Saying Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
From Tafseer lecture notes given at Omm Al Qura University, Makkah 1993
"In the name of Allah"--The small boy takes his glass of water and says, "Bismillahi Rahmani Raheem". The surgeon, before performing an operation says, "Bismillahi Rahmani Raheem". The teacher, before starting a lesson says, "Bismillahi Rahmani Raheem". The words are simple but the meaning is great.
Allah has said, "And for Allah are the best names." There are many interesting grammatical facets for the explanation in Arabic of the Basmallah which we will not mention in this particular article, but one point is interesting to note: the "ba" in Bismillah is related to a verb that is understood or implied at the time the person is saying it. That is, when one is about to read Quran or other worthy works, when he says "Bismillah" he means "I am reading with the help of the name Allah". And the writer, when he takes pen in hand and says, "Bismillah" is saying in effect, "I am writing with the help of the Name of Allah". Likewise, one who is about to eat, when he takes the food and says "Bismillah", means, "I am eatingwith the help of the name of Allah and so on with every person performing an act or deed is doing so with the help of the name of Allah- eating, drinking, sleeping, entering a building, performing an operation, taking an examination, performing marital duties, etc. And of course, by saying this we not only receive Allah's help but also get blessings for the act which is being performed. And in addition to that, if we do not say it, then our action or deed is considered incomplete.
Prophet Muhammed, peace be unto him, said: "Every act of significance not begun with the name of Allah is incomplete and without blessing." The saying of the Basmallah can also be a source of protection for us as the Messenger, peace be upon him, has also told us to say the name of Allah when we begin to eat because if we do not, then the Shaitan sits and eats with us. If we forget to say it at the outset and remember during the course of the meal (even up to the last bite) we can still say "Bismillah" sending the Shaitan away, losing all that he had gained. An Nasai related that Messenger of Allah, peace be unto him, said: "If your beast of burden stumbles, don't say 'may Shaitan be perished', as that just makes him puff up in pride until he becomes as big as a house and he says that by his own strength he made it happen, but rather say, 'Bismillahi Rahmani Raheem', for it makes him become as small as a fly."
Allah, is the name of the Holy Being --the name of God, the Most High, whose Presence always was and always will be and He has no partners. Another well known authoritative commentator (mufassir), Ibn Kathir said of the name Allah: "Allah" is acknowledgement of the Lord, the Blessed, Most High and it is said it is the greatest name because it describes all of the attributes, as Allah, ta'ala says " He is Allah, the One Who there is no god other than, the Sovereign, The Holy One, The Source of Peace (and Perfection), The Guardian of Faith, the Preserver of Safety." Suratul-Hashr, Aya 23 The remaining names in the ayat are considered attributes. "Allah" is a name that no one else is called by -- God, The Blessed, Most High. (1)
"Allah" is the greatest of His names, Glory be unto Him and the most composite of them and it is the name of the Being of Truth, the Composite of the divine attributes; there is no God but Him, Glory be to Him. And the majestic name "Allah is not ever given to anyone except the One who is deserving of all worship (2).
The word "Allah" is not a derivative of any other word; it is the name given to the Holy Being, the Blessed, the Most High. No one or nothing shares this with Him and no one else is called that but Him and the word "Allah" is never made dual or plural.
1) Ibn Kathir, Tafseer al Qur'an Al Atheem
2) Al Qurtoby: Al Jamie` Al Ahqaam Al Qur'aan
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