,” God will say: ‘My servant has praised Me.’ As he recites: “The Compassionate, the Merciful,” God will say: ‘My servant has thanked Me.’ As he recites: “Master of the Day of Judgement,” God will say: “My servant has glorified Me.” As he says: “You alone do we worship, and to You alone do we turn for help,” God will say: ‘This is between Me and My servant, and My servant will receive what he asks for.’ And, as he says: “Guide us on the straight path, the path of those on whom You have bestowed Your favours, not those who have incurred Your wrath, nor those who have gone astray,” God will say: ‘This is for My servant, and he will be granted his wish.’“
This ĥadīth explores some of the meanings of al-Fātiĥah. The reader will perhaps find it helpful in understanding why God has chosen this sūrah for recitation by Muslims at least seventeen times a day, as they stand up for their obligatory prayers, spread over the night and day, and even more frequently, whenever they offer voluntary prayers.
1444 H (2024) Qur'an Wiki - Studying Divine Speech