Lessons From The Holy Qur'an

The Holy Qur'an :

Is the Phrase 'Bism-il-lah' a Part of Each Sura ?


Sura Al-Fatihah

(1) بِسْمِ اللّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ

" In The Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful."

Commentary :

It is a custom among most people of the world to recite the name of one of their great and very beloved personalities that the worthiness of their work might be elevated. That is, they relate that work to that personality from the very beginning of their endeavour.

Among all beings, the One Who is eternal is only Allah, and, therefore, everything and every activity should begin with His Holy Name. It should be enveloped in His Light, and help should be always asked only from Him. So, in the first verse of the Qur'an, we recite 'Bism-illah-ir-Rahman-ir-Rahim',( In The Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful ). This action should not be done only with the tongue, but it should be done truly and meaningfully, because this kind of connection with Him sets work in the right direction and keeps it far from any deviation. For this very reason, such a work will certainly be successful and blessed.

The holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.), in a tradition, has said : " Any important work that begins without mentioning / bismillah /, will remain invalid. " (1)

After narrating this tradition, Hadrat Aeir-ul-Mu'mineen Ali (a.s.) added: " For every action that a person wants to do, he/she should recite / bismillah-ir-rahman-ir-rahim /, which means that he/she begins the action with the Name of Allah, and every action that begins with the Name of Allah is blessed. " (2)

On the excellence and importance of / bism-il-lah /, it is narrated from Ali-ibn-Musa-r-Rida (a.s.), who has said thus: " (The holy phrase) 'Bism-il-lah-ir-Rahman-ir-Rahim' is closer to 'the Exalted Name of Allah' than the pupil is to the white of the eye ". (3)

Again, Ibn-Abbas narrates from the holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) thus: As soon as a teacher tells a child to say 'Bism-il-lah-ir-Rahman-ir-Rahim' and the child says it, Allah records immunity (from fire) for the child,his or her parents and the teacher". (4)

Imam Sadiq (a.s.) has said: " No Holy Book ever came down from heaven but that it began with 'Bism-il-lah-ir-Rahman-ir-Rahim' ". (5)

In 'Khisal' by Shaykh Saduq it is cited that Imam Baqir (a.s.) has said: "... When we begin an action, great or small, it is appropriate to recite /bism-il-lah-ir-rahman-ir-rahim/ and that action may be blessed ". (6)

In short, the stability and permanence of an action is due to this very relation to Allah.

The phrase / bism-il-lah / at the start of the Sura, teaches us to seek the help of Allah from His pure perfect Essence when we begin any action. That is why Allah, the Exalted, in the first verses revealed to the holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) instructed him to initiating the proclamation of Islam perform this great task with the Name of Allah: " Proclaim in the Name of your Lord...",( Sura Al-'Alaq,No.96, verse 1 ); and the words of Noah (a.s.) to his followers, at the time of the Flood are: " So he said: 'Embark ye on the Ark, in the Name of Allah, whether it moves or be at rest! ... " ( Sura Hud, No. 11, verse 41 ). Again, Soloman's letter to the Queen of Sheba begins, thus: " It is from Soloman, and is (as follows):'In The Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful' ", ( Sura An-Naml, No. 27, verse 30 ).

Based on the same principle, all of the Suras of the Holy Qur'an, (except Sura At-Taubah, No. 9) begin with /bism-il-lah/ (7)in order to pursue the essential aim of guiding man and leading him to prosperity with success, far from getting a taste of defeat.

In any event, when we begin our work with reliance upon the Supreme Power of Allah, Whose Power is above all power, we feel, psychologically speaking, far more powerful; therefore, we may be more confident. We may try more, be more persevering, and more courageous in challenging with difficulties, more hopeful, and, similarly, our intentions and the essence of our actions may be more purified. At the time of beginning any affair, reciting the Name of Allah is the secret to its success.

To whatever extent we further explain this verse, it will still be seen insufficient, because, according to a narration, Hadrat Ali (a.s.), regarding the commentary of the verse, talked to Ibn-Abbas from the beginning of a night until the next morning, but it was only for the commentary of /b/, the first letter of /bism-il-lah-ir-rahman-ir-rahim/.(8)

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Explanation :

Is the Phrase 'Bism-il-lah' a Part of Each Sura ?

Almost all Islamic scholars unanimously hold the opinion that / bism-il-lah-ir-rahman-ir-rahim/ is, as was stated before, a part of Sura Al-Fatihah and, also, of the other Suras of the Qur'an (except Sura At-Taubah, No. 9). In essence, the inclusion of /bism-il-lah/ at the beginning of all Suras of the Holy Qur'an, except the above mentioned one,is a vital piece of evidence bearing witness to this very fact, and the belief is so firm that no change has been made in the Qur'an and nothing has been added to it since it was revealed to the Prophet of Islam (p.b.u.h.).

Mu'awiyat-ibn-'Ammar, one of the companions of Imam Sadiq (a.s.), said that he had asked the Imam whether he should say /bism-il-lah-ir-rahman-ir-rahim / at the beginning of Sura Al-Fatihah when he stood for prayer, and he (a.s.) replied: " Yes ". He had questioned him (a.s.), again, as to if he should recite /bism-il-lah/ when Sura Al-Fatihah ended and before reciting the next Sura. Then, Imam Sadiq (a.s.), again, answered: " Yes ". (1)

Dar Qutni, a Muslim learned researcher, according to a sound document, narrates from Amir-ul-Mu'mineen Ali (a.s.) that someone asked him (a.s.):" What is As-Sab'-al-Mathani (Seven Verses)?" " It is Sura Al-Hamd ",he (a.s.) answered. The man said: " Sura Al-Hamd consists of six verses ". He (a.s.) replied: " 'Bism-illah-ir-Rahman-ir-Rahim ' is also one verse. " (2)

Moreover, Muslims have always preserved the practice of reciting / bism-il-lah-ir-rahman-ir-rahim / at the beginning of every Sura ( except Sura 9 ) when reciting the Holy Qur'an, and it has been proven, on numerous accounts, that the holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) used to recite it, too.

It has been said that Amir-ul-Mu'mineen Ali (a.s.) was asked to say whether / bism-il-lah-ir-rahman-ir-rahim / was a part of Sura Al-Fatihah. He (a.s.) answered: " Yes, the Messenger of Allah used to recite it and considered it one verse (of the verses) of the Sura, and he said that ' Fatihat-ul-Kitab (The Opening) is the same as ' Sab'-al-Mathani ' (seven verses) "(3)

(1) Al-Kafi, vol. 3, p. 312
(2) Al-Itqan, vol. 1, p. 136
(3) Atyab-ul-Bayan, vol. 1, p. 92
The Light of  The Holy Qur'an
Part 1,  p. 37-40
Sura Al-Fatihah Verse 1