Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Question: In the Qaloon riwaya of the Qur’an (Maliki riwaya exclusively used in Libya) I noticed the basmala was not an ayat in the Fatiha. I inquired and found that the Malikis don’t consider it part of the Quran at all, whilst the Hanafis (and I think Shafi’s) consider the basmala a revealed ayat through wahi. I’m confused for two reasons: 1) nobody is allowed to deny an ayat of the Quran and 2) Allah protects the Quran from change, and there will never be disagreement as to what is wahi and what is not? Are the different positions on the basmala an exception?
Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray that you are well, insha’Allah.
There is no difference of opinion on whether the basmala is divinely revealed or not.
The Basmala in the Qur’an
Firstly, it is important to note that there are two types of basmala in the Qur’an: [i] the basmala which is part of the verse in Surah al-Naml [Qur’an, 27:30], and [ii] the basmala which is found at the beginning of surahs.
There is absolutely no disagreement regarding the basmala found in Surah al-Naml.
Secondly, all four schools concur that the basmala found at the beginning of the surahs (except Suarh al-Tawba) is a divinely revealed verse, and it is massly transmitted (mutawatir) — like the rest of the Qur’an — from the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace).
The Basmala at the Beginning of Surahs
With regards to the basmala found at the beginning of the surahs of the Qur’an, the scholars have differed as to whether it is part of the surah, simply a separator (between surahs), recited or unrecited. The answer to this question will help determine legal rulings related to it, such as whether the basmala should be recited in prayer. Thus, it is considered a legal issue, and there is a valid difference of opinion within the schools.
The soundest position in the Hanafi school is that it is a verse which was revealed once and assigned as a separator between surahs, and by which to seek blessings (baraka). [Ibn `Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar; Abu Su`ud, Irshad al-`Aql al-Salim]
And Allah alone gives success.
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani