1 - Al Fatiha (The opening)

8 Tafsir(s) related to verse 1.1

Al-Jalalayn

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful:

Al-Qushairi

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful.

The bāÌ in bismillāh ['in the Name of God'] is a grammatical particle of implication. That is to say 'by means of God' (bi-llāh), new things become manifest and by means of Him created things exist. There is nothing from any newly created thing (ḥādith makhlūq) or sequence of events (ḥāṣil mansūq); or from any perceived thing (ʿayn) or trace of a thing (athar), etc.; or anything else from rocks or clay, grass or trees, any impression left on the ground (rasm) or standing remains (ṭalal), or any judgment (ḥukm) or causes (ʿilal), that has existence except by means of the Real. The Real is its sovereign. Its beginning is from the Real and its return is to the Real. Through Him the one who declares the unity [of God] finds and through Him the rejecter abandons faith. Through Him the one who acknowledges knows, and through Him the one who perpetrates lags behind.

He said, 'In the Name of God' rather than 'In God'. According to some people, this is a way of seeking blessing through mentioning His name. According to others, it is because of the difference between this [wording] and oaths. According to scholars, it is because the name (ism) is the thing that is named (musammā). In the view of the people of mystical knowledge (ʿirfān), [the wording is such] in order to seek the purification of hearts from attachments and the liberation of the innermost selves from obstacles so that the word 'God' may enter into a clean heart and purified innermost self.

Upon the mention of this verse, some people are reminded from the [letter] bāÌ of His beneficence (birr) with His friends, and from the [letter] sīn of His secret (sirr) with his chosen ones, and from the [letter] mīm of His grace (minna) to the people of His friendship (ahl al-walāya). They know that by His beneficence, they come to know His secret, and by His grace to them, they preserve His command, and by Him (glory be to Him Most High) they recognize His measure.

Other people, upon hearing 'In the Name of God', are reminded by the [letter] bāÌ of the immunity (barāÌa) of God (swt) from every evil, and by the [letter] sīn of His soundness (salāma) from any defect, and by the [letter] mīm of His magnificence (majd) in the exaltedness of His description.

Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi

There is some scholarly disagreement concerning this Surah [i.e. concerning where it was revealed]; the majority is however of the opinion that it was revealed in Mecca, one among the first Surahs of the Qur'an to be revealed. Abu 'Uthman Sa'id ibn Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Zahid informed us> his grandfather>Abu 'Amr al-Hiri> Ibrahim ibn al-Harith and 'Ali ibn Sahl ibn al-Mughirah who said: Yahya ibn Abi Bukayr informed us> Isra'il> Abu Ishaq> Abu Maysarah ['Amr ibn Shurahbil] who said: "The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, whenever he went out, used to hear someone calling him 'O Muhammad!' And whenever he heard this, he used to flee. Waraqah ibn Nawfal advised the Prophet to remain in his place when the caller calls him so that he hears what he has to tell him. And so when he went out, he heard the calling: 'O Muhammad!' He said: 'Here I am! At your service!' The caller said: 'Say: I bear witness that there is no god but Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah'. Then he said: 'Say (Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, the Beneficent, the Merciful. Owner of the Day of Judgement")' and he read until the end of the Opening of the Book". This is also the opinion of 'Ali ibn Abi Talib. Abu Ishaq Ahmad ibn Muhammad, the Qur'anic commentator, informed us>al-Hasan ibn Ja'far, the commentator who said: Abu'l-Hasan ibn Muhammad ibn Mahmud al-Marwazi> 'Abd Allah ibn Mahmud al-Sa'di> Abu Yahya al-Qasri> Marwan ibn Mu'awiyah> al-'Ala' ibn al-Musayyab> al-Fudayl ibn 'Amr> 'Ali ibn Abi Talib who said: "The Opening of the Book was revealed in Mecca from a treasure beneath the divine Throne". And through the same chain of transmission> al-Sa'di who said: 'Amr ibn Salih informed us> his father> al-Kalbi> Abu Salih> ibn 'Abbas who said: "The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, stood up once in Mecca and said: 'In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds'. The people of Quraysh said: 'May Allah strike your mouth' or something to this effect". This was related by al-Hasan and Qatadah. But according to Mujahid, the Opening of the Book was revealed in Medina. About this opinion al-Husayn ibn al-Fadl said: "Every scholar has a lapse, and this is one lapse from Mujahid, since he is the only scholar who holds this opinion while all the other scholars disagree with him". What makes the Opening of the Book categorically a Meccan Surah is the saying of Allah, exalted is He: (We have given thee seven of the oft-repeated (verses) and the great Qur'an), i.e. the Opening of the Book. Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Rahman al-Nahwi informed us> Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn 'Ali al-Hiri> Ahmad ibn 'Ali ibn al-Muthanna> Yahya ibn Ayyub> Isma'il ibn Ja'far> al-'Ala'> his father> Abu Hurayrah who said: "When Ubayy ibn Ka'b finished reading the Opening of the Book to him, the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: 'By Him in Whose Hand is my soul, Allah has not revealed the like of it in the Torah, the Gospel, the Psalm or in the Qur'an. Verily, I was given the seven oft-repeated [i.e. al-Fatihah] and the great Qur'an' ". Furthermore, there is no disagreement that Surah al-Hijr was revealed in Mecca. It follows therefore that Allah would not mention His bounty on the Prophet for giving him the Opening of the Book while in Mecca and then reveal this to him in Medina. Again, one cannot possibly say that Allah's Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace, stayed over ten years in Mecca and prayed during this time without the Opening of the Book. This is inconceivable.

