Contemporary and Social Issues

Opening the Penalties with Al-Fatihah – Opening Chapter of the Qur’an – Morocco’s Strategy at the FIFA World Cup


Qasim Choudhary, USA

For some, it was the classic storyline of the underdog team defeating a World Cup heavyweight. Or perhaps it was the coolness of Hakimi stepping forward and, with a slight, deft touch of the ball, nothing more than a brush of silk, gently placing the ball past the keeper and then proceeding to embrace his mother.[1] But the moment of interest for many, had nothing to do with soccer (football as some argue) and occurred prior to the penalties. As the Moroccan team huddled together following a grueling and spirited 120-minute scoreless draw. They collectively began reciting the opening chapter of the Holy Qur’an – Surah Al-Fatiha. With the Holy Qur’an comprising 114 chapters, you may be wondering what the particular significance of this Surah (Chapter) is, and why it was recited? Here are 5 interesting facts about Surah Al-Fatiha


As the name suggests, the term Fatiha is also used as connoting victory and aid against the enemy[2]. Interestingly enough, with the hope that the blessings of this chapter would propel them to victory, the Moroccan team recited this special prayer.  

A Tonic for the Body & Soul

A special feature of the Holy Qur’an is its claim to possess healing properties for the ailments of the body and soul.[3] It is narrated that a chieftain was suffering from a snake-bite. A companion of the Holy Prophet (sa) began reciting Surah Al-Fatihah and applied his saliva to the wound. Miraculously, the saliva served as a remedy and cured the ailing chief.[4]

Similarly, concerning the remedial efficacy of this surah, the Promised Messiah (as) expounds, ‘there is no physician comparable to it for washing out the poison of sin and healing the crookedness of hearts and it leads to righteousness and certitude.’[5]

The spiritually barren Arabs were satiated by this surah and were transformed from ignorant to stalwarts of faith. Commenting on the verities of Surah Fatihah, the Promised Messiah (as) declared, ‘it opens up vistas of sublime thought which had been closed to sages and philosophers. Its perusal fortifies faith in the heart of the spiritual pilgrim and heals it of all doubts, misgivings and apprehension.’[6]

Mother of the Qur’an

Although this small chapter is composed only of seven verses, it is deemed as a subtle outline of the Holy Qur’an and encompasses in brief all the insights of the Holy Qur’an. In fact, another title used for Fatihah is Ummul Quran (Mother of the Quran), for it comprehends the totality of the meaning of the Qur’an in an excellent manner. As the Promised Messiah (as) eloquently states, 

 ‘It [Fatihah] has embedded in it like in a shell all the gems and pearls of the Quran. This surah is, as it were, a nest for the birds of spiritual knowledge and understanding.’[7]

Defender Against Hell

This Surah is also known as Al-Saba’l Masani (the seven oft-repeated verses). The Promised Messiah (as) further elucidates, ‘Since hell has seven gates, Surah Fatihah has seven verses. Each one of its verses thus provides a means of security against ones’ approach to hell.’[8]

The Merciful

In Fatihah we learn that God is Rahim (Merciful) or in other words, He does not let the efforts and struggles of man go in vain. He crowns them with results and achievement. This especially resonates in the world of professional sports.  If an athlete did not believe that his training and exercise would produce results, he would grow indifferent and lazy. This attribute widens the horizon of human hope and encourages man towards incessant striving.[9] We can observe this attribute in operation even on a sports pitch. It’s generally the case that the team who outclasses and outperforms the other, often receives the spoils of victory. It is the responsibility of man to put into motion his God-given faculties for the attainment of a certain objective and expend all his energy, vigor, and strength to that end. An all-encompassing effort coupled with prayers will provide the best result. Whether you are a student, athlete, or scientist this crucial principle ought to be kept in mind if you desire victory in your field. 

So, with the vast and abundant blessings found in Surah Al-Fatihah, it’s clear to see why the Moroccan team decided to come together and recite this before their penalty shootout. For them, it was a means of beseeching God for His help, His blessings, and of course, victory. 

About the Author: Qasim Choudhary is a graduate of the Ahmadiyya Institute of Languages and Theology in Canada, and serves as an Imam of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in the United States of America.



[2] Commentary on The Holy Qur’an Vol.1 Surah Fatiha, pg.17 & Dictionary of the Holy Qur’an, pg.637

[3] The Holy Qur’an, 17:83

[4] Bukhari, Kitab-at-Tib

[5] Commentary on The Holy Qur’an Vol.1 Surah Fatiha, pg.18

[6] Commentary on The Holy Qur’an Vol.1 Surah Fatiha, pg.7

[7] Commentary on The Holy Qur’an Vol.1 Surah Fatiha, pg. 2

[8] Commentary on The Holy Qur’an Vol.1 Surah Fatiha, pg.18

[9] Commentary on The Holy Qur’an Vol.1 Surah Fatiha, pg. 67

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