We begin with the Name of Allaah
on the Basmala
(Jaami`ul Bayaan fee Tafseeril Qur'aan)
(This verse, named Basmala, is the first
verse in the Qur'ān. It is usually integrated with the first soorah, but,
according to the view adopted by At-Tabaree, it is independent.)
of "bi_smi_llaah" = "By the name of Allaah" or "In the
Name of Allaah."
1.1 The use of the
formula "In the name of Allaah" (1).
Truly, God, Whose invocation is Exalted
and whose Names are sanctified, educated His Prophet Muhammad - Blessings and
Peace be upon him - by teaching him to to precede all his acts by mentioning His
Most Beautiful Names. God wanted that this education and teaching be a norm (Sunnah)
to which all creatures would conform in beginning of their speeches, writings
and all other acts. Moreover, saying "bi_smi_Llaah" is sufficient to
mean "I begin such-and-such act in the Name of Allaah" because the
particle "bi" (which means by, in) implicitly requires that an act
follows (the act that begins "by" the mention of Allaah's Name).
1.2. Meaning of this
formula - Explanation of the words "bi_smi".
When someone makes intention to recite
(or to read) a Soorah from the Qur'ān, he will say
"bi_smi_Llaahi_r_Rah.maani_r_Rah.eem" wanting to say with these words:
"I read in the Name of Allaah..." and, also, if he gets up or sits
down or whatever he does, he will begin his act by saying these words and that
will always mean: "I do this act in the Name of Allaah."
But why say "In the Name of
Allaah" in this sense when we know that, for example, every reader of the
Divine Book does not read it except with the help and providential support of
God; and that every person who acts does not act except by Him (i.e. His
permission and His will).
If that is the case, why not simply say
"By Allaah" (bi_Llaah) which would apparently be more clear than
"By (in) the Name of Allaah" which allows assuming that that the act
is done "by other than Allaah?" (2)
In reality, the formula "In the
Name of Allaah" means "I begin _by mentioning_ Allah before
everything", giving to the word "ism", which usually means
"name", the meaning of "tasmiya" (3) which signifies
"the act of mentioning." For example, to begin the Qur'ānic
recitation by saying "in the Name of Allaah..." means: "I begin
my reading by mentioning Allaah." In the beginning of the Revelation,
angel Jibreel had ordered the Prophets to say "in the Name of Allaah, the
Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful" and according to Ibn `Abbaas this
meant: "Read (or recite), by _invoking_ Allaah, your Lord, (and) get up and
sit down by _invoking_ Allaah."
1.3 Commentary of the
Name "Allaah" (4)
To comment on the Name
"Allaah" it can be said: Allaah is God in the sense that
"Allaah" is He Who is Deity for all things and all creatures to
Ibn `Abbaas said: "Allaah is He to
Whom belongs, in regard to all creatures, the "function of being
Divinity" (ulooheeyah) and the "function to be worshiped" (ma`boodeeyah)."[Origin
of this Name] We have not heard the Arabs explicitly saying that this word
is derived from a verbal root, nevertheless there are speculative arguments to
attach the Name Allaah to ilaah which is normally derived from aliha which means
to worship and whose noun is precisely "ilaaha" (5)
It is this meaning of worship that Ibn
`Abbaas gives to the word ilaaha in the verse 7:127 where it is said to Pharaoh:
"Will you abandon Moses and his people to spread mischief in the land, and
to abandon you and worship of yourself (ilaahata_ka/aalihata_ka)?"
Ibn `Abaas explains: "Pharaoh did not worship, rather he was
But what is it that permits to say that
the word "Allaah" is derived from "ilaah"?
As in other cases of elision, the
combination al+ilaah becomes Al_Laah, after the vocal elision of i (hamza i).
The two letters l (laam) are collided and become a single doubled laam in the
ar-Rah.eem" - "the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful"
These two Names are derived from the
verb "rah.ima": to be merciful and both mean "that who is
merciful"; and also, each of these Names corresponds to one aspect of
Different views about respective
meanings of the names "rah.maan" and"rah.eem":
2.1 Azramee said:
"Ar_Rah.maan is the Merciful in regard to all creatures and Ar_Rah.eem is
the Merciful in regard to Believers."
Aboo Sa`eed al-Khudree reported that the
Messenger of Allaah - Blessings and Peace be upon him - said: "`Eesaa,
son of Mary, said: "Ar_Rah.maan is the Merciful in this world and the
other, while Ar_Rah.eem is the Merciful in the other world (uniquely)."
These two propositions are valuable and
do not contradict each other. God, as Rah.maan, includes all creatures in
His Mercy in this world and the other, and as Rah.eem, He gives His particular
Mercy to certain creatures, in all their states or to all creatures in some of
their states [meaning in this life or in the Other].