Ibn Al Kathir

The scholars also agree that Bismillah is a part of an Ayah in Surat An-Naml (chapter 27). They disagree over whether it is a separate Ayah before every Surah, or if it is an Ayah, or a part of an Ayah, included in every Surah where the Bismillah appears in its beginning. Ad-Daraqutni also recorded a Hadith from Abu Hurayrah from the Prophet that supports this Hadith by Ibn Khuzaymah. Also, similar statements were attributed to `Ali, Ibn `Abbas and others.

The opinion that Bismillah is an Ayah of every Surah, except Al-Bara'ah (chapter 9), was attributed to (the Companions) Ibn `Abbas, Ibn `Umar, Ibn Az-Zubayr, Abu Hurayrah and `Ali. This opinion was also attributed to the Tabi`in: `Ata', Tawus, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Makhul and Az-Zuhri. This is also the view of `Abdullah bin Al-Mubarak, Ash-Shafi`i, Ahmad bin Hanbal, (in one report from him) Ishaq bin Rahwayh and Abu `Ubayd Al-Qasim bin Salam. On the other hand, Malik, Abu Hanifah and their followers said that Bismillah is not an Ayah in Al-Fatihah or any other Surah. Dawud said that it is a separate Ayah in the beginning of every Surah, not part of the Surah itself, and this opinion was also attributed to Ahmad bin Hanbal.

Basmalah aloud in the Prayer

As for Basmalah aloud during the prayer, those who did not agree that it is a part of Al-Fatihah, state that the Basmalah should not be aloud. The scholars who stated that Bismillah is a part of every Surah (except chapter 9) had different opinions; some of them, such as Ash-Shafi`i, said that one should recite Bismillah with Al-Fatihah aloud. This is also the opinion of many among the Companions, the Tabi`in and the Imams of Muslims from the Salaf and the later generations. For instance, this is the opinion of Abu Hurayrah, Ibn `Umar, Ibn `Abbas, Mu`awiyah, `Umar and `Ali - according to Ibn `Abdul-Barr and Al-Bayhaqi. Also, the Four Khalifahs - as Al-Khatib reported - were said to have held this view although the report from them is contradicted. The Tabi`in scholars who gave this Tafsir include Sa`id bin Jubayr, `Ikrimah, Abu Qilabah, Az-Zuhri, `Ali bin Al-Hasan, his son Muhammad, Sa`id bin Al-Musayyib, `Ata', Tawus, Mujahid, Salim, Muhammad bin Ka`b Al-Qurazi, Abu Bakr bin Muhammad bin `Amr bin Hazm, Abu Wa'il, Ibn Sirin, Muhammad bin Al-Munkadir, `Ali bin `Abdullah bin `Abbas, his son Muhammad, Nafi` the freed slave of Ibn `Umar, Zayd bin Aslam, `Umar bin `Abdul-Aziz, Al-Azraq bin Qays, Habib bin Abi Thabit, Abu Ash-Sha`tha', Makhul and `Abdullah bin Ma`qil bin Muqarrin. Also, Al-Bayhaqi added `Abdullah bin Safwan, and Muhammad bin Al-Hanafiyyah to this list. In addition, Ibn `Abdul-Barr added `Amr bin Dinar.

