quran

History of Bismillah – Join islam

The opening statement of the Quran that also occurs at the start of 113 of the 114 suras of the Quran is:

[1:1] In the name of GOD, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

(١) بِسْمِ ٱللَّهِ ٱلرَّحْمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

1 bis’mi بِسْمِ In (the) name
2 l-lahi ٱللَّهِ (of) God,
3 l-raḥmāni ٱلرَّحْمَـٰنِ Most Gracious,
4 l-raḥīmi ٱلرَّحِيمِ Most Merciful.

This powerful statement predates the Quran, and is confirmed by the Quran. In Sura 27: The Ant (Al-Naml / النمل) verse 30, Solomon sends a letter to the Queen of Sheba and starts his letter with this same statement.

[27:30] “It is from Solomon, and it is, ‘In the name of GOD, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

 إِنَّهُۥ مِن سُلَيْمَـٰنَ وَإِنَّهُۥ بِسْمِ ٱللَّهِ ٱلرَّحْمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

This shows that this statement existed way before the revelation of the Quran. For reference, Solomon’s reign is estimated to be from 970–931 BCE, while the Quran was first revealed in 610 CE.

Additionally, we see that Hebrew, Aramaic, and Arabic are all Semitic languages. If we translate Bismillah to any of the Semitic languages, it will be pronounced roughly the same in each of these languages.

Bismillah Transliteration
Arabic بِسْمِ ٱللَّهِ ٱلرَّحْمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ bismi-llahi ar-Rahmani ar-Raheem
Hebrew בְּשֵׁם אֱלֹהִים הָרַחֲמָן הַרְּחִים b’shem Elohim ha-Rachman ha-Raheem
Aramaic ܒܫܡ ܐܠܗ ܪܚܡܐܢ ܪܚܝܡܐ b-shem ‘Elaha ‘Rahmana ‘Rahimin

If we look at the use of the four words of Bismillah in the Quran, we see that these terms were all used by the messengers in the past, well before the revelation of the Quran.

Bism

Noah is one of the oldest messengers to have lived. In the following verse, we see him make his statement using the term “bismallah.”

[11:41] He [Noah] said, “Come on board. In the name of GOD shall be its sailing, and its mooring. My Lord is Forgiver, Most Merciful.”

 وَقَالَ ٱرْكَبُوا۟ فِيهَا بِسْمِ ٱللَّهِ مَجْر۪ىٰهَا وَمُرْسَىٰهَآ إِنَّ رَبِّى لَغَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

Allah

Allah, God, is used 2698 times in the Quran and by every prophet and messenger mentioned in the Quran.

Rahman

The Qur’an also describes God as “ar-Rahmanfifty-seven times in addition to the Bismillahs, and we see it used once by Abraham and Aaron and twice by Mary.

[19:44] [Abraham said] “O my father, do not worship the devil. The devil has rebelled against the Most Gracious.
[19:45] “O my father, I fear lest you incur retribution from the Most Gracious, then become an ally of the devil.”

 يَـٰٓأَبَتِ لَا تَعْبُدِ ٱلشَّيْطَـٰنَ إِنَّ ٱلشَّيْطَـٰنَ كَانَ لِلرَّحْمَـٰنِ عَصِيًّا

 يَـٰٓأَبَتِ إِنِّىٓ أَخَافُ أَن يَمَسَّكَ عَذَابٌ مِّنَ ٱلرَّحْمَـٰنِ فَتَكُونَ لِلشَّيْطَـٰنِ وَلِيًّا

[20:90] And Aaron had told them, “O my people, this is a test for you. Your only Lord is the Most Gracious, so follow me, and obey my commands.”

 وَلَقَدْ قَالَ لَهُمْ هَـٰرُونُ مِن قَبْلُ يَـٰقَوْمِ إِنَّمَا فُتِنتُم بِهِۦ وَإِنَّ رَبَّكُمُ ٱلرَّحْمَـٰنُ فَٱتَّبِعُونِى وَأَطِيعُوٓا۟ أَمْرِى

[19:18] (Mary) said, “I seek refuge in the Most Gracious, that you may be righteous.”

