All praises belong to God who is the Cherisher of the Universe. He is the most Merciful, and He instills mercy in His creatures. He is the Arbiter for Judgment Day. Our God, it is You that we (strive to) serve and it is You that we ask for help (in serving others). Our God, guide us to the right guidance, the guidance followed by those whom You bless and not the guidance of those who earn Your anger by deviating from Your guidance.
This is a wonderful prayer, universal in its message and genuinely elegant and sincere in its expression of human beings’ humility to the Almighty. It recognizes the sovereignty of God (Allah) upfront and addresses Him by His most prominent attribute, which is mercy. It recognizes our accountability to Him during our life in this world and in the Hereafter. It also refers to two major commitments of a human being: worshipping God and seeking His help in serving others. It then encourages us to follow the true guidance, which leads human beings to God and away from the Devil (Shaitaan), to the guidance of the Prophets Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Mohammad, and to the universal guidance given to all prophets and found in Islam, a testimony to the unity of all religions.
This opening statement of the Qur’an captures the essence of God and His vision for the world, the purpose of our existence and the created world, and the human yearning for guidance.
Every Muslim, young and old, who offers daily prayers has to repeat this Surah so many times that they may tend to become desensitized to what they are saying or reciting. When we praise God at the beginning of our prayers, we should be genuinely grateful for and content with His bounty and be genuinely awed by His presence. We make promises that we will worship Him and that we will serve our fellow men, and then we ask for specific guidance to follow. But do we really mean what we say? Are we making empty promises instead? Our sincerity is tested each day, and we need to be true to our words through our actions and the choices that we make on a daily basis.
- Ar-Rahmanir Rahim
- Yaka Na’budu Wa Yaka Nastayin
- Sirat Al-Mustaquim
*Definitions can be found in the Glossary*