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      Tafseer - Explanation of the Qur'aan

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        ·           The saying of the Exalted: "With the Name of Allah, The Most Beneficent, The Most Merciful": [1]

Revelation - Ibn Abbaas (radiyallahu anhu): “The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam) did not use to know the beginning and end of a Surah until ‘Bismillah ar-Rahmaan ar-Raheem’ was revealed.” [Saheeh - Ibn Katheer and ‘Saheeh Abu Daawood’ [no. 707]

Composition - The action that the servant intends to do has been omitted in the sentence in order to generalize the statement [known as the basmallah]. Hence, no matter what the servant intends to do, the basmallah is applicable to it. Similarly, if one utters Bismillaah before he gets up or sits down or does anything else, conveys the significance of his saying, which is: ‘I stand in the Name of Allah, I sit in the Name of Allah… etc.”

We also understand that the action is to come at the end of the sentence for two vital reasons:

To seek blessings by beginning with the name of Allah.

To express the fact that the action is only for Allah.

Three Beautiful Names of Allah - In this verse Allah is described by three beautiful Names: Allah, Ar-Rahmaan (generous, kind), Ar-Raheem (kind, compassionate).

“Both Ar-Rahmaan (the Most Beneficent) and Ar­-Raheem (the Most Merciful) are nouns derived from the verb rahima (which means to show mercy, to be compassionate) and they both convey the sense of ‘one who has mercy’ [2] [Tabari]

Virtues of Bismillah - There are a number of texts explaining to us the virtue of the basmallah:

 1. Bismillah causes humiliation (dhame, dishonor) to shaytaan -Narrated Abu Tameemah (radiyallahu anhu): “ I was riding behind the Prophet (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam) when his mount stumbled and so I said, ‘may Shaytaan perish!’ Upon hearing this the Prophet (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam) said, "do not say may Shaytaan perish for when you say this Shaytaan becomes exultant and grows in stature (physique, size) and says, ‘it was by my power that I injured him.’ But when you say, ‘with the Name of Allah’ he becomes humiliated and grows small until he ends up the size of a fly."  [Ahmad [5/59, 365] and the wording is his. It was declared saheeh by al-Albaanee in ‘Saheeh Abu Daawood’ [no. 4168]. Muqbil bin Haadee said that the isnaad of Ahmad contains the narrators of the Saheeh.]

 2. Shaytaan does not harm - Narrated Ibn Abbaas (radiyallahu anhu) that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam) said: “If, when one of you wishes to go to his wife (and) says, ‘With the Name of Allah, O Allah! Protect us from the Shaytaan and keep the Shaytaan away from what You will provide us.’ Then if it is decreed that they should have a child out of that act then the Shaytaan will never be able to harm him. [Bukhaaree [Eng. Trans. 1 no. 143], Muslim [Eng. Trans. 2 no. 3361]

3. It is essential for the Wudhu to be completed - Narrated Abu Hurayrah: “The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam) said: “There is no wudu for the one who does not [commence] by mentioning the Name of Allah. “ [Saheeh Abu Daawood’ [no. 92]

Is Bismillah a verse of the Qur’aan? - The scholars have differed as to whether or not this statement comprises a verse of the Qur`aan when it is found in the beginning of each Surah and they have fallen into four opinions.

1. That it is a verse of every Surah except Surah at-Tawbah. [3]  

2. That it is not a verse of any Surah of the Qur`aan at all and that it is placed at the beginning of every Surah merely to distinguish it from another. [4]

Narrated ibn Abbaas (radiyallahu anhu): “Prophet (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam) did not use to know the beginning and end of a Surah until ‘with the Name of Allah, Most Beneficent, Most Merciful’ was revealed. [Saheeh - Ibn Katheer & ‘Saheeh Abu Daawood’ [no. 707]

3. That it is a verse of al-Faatihah but not of any other Surah or it is part of the first verse of every Surah. This is another opinion reported from ash-Shaafi`ee but it is ghareeb.

