Is Basmala (Bismillahirrahmanirrahim: In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful) a verse in the Quran?
Submitted by on Mon, 21/12/2009 - 15:07
Dear Brother / Sister,
Basmala is a verse in the chapter an-Naml in the Quran. It is disputable whether the basmala mentioned at the beginning of each chapter in the Quran is a verse or not. When the original version of the Quran was written, basmala was written at the beginning of each chapter except the chapter of Baraah (at-Tawba). In all of the versions that were written based on that original version, basmala was written at the beginning of each verse. The companions of the Prophet never added anything in mushaf (the Quran) that was not present in the Quran. At that time, the dots and other signs were not present in the Quran. The dots and other signs that were added later were written in different ink so that they could be distinguished from the original text.
According to the narration of Abu Dawud from Ibn Abbas: "The Prophet (pbuh) did not know how to distinguish between two chapters or when a chapter ended until "Bismillahirrahmanirrahim" was sent down.(1)" It is reported that Umm Salama said, "The Prophet (pbuh) is reported to have read basmala as a verse of the chapter al-Fatiha.(2) According to the narration of Abu Hurayra, the Prophet (pbuh) said,: “When you read al-Fatiha, read ‘Bismillahirrahmanirrahim’ too, because al-Fatiha is the mother of the Quran and the mother of the Book, and the seven oft repeated verses. Bismillahirrahmanirrahim is one its verses.(3)"
Based on the evidence mentioned above, Imam Shafii regarded basmala as a verse in the chapter al-Fatiha. Shafi had some hesitations about the basmalas in other chapters, and he sometimes said basmala was a verse in every chapter and sometimes said basmala was a verse in the chapter al-Baqara only.(4)"
Although there are hadiths stating that Hazrat Prophet read basmala before al-Fatiha, those hadiths do not prove that basmala is a verse in al-Fatiha. The Prophet read basmala when he started to read al-Fatiha in order to show that it was a principle of Islam to read when starting every act or task. Besides, there are hadiths stating that Hazrat Prophet read al-Fatiha without reading basmala first. It is narrated that Hazrat Aisha said, "The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) started performing prayers saying Allahu akbar (Allah is the greatest) and reading by alhamdu lillahi rabbi'l-alamin (Praise be to Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the Worlds). Anas Ibn Malik said: "I performed prayers behind the Prophet (pbuh), Abubakr and Umar. They started with alhamdu lillahi rabbi'l-alamin; they did not recite bismillahirrahmanirrahim before they started or after they ended the prayer.(5)" "I did not hear any of them recite bismillahirrahmanirrahim.(6)" "They started reading by alhamdu lillahi rabbi'l-alamin.(7)
Hazrat Abu Hurayra reported the following hadith from the Prophet: "Allah, the Exalted, stated: I divided salah (prayer) into two between me and my slave. Half of it is for me; and half of it is for my slave. What my slave wants will be given to him. When my slave says ‘alhamdu lillahi rabbi'l-alamin’, Allah says: my slave praised me. When the slave says: ‘ar-Rahmani'r-rahim’ (Most Gracious, Most Merciful), Allah says: my slave mentioned my honor. When the slave says ‘maliki yawmi'd-din’ (Master of the Day of Judgment), Allah says my slave referred his business to me. When the slave says, ‘iyyaka na'budu wa iyyaka nasta'in’(Thee do we worship, and Thine aid we seek), Allah says this is a secret between me and my slave. What my slave wants will be given to him.(8) When the slave says ‘ihdina's-sirata'l-mustaqim…’ (Show us the straight way…), Allah says what my slave wants will be given to him." Here, Hazrat Prophet (pbuh) did not mention basmala while listing the verses of al-Fatiha.
Thus, Imam Malik concluded that basmala was not a verse except in verse 30 of the chapter an-Naml, based on the evidence mentioned above. According to him, the reason why basmala is written at the beginning of every chapter is the fact that Hazrat Prophet ordered so and that he wanted every act or deed to be started with basmala. Although it was reported by tawatur (report by a large group of people) that basmala should be written at the beginning of every chapter, there is no tawatur about basmala being a part of the Quran.
There are hadiths stating that the Prophet did not read and did read basmala while performing prayers. However, the ones stating that he read are stronger. There are hadiths stating that he and his companions read basmala silently during prayers. It is understood from those narrations that Hazrat Prophet read basmala sometimes loudly and sometimes silently during prayers.
