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Bismillah – In the name of Allah (God). Before doing just about any action, including things as essential as eating and drinking, Muslims say Bismillah. Bismillah is also the first word when we start to read the Quran. Bismillah-ir-Rahmaan-ir-Raheem (also referred to as ‘the Basmalah’) is the starting point for all chapters in the Quran besides one, i.e., Surah at-Tawbah.
Every good action or deed should begin with us saying Bismillah. Saying Bismillah has a practical meaning. We do not merely utter it as a ritual. It means that we are starting the action seeking Allah’s help and blessings. Therefore, it is one of the most oft-repeated phrases amongst Muslims. According to Musnad Ahmad, the Prophet (PBUH) said that all-important speech or action that commences without remembering Allah is maimed.
According to Ibn Kathir, the companion Jabir (r.a.) is reported to have said that when Bismillah was revealed, the clouds shifted eastwards, the winds halted, the ocean became still, animals were hearing it and fire was showered on Satan. Moreover, Allah took an oath upon His Honor and stated that recitation of Bismillah on anything brings blessings into it.
Bismillah before eating
In Jami at-Tirmidhi, the Prophet (PBUH) said that we should say Bismillah when we eat food. If we forget to say it before eating, we should say ‘Bismillah Fi Awwalihi Wa Akhirih’, which means in the name of Allah at the start and finish.
In Shama’il Tirmidhi, Abu Ayyub Ansari said that once while the companions were in the Prophet’s (PBUH) assembly, someone presented food to him. The narrator said that he had never noticed any food with so much barakah at the start, while in the end there was no barakah remaining in it. When they asked Muhammad (PBUH) about it, he mentioned that, at first, they all recited Bismillah before eating, while someone joined the meal in the end without saying Bismillah, so Satan ate with him.
The above traditions show us that the Prophet (PBUH) commanded us to say Bismillah before eating food. The benefit that we gain from this is that Allah blesses the food, and keeps shaitaan away. Additionally, saying Bismillah also proves to be of psychological benefit. This is because we remember Allah; thus, we’re reminded of his bounties, and we are reminded that without him, we are nothing.
Bismillah upon entering and leaving one’s house
According to Sahih Muslim, the Prophet (PBUH) said that saying Bismillah upon coming into the house or eating makes Satan say to his followers that they will have no place to stay the night or eat dinner. However, not saying Bismillah when entering the house leads to Satan telling his followers that they have discovered a place to stay for the night, and if one doesn’t say Bismillah when eating, Satan says to his followers that they have uncovered a place to stay for the night along with food.
Due to these traditions, Islamic scholars and jurists such as Imam Nawawi stated that it is mustahabb to say Bismillah when entering one’s home. Therefore, once again, the remembrance of Allah serves to ward off shaitaan.
According to Sunan Abi Dawud, the Prophet (PBUH) also said that when one leaves his house and says ‘Bismillahi tawak kaltu ‘alal lahi la hawla wala quw wata illa billah’ (which means in the Name of Allah and voices the persons faith in Allah, apart from whom there is no might and power), it will be said to him at thee time that he is guided, and safeguarded.
As with entering the house, we should also say this invocation containing Bismillah when leaving home. It secures Allah’s protection for the person from the shayatin.
Having relations with one’s wife
In Sahih al-Bukhari, the Prophet (PBUH) said that saying ‘Bismillah, Allahumma jannibna-sh-shaitan, wa jannibi-sh-shaitan ma razaqtana’ before sexual intercourse will protect any child Allah wills for the couple have from that particular act of intimacy from Satan.
Hence, we can see that reciting Bismillah is beneficial before engaging in relations with one’s spouse. This also serves to remind us of Allah’s blessings. If Allah blesses the couple with a child, it will be only due to Allah’s will. The invocation will also serve to protect that child from the harm of the devil.
In Jami at-Tirmidhi, the Prophet (PBUH) said that saying ‘Bismillāh, alladhi lā yaḍurru ma`a ismihi shai’un fil-arḍi wa lā fis-samā’, wa huwas-Samī`ul `Alīm’ (meaning in the Name of Allah, Who with His Name, cannot be harmed by anything in the earth or the heavens, and He is the Hearing, the Knowing) three times won’t be harmed by anything.
It is recommended for Muslims to, therefore, read this dua after every Maghrib and Fajr prayer. Allah willing, it will serve as protection for the believers.
