Encyclopaedia of Islam, THREE

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The basmala has historical precedents in pre-Islamic usage. Al-Zamakhsharī (d. 538/1144) long ago noted the ancient Arabs' use of the formula “in the name of [the deities] al-Lāt [or] al-ʿUzzā” (1:29). Toufic Fahd (42), citing the Taʾrīkh of al-Ṭabarī (d. 310/923) and the Kitāb al-Aghānī of Abū l-Faraj al-Iṣfahānī (d. 356/967), describes bi-smika llāhumma (“in your name, O God”) as an epistolary formula used by “the ancient Arabs” to begin any written document. Theodor Nöldeke points out parallels to bi-smi llāh in Jewish and Christian bibles in the recurring formula “in th…

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Graham, William A., “Basmala”, in: Encyclopaedia of Islam, THREE, Edited by: Kate Fleet, Gudrun Krämer, Denis Matringe, John Nawas, Everett Rowson. Consulted online on 22 September 2020 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/1573-3912_ei3_COM_23497>
First published online: 2010
First print edition: 9789004183902, 2010, 2010-1

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