Allah, the Exalted, stated the following: "So eat of (meats) on which Allah's name hath been pronounced. “(9). Hazrat Noah (Nuh) ordered the believers to embark on the arc by saying: "Bismillahi majraha wa mursaha inna rabbi laghafuru'r-rahim” (in the name of Allah, whether it move or be at rest! For my Lord is, be sure, Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful); Hazrat Sulayman (Solomon) wrote ”Bismillahirrahmanirrahim” (10) at the beginning of his letter. Since Allah said to His Prophet: "Follow the guidance they received"(11) it is a strong sunnah to start every permissible thing like eating, drinking, going out, coming in, etc.
According to Hanafis, although the fact that basmala is written in the Quran shows that it is part of the Quran, it does not show that it is a verse in every chapter. The hadiths stating that basmala is not recited loudly with al-Fatiha prove that basmala is not a verse of the chapter al-Fatiha. Then, basmala, existing at the beginning of every chapter is an independent verse; it is not part of that chapter. Only the basmala in the middle of the chapter an-Naml is a verse of that chapter.
It is understood that the last view mentioned above is the best view because the fact that nothing that was not in the Quran was not written in the text of the Quran but basmala was written shows that basmala is part of the Quran. The hadiths stating that basmala is not recited loudly with al-Fatiha show that basmala is not a verse of the chapter al-Fatiha. Besides, there is other evidence supporting that view.
Hazrat Prophet (pbuh) said that the chapter al-Mulk consisted of thirty verses. The readers of the Quran and verse counters agreed that the chapter al-Mulk consisted of thirty verses without basmala. Hazrat Prophet also said the chapter al-Kawthar consisted of three verses. The chapter al-Kawthar consists of three verses without basmala. If basmala was included in those chapters, the chapter al-Mulk would have thirty-one and al-Kawthar would have four verses. That is to say, basmala is not included in the chapters; it is an independent verse.
It would not be right not to regard basmala as part of the Quran because there is not tawatur that it is part of the Quran. It is not necessary for each verse to be said it is part of the Quran and to be reported as tawatur. The proof of the state is enough for it. The fact that our Prophet called the scribes of revelation and told them to write something in a certain place in the Quran shows that it is part of the Quran.
Basmala was written in the Quran like that. Hazrat Prophet (pbuh) said, “Write it at the beginning of each verse.”
Due to the difference of opinion about whether basmala is a verse or not and if it is a verse whether it is part of the chapter or not, there are different opinions about the issue of reading basmala during salat (prayers).
Imam Malik does not regard it permissible to read basmala loudly or silently in fard prayers because he does not regard it as a verse. Imam Shafii and Imam Ahmad regard basmala as a verse belonging to each chapter; therefore, they say it is fard to read basmala silently in prayers in which the Quran is read silently and loudly in prayers in which the Quran is read loudly. Abu Hanifa says it is sunnah to say basmala silently before al-Fatiha since he regards it as an independent verse.
1- Abu Dawud, Salat, 122
2- al- Fathurrabbani, 3/189
3- Daraqutni, Salat, babu wujubi qiraati bismillah
4- al- Jami’li Ahkamil-Qur’an 1/93
5-Muslim, Salat 52; Nasai, Iftitah 20.
6- Muslim, Salat 51.
7- Darimi, Salat 34.
8- Abu Dawud, Salat: 132; Tirmidhi, Tafsir, ; Nasai, İftitah 23; Ibn Majah Adab 52.
9- al-Anam: 118.
10- an-Naml: 30
11- al-Anam: 90.
Questions on Islam
- Could you please give information about “Qiraah” (reading/reciting the Quran)?
- Can you give information about the meaning of the supplication (dua) and glorification (tasbih) in the prayer and the rewards given for them?
- What is the wisdom behind reading al-Fatiha in every rak'ah of five daily prayers?
- Hanafi prayers
- Will you give detailed information about the Quran’s being written, compiled and arranged as a book?
- What chapters and verses did the Prophet (pbuh) read in prayers?
- What chapters and verses did the Prophet (pbuh) read in prayers?
- Why does the word "Amin" used in other cultures? Is it a word that was driven from "Amun"?
- How the Qur'an was collected into "Mushaf" (Volume of collected sheets)?
- Why is the covering of the Kaaba black? What chapters and verses are written on this covering?