Bismillah – Clearing the Confusion

Basmalah (reciting Bismillah) which means “In the name of Allah”, has been an easy target for critics of Islam and has constantly been bombarded with illogical allegations. There stands a great need to clear out the very genuine queries which many non-muslim have regarding bismillah and also the need to answer all the allegations against it in order to stitch the mouth of all those illogical boasters who try and allege the authenticity of Islam.

“ANY SIGNIFICANT ACT that does not begin ‘in the name of Allah’ is severed.” (Nasa’i)

So said our Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), to impres upon us that remembering Allah at the commencement of things is the most civilizing of all the human habits and epitomizes the peak of Adab, good manners – and, by his own account, adab is at the very heart of all he was sent into the world to teach.

To begin any intellectual or physical endeavor “in the name of Allah” is to formulate properly one’s intention and, therefore, to link that act deliberately to our worship, of Allah and nothing else. Beginning all matters of concern with the name of Allah is a feature unique to Islam.

Bismillah is recommended before starting any halaal (permissible in the Islamic Shariah) action or deed. For instance, Basmalah is recommended before starting a Khutbah (speech).

The Basmalah is also recommended before one enters the place where he wants to relieve himself, there is a Hadith concerning this practice. Further, Basmalah is recommended at the beginning of ablution, for Imam Ahmad and the Sunan compilers recorded that Abu Hurayrah, Sa`id bin Zayd and Abu Sa`id narrated from the Prophet ,

«لَا وُضُوءَ لِمَنْ لَمْ يَذْكُرِ اسْمَ اللهِ عَلَيْهِ»

(There is no valid ablution for he who did not mention Allah’s Name in it.)

This Hadith is Hasan (good). Also, the Basmalah is recommended before eating, for Muslim recorded in his Sahih that the Messenger of Allah said to `Umar bin Abi Salamah while he was a child under his care,

«قُلْ بِسْمِ اللهِ وَكُلْ بِيَمِينِكَ وَكُلْ مِمَّا يَلِيكَ»

(Say Bismillah, eat with your right hand and eat from whatever is next to you.)

Some of the scholars stated that Basmalah before eating is obligatory. Basmalah before having sexual intercourse is also recommended.

Why is it important to say Bismillah? What is the wisdom behind it?

Beginnings are, indeed, empowering divides. But most of us forget to benefit from them because we pass through them with our worldly eyes attentive but our spirit asleep.For though all that we do in life, and that is done to us, has a defined beginning and a precise end, we mostly ignore the proper start of things (where connection lives), and totally disregard the end (until it is upon us with consequence).

For us Muslims, beginnings are like miqat, waymarks along the way. They have function and meaning. They signify an understanding of specific purposes in life and make possible the intention to fulfill our obligations in it.

It is a sincere desire to align our wills and lives with the will of Allah expressed in his commandments and directives. One moment you recognize that you are at the beginning of a new deed. The very next, you are saying bismillah before you actually enter in upon it, so that you can firmly bind that deed, be it a rite of worship or any other matter, to its longed for blessings and send it up to Allah, in humble hope of His acceptance of your small remembrance.

Little though our deeds may be, the impact of their proper beginning is tremendous. It moves one’s consciousness from disconnection to anticipation to invocation of the Name of the Highest, Allah ! Only then comes commencement.

When we say bismillah before beginning any act, it means that we are seeking Allah’s blessings and help in the act which we are going to do next.

If a person makes the recitation of “Bismillah ir-rahmaan ir-rahim” a practice before anything which he does, then when he comes across an act which is not permissible in Islam i.e; haraam, like consuming alcohol, then due to his habit of saying bismillah, this bismillah will surely be uttered upon this impermissible act also. It will then make him halt and think that “Am I asking Allah to give me blessings and help me over an act that is haraam in Islam?” Due to the beauty of the meaning of bismillah and the nature of the act over which you are commencing it on, you will tend to refrain from it. Bismillah reminds you whether the task you are going to do next is permissible or not and if it is not permissible, then you will stop insha’allah.

Saying Bismillah before any Permissible action allows the person to carry out that action or task with a logical thought, with Allah’s help. Starting with Allah’s name will have a profound effect on the person’s psychological thought processes. He will think clear. He will understand and make sense of his task better.

Allah will save that person from the evil of Shaitaan and add His mercy and blessings in his actions because when we call upon Allah like when we say Bismillah, Allah gives that person his attention. He listens to you.

Thus, this beautiful word bismillah is a magnificent reminder of our relationship to our Creator and our relationship to all of creation. In one simple word bismillah expresses our wonder, awe and thankfulness while it also expresses our innermost prayer that we may have the blessing of another breath, another moment of life, and that we may walk on a path of truth and understanding. To say bismillah is to humbly offer one’s self as a vehicle for the glory and majesty of The One.
Allah Knows Best.

