Translated by Shaykh Yusuf Laher
In the name of Allah, the All-Merciful, the Very-Merciful.
Bismillah – an example of the ease and practicality of Islam
Islam has come with an easy and practical Shari’ah. Its effort is limited but its reward is great. There are many amazing examples of a small action carrying great rewards.
Its salah is not confined to a masjid, but can be performed in any house and on any piece of land. It does not instruct one to give up this world for the purpose of worship, but gives such panaceas, that convert worldly matters into din (religion) too. A person can be involved in worldly pursuits but still become and remain a dhakir shaghil (one who is constantly engaged in dhikr) and wasil bi ‘l-haqq (one who is linked to Allah Most High).
The practical and verbal teachings of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) are such that they are a means of guidance for every action and movement. For every occasion and place he has taught us concise du’as (supplications) which do not become a hindrance and an obstacle in one’s work, nor do they require great effort. By practicing on these small things, a person becomes one who is permanently in the remembrance of Allah.
The added benefit is that these du’as consist of asking for the betterment of both din and dunya (worldly life), resulting in the doors of goodness opening for both. These du’as have been recorded in Munajat-e-Maqbul (The Accepted Whispers).1
The teachings of Islam are a clear-cut proof of its [Islam’s] truthfulness, for, the purpose of a religion is to link the slave with the Master, the creation with the Creator, and these teachings of Islam have made every action, every movement and every statement a means for the remembrance of Allah Most High. These teachings have been constituted in such a way that one doesn’t even realize that an action of din is being done and he is achieving the success of his din.
From among these teachings is to begin every action with Bismillah:
بِسْمِ اللهِ الَّرحْـمٰنِ الرَّحِيْم
Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim (Translation: In the name of Allah, the All-Merciful, the Very-Merciful) is such a concise sentence that the reader experiences no difficulty in reading it, nor does its recital take up a great amount of time, but its benefits are far reaching and powerful and consists of both religious and worldly benefits.
Bismillah at the time of eating
When a believer recites Bismillah before eating, he implies the following:
He hardly played any role in the creation of the morsel of food that he holds in his hand. The skies, the earth, the planets and the natural forces worked for months so that a single seed sprouts into a plant. Thereafter, thousands of animals and humans protect and nurture it until it becomes fit for consumption. All this is an indication of a hidden force. Humans do not have any control and authority over these natural forces.
When drinking water
In the same way, when Bismillah is recited before drinking water, the following is implied:
He has come to realize that the Almighty has transformed seawater to vapour, made it rise, form clouds and natural forces and turned salty seawater into sweet water. Thereafter, according to need, He made it rain and saturated the farms, trees and plants. The reservoirs and ponds are then filled for use for a limited period.
Also, a huge amount of this water is stored on mountain peaks in an amazing natural waterworks system requiring no water tanks and there is no possibility of the water becoming contaminated, nor is there a need to add chemicals to this water. In fact, it is a frozen mass of water preserved on the mountaintops. From there it gradually melts and flows down the mountains through “natural pipelines” that are free from the harmful effects of metal pipelines.
Rather, the natural essences (sulphur, etc) of the earth gather in this water, which are necessary to purify it. This naturally purified and harmless water can now be taken out by digging (wells, etc).
If today’s “civilized” human ponders over this, before gulping down water from crystal glasses, he will spontaneously say: “So blessed be Allah, the best of creators.”
To make these realities present in our minds, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) taught us practically and verbally to recite Bismillah before drinking and eating and taught us to recite Alhamdu lillah upon finishing, in order to show our gratitude to that Being who made food and drink pass through all these amazing stages and finally reach us.
When mounting a conveyance
When a believer mounts a conveyance he implies the following:
He acknowledges that this conveyance is not a result of his own creation nor was it in his power to control or use it in varying conditions, such as in the sun or shade or on wet and dry land. This is the work of a Perfect Power who has given a human control over things that He has created.
Ask yourself the following questions: Am I stronger or the horse that I bridle and sit upon? How is it possible that when I mount the horse, it doesn’t throw me off and sit upon me? Why does it open its mouth when I want to bridle it? After bridling it, how do I make it run in any direction I want it to?
If one really ponders, one will come to realize that this subjugation is only through Allah, the Master and Creator, who has enslaved this animal to a human. This is the meaning of the verse of the Qur’an: “And we have subdued them (animals) unto them (men) so that some of them they have for riding and some they eat.” (Surah Ya Sin)
A question may arise in the minds of today’s “enlightened” ones that these laws apply to animals used for transport and not to the vehicles, planes, etc. that we use today, which have been created by us. [That means,] these things belong to us! Thus, Bismillah and Alhamdu lillah have no part in them!
