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Significance of reciting Surah Fatihah in prayers and its meaning

Why it is a must to recite Surah al-Fatihah in our every prayer (Namaz)? What is the meaning of ‘Fatihah’? And why is it named so?


We say Surah al-Fatiha in every rak’at of our prayers because that’s how the prophet, alaihissalaam, required us to do. For instance, it is mentioned in a hadith of Bukhari that the prophet, alaihissalaam, said: “Allah’s Apostle said, “Whoever does not recite Al-Fatiha in his prayer, his prayer is invalid.”
The apparent reason why he has required us to do so is that the Almighty wants us to repeat this great surah each time we pray to Him because, if you carefully read it, it contains the basic message necessary for our guidance in this world. Whatever this surah says is primarily the strong inner spiritual need of all human beings, provided they have cared to maintain their inner goodness. Surah al-Fatiha is the prayer of a spiritually pure man, which the Almighty Himself has suggested in the best possible words.
It starts by thanking Allah Almighty and praising Him, mentions His immense mercy which we all experience, and talks about the fact that this world is incomplete and the Almighty would certainly bring a day of judgment. It mentions a spiritually pure man’s commitment to continue to worship and seek guidance from God. It urges the Almighty to help him to be guided to the right path that would take him to ultimate success. It asks Him to let him stay away from the path of failure. That is precisely what we humans need all the time. That’s why it has been required to be repeated many times each day. The rest of the Quran is the Almighty’s response to the prayer of al-Fatiha.
It is named so, owing to the meaning of al-Fatiha: that is, the one that opens. Since surah al-Fatiha is the opening surah of the Quran, it has been given this name. The surah has many other names too.