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Why No ‘Bismillāh’ with Sūrah Tawbah?

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by Mathabah.org

Answered by Shaykh Yūsuf Badāt

Question:

My question is that I wanted to know why Sūrah Tawbah (Chapter 9 of the Qur‘ān) does not begin with “Bismillāh al Raḥmān al Raḥīm”?

Answer:

بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

May Allāh bless you for your eagerness to learn about the Qur’ān.

The following has been noted by various exegetists (mufassirūn) regarding why “Bismillāh” is not written at the beginning of Sūrah Tawbah:

  1. “Bismillah was not revealed with Sūrah Tawbah nor did the Prophet (peace be upon him) instruct the scribes of revelation to write it”. (Ma’ārif Al Qur‘ān of Muftīi Shafī)
  2. Sūrah Tawbah can be considered as part of the previous sūrah, as a continuation of Sūrah Anfāl, as suggested by some Companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) (Al Tafsīr Al Kabīr, Tafsīr Mazharī)
  3. The sūrah primarily concentrates on the renunciation from the disbelievers and hypocrites who breached the peace agreements at countless occasions, made with the Muslims of Madīnah. Since this theme contradicts the meaning of “bismillāh”, it is not prefaced with the Sūrah. (Al Tafsīr Al Kabīr)

Imam Fakhruddīn Al Rāzi Al Shāfi’īe has quoted the following narrations in his famous tafsīr while discussing this matter:

Ibn Abbās (may Allāh be pleased with him) asked ‘Othmān (may Allāh be pleased with him), “Why did you not place ‘Bismillāh Al Raḥmān Al Raḥīm’ between the two of them (Anfāl and Tawbah)?”, ‘Othmān (may Allāh be pleased with him) replied, “Whenever any sūrah would be revealed on the Messenger of Allāh, he would instruct, ‘Position it (bismillāh) at this place (of the Qur‘ān)’, and Sūrah Tawbah was amongst the last of the revelation. The Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) passed away and he had not specified it’s place. The storyline of Sūrah Tawbah is similar to the storyline of Sūrah Anfāl, thus they are adjacent”.

Ibn Abbās (may Allāh be pleased with him) states, “I asked ‘Alī (may Allāh be pleased with him) why he does not write ‘Bismillāh Al Raḥmān Al Raḥīm ‘ between them?”, He explained, “Because ‘Bismillāh Al Raḥmān Al Raḥīm ‘ is ‘amān’ (refuge/ safety/ blessing). This Sūrah [Tawbah] revealed the (theme of) aggression and breaking of treaties and there is no ‘amān’ (refuge/ safety/ blessing) in that”.

And Allāh Knows Best

This answer was collected from Mathabah.org. It’s an Islamic educational institute based in Canada. The questions are generally answered by Sheikh Yusuf Badat and Sheikh Omar Subedar.

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