The proof that these scholars relied on is that, since Bismillah is a part of Al-Fatihah, it should be recited aloud like the rest of Al-Fatihah. Also, An-Nasa'i recorded in his Sunan, Ibn Hibban and Ibn Khuzaymah in their Sahihs and Al-Hakim in the Mustadrak, that Abu Hurayrah once performed the prayer and recited Bismillah aloud. After he finished the prayer, he said, "Among you, I perform the prayer that is the closest to the prayer of the Messenger of Allah.'' Ad-Daraqutni, Al-Khatib and Al-Bayhaqi graded this Hadith Sahih Furthermore, in Sahih Al-Bukhari it is recorded that Anas bin Malik was asked about the recitation of the Prophet. He said, "His recitation was unhurried.'' He then demonstrated that and recited, while lengthening the recitation of Bismillah Ar-Rahman Ar-Rahim, Also, in the Musnad of Imam Ahmad, the Sunan of Abu Dawud, the Sahih of Ibn Hibban and the Mustadrak of Al-Hakim - it is recorded that Umm Salamah said, "The Messenger of Allah used to distinguish each Ayah during his recitation,

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـنِ الرَّحِيمِ - الْحَمْدُ للَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَـلَمِينَ - الرَّحْمَـنِ الرَّحِيمِ - مَـلِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ

(In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. All praise and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of all that exists, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. The Owner of the Day of Recompense.)''

Ad-Daraqutni graded the chain of narration for this Hadith Sahih Furthermore, Imam Abu `Abdullah Ash-Shafi`i and Al-Hakim in his Mustadrak, recorded that Mu`awiyah led the prayer in Al-Madinah and did not recite the Bismillah. The Muhajirin who were present at that prayer criticized that. When Mu`awiyah led the following prayer, he recited the Bismillah aloud.

The Hadiths mentioned above provide sufficient proof for the opinion that the Bismillah is recited aloud. As for the opposing evidences and the scientific analysis of the narrations mentioned their weaknesses or otherwise it is not our desire to discuss this subject at this time.

Other scholars stated that the Bismillah should not be recited aloud in the prayer, and this is the established practice of the Four Khalifahs, as well as `Abdullah bin Mughaffal and several scholars among the Tabi`in and later generations. It is also the Madhhab (view) of Abu Hanifah, Ath-Thawri and Ahmad bin Hanbal.

Imam Malik stated that the Bismillah is not recited aloud or silently. This group based their view upon what Imam Muslim recorded that `A'ishah said that the Messenger of Allah used to start the prayer by reciting the Takbir (Allahu Akbar; Allah is Greater) and then recite,

الْحَمْدُ للَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَـلَمِينَ

(All praise and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of all that exists.) (Ibn Abi Hatim 1:12).

Also, the Two Sahihs recorded that Anas bin Malik said, "I prayed behind the Prophet, Abu Bakr, `Umar and `Uthman and they used to start their prayer with,

الْحَمْدُ للَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَـلَمِينَ

(All praise and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of all that exists.)

Muslim added, "And they did not mention,

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـنِ الرَّحِيمِ

(In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful) whether in the beginning or the end of the recitation.'' Similar is recorded in the Sunan books from `Abdullah bin Mughaffal, may Allah be pleased with him.

These are the opinions held by the respected Imams, and their statements are similar in that they agree that the prayer of those who recite Al-Fatihah aloud or in secret is correct. All the favor is from Allah.

