From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The basmala as written on the Birmingham mus'haf manuscript, the oldest surviving copy of the Qur'an. Rasm: "ٮسم الله الرحمں الرحٮم".
Bismala calligraphy
Calligraphic rendition of the Bismillah
A calligraphic rendition of the Bismillah
Mughal-era calligraphy

The Basmala (Arabic: بَسْمَلَة, basmalah; also known by its incipit Bi-smi llāh; بِسْمِ ٱللَّٰهِ, "In the name of Allah"),[1] or Tasmiyyah (Arabic: تَسْمِيَّة), is the titular name of the Islamic phrase "In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful" (Arabic: بِسْمِ ٱللَّٰهِ ٱلرَّحْمَٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ, bi-smi llāhi r-raḥmāni r-raḥīmi).[Notes 1] It is one of the most important phrases in Islam and is used by Muslims mostly before starting "good deeds" (for instance, during daily prayer) as well as beginning of most daily actions.[citation needed]

It is used in over half of the constitutions of countries where Islam is the official religion or more than half of the population follows Islam, usually the first phrase in the preamble, including those of Afghanistan,[2] Bahrain,[3] Bangladesh,[4] Brunei,[5] Egypt,[6] Iran,[7] Iraq,[8] Kuwait,[9] Libya,[10] Maldives,[11] Pakistan,[12] Saudi Arabia,[13] Tunisia[14] and the United Arab Emirates.[15]

It is the phrase recited before each chapter (surah) of the Qur'an – except for the ninth.[Notes 2][16] Muslim disagreement over whether to include the Basmala within the Quranic text reached consensus following the 1924 Cairo Edition, which included it as the first verse (āyah) of Quran chapter 1 but otherwise included it as an unnumbered line of text preceding the other relevant 112 chapters.[17]

The Islamic Basmala appears to be related to earlier variants of the phrase appearing in Arabian inscriptions from the 5th and 6th centuries.[18] In Arabic calligraphy, the Basmala is the most prevalent motif, even more so than the Shahadah.[citation needed]


The traditional name for the phrase in Classical Arabic was Tasmiyah. Other common phrases in Islam were also given their own names based on verb form 2 verbal nouns, including Tasbih.
The word basmala was derived from a slightly unusual procedure, in which the first four pronounced consonants of the phrase bismi-llāhi... were used to create a new quadriliteral root:[19] b-s-m-l (ب-س-م-ل). This quadriliteral root was used to derive the noun basmala and its related verb forms, meaning "to recite the basmala". The method of coining a quadriliteral name from the consonants of multiple words in a phrase is also used to create the name '"Hamdala" for Alhamdulillah, instead of the traditional name of Tahmid.[19] The same procedure is also used to create the term Hawqala.

Use and significance[edit]

Thuluth simple script

According to Lane, ar-raḥmān has the more intensive meaning, taken to include as objects of "sympathy" both the believer and the unbeliever, and may therefore be rendered as "the Compassionate"; ar-raḥīm, on the other hand, is taken to include as objects the believer in particular, may be rendered as "the Merciful" (considered as expressive of a constant attribute).

In the Qur'an, the Basmala is usually numbered as the first verse of the first sura, but, according to the view adopted by Al-Tabari, it precedes the first verse. Apart from the ninth sura ("At-Tawba"), Al-Qurtubi reported that the correct view is that the Basmala ignored at the beginning of At-Tawba because Gabriel did not refer to the Basmala in this surah, another view, says that Muhammad died before giving a clarification if At-Tawba is part of Quran 8 (al-ʾanfāl) or not.[20][Notes 2] It occurs at the beginning of each subsequent sura of the Qur'an and is usually not numbered as a verse except at its first appearance at the start of the first sura. The Basmala occurs as part of a sura's text in verse 30 of the 27th sura ("An-Naml"), where it prefaces a letter from Sulayman to Bilqis, the Queen of Sheba.

The Basmala is used extensively in everyday Muslim life, said as the opening of each action in order to receive blessing from God.[21] Reciting the Basmala is a necessary requirement in the preparation of halal food.

In the Indian subcontinent, a Bismillah ceremony is held for a child's initiation into Islam.

