The Qur’an opens not with the story of creation, but with the opening.

The beginning of the Qur’an is not: “In the beginning Allah created the heavens and the earth”, but rather:   “In the name of God, the All-Merciful, Universally Compassion, Ever Lovingly Tender.”

Opening lines of the Qur'an, from Sokollu Mehmet Pasha Mosque in Istanbul

Opening lines of the Qur’an, from Sokollu Mehmet Pasha Mosque in Istanbul Author photo.

In the beginning is the Opening.

One of the keys that the Muslims sages have offered us is this:   As in the Qur’an, so in the hearts.

The Qur’an opens with the Fatiha (“Opening”).
That chapter is used to open the ritual five-times-a-day prayers.
And it is the Opening of our hearts.

Hearts have to be opened.
We are not even prepared to receive God’s call.

It is the opening of the human heart that leads to the revelation of the rest.
It is the cry of humanity that elicits God’s response.

As the great Rumi says: It is the baby’s cry that brings out the milk from the mother’s breast.

So we call out.
We have to pray for a heart that yearns to be open.
We have to pray for the prayers to open.

When we open the book of the Qur’an, in reality it is a plea to have our own hearts be opened.

May there be opening.
May there be illumination.
May there be prayer of an open heart, ready to walk through the door that has never been closed.

Here is my favorite translation of the Fatiha, as interpreted by Imam Bilal Hyde.  


Bismi-llah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim
Al-hamdu lillahi rabb-il-‘alamin
Ar-Rahman ir-Rahim
Maliki yawm id-Din
Iyyaka na’abudu w iyyaka nasta’in
Ihdin-as-sirat al-mustqim
Sirata-lla dhina an’amta ‘alaihim
Ghair-il-maghdubi ‘alaihim
wa lad-Dallin


We begin in the Name of God,
Everlasting Mercy, Infinite Compassion.
Praise be to God, Loving Lord of all the worlds.
Everlasting Mercy, Infinite Compassion.
Eternal Strength of every living being,
Whose Majestic Power embraces us on the day of the great return.
Only You do we adore, and to You alone do we cry for help.
Guide us, O God, on the path of Perfect Harmony,
the path of those whom You have blessed with the gifts of Peace, Joy, Serenity and Delight,
the path of those who are not brought down by anger,
the path of those who are not lost along the way.

So be it.



  1. Amin, dear Omidjaan!

    I find it also quite suitable that a major Muslim LGBTQAI movement is called “al-Fatiha.”

    I wish that I were now in Turkey with you. Enjoy your time there!

  2. Sometimes I wonder if converting really was the right path of my faith.. lately I’ve been wondering it a lot, but have felt disconnect from God. Since reading this I’ve felt that familiar peace that I feel when I’m connected with God. The Arabic sounds beautiful, but the english is so much more meaningful. This translation both sounds beautiful and is meaningful. Thank you.

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