The Virtue of Al-Fatihah

Imam Ahmad recorded in his Musnad, that a person who was riding behind the Prophet said, "The Prophet's animal tripped, so I said, `Cursed Shaytan.' The Prophet said,

«لَا تَقُلْ: تَعِسَ الشَّيْطَانُ، فَإِنَّكَ إِذَا قُلْتَ: تَعِسَ الشَّيْطَانُ، تَعَاظَمَ وَقَالَ: بِقُوَّتِي صَرَعْتُهُ، وَإِذَا قُلْتَ: بِاسْمِ اللهِ تَصَاغَرَ حَتى يَصِيرَ مِثْلَ الذُبَابِ»

(Do not say, 'Cursed Shaytan,' for if you say these words, Satan becomes arrogant and says, 'With my strength I made him fall.' When you say, 'Bismillah,' Satan will become as small as a fly.)

Further, An-Nasa'i recorded in his book Al-Yawm wal-Laylah, and also Ibn Marduwyah in his Tafsir that Usamah bin `Umayr said, "I was riding behind the Prophet...'' and he mentioned the rest of the above Hadith. The Prophet said in this narration,

«لَا تَقُلْ هكَذَا فَإِنَّهُ يَتَعَاظَمُ حَتَّى يَكُونَ كَالْبَيْتِ، وَلكِنْ قُلْ: بِسْمِ اللهِ، فَإنَّهُ يَصْغَرُ حَتَّى يَكُونَ كَالذُبَابَةِ»

(Do not say these words, because then Satan becomes larger; as large as a house. Rather, say, 'Bismillah,' because Satan then becomes as small as a fly.)

This is the blessing of reciting Bismillah.

Basmalah is recommended before performing any Deed

Basmalah (reciting Bismillah) is recommended before starting any action or deed. For instance, Basmalah is recommended before starting a Khutbah (speech).

The Basmalah is also recommended before one enters the place where he wants to relieve himself, there is a Hadith concerning this practice. Further, Basmalah is recommended at the beginning of ablution, for Imam Ahmad and the Sunan compilers recorded that Abu Hurayrah, Sa`id bin Zayd and Abu Sa`id narrated from the Prophet,

«لَا وُضُوءَ لِمَنْ لَمْ يَذْكُرِ اسْمَ اللهِ عَلَيْهِ»

(There is no valid ablution for he who did not mention Allah's Name in it.)

This Hadith is Hasan (good). Also, the Basmalah is recommended before eating, for Muslim recorded in his Sahih that the Messenger of Allah said to `Umar bin Abi Salamah while he was a child under his care,

«قُلْ بِسْمِ اللهِ وَكُلْ بِيَمِينِكَ وَكُلْ مِمَّا يَلِيكَ»

(Say Bismillah, eat with your right hand and eat from whatever is next to you.)

Some of the scholars stated that Basmalah before eating is obligatory. Basmalah before having sexual intercourse is also recommended. The Two Sahihs recorded that Ibn `Abbas said that the Messenger of Allah said,

«لَوْ أَنَّ أَحَدَكُمْ إِذَا أَرَادَ أَنْ يَأْتِيَ أَهْلَهُ قَالَ: بِسْمِ اللهِ اللَهُمَّ جَنِّبْنَا الشَّيْطَانَ وَجَنِّبِ الشَّيْطَانَ مَا رَزَقْتَنَا،فَإنَّهُ إِنْ يُقَدَّرْ بَيْنَهُمَا وَلَدٌ لَمْ يَضُرَّهُ الشَّيْطَانُ أَبَدًا»

(If anyone of you before having sexual relations with his wife says, 'In the Name of Allah. O Allah! Protect us from Satan and also protect what you grant us (meaning the coming offspring) from Satan,' and if it is destined that they should have a child then, Satan will never be able to harm that child.)