Reason why Bismillah is there at the beginning of the Surahs in the Qur’an:

For us Muslims, it is sufficient enough that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) recited the Bismillah at the beginning of the Surahs, but this might not be enough for the critics of Islam.

Everyone must be well aware of the very first revelation to Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). It was

(اقْرَأْ بِاسْمِ رَبِّكَ الَّذِى خَلَقَ)

Aqra’ Biāsmi Rabbika Al-Ladhī Khalaqa

(Read/Proclaim/Recite in the Name of your Lord who has created)

Thus the very first command which Allah gave to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) via Angel Jibreel (a.s.) was to “Recite or Read or Proclaim in the name of the creator” i.e; Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in the very first revelation was instructed to convey Allah’s message to the people by reading/reciting/proclaiming in Allah’s name.

This is also prophesised in the Bible in the Book of Isaiah Chapter 29 verse 12

And the book will be given to one who cannot read, saying, “Read this,” he says, “I cannot read.”

When prophet Muhammad (pbuh) conveyed this or any message from Allah to the people, he began it in the name of Allah i.e; Bismillah.

Thus Bismillah at the beginning of Surah Alaq Chapter 96 or any other Surah in the Qur’an, is not a contradiction, instead it is the confirmation of Allah’s commandment.

Islam is a pure Monotheistic religion and Allah by his divine wisdom knew of the possibilities of people allegaging the revelations, thus the very first revelation was to proclaim in the name of the creator, removing even the minutest chance of the Qur’anic revelation being from someone other than Allah – the creator of everything.

Allah Knows Best.

Why Bismillah is missing in Surah Taubah (Chapter 9)?

The Holy Quran must always be understood in context. It is important to keep the historical background in view when reading each passage of the Holy Quran.

All the Surahs of The Holy Quran were not written or revealed in the same time. Revelations used to be revealed upon Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in discrete fashion. Which revelation is to be added to which Surah was also revealed.

The answer to the confusion or rather allegation as to why there is no Bismillah in the beginning of Surah taubah can be well cleared with the report narrated by Ahmad,Dawud :: Book 3 : Hadith 785, al-Tirmidhi, al-Nisaa’i, Ibn Hibbaan and al-Haakim from Ibn ‘Abbaas, who said:

“I said to ‘Uthmaan, ‘What made you put al-Baraa’ah [al-Tawbah], which is one of the Mi’een next to al-Anfaal which is one of the Mathaani in the category of as-sab’u at-tiwal (the first long surah or chapters of the Qur’an)? Why did you not put the line Bismillaah ir-Rahmaan ir-Raheem in between them when you put it at the beginning of the rest of al-Sab’ al-Tiwaal [the long seven soorahs]?” ‘Uthmaan said: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to receive revelation of soorahs with many aayahs. When they were revealed, he would call his scribes and tell them, ‘Put these aayahs in the soorah where such-and-such is mentioned; and when one or two aayahs were revealed, he used to say similarly (regarding them). Al-Anfaal was one of the first soorahs to be revealed in Madeenah, and Baraa’ah (al-Tawbah) was one of the last parts of the Qur’aan to be revealed. Its contents/stories were similar to those mentioned in al-Anfaal, so it was thought that it was part of it. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was taken [i.e., died] without explaining whether it was indeed part of it, so they were put next to one another, and the line Bismillaahi ir’Rahmaan ir’Raheem was not written between them, and it [al-Tawbah] was put among the Sab’ al-Tiwaal [seven long soorahs].”

(Al-Haakim said: its isnaad is saheeh, and al-Dhahabi agreed with him. Al-Mustadrak, 2/330)

Therefore the noble companions in the compilation of the Glorious Quran did not prefix it. This is a further proof of the fact that utmost care has been taken to keep the Holy Quran intact so that it should remain in its complete and original form.

Logically this Surah follows up the argument of the last Surah Anfal (Chapter 8), and indeed may be considered a part of it.

Surah Anfal (Chapter 8), dealt with the large questions arising at the outset of the life of a new Ummah or organized nation; question of defense under attack, distribution of war acquisitions after victory, the virtues needed for concerted action, clemency and consideration for one’s own and for enemies in the hour of victory.

This Surah deals with the question; what is to be done if the enemy breaks faith and is guilty of the treachery?

