In pre-Islâmic Arabia it was the custom of the people to begin everything by mentioning the names of their idols. In order to abolish this ignorant practice Hadrat Jibra’îl brought the first âyah of the Qur’ân in which the command was given to Rasűlullâh to begin the Qur’ân with the name of Allâh:
Recite in the name of your Sustainer who created. (96:1)
Allâmah Suyűti has mentioned that all the revealed books begin with the name of Allâh. Some ‘ulamâ say that the tasmiyah ( ) is tied exclusively to the Qur’ân and the ummah of Rasűlullâh . Both these views are possible in that all the revealed books begin with the name of Allâh, but the Qur’ân began with the name of Allâh with these exclusive words. Before this âyah was revealed Rasűlullâh also began everything by saying:
O Allâh! I begin in Your name.
The Qur’ân-ul-Karîm exhorts the beginning of every matter with the name of Allâh. Rasűlullâh has said, “Every important matter that starts without Bismillâh is not blessed.” In one hadîth it is mentioned that when closing the door of the house say Bismillâh, when extinguishing the lamp say Bismillâh, and when covering utensils (in which there is food) say Bismillâh. The Qur’ân and hadîth have ordered us to say Bismillâh when beginning to eat, drink, perform wudű’, and when boarding and alighting from a conveyance. (Qurtubi)
Bismillâh when recited could mean any one of the undermentioned:
1. For musâhabah – (to attach Allâh’s name to one’s action), thus, ‘I begin with Allâh’s name.’
2. For isti’ânah – (to seek assistance from Allâh), thus, ‘I begin in Allâh’s name seeking His assistance.’
3. For tabarruk – (to seek blessings), thus, ‘I begin in Allâh’s name seeking His blessings.’
The script of is also unique in script style and is maintained as it was written in the copy of the Qur’ân of Hadrat ‘Uthmân . According to the grammar of the Arabic language, it should be written as with a hamzah after the letter bâ. Whereas, because in the mushaf (written Qur’ân) of Hadrat ‘Uthmân the letter bâ was joined to the letter sîn without a hamzah, this script has been preserved up to the present era.
These are both attributes of Allâh, ar-Rahmân being the One who is merciful unto all things created and still to be created. Like the word Allâh, this word is also exclusively for Allâh alone since none other can have these qualities. Neither does the word Allâh, nor the word ar-Rahmân have dual or plural forms.
Ar-Rahîm means that Being whose mercy is complete. The word Rahîm could be used for others also just as it is used for Rasűlullâh in the Qur’ân where Allâh says in Sűrah Tawbah:
…to the believer is he most compassionate and merciful. (9:128)
It is clear from this explanation that it is disallowed and sinful to call a person only Rahmân, or in an abbreviated or corrupted form in place of ‘Abd-ur-Rahmân or Fadl-ur-Rahmân.
To recite is called ta’awwudh. Allâh commands us in the Qur’ân,
When you recite the Qur’ân seek Allâh’s protection from Shaytân, the accursed. (16:98)
The ‘ulamâ of the ummah are unanimous that before beginning to recite the Qur’ân it is Sunnah to recite ta’awwudh, whether the recital is in salâh or otherwise. The reciting of ta’awwudh is confined to the beginning of the Qur’ânic recital. Hence, whenever beginning the recital of the Qur’ân, both ta’awwudh and tasmiyah should be recited. Ta’awwudh should not be recited when starting a new sűrah during tilâwah. It is also not masnűn to recite ta’awwudh when beginning any other act, besides the recital of the Qur’ân.
All the Imâms are unanimous that the ta’awwudh should be recited at the beginning of the first rak’ah in salâh. They do however differ on whether it should be recited audibly or inaudibly. Imâm Abu Hanîfah and many other Imâms prefer that it should be recited inaudibly. Imâm Shâfi’i prefers that it be read audibly. There is consensus that in the remaining rak’ât of salâh, before tilâwah, it is sunnah to recite Bismillâh only. Here, ta’awwudh should not be recited.
All Muslim scholars are unanimous that is a portion of Sűrah an-Naml. They also agree that besides Sűrah at-Tawbah it should be written at the beginning of every sűrah of the Qur’ân. The four famous Imâms differ on whether Bismillâh is a portion of Sűrah al-Fâtihah and/or all other sűrahs. Imâm Abu Hanîfah’s maslak (teaching) is that besides Sűrah an-Naml it is not a portion of any other sűrah. It is in fact a separate âyah that was revealed at the beginning of every sűrah to distinguish one sűrah from another.
1. It is sunnah to recite and then when beginning the tilâwah of the Qur’ân.
2. It is also sunnah to recite ta’awwudh and tasmiyah at the beginning of all sűrahs of the Qur’ân, except Sűrah at-Tawbah (al-Barâ’ah).
3. Since is an âyah of Sűrah an-Naml, and also a separate âyah between sűrahs, all laws of recital, touching, handling, and writing it are similar to that of the Qur’ân. Hence, it is not permissible to touch any paper or article on which it is written without wudű’, or when in a state of hayd or nifâs.
4. A person without wudű’, or she who is in a state of hayd or nifâs may recite Bismillâh as a du’â, but not with the intention of tilâwah of an ayah of the Qur’ân.