Again, if one ponders and asks those arrogant … minds as to what did they create from the steel, wood, aluminum and other metals used in those objects? Do you have the power to create them? Did you create the components used to produce electricity and steam to bring these objects into motion? Is it in your power to create them? After asking these questions their eyes will open and will realize that their claims of power and creation were all false and deceitful. The One True Being has created all the components used in these objects. Therefore, these things will also be used by beginning with His name and end with gratitude unto Him.
To bring these realities to the fore, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) has taught us to recite:
بِسْمِ اللهِ مَـجْرهَا وَ مُرْسَاهَا اِنَ رّبِّىْ لَغَفُوْرٌ رَّحِيْمٌ
“In the name of Allah are its moving and its stopping. Most certainly my lord is oft forgiving, most merciful.”
The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) also taught us that when we lie down to sleep, we should say:
بِسْمِ اللهِ رَبَّىْ وَضّعْتُ جَنْبِىْ
“In the name of Allah, my Lord, I place my side (on the bed for sleeping)”
The hidden wisdom in this is that man comes to realize that these means of rest, becoming disengaged from all concerns and lying down is not in his control but it is the favour of the Lord of the worlds. Also, bringing about sleep is not in man’s control nor can he summon it. It is the flawless wisdom of Allah Most High that when night approaches, every animal and man seeks his place of rest. When reaching there, sleep starts overpowering him and [subsequently] the day’s tiredness is removed through sleep. This also is an amazing arrangement of the Divine system that the entire creation sleeps at the same time. If every man and animal had different times of sleeping, the noise and movement of those awake would have deprived those trying to sleep. A mundane harm of one group sleeping then awakening — and then the other sleeping when the first group awakes — is that these two groups would never be able to transact with each other on account of them never meeting! How then would assistance be rendered to each other, which is a necessity for worldly betterment?
In essence, a huge door of knowledge (ma’rifa) is unveiled by reciting Bismillah before sleeping.
When going to toilet
Recital of Bismillah before going to toilet teaches us that to transform the consumed food into part of the body and the rest into waste is not the work of man. This happens only through the wisdom and power of Allah Most High.
The significance of Bismillah
There is great emphasis on reciting Bismillah before wudu’ (ritual ablution). According to some jurists, wudu’ without Bismillah is not valid. Also, every surah (chapter) in the Qur’an commences with
Bismillah. The Qur’an begins with Bismillah.
In Al-Durr al-Manthur, a narration is recorded from Daraqutni on the authority of Sayyidina Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: “Whenever Jibril came to me with revelation, he would recite Bismillah.”
It is the teaching of Islam to commence every action with
Bismillah. Beginning and ending every action with the name of
Allah Most High will make one a dhakir (one who remembers Allah) and an ‘arif (one who recognizes Allah) even though one is immersed in work. This will bring thousands of blessings and good results.
Therefore, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) has said: “Any important work not started with Bismillah is void of blessings.”
In the tafsir (commentary) of the following verse of the
Qur’an: “And he made them stick to the word of piety.” (Surah al-Fath), Imam Zuhri (may Allah have mercy on him) has said that Bismillah is meant by the words “word of piety” and that Allah Most High has made this essential upon the Noble Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) and upon all the Muslims. (Risalah Qantarah, Mawlana Lucknowi)
A lamentable indifference
The world has changed, modern sciences have developed and new social values have emerged, but these things have come from people who have no idea of their Master. So why would any of their actions commence with Bismillah? Their writings, speeches and everything are bereft of this nur (splendour) and blessing. It is unfortunate that while Muslims have been following them in other matters, they have also aped them in this criminal offence (of abandoning the recital of Bismillah). To begin writing or speaking with Bismillah and the sunnah khutbah is considered to be old fashioned, outdated and a ‘molwi thing’. And for them to follow the molwis is the greatest crime! What a great loss that they have deprived themselves of this small yet valuable and effortless action. To Allah we belong and to Him is our return.
The purpose of this concise treatise is to remove this indifference and to remind them that if they are not doing anything else then at least they should not deprive themselves of the blessings of this effortless action.
