In the Name of Allah
As Muslims, we are frequently reciting the above phrase in our daily lives, usually when we are about do something virtuous, when we are praying, or while we are reading the Qur’an. It rolls off our tongues effortlessly, but how often have we paused to reflect on its meanings, implications, and benefits?
B-ism-illah — In the name of Allah.
The letter ‘ba’ can be translated as ‘in’ or ‘with’. The scholars of tafsir (exegesis) say the letter ‘ba’ in such a sentence is connected to something removed which would have rendered the sentence as follows; ‘I read in the name of Allah’ or something similar, like ‘I begin in the name of Allah’. So the verb and pronoun ‘I read’ has been removed. This is so that the actual sentence begins with His name first because it is not befitting that any other verb or pronoun should come before it in this context. We also gain the blessings (tabarruk) of beginning something with the most blessed of names, as mentioned by Imam Ahmed. It also emphasises the commitment to tawhid (oneness of God) of the reader by beginning this action exclusively in the name of Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He).
‘Ism’ means name. It comes from a root word that means to be raised above or elevated. The word for sky/heavens (samaa’) comes from the same root letters.
‘Allah’ is the name of the Lord, the Exalted, the Truth, the One without any equal. It is said that Allah is the Greatest Name of Allah (swt), because it is referred to when describing Allah (swt) by the various attributes. As recorded in the two Sahihs, Abu Hurayrah radi allahu `anhu (may God be pleased with him) said that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ (peace be upon him) said, “Allah has ninety-nine Names, one hundred minus one, whoever counts (and preserves) them, will enter Paradise.”
Some scholars said the word ‘Allah’ is not derived from other verbs/words. Other scholars said it is derived from a number of words of which I will mention three.
- أَلِهَ (aliha) to worship, similar in meaning to the verb `abada (worshipped)— Therefore Allah is the One who is worshipped.
- أَلِهَ (aliha) to find comfort / tranquillity in—“Surely in the remembrance of Allah do the hearts find tranquillity.’’
- وَلِهَ (waliha) to be confounded—meaning that the intellect is confounded when attempting to perceive the essence and reality of Allah (swt).
Some of the virtues of saying Bismillah:
Immediate reminder and intention check.
If we can make this a habit before every act, then we can check our intentions before we do something and can ensure that we avoid sinful deeds as we are unlikely to lie, cheat, abuse, or harm someone in the name of Allah (swt).
Gaining the blessings of Allah (swt) in every action we do.
As the Prophet ﷺ said, “Every significant act in which bismillah is not mentioned is cut off (from blessings).” Therefore, when we do something in the name of Allah (swt) it will be accompanied by the blessings of Allah (swt).
Defeating the Shaytan (Satan)
Imam Ahmad recorded in his Musnad, that a person who was riding behind the Prophet ﷺ said, “The Prophet’s animal tripped, so I said, ‘cursed shaytan.’ The Prophet ﷺ said, “Do not say, ‘cursed shaytan,’ for if you say these words, Satan becomes arrogant and says, ‘With my strength I made him fall.’ When you say, ‘Bismillah,’ Shaytan will become as small as a fly.”
Protection when entering the house
Jabir (ra) said: I heard the Messenger of Allah ﷺ saying, “If a person mentions the Name of Allah upon entering his house or eating, Satan says, addressing his followers: `You will find nowhere to spend the night and no dinner.’ But if he enters without mentioning the Name of Allah, Satan says [to his followers]; ‘You have found [a place] to spend the night in; and if he does not mention the Name of Allah at the time of eating, Satan says: `You have found [a place] to spend the night in as well as food.” [Muslim]
Protection when leaving the house
The Messenger Of Allah ﷺ said, “If any one of you, when leaving the house says, ‘In the name of Allah, I trust in Allah, there is no power and might except from Allah,’ your needs shall be fulfilled, you shall be saved from difficulties and hardships. Shaytan hearing these words leaves him.” [Al-Trimidhi]
Relief from physical pain
Uthman bin Abu al-As Al-Thaqafi (ra) reported that he made a complaint of pain to Allah’s Messenger ﷺ that he felt in his body at the time he had become Muslim. Thereupon Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said:
“Place your hand at the place where you feel pain in your body and say, ‘In the name of Allah,’ three times and seven times ‘I seek refuge with Allah and with His Power from the evil that I find and that I fear.’” [Muslim]