The Meaning of "Allah

Allah is the Name of the Lord, the Exalted. It is said that Allah is the Greatest Name of Allah, because it is referred to when describing Allah by the various attributes. For instance, Allah said,

هُوَ اللَّهُ الَّذِى لاَ إِلَـهَ إِلاَّ هُوَ عَالِمُ الْغَيْبِ وَالشَّهَـدَةِ هُوَ الرَّحْمَـنُ الرَّحِيمُ - هُوَ اللَّهُ الَّذِى لاَ إِلَـهَ إِلاَّ هُوَ الْمَلِكُ الْقُدُّوسُ السَّلَـمُ الْمُؤْمِنُ الْمُهَيْمِنُ الْعَزِيزُ الْجَبَّارُ الْمُتَكَبِّرُ سُبْحَـنَ اللَّهِ عَمَّا يُشْرِكُونَ - هُوَ اللَّهُ الْخَـلِقُ الْبَارِىءُ الْمُصَوِّرُ لَهُ الاٌّسْمَآءُ الْحُسْنَى يُسَبِّحُ لَهُ مَا فِى السَّمَـوَتِ وَالاٌّرْضِ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ

(He is Allah, beside Whom La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He) the Knower of the unseen and the seen. He is the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. He is Allah, beside Whom La ilaha illa Huwa, the King, the Holy, the One free from all defects, the Giver of security, the Watcher over His creatures, the Almighty, the Compeller, the Supreme. Glory be to Allah! (High is He) above all that they associate as partners with Him. He is Allah, the Creator, the Inventor of all things, the Bestower of forms. To Him belong the Best Names. All that is in the heavens and the earth glorify Him. And He is the Almighty, the Wise) (59:22-24).

Hence, Allah mentioned several of His Names as Attributes for His Name Allah. Similarly, Allah said,

وَللَّهِ الأَسْمَآءُ الْحُسْنَى فَادْعُوهُ بِهَا

(And (all) the Most Beautiful Names belong to Allah, so call on Him by them) (7:180), and,

قُلِ ادْعُواْ اللَّهَ أَوِ ادْعُواْ الرَّحْمَـنَ أَيًّا مَّا تَدْعُواْ فَلَهُ الاٌّسْمَآءَ الْحُسْنَى

(Say (O Muhammad :) "Invoke Allah or invoke the Most Gracious (Allah), by whatever name you invoke Him (it is the same), for to Him belong the Best Names.'') (17:110)

Also, the Two Sahihs recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said,

«إِنَّ للهِ تِسْعَةً وَتِسْعِينَ اسْمًا، مِائَةً إِلَا وَاحِدًا، مَنْ أَحْصَاهَا دَخَلَ الْجَنَّةَ»

(Allah has ninety-nine Names, one hundred minus one, whoever counts (and preserves) them, will enter Paradise.)

These Names were mentioned in a Hadith recorded by At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah, and there are several differences between these two narrations.

The Meaning of Ar-Rahman Ar-Rahim - the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

Ar-Rahman and Ar-Rahim are two names derived from Ar-Rahmah (the mercy), but Rahman has more meanings that pertain to mercy than Ar-Rahim. There is a statement by Ibn Jarir that indicates that there is a consensus on this meaning. Further, Al-Qurtubi said, "The proof that these names are derived (from Ar-Rahmah), is what At-Tirmidhi recorded - and graded Sahih from `Abdur-Rahman bin `Awf that he heard the Messenger of Allah say,

«قَالَ اللهُ تَعَالى: أَنَا الرَّحْمنُ خَلَقْتُ الرَّحِمَ وَشَقَقْتُ لَهَا اسْمًا مِنِ اسْمِي، فَمَنْ وَصَلَهَا وَصَلْتُهُ وَمَنْ قَطَعَها قَطَعْتُهُ»

(Allah the Exalted said, 'I Am Ar-Rahman. I created the Raham (womb, i.e. family relations) and derived a name for it from My Name. Hence, whoever keeps it, I will keep ties to him, and whoever severs it, I will sever ties with him.') He then said, "This is a text that indicates the derivation.'' He then said, "The Arabs denied the name Ar-Rahman, because of their ignorance about Allah and His attributes.''

Al-Qurtubi said, "It was said that both Ar-Rahman and Ar-Rahim have the same meaning, such as the words Nadman and Nadim, as Abu `Ubayd has stated. Abu `Ali Al-Farisi said, `Ar-Rahman, which is exclusively for Allah, is a name that encompasses every type of mercy that Allah has. Ar-Rahim is what effects the believers, for Allah said,

وَكَانَ بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ رَحِيماً

(And He is ever Rahim (merciful) to the believers.)' (33:43) Also, Ibn `Abbas said - about Ar-Rahman and Ar-Rahim, `They are two soft names, one of them is softer than the other (meaning it carries more implications of mercy).'''