Laws regarding Bismillah
 According to many Companions (sahabah), Followers (tabi’un) and jurists, Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim is an independent verse of the Qur’an. Some are of the opinion that besides it being a part of Surah al-Naml, it is not an independent verse but it has been revealed many times as a means of separation between surahs. Thus, as a precaution, jurists have ruled that the laws of respect, etc. applying to the verses of the Qur’an, e.g. it is not permissible to touch the verses of the Qur’an without wudu’, will apply to Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim too. All laws applying to Qur’anic verses will apply to Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim. But if someone recites only Bismillah in salah and leaves out the qira’ah (recitation from the Qur’an), his salah will not be valid. (Qantarah on the authority of Mujtaba and Muhit)
 The jurists have clearly explained that it is sunnah mu’akkadah (emphasised sunnah) to complete the entire Qur’an in tarawih prayers at least once. Even if one verse is left out, the sunnah will not be fulfilled. Therefore, taking both opinions (mentioned above) into consideration, the imam should during the entire month (of Ramadan) recite Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim aloud at least once so that the muqtadis (followers behind the imam) also hear it and their hearing of the Qur’an is also complete.
 To recite Bismillah at the beginning of Surah al-Fatihah in every raka’ah [of salah] is wajib (compulsory) according to Imam Abu Yusuf, Imam Muhammad and many other imams (may Allah have mercy on them all). According to Imam Abu Hanifah (may Allah have mercy on him) it is sunnah. (Sharh Munyah)
Therefore, recite Bismillah before Surah al-Fatihah in every
raka’ah. Many people are neglectful of this.
 To recite Bismillah after Surah al-Fatihah before a surah (in
salah) is not sunnah according to Imam Abu Hanifah, therefore it is better to leave it out. According to Imam Muhammad it is better to leave it out in those salah in which the qira’ah is recited audibly and better to read it in those salah in which the qira’ah is recited softly.
A few tried, tested and proven benefits of Bismillah
For every difficulty and need:
 If a person recites Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim twelve thousand times in the following manner: (a) Recite it one thousand times and then recite durud sharif at least once. Thereafter make du’a for ones need. (b) Recite it another thousand times, recite durud sharif at least once and again make du’a to Allah for the need. (c) Carry on in this way until reaching twelve thousand then, if Allah wills, every difficulty will become easy and every need will be fulfilled.
 Bismillah in numerical form is 786. Whoever recites Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim the same amount of times (786 times) for seven days and makes du’a for a particular purpose, if Allah wills, that purpose will be realized.
To win the hearts of people:
The person who writes Bismillah six hundred times and keeps it on him will be respected and honoured. No one will be able to ill treat him.
Protection from calamities:
The person who on the first of Muharram writes on a paper one hundred times Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim and keeps it on him will be protected from all types of calamities and difficulties. This is tested and proven.
Protection from theft and the effects of Satan:
If recited twenty-one times before sleeping, one will be protected from theft, the effects of Satan and a sudden death.
Prevalence over the oppressor:
If recited fifty times in front of an oppressor, Allah Most High will make him (the oppressor) to be subdued and make you overcome him.
For intelligence and memory:
Recite it 786 times, blow in water and drink this water at the time of sunrise. Intelligence will be increased and the memory will be improved.
For increase in affection:
Recite it 786 times, blow in water and give that person to drink whose affection is required. That persons love and affection for one will be increased. It is forbidden to use this for illicit love.
Protection of offspring:
A woman whose children do not survive should write Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim sixty-one times, make a ta’wiz (amulet) and keep it on herself. The children will be protected. This is also tested and proven.
Protection of farms and for barakah (blessing):
Write it one hundred times on a paper and bury it on the farm. The farm will be protected from all calamities and there will be barakah in it.
Against those endowed with power:
Write Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim five hundred times on a paper. Thereafter recite it one hundred and fifty times and blow on the same paper. Make a ta’wiz of it and keep it on oneself. Those endowed with power (rulers, etc.) will become kind and merciful on you and you will be protected from harm of the oppressors.
Write it twenty-one times on a paper and hang it on the neck of the person who has pain or tie it on the head for the removal of a headache.
The benefits and blessings of Bismillah are numerous. Just a few of them have been recorded here.
وَ اللهُ الْـمُسْتَعَان ، وَ عَلَيْهِ التُّكْلَان ،
رَبَّنَا تَقَبَّلْ مِنَّا ، اِنَّكَ اَنْتَ السَّمِيْعُ الْعَلِيْمُ ،
وَ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ الْكَرِيْمِ ،
وَ اٰلِه وَ صَحْبِه اَجْـمَعِيْنَ ،
- Munajat-e-Maqbul is a book on du’as extracted from the Qur’an and hadith by Hakim al-Ummah Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali Thanawi (may Allah have mercy on him). It is divided into seven sections, at least one section to be recited daily, resulting in the completion of the entire collection weekly. [↩]