Breathing with the Opener: A skeleton key meditation

A meditation based on the Quran's opener, Surah Al-Fatihah. If you know the sura, you'll have a grounding tool when thoughts wander.

Breathing with the Opener: A skeleton key meditation
Photo by Anders Drange / Unsplash

Despite where one is at with being Muslim, some awareness of Surah Al-Fātihah (the Opener) connects many of us. It was one of the first things I was encouraged to memorise as a child, even though I didn't understand any Arabic. It's a bit of the Qur'an that sticks even when people raised in Muslim culture opt out; in Southeast Asia at least, you really cannot tell who might recall it in the face of supernatural emergencies.

This is not a translation of the al-Fatihah! I do include a translation if you're interested, but this is meant to be a meditation guide inspired by it. 
You can save this version of the meditation to your phone. Original photo by Mhmd Sedky

I wrote this meditation in 2021, when sitting quietly and breathing as a practice was just struggle-town for me. I decided to pair my breathing to the Opener's verses so I could give myself somewhere to return when my thoughts wandered. Now when I pray, I breathe through the al-Fātihah, and when I meditate, I al-Fātihah the way I breathe. The in and out gives me room to meaningfully explore each verse over time.

I offer it here hoping it inspires a deeper relationship with the Opener for you. I'm thankful I got to first put this down in text and shared it with queer and diverse Muslims in my life. I hope it helps at least one of us. After all, the time I shared with them has changed my life.

INHALE: I expand with love, grace, compassion

Reflect on verse 1: We begin in the Name of Everlasting Mercy, Infinite Compassion

EXHALE: I radiate gratitude to the Source

Reflect on verse 2: All praise belongs to the Love of all worlds

INHALE: I expand with love, grace, compassion

Reflect on verse 3: Everlasting Mercy, Infinite Compassion

EXHALE: I exhale awe of True Justice, Accountability

Reflect on verse 4: Who has the Power of the Last Day

INHALE: I breathe and admit I need guidance

Reflect on verse 5: It is You we face, it is You we ask for help

EXHALE: I blow out a broad path ahead

Reflect on verse 6: Guide us, O God, on Your clear and honest path

INHALE: I welcome in Divine blessings

Reflect on verse 7: The path of those You have blessed with Joy

LONG EXHALE: May I dissolve what distracts me from my purpose

Reflect on the rest of verse 7: The path of those not grief-struck with rage or lost along the way.


Inhale to repeat as necessary.

A early version of the meditation in 'Love Notes for the Holy Month' (2021), a zine made and shared between some queer Muslim friends to welcome in the fasting month.
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