Understanding the True Meaning of Bismillah

understanding the true meaning of bismillah
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Publié le 6 février 2023, par Samir | 8 h 20 min
Temps de lecture : 5 minutes

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

The standard translation: « In the name of God, most Gracious, most Merciful. » 

Meaning of Bismillah 

Saying « Bismillah » before beginning something means you’re saying, « I start this activity with the name of Allah, or I’m asking for help from Allah, and I’m seeking blessings by doing so. » Allah is the beloved, and revered God to Whom hearts turn in devotion, loyalty, and submission. He is Al-Rahman, the Most Gracious, and Al-Rahim, the Most Merciful.

Simply « Bismillah » means that I start this activity by mentioning the name of Allah.

The divine name, which belongs to the Creator and no one else, is Allah; it is so well recognized as not to require an explanation. Its derivation from the Arabic word « ilah » (which refers to someone or something worshipped) is the correct approach. He is revered and divine because He is ilah (God). 

Al-Rahman is one of Allah’s names that could only be used to refer to Him. Because this form « Fa’lan » (an Arabic grammar term) denotes fullness and richness, it means the One endowed with great kindness. As mercy is His most exclusive attribute, it is Allah’s second most exclusive name after « Allah. » Therefore, Al-Rahman often follows the term Allah, as it says in Surah Al-Isra, verse 17:110, 

« Say (O Muhammad): Invoke Allah or invoke the Most Gracious [al-Rahman] (Allah). »  

Al-Rahim is also one of the 99 names of Allah and means the One Who makes His mercy reach those He wills.   

As asserted by Al-Qayyim Ibn (may Allah have mercy on him), 

« Al-Rahman denotes a quality associated with Allah that is a part of His Essence, whereas Al-Rahim signifies a connection between Allah and the person to whom mercy is shown. Al-Rahman refers to what He is, whereas the Al-Rahim refers to what He does. The first shows that mercy is an attribute of God, while the second shows that He shows mercy to His creation. It’s mentioned in Qur’an, verse 9:117, Surah Al-Tawbah, « Certainly, He is unto them full of kindness, Most Merciful (Rahim). » 

In this context, the name Al-Rahman is never used. Since Al-Rahim is the One Who bestows His mercy, we know that Rahman refers to the One Whose attribute is mercy. (Badai’ al-Fawaid, 1/24)  

Saying Bismillah when reading the Quran 

Bismillah is recited at the beginning of Surah Al-Fatiha, the essence of the Qur’an. When « Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem » was revealed, according to Jabir (RA), the clouds parted and moved toward the East, the wind stopped blowing, the oceans became calm, and the creatures began to listen.  

If Bismillah is at the beginning of a surah – except Surah al-Tawbah – then most imams have declared that it is recommended to recite « Bismillah hir Rahman nir Rahim » at the beginning of each surah. This should be done regularly. Some scholars believe reading the Quran is incomplete without reciting the Bismillah at the start of each surah (apart from al-Tawbah). « Do not skip it, Imam Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him) advised when asked about reciting Bismillah at the beginning of each surah. 

Reciting Bismillah at the start of Surah Al-Tawbah is considered makruh (disliked) by most scholars.  

Significance of Bismillah 

As Muslims, we believe that Quran is the ultimate guide to living in the world happily and accordingly. The first word written in it is Bismillah. Also, the entire guide to the Hereafter is mentioned in the Quran. If our Holy book starts with Bismillah, then everything it contains (the guidance on how to behave and live) should likewise start with Bismillah.  

Here’s why it is vital to recite Bismillah before we begin any activity. 

It’s Sunnah: The Prophet (PBUH) affirmed that « Any meaningful endeavor is flawed if it does not start with Bismillah. » Another Hadith narration says, « Any significant accomplishment that does not begin with Bismillah is lacking Barakah. » Hence, any important work that does not begin with Bismillah is imperfect. 

To Gain the Blessings of Almighty: Life in this world is only temporary, so we should prefer to use it to seek the blessing and happiness of Allah. Whenever Muslims invoke his name in their actions, Allah is very pleased. All of Allah’s blessings would be provided upon saying His name, and He would be with them in all good deeds that they began with Bismillah. 

It protects Against Shaytaan: Jabir (RA) reports that The Prophet (PBUH) said, « If a man remembers Allah as he enters his home and as he gets food, Satan says: « No place to spend the night and no food. » And if the man enters his home without invoking the name of Allah the Devil will say, « I found a place to stay the night. » And Satan will declare, « I have found a place to stay the night and have dinner » if the person doesn’t mention Allah as they eat. 

It protects from hellfire: Saying « Bismillah » is also substantial in preventing us from entering the disgraceful realm of Hell. According to Abdullah bin Mas’ood, there are 19 angels in Jahannam (Hell), and « Bismillah hir Rahman nir Raheem » has 19 letters. Anyone who recites Bismillah hir Rahman nir Raheem shall be safeguarded from the Jahannam angels. 

It strengthens believers’ connection with Allah: Muslims fervently believe in Allah and His mercy. Despite the fact that we cannot see Him, we are constantly aware of His proximity. Saying Bismillah strengthens our ties to Allah and is significant because being closer to Allah protects us from the Shaytaan and Jahannum. 

It washes off sins if read before wudhu:  

Abu Hurairah quoted the  Prophet (PBUH) saying: « Whoever does not say Bismillah before wudu, only the sins of the limbs which are cleansed in wudhu will be washed away; and whosoever says Bismillah before wudhu, the sins of the whole body will be washed away. »  

End Note:  

The 99 names of Allah have different beautiful meanings, which signify His attributes. Bismillah hir Rahman nir Rahim is the shortest and most significant ibaarah that comprises 3 names of Allah. Rahmaan, the most gracious; Rahim, the most merciful.

ven. 7 Rabi' 1
الجمعة 7 ربيع الأول

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