A Brief Exegesis of the Blessed Surah of al-Hamd
9:40:6 2024-04-24 123

Scholars differ about the relation of "B" [ba] in the Bismillahir Rahmanir-Rahim. Each one of them says something about it according to his way of thinking, knowledge and gnosticism. For example, men of letters relate it to the entry "beginning" [ibtida] or "seeking help" [isti`anat]. As to some narratives to the effect that Bismillah means: "I seek help [from Allah]", it is either in accordance with the common taste, as is very much current in the hadiths, and the difference of many hadiths is ascribed to this predicate, and it is thus that Imam ar-Rida (AS) explained Bismillah to mean: "I put on myself a simah [mark] of Allah's", [394] or "seeking help" denotes too delicate a meaning to be understood by the common people, as it includes the secret of tauhid in a subtler way.

Some people of knowledge say that it refers to "appeared" [zahara], that is: "Existence appeared by Bismillah". [395] This is in accordance with the people of knowledge, suluk and gnosticism, who say that all beings, the atoms of existence and the invisible and visible worlds are the manifestations of the all-embracing Name of Allah, i.e. "The Greatest Name". Consequently, "name", which means a sign, a mark, or height and elevation, is Allah's effusive and actual manifestation, which is called "Effusive Emanation" [faid-i munbasit] and "illuminous annexation" [idafa-i ishraqi], because, according to this conduct, the whole of the House of Realization, as from the abstract intellects down to the lowest degrees of existence, are the phenomenalizations [ta'ayyunat] of this emanation [faid] and the descents [tanazzulat] of this grace [latifah]. This conduct is supportable by many noble divine ayahs and honourable hadiths of the infallible and purified Ahlul Bayt (AS), such as the noble hadith in al-Kafi which says: "Allah created the Will [mashiyat] through the Will itself, then He created all the things through Will." [396] This honourable hadith is interpreted according to the opinion of each interpreter's creed. The most obvious one is that which is in conformity with the creed saying that "Will" means, here, the Will in Action, which is the "Effusive Emanation", and the "things" are the stages of existence, and which are the phenomena [ta `ayyunat] and the descents [tanazzulat] of this grace. So, the hadith will thus mean that Allah, the Exalted, has created the Will of Act-which is the shadow [zill] of the Old Essential Will - through the Will itself, without intermediation, and the other creatures of the invisible and visible worlds have been created in the wake of that. Yet, Sayyid Muhaqqiq Damad [may his grave be sanctified], a great scholar and strict researcher as he was, interpreted this noble hadith [397] in a strange way. Similarly, the explanation of the late Fayd[may Allah have mercy upon him] is also far from being correct [398]

However, "Name" is the very manifestation of Act, with which this House of Realization is realized [actualized]. The term "Name", referring to real things, is frequently noticed to be used by Allah, His Messenger and the infallible Ahlul Bayt, who said" "We are the Beautiful Names". [399] In the noble invocations one frequently recites: "By Your Name in which You manifested to so and so." [400]

