The Meaning of the Basmallah

This beautiful phrase declares God’s primary attribute– His great Mercy or Grace. God’s Mercy has been expressed in his provision of salvation by his own righteousness for mankind.

The above phrase is commonly known as the bismillah because in the Arabic it reads bismillah-ir-rahman-ir-rahim. It prefaces every surah of the Qur’an except for the ninth. However, the pronouncement of the name of Allah as Gracious and Merciful did not begin with the advent of the Qur’an. Indeed, bismillah is used by Arabic Christians as well as Muslims. The previous scriptures such as the Torah, Zabur, and Injil speak often in the name of Allah as the Gracious and Merciful or Compassionate.

One example of each is given:

The Taurah — “God, God, the merciful and gracious God, slow to anger, and abundant in loving kindness and truth… (Exodus 34:6)

The Zabur — “But you, Lord, are a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger, and abundant in loving kindness and truth.” (Psalm 86:15)

The Injil — “Let us therefore draw near with boldness to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and may find grace for help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

Like the above-mentioned verse says, may you find grace and receive mercy from Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful.

Indeed all the nations may walk in the name of their gods;

But we will walk in the name of the Lord our God forever and ever. (Micah 4:5)

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