The three definite nouns of the Basmala—Allah, ar-Rahman and ar-Rahim—correspond to the first three of the traditional 99 names of God in Islam. Both ar-Rahman and ar-Rahim are from the same triliteral root R-Ḥ-M, "to feel sympathy, or pity".

The Basmala has a special significance for Muslims, who are to begin each task after reciting the verse. It is often preceded by Ta'awwudh.

Around 1980, IRIB used it before starting their newscasts.


Thuluth script

There are several ahadith encouraging Muslims to recite it before eating and drinking. For example:

Jabir reported: I heard Messenger of Allah (saw) saying, "If a person mentions the Name of Allah upon entering his house or eating, Satan says, addressing his followers: 'You will find nowhere to spend the night and no dinner.' But if he enters without mentioning the Name of Allah, Satan says (to his followers); 'You have found (a place) to spend the night in,' and if he does not mention the Name of Allah at the time of eating, Satan says: 'You have found (a place) to spend the night in as well as food.'"

— From Muslim

Aisha reported: "The Prophet said, "When any of you wants to eat, he should mention the Name of God in the beginning (Bismillah). If he forgets to do it in the beginning, he should say Bismillah awwalahu wa akhirahu (I begin with the Name of God at the beginning and at the end)".

— From At-Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud

Umaiyyah bin Makshi reported: "The Prophet was sitting while a man was eating food. That man did not mention the Name of God till only a morsel of food was left. When he raised it to his mouth, he said, Bismillah awwalahu wa akhirahu. The Prophet smiled at this and said, "Satan had been eating with him but when he mentioned the Name of God, Satan vomited all that was in his stomach".

— From Abu Dawud and Al-Nasa'i

Wahshi bin Harb reported: "Some of the Sahaba of the Prophet said, 'We eat but are not satisfied.' He said, 'Perhaps you eat separately.' The Sahaba replied in the affirmative. He then said, 'Eat together and mention the Name of God over your food. It will be blessed for you.'

— From Abu Dawood

A tradition ascribed to Muhammad states:[22]

All that is contained in the revealed books is to be found in the Qur’an and all that is contained in the Qur’an is summed up in the surat al-fatihah ("The opening one") while this is in its turn contained in the formula Bismillahi-r-Rahmani-r-Rahim ("In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful").

A tradition ascribed to Imam Ali states:[22]

The basmalah is in essence contained in the first letter, Ba, and this again in its diacritical point, which thus symbolizes principal Unity.


Basmala calligraphy

In a commentary on the Basmala in his Tafsir al-Tabari, al-Tabari writes:

"The Messenger of Allah (the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said that Jesus was handed by his mother Mary over to a school in order that he might be taught. [The teacher] said to him: 'Write "Bism (In the name of)".' And Jesus said to him: 'What is "Bism"?' The teacher said: 'I do not know.' Jesus said: 'The "Ba" is Baha’u'llah (the glory of Allah), the "Sin" is His Sana’ (radiance), and the "Mim" is His Mamlakah (sovereignty)."[23]


Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim "In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful".


According to the standard Abjadi system of numerology, the total value of the letters of the Islamic Basmala, i.e. the phrase — is 786.[24] This number has therefore acquired a significance in folk Islam and Near Eastern folk magic and also appears in many instances of pop-culture, such as its appearance in the 2006 song '786 All is War' by the band Fun-Da-Mental.[24] A recommendation of reciting the basmala 786 times in sequence is recorded in Al-Buni. Sündermann (2006) reports that a contemporary "spiritual healer" from Syria recommends the recitation of the basmala 786 times over a cup of water, which is then to be ingested as medicine.[25]

It has also become common to abbreviate the phrase by typing "786", especially in online communication, and especially among South Asian Muslims.[citation needed]


In Unicode, the Basmala is encoded as one ligature at code point U+FDFD in the Arabic Presentation Forms-A block.

encoding utf-8 sign name unicode transcription Arabic English
﷽ Arabic Ligature Bismillah ar-Rahman ar-Raheem Bi-smi llāhi r-raḥmāni r-raḥīm بسم اللّٰه الرحمن الرحيم In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

This is the widest character currently in the Unicode standard.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ pronounced [bis.mi‿l.laː.hi‿r.raħ.maː.ni‿r.ra.ħiː.m]
  2. ^ a b See, however, the discussion of the eighth and ninth suras at Al-Anfal (the eighth sura).


