Which chapter starts without 'Bismillahirrahmanirrahim'? Why does this chapter not have 'Bismillahirrahmanirrahim' at the beginning?

Details of the Question

Which chapter starts without 'Bismillahirrahmanirrahim'? Why does this chapter not have 'Bismillahirrahmanirrahim' at the beginning?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

When verses and chapters of the Quran were first sent down,'Bismillahirrahmanirrahim' was not written at the beginning of the chapter of at-Tawba; it was not written afterwards by the Companions, Tabiin, Tabaut-Tabiin or the scholars, either.

The reasons why 'Bismillahirrahmanirrahim' was not written and read at the beginning of the chapter of at-Tawba can be listed as follows:

Firstly: The chapter of at-Tawba was sent down after a long interval. When it was sent down, it was regarded to be in close connection with the chapter of al-Anfal in terms of meaning and content; so it was regarded as the continuation of the chapter of al-Anfal.

The last verses of the chapter of al-Anfal are related to jihad and similar incidents between the polytheists and the Muslims; the beginning of the chapter of at-Tawbah starts as follows:

"A (declaration) of immunity from Allah and His Messenger to those of the pagans with whom ye have contracted mutual alliances."

Some Companions even thought that these two verses were indeed the same chapter. However, the big number of its verses and the Prophet's silence about whether it was the continuation of another chapter were enough to decide that the chapter of at-Tawba was a separate chapter. Besides, in terms of arrangement, when the last page of the chapter of al-Anfal and the first page of the chapter of at-Tawba are viewed, they give us the impression that the latter is the continuation of the former. Due to these reasons, 'Bismillahirrahmanirrahim' is not written and read at the beginning of this chapter.

Secondly: The chapter included severe threats to the polytheists and hypocrites (munafiqs) and started with a declaration of war; therefore, 'Bismillahirrahmanirrahim', which expresses mercy, security and peace, does not exist at the beginning of the chapter. As a matter of fact, when Abdullah bin Abbas, asked Hz. Ali (r.a.), "Why was 'Bismillahirrahmanirrahim' not written between the chapters of al-Anfal and at-Tawba? "Hz. Ali gave the following wise answer: "For, Bismillahirrahmanirrahim includes safety and security. However, this chapter was sent down about the sword and the polytheists who violated the treaty."

Thirdly; This chapter declares that all of the treaties and friendships made between the polytheists and Muslims about common defense and similar issues were abolished. As a matter of fact, the following is stated in verse 5 of this chapter:

"But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war)..."

'Bismillahirrahmanirrahim' was not put at the beginning of the chapter since there is no security and mercy in war. Besides, it is not regarded appropriate to start the chapter as "Bismillah baraatun minallah" without mentioning the names ar-Rahman and ar-Rahim. It is not regarded permissible to read the chapter beginning with 'Bismillahirrahmanirrahim' since it was not sent down and written.

Putting aside the differences of explanation, Islamic scholars agree unanimously that 'Bismillahirrahmanirrahim' must not be written and read at the beginning of this chapter. The common reason why it is accepted by everybody is the fact that the Messenger of Allah did not dictate 'Bismillahirrahmanirrahim' at the beginning of this chapter. This is a piece of evidence that the Quran has been protected carefully since it was first sent down as it was learned from the Prophet (pbuh) without undergoing any change and that the Companions acted very carefully to transfer it to the following generations. (see Razi, the beginning of the chapter of at-Tawba)

It should be pointed out that not uttering 'Bismillahirrahmanirrahim' before reading the chapter of at-Tawba is related to the beginning of the chapter. If one starts reading from the beginning of the chapter, he utters only "Audhubillahiminashshaytanirrajim". If he starts reading from a verse after the first verse, he utters'Bismillahirrahmanirrahim'  after 'Audhubillahiminashshaytanirrajim'. When a person finishes the chapter of al-Anfal and starts at-Tawba after it, he continues reading without uttering 'Audhubillahiminashshaytanirrajim' and 'Bismillahirrahmanirrahim'.(see Yas'alunaka Fi'd-Dini wal-Hayat, 1:313-314: Hak Dini Kur'ân Dili,4:2442-44; Kur'an Yolu, Heyet, the beginning of the chapter of at-Tawba)

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