Is the Basmalah an actual verse of Sūrah al-Fātiḥah or Not? – Shaykh al-‘Uthaymīn

Question: Is the Basmalah (بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ) an actual verse of Sūrah al-Fātiḥah or Not?

Shaykh al-Uthaymeen:

The scholars hold differing opinions about this issue. Some say that it is definitely a verse from al-Fātiḥah and it should be recited aloud in those prayers which are recited out-loud. They believe it is not correct unless the Basmalah is recited since it is part of the entire chapter of al-Fātiḥah. Other scholars say that it is not a verse of al-Fātiḥah, but it is a separate verse from the book of Allah. This latter opinion is the correct one and is proven by other texts as well as the context of the chapter itself.

As for the textual proof, Abū Hurayrah ( رضي الله عنه ) narrated a ḥadīth in which the prophet ( صلّى الله عليه وسلّم ) said:

I have divided the prayer in two parts between myself and my servant

Allah ( تَعَالَى ) says,

“I have divided the prayer in two parts between myself and my servant.” When the servant recites, “All praise and thanks are to Allah, the lord of all creations”, Allah says, “My servant has praised me.” And when he recites, “The Most-Merciful, the Bestower of all mercy”, Allah says, “My servant has honored me.” When he recites, “The owner of the Day of Recompense”, Allah says, “My servant has glorified me.” When he recites, “You alone we worship and from you alone we seek help”, Allah replies, “This is two parts between my servant and I.” When he recites, “Guide us to the straight path…” until the end of the chapter, Allah replies, “This is for My servant and he will have what he asks for.”

[Recorded by Muslim (no. 395)]

This is a textual proof that the Basmalah is not an actual verse of Sūrah al-Fātiḥah (because it was not the first statement the servant says as mentioned in this ḥadīth).

There is another authentic statement of Anas ibn Mālik ( رضي الله عنه ) in “Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim” in which he said:

I prayed behind the prophet ( صلّى الله عليه وسلّم ), Abū Bakr, and ‘Umar and none of them used to mention “In the name of Allah, the Most-Merciful, the Bestower of all mercy” at the beginning of their recitations (of Sūrah al-Fātiḥah) nor at the end of it.

[Recorded by Muslim (no. 399)]

What is meant is that each of them used not to mention it aloud. The fact that there is a distinction between it not being recited aloud as the rest of al-Fātiḥah is recited indicates that it is not actually a part of the chapter.

As for the proof from the context of the other verses’ meanings, Sūrah al-Fātiḥah consists of seven verses as is unanimously agreed upon. If you wanted to measure out seven verses as they pertain to the topics of the chapter, you will find that the middle verse is:

إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ

You alone we worship and from you alone we seek help. [Sūrah al-Fātiḥah, 1:4]

This is the same verse about which Allah says, “This is two parts between my servant and I” in the previous ḥadīth. This is because the first verse is:

الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

All praise and thanks are for Allah, the Lord of all creations. [Sūrah al-Fātiḥah, 1:1]

The second verse is:

الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيم

The Most Merciful, the Bestower of all mercy. [Sūrah al-Fātiḥah, 1:2]

The third verse:

مَالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ

The owner of the Day of Recompense. [Sūrah al-Fātiḥah, 1:3]

These three previous verses are all about the rights of Allah (his attribute, actions, etc.).

As for the verse:

إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ

You alone we worship, and from you alone we seek help.[Sūrah al-Fātiḥah, 1:4]

This is the fourth verse and the half-way point and it too is even divided into two parts, one part for Allah (“You alone we worship…”) and one part for the servant (“…from you alone we seek help.”).

The following verses are:

اهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ

Guide us to the straight path. [Sūrah al-Fātiḥah, 1:5]

This is for the servant.

صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ

The path of those upon whom You bestowed Your grace. [Sūrah al-Fātiḥah, 1:6]

This is also for the servant.

غَيْرِ الْمَغْضُوبِ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلا الضَّالِّينَ

Not of those who earned anger upon themselves, nor of those who are astray. [Sūrah al-Fātiḥah, 1:7]

And finally, this last verse is also for the servant.

So, three verses are for Allah ( عزّ وجلّ ) and they are the first three. And three verses are for the servant and they are the last three. One verse is between both the servant and his lord and it is the fourth and middle verse.

As for the proof from the context of the wordings, if we say that the Basmalah is a verse of Sūrah al-Fātiḥah, then the seventh verse would be very long – as long as two of the other verses (thus making the last and incomparably long verse, “The path of those upon whom you bestowed your grace, not of those who earned anger, nor of those who are astray.”). But it is known that the principle of the verses being similar to each other is also regarding their length.

So, the correct opinion no doubt is that the Basmalah is not a verse of Sūrah al-Fātiḥah just as it is not a verse (at the beginning) of every other chapter in the Qur’an.

Posted from the article : Explaining Surah al-Fatihah – Shaykh ibn Uthaymeen rahimahullaah | Translated by Abu az-Zubayr Harrison rahimahullaah

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