It is possible that the Bismillah at the opening of each Surah belongs to the same surah. For example, the Bismillah of the blessed surah of "al-Hamd" belongs to the surah itself. This opinion coincides with the gnostic taste and the way of the people of knowledge, as it is to say that the praise of the praisers and the eulogy of the eulogists point to the self-subsistence of the Name "Allah". Therefore, the tasmiyah comes as a preliminary to all words and acts-which is an act of religious supererogation -and it is to remind that whatever word or act done by man is by the self-subsistence of the divine Name, since all the particles of existence are the phenomena of "Allah's Name", and, in a way, they themselves are "Allah's names". On this basis, the meaning of the Basmalah, according to the majority, is different in each surah, each word and each act. The jurisprudents say that the Basmalah must be defined for each surah, that is, if for a surah a Basmalah was recited, the next surah cannot be commenced with that same Basmalah. From the juristic point of view, this is not without reason, as, actually, it is reasonable within the scope of this research. But, considering the vanishing of multiplicities in the Greatest Name of Allah, all Bismillahs have a single meaning.
These two opinions are also applied to the stages of existence and the stations of invisibility and visibility: In the view of multiplicity and seeing the phenomena, all the multiplied beings, the stages of existence and the phenomena of the world are the different names of the Beneficent, the Merciful, the Powerful and the Gracious. In the view of the vanishing of multiplicities and the effacement of the lights of existence in the eternal light of the Sacred Emanation [faid-i muqaddas], there is nothing except the Holy Emanation [faid-i muqaddas] and the All- embracing Name of Allah. Both of these two opinions are also present in the Divine Names and Attributes. According to the first opinion, the state of Unity [wahidiyat] is the state of multiple Names and Attributes, as all multiplicities are from Him. According to the second opinion, there is no name and form [ism a rasm] except the Greatest Name of Allah. These two opinions are wise and through the step of thinking. But if the view became gnostic through opening the doors of the heart, and through the steps of conduct and cordial austerity, Allah, the Exalted, will appear in the hearts of its possessors through His manifestations in Act, Name and Essence, sometimes in the Attribute of multiplicity and sometimes in the Attribute of Unity. The Glorious Qur'an refers to these manifestations, both overtly , as in His saying: "And when his Lord manifested [His light] to the mountain, He made it crumble to dust, and Moses fell down senseless, " [401] and covertly, as in the scenes witnessed by Ibrahim (AS) and the Messenger of Allah (SA), which are referred to in the surahs "al-An'am" and "an-Najm", as well as in the narratives and the invocations of the infallibles (AS) which frequently refer to the same, especially in the great dua [invocation] called "as-Simat", whose authenticity and text cannot be denied by the deniers, and it is accepted by both the Sunnis and the Shi`ahs, and by both gnostics and common people. In this noble invocation there are many high meanings and teachings smelling which raptures the gnostic's heart, and its breeze blows divine breath into the salik's spirit. It says" "By the light of Your Face with which You appeared to the mountain and made it crumble to dust, and Moses fell down senseless; by Your Glory which appeared at the mount of Tur of Sina , with which You talked to Your servant and messenger, Moses the son of `Imran (AS); and by Your rise in Sair and Your appearance on the mount Faran... [402]
In short, the salik to Allah has to inform his heart, when reciting the Basmalah, that all the outward and inward beings and all the visible and invisible worlds, are under the education of the Names of Allah, or rather, they are manifest by the manifestation of the Names of Allah, and all his motions and stillness, and all the world's, are based on the self-existence of the Greatest Name of Allah. So, his praises are for Allah, and his worship, obedience, monotheism and sincerity are all because of the self-existence of the Name of Allah. It is by intense remembrance, which is the aim of worship, that this state, this divine grace, is established and fixed in his heart, as Allah, the Exalted, in His intimate meeting and sacred assembly, with His interlocutor, said: "Verily I am Allah; there is no god but 1; so worship Me and perform the salat for My remembrance". [403] The objective of performing the salat is, He said, to remember Him. After intense remembrance, another way of knowledge will be opened to the heart of the gnostic and he will be attracted to the world of Unity until the tongue of his heart recites: "Praise is for Allah by Allah", and "You are as You praised Yourself," [403a] and "I take refuge in You from You". [403b]

That was a summary of the relation of the "B" [ba'] in Bismillah, and some information obtained from it. As to the secrets of the "B" [ba'], and the dot under the "B" [ba'] of Bismillah, which, in its innermost, refers to the `Alawian position of guardianship, and the state of the Qur'anic Collective Union [am'ul jam'], they need a wider scope to explain.
As regards the truth of the Name, it has an invisible station, an invisible of the invisible, and it has a secret, a secret of the secret, a state of manifestation and a manifestation of the manifestation. The Name is the mark [`alamat] of Allah and is vanished in His Sacred Essence. So, any name which is nearer to the horizon of the Unity, and farther from the world of multiplicity, is more complete in nomination [nameness = ismiyat]; and the most complete name is that which is innocent from multiplicities, even the multiplicity of knowledge, and that is the invisible manifestation of "Ahmadian oneness" [ahadi-i ahmadi] in the Essence [hadrati-i dhat] by the state of the "Holiest Emanation" [faid-i aqdas], which may be what was referred to by the noble ayah: " ... or closer still". [404] Then there is the manifestation by the Greatest Name of Allah in the Unity [hadrat-i wahidiyat]; then there is the manifestation by the "Holy Emanation" [faid-i muqaddas]; then there are the manifestations by the attributes of multiplicity in the essences [hadarat-i ayan], etc. till the last stage of the House of Realization. The writer has already explained this brief in Misbahul Hidayah [405] and in the exegesis of Du`a' us-Sahar. [406]