4. That it is an independent verse of the Qur`aan heading every Surah but not actually part of that Surah. [5]

Agreement of the scholars that Bismillah is part of the verse of Soorah an-Nahl - However it is an agreement of the scholars the basmAllah comprises part of the verse of Surah an-Nahl wherein Allah says:

“She said: O chiefs! Here is delivered to me a noble letter. Indeed it is from Sulaymaan and it [reads], ‘In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.’" [Soorah An-Naml (27): 29-30]

Ruling of Bismillah in the Prayer - As regard to whether one should recite it loudly in prayer then the fiqh of this branch is unlike from the difference mentioned above:

1. Those who follow the second and fourth opinions are not of the view that one recites it loudly. Indeed Imaam Maalik was of this opinion, depending upon the literal sense of the following hadeeth and its likes: “The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam) used to commence his prayer by saying the takbeer and reciting, ‘all praise and thanks are due to Allah.’ [Saheeh Muslim Eng. trans. 1 no. 1005] from Aa`ishah (radiyallahu anhu)]

2. As for those who follow the first opinion then they differ falling into two opinions:

(a) That one recites it loudly as it is a part of al-Faatihah and therefore it should be recited in the same way as the rest of the Soorah. This is the view of a group of the Sahaabah, and a number of the scholars after them, from amongst them ash-Shaafi`ee. They base their view upon the following Ahadeeth.

Narrated ibn Abbaas (radiyallahu anhu): “The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam) recited, ‘with the Name of Allah, Most Beneficent, Most Merciful’ loudly.” [Al-Haakim, [Mustadrak [1/326 no. 750], wherein he said that it was saheeh. However az-Zayla`i said in ‘Nasb ar-Raayah’ [1/345] that its isnaad contains Abdullaah bin `Amr bin Hisaan about who Alee bin al-Madeenee said that he used to fabricate ahaadeeth. Adh-Dhahabee mentioned the same in his ‘Talkhees.’]

Narrated Anas bin Maalik (radiyallahu anhu) that he said in reply to one who asked him about the recitation of the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam): “His recitation would be elongated, then he recited ‘with the Name of Allah, Most Beneficent, Most Merciful’ elongating bismillaah, elongating ar-Rahmaan and elongating ar-Raheem.” [Saheeh Bukhaaree [Eng. Trans. 6/513 no. 566]

Narrated Umm Salamah (radiyallahu anhu): “The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam) used to cut his recitation at each verse [pausing before going on to the next. He would recite], ‘with the Name of Allah, Most Beneficent, Most Merciful’ [then] ‘all praise and thanks are due to Allah the Lord of the Universe,’ [then], ‘the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful’ [then], ‘Master of the Day of Judgement.” [Sunan Abu Daawood [Eng. Trans. 3/1120 no. 3990]. Ad-Daaraqutnee said that it has a saheeh isnaad and it is in ‘Saheeh Abu Daawood’ [no. 3379]

(b) That it is not to be recited loudly.

This is reported from the Prophet (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam) by Bukhaaree and Muslim, it is the view of a number of the Sahaabah, and it is established from the Four Khaleefs. It is also the view of a group of the scholars after them from amongst them Abu Haneefah, ath-Thawree and Ahmad.

So this is a summary of the views of the scholars with regards it recitation and they are all close to each other, and all praise is due to Allah, for they are agreed that the prayer of the one who recites loudly or silently is valid. [Ibn Katheer]

[1] The baa (with) is known as the baa of isti`aanah or seeking help and support, meaning that the servant is seeking the aid of Allah in the action he is about to perform.  "With the Name of Allah" meaning I start with every name that belongs to Allah, the Exalted.

[2] But they do not have exactly the same meaning... The scholars of Arabic language are agreed that the word Ar­-Rahmaan conveys a stronger quality than the form Ar-Raheem Al­‘Arzami said: “Ar-Rahmaan denotes mercy to all creatures, while Ar-­Raheem denotes mercy to the Believers.” Abu Sa’eed Al-Khudri said: “The Messenger of Allah said: “Jesus, the son of Mary said: “Ar-Rahmaan is the Merciful in the Hereafter as well as in this world, while Ar-Raheem is the Merciful in the Hereafter.”

[3] This was the opinion of Abdullaah bin Abbaas, ibn Umar, ibn Zubair, Abu Hurayrah, `Ataa, Taawoos, Sa`eed bin Jubair, Makhool, az-Zuhree, Abdullaah bin Mubaarak, ash-Shaafi`ee, Ahmad – in one of the reports from him, Ishaaq bin Rahwayyah and Abu Ubayd al-Qaasim bin Salaam.

[4] This was the opinion of Maalik, Abu Haneefah and their companions.

[5] This is the opinion of Daawood and Ahmad in the second of the two reports from him. Abu Bakr ar-Raazee also relates this from Abu al-Hasan al-Karkhee and these two are from the greatest of the Hanafi scholars.

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