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Some Introductory Notes. 

 The word basmala  is an Arabic term of invocation indicative of the oft repeated Arabic Qur'ān formula Bismillāh al-Rahman al-Rahim (cited above with pointing). It occurs before all 114 Surahs ("chapters") of the Qur'an except the ninth Surah al-Tawba (The Surah of Repentance = Q.9).  More than a billion pious Muslims repeat it in obligatory Qur'an rooted and other devotions five or more times a day. It is used in countless ritualistic  and semi-ritualistic circumstances throughout the Muslim world. Its pious recitation is believed to be a source of blessing and sanctification. Numerous extra-qur'anic Islamic devotional and other literatures and communications are headed by the basmala. It is without doubt the most centrally important religious invocation in the Islamic world wherein it is chanted and written under numerous circumstances.  Many hundreds of learned commentaries have been written on the basmala in all the languages of Islamic civilization including, for example,  Arabic, Persian, and Turkish.

The Islamic basmala is made of  three or four (or more words counting the two occurrences of the Arabic definite article =  ال  ) which prefixes the two Divine Attributes Rahman ("Merciful") and Rahim ("Compassionate").

(1) The first two words are  ب  meaning "In" which is connected with or prefixed to  the word "Name" (= 2)

(2)    =  ب +  اسم  =  بسم  , the word  "Name" (=   اسم  ). its first vowel letter "a" ا is elided or absent  due to the prefixing of  the letter ب " B" meaning "In".

(3)   الله  =  Allah   the personal name of the God  of all in the  Qur'an;  linguistically probably itself a contraction of the words ال al  "the" +   اله  = "God" (lit. "the God").

(4) al-Raḥman  =   الرحمن  =  "the Merciful"  (prefixed with the definite article ال  = al ), six letters = A + L+R + Ḥ+ M + N

(5) al-Raḥmīn =  الرحيم     =  "the Compassionate" (prefixed with the definite article ال  = al ), six letters = A + L + R+ Ḥ+ Y + M.

This basmala Arabic sentence is thus composed of a succession  of five or more  words (with repetition) which are  made up of nineteen letters. Spelled out separately they are as follows:

ب س م ا ل ل ه ا ل  ر ح  م  ن  ا ل  ر ح  ي  م

In transliteration the above list of nineteen letters is as follows:

(1) B + (2) S + (3) M + (4) A + (5) L+ (6) L + (7) H +(8) A + (9) L + (10) R + (11) Ḥ + (12) M + (13) N + (14) A + (15) L+   (16) R + (17) Ḥ + (18) Y + (19) M.

  • بسم   = "In the Name" is composed of 3 letters  = (1)     ب B + س S + م  M which is followed by the personal Name of the Deity, Allah
  • الله  which is composed of 4 letters:   A+L+L+H  = letters 4-7.
  • الرحمن   Composed of 6 (2+4) letters =   A + L (= ال ) + R+ Ḥ + M + N   = letters 8-13
  • الرحيم Composed of 6 (2+4) letters = A + L (= ال ) + R+ Ḥ + Y + M = letters 14-19.


The Arabic words making up the Islamic basmala

Bism ("In the Name")

"In the Name" (bi'sm), commences the oath or formula which prefixes reference to the Deity . Within the basmala the phrase, "the name" is indicative of the Deity who is the personal God of the Qur'an, Allah.

Allah (God).

Allah is one of the key Arabic names for God, the supreme Deity, in the ancient Semitic or Abrahamic religions. In the Hebrew Bible there are ancient cognates including (most closely) El,       Eloah       and the feminine plural form Elohim.


The Divine Attribure al-Rahman.

The Divine Attribure al-Rahin.