by Shaykh M. Hisham Kabbani

Our position -- and Allah knows best -- regarding the correct recitation of al-Fatiha is that stated in the Hanafi scholar al-Haskafi's manual of fiqh entitled al-Durr al-mukhtar where he says:

The following is a poem written by Ahmad Ibn Kamal Pasha on the sejawands (marks of subdivision) in the Qur'an:

Jeem: [ waqf Ja'iz] Permissible to pass by it, and proper too, better to stop when you see it, though.

Zaa': [ waqf mujawwaZ] You are free to stop, and so have they done. But they have deemed it better to read on.

Tah: [ waqf muTlaq] It is an absolute sign of stop; wherever you see it be sure to stop!

Saad: [ waqf murakhkhaS] "Stopping is permissible," they have said; so they have allowed you to take a breath.

Meem: [ waqf laziM] Absolutely necessary to stop for it; fear of disbelief is in passing by it!

Laa: [ nahy] "No pause!" is its meaning, everywhere; never stop! Nor breathe, anywhere! Now perfect your reading with this recipe, and gift its thawab to Muslims before thee!

[The letter `ayn means ruku'. It means that when conducting prayer in jama`a, Hadrat `Umar al-Faruq used to stop reciting the Qur'an while standing and bow for the ruku`. This sign, `ayn, always comes at the end of ayats. If you stop at the place where the sign la is, you must begin reading with the previous word. When you stop at the end of a verse, you do not have to repeat the previous word.]"

Below are the recitation-marks of the Fatiha as found in the mushafs of Ahl al-Sunna wa al-Jama`a which all can verify in their mosques and homes: [Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim]

al-hamdu lillahi rabbi al-`alamin

al-rahmani al-rahimi

maliki yawmi al-din

iyyaka na`budu wa iyyaka nasta`in

ihdina al-sirata al-mustaqimi

sirata al-ladhina an`amta `alayhim

ghayri al-maghdubi `alayhim wa la al-dallin

Even if one does not always recite according to the above instructions, at least let him make sure that his mushaf has them so that he can avail himself of their benefit, as there are many mushafs being circulated nowadays from which these marks have been removed!