 قَالَتْ إِنِّىٓ أَعُوذُ بِٱلرَّحْمَـٰنِ مِنكَ إِن كُنتَ تَقِيًّا

[19:26] “Eat and drink, and be happy. When you see anyone, say, ‘I (Mary) have made a vow of silence to the Most Gracious; I am not talking today to anyone.’ “

 فَكُلِى وَٱشْرَبِى وَقَرِّى عَيْنًا فَإِمَّا تَرَيِنَّ مِنَ ٱلْبَشَرِ أَحَدًا فَقُولِىٓ إِنِّى نَذَرْتُ لِلرَّحْمَـٰنِ صَوْمًا فَلَنْ أُكَلِّمَ ٱلْيَوْمَ إِنسِيًّا

Raheem

In the Quran, the expression Raheem is used by the four biblical prophets, Moses, Jacob, Joesph, and Job, who each address God as “the most Merciful of the merciful ones.”

[7:151] (Moses) said, “My Lord, forgive me and my brother, and admit us into Your mercy. Of all the merciful ones, You are the Most Merciful.”

 قَالَ رَبِّ ٱغْفِرْ لِى وَلِأَخِى وَأَدْخِلْنَا فِى رَحْمَتِكَ وَأَنتَ أَرْحَمُ ٱلرَّٰحِمِينَ

[12:64] (Jacob) said, “Shall I trust you with him, as I trusted you with his brother before that? GOD is the best Protector, and, of all the merciful ones, He is the Most Merciful.”

 قَالَ هَلْ ءَامَنُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ إِلَّا كَمَآ أَمِنتُكُمْ عَلَىٰٓ أَخِيهِ مِن قَبْلُ فَٱللَّهُ خَيْرٌ حَـٰفِظًا وَهُوَ أَرْحَمُ ٱلرَّٰحِمِينَ

[12:92] (Joseph) said, “There is no blame upon you today. May GOD forgive you. Of all the merciful ones, He is the Most Merciful.

قَالَ لَا تَثْرِيبَ عَلَيْكُمُ ٱلْيَوْمَ يَغْفِرُ ٱللَّهُ لَكُمْ وَهُوَ أَرْحَمُ ٱلرَّٰحِمِينَ

[21:83] And Job implored his Lord: “Adversity has befallen me, and, of all the merciful ones, You are the Most Merciful.”

 وَأَيُّوبَ إِذْ نَادَىٰ رَبَّهُۥٓ أَنِّى مَسَّنِىَ ٱلضُّرُّ وَأَنتَ أَرْحَمُ ٱلرَّٰحِمِينَ

Also, we see Abraham use the name ar-Raheem ( ٱلرَّحِيم ) in his prayer to God after building the Kaaba.

[2:128] [Abraham said] “Our Lord, make us submitters to You, and from our descendants let there be a community of submitters to You. Teach us the rites of our religion, and redeem us. You are the Redeemer, Most Merciful.

 رَبَّنَا وَٱجْعَلْنَا مُسْلِمَيْنِ لَكَ وَمِن ذُرِّيَّتِنَآ أُمَّةً مُّسْلِمَةً لَّكَ وَأَرِنَا مَنَاسِكَنَا وَتُبْ عَلَيْنَآ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ ٱلتَّوَّابُ ٱلرَّحِيمُ

Earliest Bismillah Inscription

In 2020, Dr. Ahmad Al-Jallad published the oldest written inscription of this expression found to date in an article entitled “The pre-Islamic basmala: Reflections on its first epigraphic attestation and its original significance.” This article focuses on an inscription found in Southern Arabia and is called “The Jebel Ḏabūb inscription (Al-Hajj and Faqʿas, “Naqš Jebel Ḏabūb”)”

According to Dr. Al-Jallad, the inscription reads:

Line 1: bsmlh | rḥmn | rḥmn | rb | s1mwt

Line 2: r(z)(q)n | mfḍlk | wʾṯrn | mḫh | s2kmt ʾymn

Interpretation 1:

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم رب السموات

“In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. Lord of the heavens”

الرزاق (الذي) مفضلك (أيها الانسان) والمردف نعمه عليك (بأن) أعطاك الايمان

“The Provider, (the One who) favors you, (O human) and the One who increases His blessings upon you (by) granting you faith.”

Interpretation 2:

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم رب السموات

“In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. Lord of the heavens”

أسألك) الرزق من فضلك وأن تمنح عقله (قبله) قوة (حلاوة) الايمان)

“(I ask of You) provision from Your bounty and that You grant his intellect before him strength (sweetness) of the faith.

It is worth pointing out how the first line of the expression after the Bismillah it uses the phrase “rabbi al-samwati,” which translates to “Lord of the heavens” ( رب السموات ). This is very similar to the expression from the second verse of Sura 1 Al-Fãtehah, which states, “rabbi l-ʿālamīna” ( رَبِّ ٱلْعَـٰلَمِينَ ).

Source

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button