Various other occasions where saying Bismillah is recommended
It is sunnah to say Bismillah before making wudu, based on a Hasan hadith in Jami at-Tirmidhi.
Muslims are required to say Bismillah, Allahu Akbar when slaughtering an animal according to a Hadith recorded by both al-Bukhari and Muslim.
It is recommended to say Bismillah, Allahumma inni aoodhoobika minal khuboothi wal khabaith (Seeking refuge with Allah from evil and those who commit evil) before entering the toilet.
A Hadith recorded by al-Bukhari and Muslim shows that the Prophet (PBUH) began his letter addressed to Heraclius, the Byzantine ruler, with the Basmalah. Thus, starting letters with Bismillah is recommended.
For pain, as narrated in Sahih Muslim: Recite Bismillah three times (in the name of Allah) and seven times A’oodhoo billaahi wa qudratihi min sharri maa ajidu wa uhadhiru (I seek refuge with Allah and with His Power from the evil that I find and that I fear)
Allah’s mercy, and the difference between Bismillah and Basmalah
Saying the words Bismillah is referred to as the Tasmiyah. This phrase is used for various invocations and is recommended for Muslims in various parts of their daily lives. All the duas mentioned above include the Tasmiyah, i.e., Bismillah.
The phrase Bismillah ir Rahmaan ir Raheem is called the Basmalah. It mentions Allah’s two glorious names pertaining to Mercy. This is what should be said before the recital of any chapter of the Quran, besides Surah at-Tawba, the 9th chapter of the Quran. It’s also recommended to start reading the Quran with the Basmalah, if one is starting from the middle of a verse. The Basmalah is also used to begin letters and other forms of correspondence.
Besides Allah, the Basmalah also contains two other names of our Lord. Both names refer to His mercy. Al-Rahmaan is the name that describes the vastness of Allah’s overall mercy. His mercy is above anything contained in the rest of creation. Ar-Raheem is the name that indicates that Allah’s mercy covers His creation. This is according to renowned Muslim jurists such as Ibn al-Qayyim.
Mercy and compassion is a fundamental part of all creation. People give to those in need and support others. Families provide for, support, and love each other. Any act that involves reducing or ending someone’s suffering, providing shelter, love, and care, and spreading compassion involves mercy.
According to Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim, the Prophet (PBUH) said that Allah has divided mercy into a hundred parts, of which He sent down one to earth, while keeping 99. Nothing further needs to be said regarding Allah’s mercy – it’s beyond our comprehension.
The magnitude of Bismillah
The phrase Bismillah is one of the distinguished marks of Islam. Muslims continuously recite it all over the world. Allah has commanded us to start several acts with Bismillah. We must also further incorporate this into our lives by reciting Bismillah before even the smallest of actions.
Actions such as starting a computer, opening a book, or starting to exercise – saying Bismillah before such actions will serve as a reminder, and a blessing. Allah does not need anything. He is entirely Self-Sufficient. However, we need Him and His blessings.
Thus, we recite Bismillah before any good deed… and on that note, does anyone recite Bismillah before committing a harmful act or a crime? And in that is the ultimate lesson about the value of Bismillah.
All Muslims should be aware that Bismillah isn’t simply an expression or a statement. Yes, it is a way of remembering and thanking Allah. However, in practical terms, the importance is a lot deeper. When Muslims get into a habit of doing this regularly, it can have a significant impact on their lives. The most obvious effect it has is that it makes us more mindful of Allah. When we get into this routine, then we remember Allah and always try to do things that please Him. A seemingly small step can develop into something much bigger.
Additionally, various Hadith and saying from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) show us that saying this phrase enables us to gain Allah’s blessings. This is something that every Muslim desires. Allah is our Lord and Creator, and He is the only One Who can benefit us in any way. When we say Bismillah and remember Him, we hope that He answers our prayers and helps us. It further helps to know that the Prophet (PBUH) said in this regard that any act that a person begins without saying Bismillah is devoid of any of the expected benefits.
All of these things show us the benefits of Bismillah and its immense virtues. Allah has outlined a way for us to live in the Quran, and it is in our interest to follow that path. It includes doing many religious acts and rituals, but it also requires us to live in a specific way while we do what Allah has allowed and stay away from what He has forbidden. Hence, it is indisputable that before doing any good act or deeds, we should say Bismillah. We say it in remembrance of Allah and also with the hope that Allah will reward us for it.