Ibn Jarir said; As-Surri bin Yahya At-Tamimi narrated to me that `Uthman bin Zufar related that Al-`Azrami said about Ar-Rahman and Ar-Rahim, "He is Ar-Rahman with all creation and Ar-Rahim with the believers.'' Hence. Allah's statements,

ثُمَّ اسْتَوَى عَلَى الْعَرْشِ الرَّحْمَـنُ

(Then He rose over (Istawa) the Throne (in a manner that suits His majesty), Ar-Rahman) (25:59),) and,

الرَّحْمَـنُ عَلَى الْعَرْشِ اسْتَوَى

(Ar-Rahman (Allah) rose over (Istawa) the (Mighty) Throne (in a manner that suits His majesty).) (20:5)

Allah thus mentioned the Istawa - rising over the Throne - along with His Name Ar-Rahman, to indicate that His mercy encompasses all of His creation. Allah also said,

وَكَانَ بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ رَحِيماً

(And He is ever Rahim (merciful) to the believers), thus encompassing the believers with His Name Ar-Rahim. They said, "This testifies to the fact that Ar-Rahman carries a broader scope of meanings pertaining to the mercy of Allah with His creation in both lives. Meanwhile, Ar-Rahim is exclusively for the believers.'' Yet, we should mention that there is a supplication that reads,

«رَحْمنَ الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةِ وَرَحِيمَهُمَا»

(The Rahman and the Rahim of this life and the Hereafter)

Allah's Name Ar-Rahman is exclusively His. For instance, Allah said,

قُلِ ادْعُواْ اللَّهَ أَوِ ادْعُواْ الرَّحْمَـنَ أَيًّا مَّا تَدْعُواْ فَلَهُ الاٌّسْمَآءَ الْحُسْنَى

(Say (O Muhammad ): "Invoke Allah or invoke Ar-Rahman (Allah), by whatever name you invoke Him (it is the same), for to Him belong the Best Names) (17:110),) and,

وَاسْئلْ مَنْ أَرْسَلْنَا مِن قَبْلِكَ مِن رُّسُلِنَآ أَجَعَلْنَا مِن دُونِ الرَّحْمَـنِ ءَالِهَةً يُعْبَدُونَ

(And ask (O Muhammad ) those of Our Messengers whom We sent before you: "Did We ever appoint alihah (gods) to be worshipped besides Ar-Rahman (Most Gracious, Allah)'') (43:45).

Further, when Musaylimah the Liar called himself the Rahman of Yamamah, Allah made him known by the name `Liar' and exposed him. Hence, whenever Musaylimah is mentioned, he is described as `the Liar'. He became an example for lying among the residents of the cities and villages and the residents of the deserts, the bedouins.

Therefore, Allah first mentioned His Name - Allah - that is exclusively His and described this Name by Ar-Rahman, which no one else is allowed to use, just as Allah said,

قُلِ ادْعُواْ اللَّهَ أَوِ ادْعُواْ الرَّحْمَـنَ أَيًّا مَّا تَدْعُواْ فَلَهُ الاٌّسْمَآءَ الْحُسْنَى

(Say (O Muhammad ): "Invoke Allah or invoke Ar-Rahman (Allah), by whatever name you invoke Him (it is the same), for to Him belong the Best Names.'') (17:110)

Only Musaylimah and those who followed his misguided ways described Musaylimah by Ar-Rahman.

As for Allah's Name Ar-Rahim, Allah has described others by it. For instance, Allah said,

لَقَدْ جَآءَكُمْ رَسُولٌ مِّنْ أَنفُسِكُمْ عَزِيزٌ عَلَيْهِ مَا عَنِتُّمْ حَرِيصٌ عَلَيْكُمْ بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ رَءُوفٌ رَّحِيمٌ

(Verily, there has come unto you a Messenger (Muhammad ) from amongst yourselves (i.e. whom you know well). It grieves him that you should receive any injury or difficulty. He (Muhammad ) is anxious over you (to be rightly guided) for the believers (he is) kind (full of pity), and Rahim (merciful)) (9:128).

