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Bismillah is the short form of the the full phrase Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim (Arabic: بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم ‎), meaning "In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Compassionate". The invocation has from the beginning occupied an important and special place in Muslim piety and practice.

Of the many practices instituted by Islam is that a person should begin all their activities in the Name of Allah. Remembering Allah before starting any act is an admission on the part of the individual that everything is the creation of Allah and that what ever activity or skill is to be exercised, has been granted by Allah ; thus developing a degree of proprietorial consciousness and a sense of gratitude to the Creator. Bismillah is said as a blessing before eating food and other actions that are worthy of giving thanks to Allah or asking of His support. It precedes all surahs (chapters) of the Quran except one.

The phrase "Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim" may be used as follows:

  • said before starting reading Quran, except Surah At-Tawba
  • said before eating food or water
  • said before starting any activity, ceremony, work or practice for asking support & Barkat from Allah
  • Bismillah ceremony, a ceremony held for a child's initiation into Islam