So God is Rah.eem, in this world in
regard to Believers in order that they believe in Him and His Prophets,
respecting His Orders and avoiding disobedience to Him; in fact those are the
blessings which had not been granted to associationists and disbelievers, nor to
those who move away from obedience to Him. In the other world, God is
equally Rah.eem to believers by perpetual delights and dazzling success which He
prepared to them in His Paradise, "And Allaah is the Most Merciful (Rah.eem)
to believers." (Qur'aan, 33:43)
On the other hand, Allaah is Rah.maan to
both believers and disbelievers in this world, because He included them in His
universal Mercy by innumerable blessings which He has granted them: sustenance,
rain, physical and moral wellbeing;
He is still Rah.maan in the other world
in regard to both (believers and disbelievers) by His Equity and His Rigour
because "Allaah wrongs not even of the weight of an atom (or a small ant),
but if there is any good (done), He doubles it, and gives from Him a great
reward." (Qur'aan, 4:40)
2.2 Second view
Ibn `Abbaas said: "...the Most
Beneficent, the Most Merciful is the Gentle (Raqeeq), the Kind (Rafeeq)."
According to this proposition, the
distinction between Rah.maan and Rah.eem is not established as a function of
these aspects of Allaah's Mercy, but as a function of the nature of this Mercy.
2.3 Third view
According to `Ataa', the name Rah.maan
was uniquely a divine Name until the day when creatures attributed them wrongly
to themselves: Allaah made it known that His Name (in regard to Mercy) from that
day on was Ar_Rah.maanu_r_Raheem because no creature has ever been qualified by
these two attributes at the same time.
2.4 Two mistaken
- It is false to pretend that the Arabs
did not know the name Ar_Rah.maan before Islaam.
- It is useless to distinguish these two
names by saying that Ar_Rah.maan designates "He Who is qualified by
Mercy" (Dhoo Rah.mah) and that Ar_Rah.eem designates "He Who is
Merciful" because this distinction does not make sense.
B.3. Explanation of
the order of the Names in the "Basmala"
When the Arabs desire to speak about
something, they have a habit to first mention the thing in question, and then to
mention its attributes (sifaat) and its qualities (nu`oot).
Or the Names of Allaah such as Allaah,
Rah.maan (Most Beneficent), Khaaliq (Creator), they are absolutely divine Names
that cannot be attributed to any creature and which suffice by themselves to
designate Him Who is in question.
On the contrary, the Names such as
Merciful, (...), Seer, Generous can equally be attributed to created beings
because certain aspects of designated qualities of each of these Names can be
attributed to them (i.e. created beings).
Rightfully, the Name "Allaah"
precedes the other Names because it implies the "function of being
worshipped" (ulooheeyah) (6) which refers to Allaah Alone.
As for the two Names Allaah and
Ar-Rah.maan, Allaah, Exalted is He, names Himself by them in particular in the
verse: "Invoke Allaah or invoke Ar-Rah.maan, by whatever Name you invoke
Him (it is the same), for to Him belong the Best Names." (Qur'aan, 17:110)
As for the name Rah.eem, it can be
attributed to a human because it is perfectly possible that he takes part in a
certain aspect of the Mercy but not in its universality [expressed by the name
Ar-Rah.maan] because the universality takes from the "function of
divinity" which belongs to Allaah Alone.
This is why the Name "Allaah"
is mentioned first, followed immediately by the name Ar-Rah.maan and at then by
the name Ar-Rah.eem.
(1) The vocable bi-smi is composed of
two words: bi+ism, "bi" is a particle serving to indicate a 'means'
and 'ism' signifies 'name'. For reasons that are difficult to explain here, the
initial 'i' in this word is elided.
(2) Tabaree reminds here that in reality
there is only one Agent. This aspect of the doctrine of Tauh.eed is called
"Tauh.eed al_af`aal": Unity of Allaah in regard to His acts.
(3) Tabari makes clear (precise): the
word "tasmiya" is a verbal noun (mas.dar) of the derived verb "sammaa",
derived from "ism". It is common, in Arabic, that simple substantive
(noun) which stems from its radical (here the word 'ism') is used instead of a
verbal noun of an augmented form (here the word 'tasmiyah').
(4) The Name Allaah is mentioned 980
times in the Qur'aan while the name Muh.ammad is mentioned 4 times. Ibn Katheer
said: "Allaah is the supreme Name because it is qualified by all the
Attributes, according to the divine sayings:
"He is Allaah, than Whom there is
Laa ilaaha illaa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He) the
All-Knower of the unseen and the seen (open). He is the Most Beneficent, the
"He is Allaah than Whom there is
Laa ilaaha illaa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He) the King, the
Holy, the One Free from all defects, the Giver of security, the Watcher over His
creatures, the All-Mighty, the Compeller, the Supreme. Glory be to Allaah! (High
is He) above all that they associate with Him)."
"He is Allaah, 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 All-Mighty, the
All-Wise." (Qur'aan, 59:22-24)
(5) According to this commentary the
word ilaaha is, here, a synonym of `ibaadah. The word `ibaadah signifies worship
which is the worship _of_ the faithful (as they are the worshippers), which is
the most common meaning, or worship _of_ God (as the One Worshipped), which is
the aspect kept here).
(6) The term Ulooheeyah is usually
translated as "function of Divinity" [tauh.eed al-ulooheeyah = Oneness
of the worship of Allaah: to believe that none has the right to be worshipped,
e.g. praying, invoking, asking for help from the unseen, swearing, slaughtering
sacrifices, giving charity, fasting, pilgrimage, etc, but Allaah.]. But
according to the interpretation given by Tabaree given to the word 'ilaaha',
which he renders as a synonym to "`ibaadah" (worship), this
"function of Divinity" is intended to mean "function of being worshipped" (ma`boodeeyah).