Fragment of a Treatise on “In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful”


This manuscript is a 40-page portion of a work on the pious ejaculation “bi-ism Allah al-Rahman al-Rahim” (“In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful”) formally referred to as bismillah or basmalah. The manuscript contains extensive hashiyah (marginal annotation) by an unknown author on the anonymous sharh (commentary) on a larger untitled work also by an unknown author. To intone the bismillah is for the Muslim more than simply to remember God’s name. The bismillah is argued by some classical commentators to be an integral part of the Qurʼan itself, as each chapter of the Qurʼan (with one exception) begins with this prayer. This point is discussed in the manuscript. The author of the commentary covers such topics as the use of the term in al-kutub al-samawiyah (the Bible), and its linguistic characteristics. Today, the pious Muslim begins each day with the phrase and repeats it at the beginning of each activity. The bismillah is also an artistic and architectural motif that has been used from the earliest days of Islam to the present. The manuscript is written in maghribi (North African) script and contains remarks on ownership.

Last updated: August 24, 2016