What is 'Bismillah'?

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Christians say "Grace" before they eat
Muslim woman prays3
But What Do Muslims Say?


A Christian came to Islam from our websites and asked this question:

Peace be on you, Mr. Yusuf Estes,

I got a question, but first I want to say thanks for writing to me and talking to me in your chat room on www.ChatIslam.com 

Your teachers there made it easy to learn and rid of misunderstanding I had about Islam and Muslims.

Only God knows how much I needed to meet you all and see the truth. It made me so happy to do shahadah with you guys and now I feel really good and happy about my life. I believe God is really guiding me now.

Your websites are all amazing, especially www.ShareIslam.com and www.IslamTomorrow.com

I see why others became Muslims by watching your videos on Youtube too. The Bible websites really helped my family appreciate what I was getting into, although they don't seem ready to be Muslims, at least not yet. Oh yeah, I also like www.GodAllah.com That one really explains good.

www.AllahsQuran.com seems easier the more I use it. It is the truth and no doubt about it. I cry when I read sometimes and I need to know Arabic some day.

My question is about saying Bismillah. Is it important or just a custom or something? Is it a type of prayer?

Thank you again, [name deleted]

Muslim boy praying

Answer From Yusuf Estes

Bismillah Rahman Raheem

[In the Name of Allah, The Entirely Merciful, The Especially Merciful]

Peace - salam alaykum, dear brother,

Did you notice I use "Bismillah" at the beginning of my email to you? Take a look just above in color...

Muslims do this because we know the reward for saying, "Bismillah-ir Rahman-ir Raheem" (In The Name of Allah, The Entirely Merciful, The Especially Merciful) at the beginning of everything we do.

Before we eat, when we begin to read or write or go in our homes or buildings and when we start a trip, even go to market and espeically when we do anything of worship - like enter a mosque or read the Quran - we say, "Bismillah-ir Rahman-ir Raheem"

The meaning is actually quite comprehensive. Consider the depth and majesty of the meanings here, inshallah.

The term is often translated to be something like, "In the Name of Allah, The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful". But there is so much more to it when you understand it from the Arabic prospective.

It begins with "Bi" and this carries a meaning of "with" more-so, than "In". The reason for saying "In (the name)" is because this is the form used in English when someone comes with a message or decree from the king or potentate.

However, in Arabic it is the way of thinking someone is coming to you "with" something from the one mentioned. And that is exactly the way it should be for Muslims. We are coming "with" something from the Almighty. Something very precious, indeed.  A "message" and a "way".

The message of life, liberty and salvation. The message of surrender, submission, obedience and sincerity with Almighty God, and of course being in peace with whatever happens after living up to this commitment.

The next part "ismi" means the "Name" and implies what goes with the position of the One being Named. Again, the reference to royalty cannot be overlooked in this reference.

Then comes "Allah" and there is not room in an email for all that goes along with this name, so much so, we have committed an entire website for this purpose of describing God - Allah . www.GodAllah.com 

Now the next part comes and really brings a special message along with it. Two of the amazing attributes and characteristics of the Almighty.

Ar-Rahman cannot be fully explained in English. But I would at least like to offer an idea of the astonishing value of this "Name of Allah".
The root of the word here (and for the next word as well) comes from three Arabic letters; 'ra' 'ha' 'ma'. The root, 'Rahama', carries a deep meaning of Mercy to the Max.

Even this term cannot bring to mind the depth of such a heavy expression.
Imagine, the word for a woman's "womb" in Arabic, is "rahm", from this same root. It implies immediately, the source of life, the very place of conception within our mothers is nothing less than a "place of mercy".

When presented in the form of an attribute of Almighty God, it carries the absolute and epitome of the word "Rahman" and is proceeded by the article "AL" (The). This gives us the notion of The Merciful or The Gracious. However, this is not just saying, "Allah has Mercy". Rather, this clearly denotes Allah as being "The Mercy" and all mercy and all grace emanates from His Mercy, His Grace.

The next word seems almost redundant when presented in English and in translation doesn't produce the awe and inspiration coming from the Arabic.

Ar-Raheem is bringing into an even more concentrated focus of the Mercy and Grace of Allah, by offering another form of the same attribute.

Whereas, the first usage mentioned above carries the meaning of "The Mercy" or "The Merciful" in general terms, the usage of "AL Raheem" brings us to the understanding of the special and specific Mercy waiting on the Day of Judgment for all who are to be saved by this "Mercy" (or as is sometimes translated, "Grace").

Now we see the term here being better translated as, "The Especially Merciful".

So from the very beginning of this special phrase we are praising, extolling and raising high the Names of the Almighty, like Allah Himself demonstrated and conveyed to us in His Book - the Quran.

The Quran begins with this same exact expression, "Bismillah (Ar) Rahman (Ar) Raheem".

So when we begin to do anything of value to us, we use this expression to mean, "I'm doing this with complete trust and belief in Almighty God, Allah, in His Name, hoping for His Mercy in whatever we're doing.

Hope we answered your question.

Thanks for the email and  your patience while waiting for me to answer you.  When we travel getting email is sometimes difficult.


Salam alaykum - Peace -
Yusuf Estes

P.S. to search for anything on all our websites use this: www.SearchForIslam.com

Here's our TV station -> www.GuideUS.TV

www.TubeIslam.com (Islam videos without all the nonsense )


00 a comments


#3 Hamzah Afaq 2011-10-31 01:30
Assalam-u-Alaik um,
Mr,. Yusuf Estes, u r doing a very good job by openinig so many websites and making it easy for all the muslims to gain their knowledge.. May ALLAH GIVE this type of HIDAYAH to all the MUSLIMS..
#2 Muhammad Aslam al Hindi 2011-10-05 18:26
Very Nice explanation Dear Yusuf!
Regarding the question in the comments...
Our Nabi sallallahu alaihi wa sallam was told in the Qur'an to immidiately say Inshaa'allah when he remembers after forgetting to say it. Same can be assumed with Bismillah...
If you forget to say it while eating, you should say 'Bismillahi awwalahu wa akhirahu' as soon as you remember.
Muhammad Aslam
Operations Manager,
Islamunity Research & Education (islamunity.org)
Jagadhri, Haryana
#1 Abu Mariam 2011-10-04 04:30
I always try to remember to say 'bismillah' but sometimes I forget. May Allah help us all remember to say 'Bismillah' in all of what we are doing.

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