By Fatima Asad
Do you take “Bismillah” for granted? You are not alone if you do. There are many types of Bismillahs that we say throughout the day. The kind you say before eating or drinking. Then there’s the kind you say before reading the Quran or at the start of wudu. Then there’s the one you read with sincere passion at the beginning of the dreaded Chemistry exam. Oh don’t forget the Bismillah that escapes your lips when you trip on your shoe laces. Most of us can trace back the origin of our Bismillahs to a Qari sahab, a dedicated auntie at Sunday school or our kindergarten teacher who taught us “Before we eat, we must say Bismillah, Bismillah!” (Tune stuck in my head now)
If you do take most of your Bismillahs for granted, please don’t. Saying the blessed phrase has become second nature- like riding a bike. However, we need to refresh its meaning and renew our commitment to it from time to time.
I, for one, am always greedy to turn a “normal” act of life into an act of worship. This is the power of Bismillah. It’s the wonder that turns any act you do into an act of worship. But it doesn’t stop there.
When you consciously say “In the Name of Allah” you are forcing yourself to go through a quick self-check. These are the few seconds in which you undergo an intention change. What you might have been intending to do for another reason (such as making your mom happy), you just ultra-purified your intention by reminding yourself that everything I do is first for Allah, then for someone else i.e. mom.
This is the beauty and power of Bismillah. It is a powerful spell. I use the word spell here on purpose because we all have in one point or another wished for a magic wand or Harry Potter-inspired spells that would make life simpler. Well, we already have these ‘spells’ – for every occasion, actually- known as du’as. Yes, I said it. But please don’t get a wand or turn your black abaya into Hermoine’s witch robes and start waving the wand while reading the dua before drinking mango lassi, hoping the calories won’t attack the wrong places. That would be sad. Not to mention utterly not Halal.
The reason I label these duas as “spells” is only to show you that they are powerful! We are instructed to read them for a reason. That reason is to get that extra help from Allah SWT on a regular basis because we as humans are helpless without His aid- even when you don’t read these duas for various occasions, Allah SWT continues to help you. Imagine the help we will get when we actually ask for it.
So back to Bismillah…Start reading it with high alert. Make sure you turn as many seconds of your daily routine into worship as possible. That includes waking up, sleeping, eating, taking a shower, going to school, doing chores, baking a cake for your best friend, wrapping Eid gifts, swimming, etc. Do you notice something with this list? I didn’t write things like stalking people on Facebook, chatting on Whatsapp non-stop, watching 3 hours of cricket, calling your girlfriend/boyfriend, visiting your best friend so you can complain about your other best friend, going to a hookah bar, etc.
That’s another power of Bismillah. If you can’t say it comfortably before a certain action you are about to do, it is a strong indication that it will not count as worship. In fact, your gut might confirm that the action is actually a sin.
So listen to your gut. That’s Allah SWT sending you a red signal. Just say Bismillah before anything and everything you do. Try it for 3 days and you will have undergone some serious self-evaluation without ever going to a therapist or writing in a journal.