Allah has also described some of His creation using some of His other Names. For instance, Allah said,

إِنَّا خَلَقْنَا الإِنسَـنَ مِن نُّطْفَةٍ أَمْشَاجٍ نَّبْتَلِيهِ فَجَعَلْنَـهُ سَمِيعاً بَصِيراً

(Verily, We have created man from Nutfah (drops) of mixed semen (sexual discharge of man and woman), in order to try him, so We made him hearer (Sami`) and seer (Basir) (76:2).

In conclusion, there are several of Allah's Names that are used as names for others besides Allah. Further, some of Allah's Names are exclusive for Allah alone, such as Allah, Ar-Rahman, Al-Khaliq (the Creator), Ar-Raziq (the Sustainer), and so forth.

Hence, Allah started the Tasmiyah (meaning, `In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious Most Merciful') with His Name, Allah, and described Himself as Ar-Rahman, (Most Gracious) which is softer and more general than Ar-Rahim. The most honorable Names are mentioned first, just as Allah did here.

A Hadith narrated by Umm Salamah stated that the recitation of the Messenger of Allah was slow and clear, letter by letter,

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـنِ الرَّحِيمِ - الْحَمْدُ للَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَـلَمِينَ - الرَّحْمَـنِ الرَّحِيمِ - مَـلِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ

(In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. All the praises and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of all that exists. The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. The Owner of the Day of Recompense) (1:1-4).

And this is how a group of scholars recite it. Others connected the recitation of the Tasmiyah to Al-Hamd.

Kashani

In the Name of God: the name of a thing is that by which it can be known. The Names of God, exalted be He, are the [arche]typal forms (ṣuwar nawʿiyya) whose specificities and ipseities (hūwiyya) indicate the attributes of God and His essence, and [which indicate] by their very existence His countenance, and by their individuation His oneness. For, these are the outward manifestations through which He can be known; Allāh is a name for the divine essence qua essence absolutely, without taking into consideration that it may be qualified by the attributes or indeed taking into consideration that it may not be [so] qualified; the Compassionate, is the one who causes existence and perfection to flow upon all [things] in the measure that [divine] wisdom requires and to the capacity of the receiving entities (qawābil) from the outset [of their creation]; the Merciful: (al-Raḥīm) is the one who bestows the spiritual perfection (kamāl maʿnawī) that has been earmarked for the human species in the end [sc. in the Hereafter]. It is for this reason that they say O [You Who are the] Compassionate One of this world and of the Hereafter (yā raḥmān al-dunyā wa'l-ākhira), but [say] O Merciful One of the Hereafter (raḥīm al-ākhira): the meaning then is, in the perfect human all-encompassing form, general and specific mercy, which is the locus of manifestation of the divine essence and the greatest truth with the totality of attributes, I commence and I recite. It [Allāh] is the Greatest Name [of God]. It is to this meaning that the Prophet's (ṣlʿm) alluded when he said, 'I have been given the sum of all [excellent] speech [sc. The QurÌān] and have been sent to complete the noble character traits (makārim al-akhlāq). For words constitute the realities (ḥaqāÌiq) of existents (mawjūdāt) and their concrete substances (aʿyān), just as Jesus, peace be upon him, was called a Word from God [cf. 3:39,45]. The noble character traits are the perfections [of these existents] and [represent] their specifities, constituting the sources of their [the existents'] actions in their entirety, contained as they are in the comprehensive human microcosm (kawn insānī). Herein lies a subtlety (laṭīfa), namely that the prophets, peace be upon them, have made the letters of the alphabet analogous to the ranks of existents (marātib al-mawjūdāt).

Kashf Al-Asrar

In the name of God, the All-Merciful, the Ever-Merciful.