No nation can go on with a treaty if the other party violates it at will; but it is laid down that a period of four months should be allowed by way of notice after denunciation of the treaty; that due protection should be accorded in the intervening period; that there should always be open the door to repentance and reunion with the people of Allah; and if all these fall, and was must be undertaken, it must be pushed with the utmost vigour.
It is mentioned in Sahih Muslim : The Book of Commentary (Kitab Al-Tafsir) : Book 43 : Hadith 7185

Sa’id b. Jubair reported: I said to Ibn ‘Abbas about Sura Tauba, whereupon he said: As for Sura Tauba, it is meant to humiliate (the non-believers and the hypocrites). There is constantly revealed in it (the pronoun) minhum (of them) and minhom (of them, i. e. such is the condition of some of them) till they (the Muslims) thought that none would be left unmentioned out of them who would not be blamed (for one fault or the other). I again said: What about Sura Anfal? He said: It pertains to the Battle of Badr. I again asked him about Sura al-Hashr. He said: It was revealed in connection with (the tribe) of Banu Nadir.

In view of the above Hadith, another reason why the Bismillah is not included at the beginning (of al-Tawbah) is that it came with the sword (i.e., the command to fight the kuffaar) and it exposes the hypocrites and their foul deeds in a manner that is not unlike any other soorah, and this theme is repeated throughout Soorat al-Tawbah. Allah knows best.

One may argue that the Surah prophesising Abu Lahab’s fate (Surah Masad Chapter 111) was also very strict, then why is their Bismillah before it.

Well the answer to this is the very difference in nature of the starting verses of these two Surahs. Read them once and you will understand.

The tone is very different. Surah Taubah is a direct declaration of disassociation on breaching any treaty where as, Surah Masad (Chapter 111) was a prophecy of Abu Lahab and his family’s fate, not a warning or declaration of disassociation on breaching any treaty as is the case with Surah Taubah.

Also, Surah Taubah, as stated earlier, has similar contents as that of Surah Anfal and hence there are high chances of it being a continuation of Surah Anfal.

A point to be noted is that, Abu Lahab lived for many years after this prophecy was revealed. He could have destroyed the credibility of Islam and the Prophet simply by pretending to convert. But he didn’t….Allah knows all. It is the will of God that is revealed in the chapter above and neither Abu Lahab, nor anyone in the world can go against the will of God.

Allah Knows Best.

Bismillah even before Haraam acts?

There is no confusion in the Quran except if you are no willing to learn. The message is perfectly systematic.

Now ignorant people might question that Bismillah is pronounced before most awful and unworthy tasks as per any norms of civilized society. To take name of Allah before doing such detestable tasks is an insult to Almighty who is considered pure and kind.

Again a very wrong misunderstanding of Islam. Bismillah is to be recited at the beginning of only good and noble deed for seeking blessing.

Anything that is haraam or makrooh, whether it is words or actions, it is not permissible to start it with any mention of Allaah, may He be exalted, because that is disrespectful, and is starting sin with an act of obedience.

Now taking few of the most misinterpreted cases into consideration:

Before sacrificing an animal: We muslims believe that all good things are directed to Allah alone and hence before slaughtering an animal we say: Bismillah (“In the name of Allah”) because we don’t want to leave any scope or chances of people considering the fact that we are sacrificing for anyone else other than Allah.

Now if you have any problem with Muslims eating non-veg food, then google on the internet and you will get tons of reason as to why/how the non-veg foods are healthy and recommended etc and you will also find tens of verses from your very own scriptures proving to you that even non-veg food and these sacrifices are mentioned in your religions also, whether you belong to a Hinduism, Christianity etc.

Once you are convinced that non-veg is not prohibited for humans, then you should consider the fact that even if we don’t sacrifice, on Eid ul Adha, then also everyday in the market we get non veg foods. Moreover, we don’t sacrifice only for eating because as stated we get non-veg in markets, but rather this occasion is of showing brotherhood and of helping the poor and the needy. We have been commanded to distribute maximum amount of the slaughtered food to the poor, needy and to our relatives. We can for our own eating keep only 1/3 rd of the whole. Thus we do this noble deed of feeding the poor and the needy and distributing, by beginning in the name of Allah, Our creator.

While beginning to have sexual intercourse: Now, having intercourse with one’s own wife is neither an offence nor a dirty act. Sexual intercourse becomes dirty and haraam with anyone else other than your wife. So, those who consider it dirty enough might have indulged in more haraam relations apart from their wife.

So, Islam recommends saying Bismillah i.e, In the name of Allah, while beginning to have intercourse with one’s wife only, not with anyone else. This is because it is recommended to seek Allah’s blessings before any noble and good deeds as stated earlier and sexual intercourse with one’s own wife is a good deed and he will be rewarded for that, because he is doing something halaal and avoiding something haraam.