  1. ^ Shelquist, Richard (2008-01-03). "Bismillah al rahman al rahim". Living from the Heart. Wahiduddin. Retrieved 2009-06-21.
  2. ^ "Afghanistan Constitution". International Constitutional Law Project. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  3. ^ "Constitution of the State of Bahrain" (PDF). Constitution Finder. University of Richmond. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 June 2015. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  4. ^ "The Constitution of the People's Republic of Bangladesh". Laws of Bangladesh. Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  5. ^ "Constitution of Brunei Darussalam (as revised 1984)" (PDF). Constitution Finder. University of Richmond. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  6. ^ "Constitution of the Arab Republic of Egypt 2014" (PDF). Egypt State Information Service. Egypt State Information Service. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  7. ^ "Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran". International Constitutional Law Project. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  8. ^ "Iraqi Constitution" (PDF). Republic of Iran - Ministry of Interior - General Directorate of Nationality. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 November 2016. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  9. ^ "Kuwait Constitution". International Constitutional Law Project. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  10. ^ "Libya's Constitution of 2011" (PDF). Constitute Project. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  11. ^ "Constitution of the Republic of Maldives 2008" (PDF). Republic of Maldives Ministry of Tourism. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  12. ^ "The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan" (PDF). National Assembly of Pakistan. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  13. ^ "The Constitution of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia" (PDF). Constitute Project.
  14. ^ "The Constitution of the Republic of Tunisia" (PDF). Venice Commission. Council of Europe. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  15. ^ "Constitution of the United Arab Emirates" (PDF). Refworld The Leader in Refugee Decision Support. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  16. ^ Ali, Kecia; Leaman, Oliver (2008). Islam: the key concepts (Repr. ed.). London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-39638-7.
  17. ^ William A. Graham "Basmala" Encyclopaedia of the Qur'an, Vol. 1
  18. ^ Ahmad al-Jallad (2020). "The Linguistic Landscape of pre-Islamic Arabia: Context for the Qur’an", in Mustafa Shah & Muhammad Abdel Haleem (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Quranic Studies. Oxford University Press, p. 123. doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199698646.013.44.
  19. ^ a b A New Arabic Grammar of the Written Language by J.A. Haywood and H.M. Nahmad (London: Lund Humphreys, 1965), ISBN 0-85331-585-X, p. 263.
  20. ^ "The reason behind that At-Tawbah is the only Surah without Basmala". 16 April 2019. Retrieved 2020-06-23.
  21. ^ " Definition". Archived from the original on 2015-12-08. Retrieved 2011-11-18.
  22. ^ a b Titus Burckhardt (2008) [1959]. An Introduction to Sufi Doctrine. World Wisdom Inc., Bloomington IN, USA. ISBN 1933316500. p. 36.
  23. ^ Momen, M. (2000). Islam and the Bahá'í Faith. Oxford, UK: George Ronald. p. 242. ISBN 0-85398-446-8. In note 330 on page 274 of the same book Dr. Momen states the following: "At-Tabarí, Jámi’-al-Bayán, vol. 1, p.40. Some of the abbreviated editions of this work (such as the Mu’assasah ar-Risálah, Beirut, 1994 edition) omit this passage as does the translation by J. Cooper (Oxford University Press, 1987). Ibn Kathír records this tradition, Tafsír, vol. 1, p. 17. As-Suyútí in ad-Durr al-Manthúr, vol. 1, p. 8, also records this tradition and gives a list of other scholars who have cited it including Abú Na’ím al-Isfahání in Hilyat al-Awliya’ and Ibn ‘Asákir in Taríkh Dimashq."
  24. ^ a b Shah & Haleem (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Qur'anic Studies, Oxford University Press, 2020, pp581, 587-88
  25. ^ Katja Sündermann, Spirituelle Heiler im modernen Syrien: Berufsbild und Selbstverständnis - Wissen und Praxis, Hans Schiler, 2006, p. 371.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]