"Allah" is the state [maqam] of appearance in the "Holy Emanation" if by "Name" the existential individuations [ta`ayyunat-i wujudiyah] are meant, in which case applying "Allah" to it as a union between the manifest and the manifestation, and the vanishing of the Name in the Named, is not objectionable. Perhaps, the ayahs "Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth , [407] and "And He it is Who in the heaven is God, and in the earth is God,"[408] are a reference to this state, and an evidence proving the said application. It is the state of Unity [wahidiyat] and the Union [jam'] of the Names. In other words, it is the state of the Greatest Name if by "Name" the state of manifestation by the "Holy Emanation" is intended. This is probably more obvious than the other possibilities. Or it is the state of the Essence or the state of the "Holiest Emanation" if by "Name" the "Greatest Name" is intended. Consequently, the states of "Beneficent" [rahman] and "Merciful" [rahim] are different, according to these possibilities, as is clear.

It is possible that "Beneficent" and "Merciful" are adjectives for "Name", or they may by adjectives for "Allah", but they are more suitable to be adjectives for "Name", because in praising they are adjectives for "Allah", and thus, it will be immune from repetition, although their being adjectives for "Allah" is also justifiable. In repetition there is, however, a point of eloquence. If we take them to be adjectives for "Name", it supports the idea that by "Name" the Essential Names [alma'-i `ainiyah] are intended, because only the Essential Names can bear the adjectives of "Beneficent" and "Merciful". So, if by "Name" the Essential Name and the manifestation in the state of Collectivity are intended, "Beneficent" and "Merciful" will be attributes of the Essence, which, in the manifestations by the state of Unity, are confirmed for "the Name of Allah", and the mercy of the Beneficent and the Merciful in Act is of their demotions [tanazzulat] and appearances. And if by the "Name" the collective manifestation in Act [tajalli-i jam'i-i fi'li] is intended, which is the state of Will, the "Beneficence" and "Mercifulness" are attributes of Act. So, the mercy of the "Beneficence" [rahmaniyat] is the expanse of the origin of the existence, which is general and for all beings, but it is of the particular attributes of Allah, because in expanding the origin of the existence, Allah, the Exalted, has no partner, and the hands of other beings are short of having the mercy of creating: There is no effecter in the [world of] existence except Allah, and there is no God in the House of Realization but Allah."

Regarding the mercy of "Mercifulness" [rahimiyat], of whose exudations [rashahat] is the guidance of the guides on the road, it is especially for the fortunate and the high dispositions, but it is of the general attributes, of which other beings have their share, too, as it has already been explained that the mercy of Mercifulness is of the general mercies, and that the wicked [ashqiya] have no share of it is because of their own evils, not because of any limitation. Therefore, guidance and invitation are for the entire human family, as is confirmed by the Glorious Qur'an. However, another opinion says that the mercy of the "Mercifulness" belongs only to Allah, and no one else has any share of it. The noble narratives, taking into consideration the different opinions and estimations, also differ in explaining the mercy of Mercifulness. Sometimes it is said: "The `Beneficent' is a particular Name for a general Attribute, and the `Merciful' is a general Name for a particular Attribute." [409] In another instance it is said: "[He is] Beneficent to all His creatures, and Merciful to the believers in particular". [410] It is also said: "O Beneficent of this world, and Merciful of the Hereafter", [411] or "O Beneficent and Merciful of this world and the Hereafter.

 

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