As it is mentioned in Sahih Muslim :: Book 5 : Hadith 2198

Abu Dharr reported: some of the people from among the Companions of the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) said to him: Messenger of Allah, the rich have taken away (air the) reward. They observe prayer as we do; they keep the fasts as we keep, and tray give Sadaqa out of their surplus riches. Upon this he (the Holy Prophet) said: Has Allah not prescribed for you (a course) by following which you can (also) do sadaqa? In every declaration of the glorification of Allah (i. e. saying Subhan Allah) there is a Sadaqa, and every Takbir (i. e. saying Allah-O-Akbar) is a sadaqa, and every praise of His (saying al-Hamdu Lillah) is a Sadaqa and every declaration that He is One (La illha ill-Allah) is a sadaqa, and enjoining of good is a sadaqa, and forbidding of that which is evil is a Sadaqa, and in man’s sexual Intercourse (with his wife, ) there is a Sadaqa. They (the Companions) said: Messenger of Allah, is there reward for him who satisfies his sexual passion among us? He said: Tell me, if he were to devote it to something forbidden, would it not be a sin on his part? Similarly, if he were to devote it to something lawful, he should have a reward.

See the beauty of Islam, which no other religion has. Islam not only forbids Haraam relationships but in turn also shows way of how to avoid Haraam relationship.

Allah Knows Best.

Why does Allah say: “I start with the name of Allah”?

Now all those who allege the above allegation are either trying to mislead the people or showing their utter ignorance.

Qur’an is the message of God to the people through Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and our beloved prophet Muhammad (pbuh) used to recite the verses revealed to him to the people in the name of Allah because he was commanded to do so in the very first revelation mentioned in Surah 96. Whenever a verse was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) , it was meant to be passed on to the people. Thus if Allah would have revealed every verse in 1st person and not have had referred to Himself in 2ndor 3rd person narrative, then people would have misunderstood and would have doubted the authenticity of the revelations and hence would have blaimed Muhammad (pbuh) to be the one giving/delivering message on his own behalf, rather than from Allah. And moreover today’s people would have then cited all the verses in 1st person and alleged Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to be claiming to be God himself.

Just take any verse where Allah has referred himself as “Allah” and replace it with 1st person i.e, “Me” or “I” and the error would be quite apparent. Take for example: Bismillah which means “In the name of Allah”. If 1st person is used then it would have meant “In my name”. Just imagine Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) saying to the people “I start in my name”.

Or take any such verse and replace it and you will see it for yourself. Example the first surah Chapter 1 verse 2 which says: “All the praises and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of the Alameen (Worlds)”. Now replace it with 1st person, it would become: “All the praises and thanks be to me, the Lord of the Alameen”. Imagine if the revelations were in such patterns then everyone including you and me would have believed that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was claiming to be God and that the revelations were not divine.

But, Alhaumdulillah (Praise be to Allah), Allah is our creator and his wisdom encompasses everything and is far superior than your or mine wisdom/thinking. In order to prevent people from misunderstanding and doubting the authenticity of the revelations, Allah revealed his name in many verses in the 3rd person and in many verses in 2nd person apart from some verses in 1st person.

But whenever Allah referred to himself in the 1st or 2nd person, in the context, at least once if not many, Allah referred to himself in 3rd person.

Thus the above given argument of why Allah says “In the name of Allah” is totally an illogical allegation, made by those whose only purpose is to misrepresent the beauty and authenticity of Islam.

Allah knew the need and intentions of every people and his divine wisdom shows it all.

Allah says in the Holy Quran Chapter 4 Surah An-Nisa verse 122:

The promise of Allah is true, and who can be truer in his word than Allah?

Allah says in the Holy Quran Chapter 8 Surah Anfal verse 30:

They plot and they plan, and Allah plots and plans! And Allah is indeed the Best of Planners!

Allah says in the Holy Quran Chapter 9 Surah Taubah verse 33:

He is Allah, Who has sent His messenger with guidance and the Right Way so that He may make it prevail over all the other ‘deens’, even though the pagans be much opposed to it.

Allah says in the Holy Quran Chapter 58 Surah Mujadalah verse 22:

They (the believers) are of the party of Allah. Truly it is the Party of Allah which will achieve True Success.

May Allah guide you and us all to the Siraat al-Mustaqeem (the straight Path).

Whatever written of Truth and benefit is only due to Allah’s Assistance and Guidance, and whatever of error is of me. Allah Alone Knows Best and He is the Only Source of Strength.

Also Go through our other refutations:

» Was Islam a Revelation of Allah?
» I) Religion Demystified: Demystifying Religion in True sense
» II) Religion Demystified – Refuting false lies of Agniveer
» III) Religion Demystified – Response to Eastern/Other faiths
» Islam and Rebirth
» Islam will not be a threat if…
» No Compulsion in Religion