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-Sufficient, 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 recognition, 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.”
Your perfumed chain is my heart's snare, Your ambergris breeze enslaves my heart.
Since the sermon of Your passion was read in my name, you'd say the whole world follows my heart's pleasure.
In the name of God. It has been said that name [ism] derives from “brand” [sima]. In other words, he who says “In the name of God” receives that stamp and is marked by that brand.
Be the elect servant of the king-with his brand
you're safe from police by day and patrols by night.
He who finds a name finds it from His threshold.
Be one of His, brother-don't worry about anyone else.
ʿAlī ibn Mūsā al-Riẓā said, “When the servant says, 'In the name of God,' its meaning is 'I have branded myself with the brand of my Lord.' O Lord, I have Your brand and am happy with it, but I lament at my own being. O Generous One, remove my being from before me, so that Your being may set all my work aright.”
The Pir of the Tariqah said, “O God, when Your light lit the lamp of recognition, my heart increased. When Your testimony became my spokesman, my voice increased. When Your proximity lit the lamp of ecstasy, my aspiration increased. When Your desire put my work in order, my effort increased. When Your being set my work aright, my being increased. O God, what have I seen from my own being other than trial and trouble? From Your being all is bestowal and loyalty. O You who are apparent in kindness and plain in generosity, take what I have done as not done. Do as is fitting for You!”
Someone may say, “In the texts of the Book and the Sunnah God's names are many, and all of them are great, beginningless, pure, and beautiful. What wisdom is there in beginning the tremendous Qur'an with these three? Of all of them, why did He choose these and not add any others?”
The answer is that He chose these three names and confined Himself to them for the sake of two meanings: First so that His servants' work in His names would be easy and their reward would in no way be decreased. He knew that they do not have the capacity to remember and memorize all of His many names.
Even if there are some who can do that, most cannot, and they would remain in regret at not doing it. Hence He combined the meanings of those names in these three names. Their meanings are of three sorts: one sort belongs to majesty and awe, another to blessing and nurture, and the third to mercy and forgiveness. All that is majesty and awe is placed in the name God, all that is blessing and nurture is in the name All-Merciful, and all that is mercy and forgiveness is in the name Ever-Merciful. Thus it is easy for the servant to say them. His rewards will be many, and God's clemency and mercy are boundless.
The second reason is that the Lord of the Worlds sent MuṣṬafā to the creatures, and at that time the creatures were three groups: idol-worshipers, Jews, and Christians. The idol-worshipers knew something of the Creator's name God and this name was famous among them. That is why He says, “If thou wert to ask them, 'Who created the heavens and the earth?,' they would say, 'God'” [31:25]. Among the Jews, the name All-Merciful was recognized. That is why ʿAbdallāh ibn Salām said to God's Messenger, “I do not see a name in the Qur'an that we were reading in the Torah.”
He said, “And what is that?” He said, “The All-Merciful.”
Then God sent down, “Call upon God or call upon the All-Merciful” [17:110].
Among the Christians the recognized name was the Ever-Merciful. Since these three groups were being addressed and these three names were recognized among them, God sent down these three names at the beginning of the Qur'an in keeping with their knowledge and perception, and He did not add any to them.
As for the wisdom in beginning with God, then the All-Merciful, then the Ever-Merciful, it is this: He sent this down in keeping with the states of the servants, who have three states-first creation, then nurturing, and finally forgiveness. God alludes to creation at the beginning through power, All-Merciful alludes to nurturing through the continuity of blessings, and Ever-Merciful alludes to forgiveness at the end through mercy. It is as if God said, “First I created through power, then I nurtured through blessings, and at last I forgave through mercy.”
The Pir of the Tariqah said, “O God, Your name is our permit and Your love our equipage. You are our security and we see Your gentleness face-to-face. O God, Your bounty is our banner and Your embrace our refuge. O God, You are the shelter of the weak and await the strivers at road's end. You witness the faithful-what if You add and do not take away? O God, exalted is he whom You want! If he flees, You come into the road for him. Blessed is he to whom You belong-will You indeed ever be ours?”