In terms of allusion and in keeping with the tasting of the lords of recognition, the bi of bism ["In the name"] alludes to the "splendor" [bahāÌ] of Unity, the s to the "brilliance" [sanāÌ] of the Self-Suffi- cient, and the m to the "kingship" [mulk] of the Divinity. His splendor is self-standing, His brilliance self-sustaining, and His kingship everlasting. His splendor is eternal, His brilliance generous, His kingship tremendous. His splendor is with majesty, His brilliance with beauty, His kingship without decline. His splendor steals the heart, His brilliance increases love, His kingship has no annihilation.

O You whose majesty runs before all that is beauteous!

O You whose perfection is far from deficiency's blight!

Venus rejoices on hearing Your music,

the sun is jealous on seeing Your beauty.

B is His kindness [birr] to His servants, s His secret [sirr] with His friends, m His favor [minna] toward His yearners. If not for His kindness, how could the servant make ready for His secret? If not for His favor, how could the servant reach union with Him; how could the servant find a place at the threshold of His majesty? If not for the beginningless affection, how could the servant be endlessly familiar?

How could water and clay have the gall to love You

had You not chosen them with Your beginningless gentleness?

Love is Your Essence, O God, this is the friends' belief-

remembering Your description, O Lord, dispels the sorrow of the sorrowful! [DS 211]

This world is goodly only through His name, the afterworld goodly only through His pardon, and the Garden goodly only through His vision. If not for the message and name of God in this world, how could it be the servant's home? If not for His pardon and generosity in the afterworld, the servant's work would be difficult. If not for the heart-brightening vision of Him in paradise, what would make a poor man happy?

One of the pirs of the Tariqah said, "O God, we see through Your marks, we live in Your recogni- tion, we flourish though Your name, we are happy in Your remembrance, we are joyful through finding You. It is we who are drunk with love from Your cup, we who are prey to passion in Your snare.

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an

Islamic culture requires a man to commence everything with the name of Allah. If this is done consciously and sincerely, it will surely produce three good results. First, it will keep him away from evil, because the very name of Allah will impel him to consider whether he is justified in associating His name with a wrong deed or an evil intention. Secondly, the very mention of the name of Allah will create in him the right attitude of mind and direct him to the right direction. Thirdly,he will receive Allah's help and blessing and will be protected from the temptations of Satan, for Allah turns to a man when he turns to Him.

It has been stated in the Introduction to this Surah that AI-Fatihah is a prayer. It begins with the praise of Allah to Whom it is addressed in order to teach us the right way of making a supplication. We should not put forward our request bluntly and abruptly without an appropriate introduction. The right way is to acknowledge the excellences and the favors and the high position of the One to Whom we address our prayer. That is why we begin our prayer with the praise of Allah, for He is the perfection of all excellences and.is also our Benefactor. We pay homage to Allah to show that we sincerely acknowledge His excellences and also are grateful to Him for His countless favours. It should also be noted that not only Praise is for Allah but also Praise is only for Allah. This distinction is very important because it cuts at the root of the worship of any of His creation. As none of them is worthy of praise, none is worthy of worship. No man, no angel, no prophet, no so-called god, no star, no idol, in short. none of His creation inherently possesses any good quality. If one has any, it is given by Allah. Hence the Creator of these qualities alone deserves devotion, worship, gratitude, and none of His creation.

The word Rab which has been translated into `Lord' stands for (a) Master and Owner, (b) Sustainer, Provider and Guardian, (c) Sovereign, Ruler, Administrator and Organizer. Allah is the Lord of the Universe in all these senses.

Although the Arabic word Rahman itself is in the superlative form and denotes the attributes of beneficence and mercy in the highest degree, even this word fails to express the boundless extent of these attributes of Allah. Hence another word Rahim of the same root has been added to make up for the deficiency.

After saying that Allah is Beneficent and Merciful, it has immediately been added that He is the Master of the Day of Judgment, so that the qualities of mercy and kindness might not mislead anyone into forgetting that on that Day He will gather together all human beings from the first to the last and require each and every one to give an account of all of one's acts to Him. A Muslim should, therefore, always keep in view the fact that Allah is not only Merciful, but He is also Just. He has, however, full authority to pardon or punish anyone He pleases, for He has complete power over everything. Therefore we should have full conviction that it lies absolutely in His power to make our end happy or sorrowful.

Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.