This Surah is named AL-FATIHAH because of its subject-matter.
Fatihah is that which opens a subject or a book or any other
thing. In other words, Al-Fatihah is a sort of preface.
PERIOD OF REVELATION :
It is one of the very earliest Revelations to the Holy Prophet.
As a matter of fact, we learn from authentic Traditions that
it was the first complete Surah which was revealed to Muhammed
(Allah's peace be upon him). Before this, only a few miscellaneous
verses were revealed which form parts of `ALAQ, MUZ-ZAMMIL,
This Surah is in fact a prayer which Allah has taught to all
those who want to make a study of His book. It has been placed
at the very beginning of the book to teach this lesson to the
reader: if you sincerely want to benefit from the Quran, you
should offer this prayer to the Lord of the Universe.
This preface is meant to create a strong desire in the heart
of the reader to seek guidance from the Lord of the Universe,
Who alone can grant it. Thus AL-FATIHAH indirectly teaches
that the best thing for a man is to pray for guidance to the
straight path, to study the Quran with the mental attitude
of a seeker- after-truth and to recognize the fact that the
Lord of the Universe is the source of all knowledge. He should,
therefore, begin the study of the Quran with a prayer to him
From this theme, it becomes clear that the real relation between
AL-FATIHAH and the Quran is not that of an introduction to
a book but that of a prayer and its answer. AL-FATIHAH is the
prayer from the servant and the Quran is the answer from the
Master to his prayer. The servant prays to Allah to show him
guidance and the Master places the whole of the Quran before
him in answer to his prayer, as if to say, "This is the Guidance
you begged from Me."