"The term bismillah, is a combination of three words:
1. The particle bi which can mean by, for, with the aid of, through or by means of and points toward that which happens next.
2. The next word in this phrase is ism, based on the root variously reported to be s-m-w or a-s-m, which indicates the means by which something is distinguished, whether by use of an identifying mark, or by being raised up high so that it may be distinguished, and would include a name, reputation, light or vibration, and points toward the very essence of something, the inherent qualities and signs of the existence of something, the underlying reality of something.
3. The ending of the term is the word Allah, which is the Arabic name of the One. The Semitic roots of the word Allah extend back several thousand years to the Canaanite Elat, Hebrew El and Elohim, and Aramaic Alaha. These roots point toward unity, oneness, the eternal power which includes all of existence and of non-existence. In modern English this would generally be translated as God (which is old English, likely based on the Sanskrit wordhu, meaning that which is worshipped, honored or adored).
Using these basic roots, the term bismillah might be translated as:
- By means of the very essence of God
- For the glory of our Creator
- With the light of the One
- With the guidance of The Divine
- As an instrument of the One
- In harmony with Divine Presence
The central idea here is that whatever we do, every step that we take, every breath that we breathe, is done for, because of, and through the essence of, the One who has created us.
It is not us that does the work, it is not us that makes opportunities appear, it is not us that produces fruits from every action. We alone are powerless. The Creator has given us life and has given us the ability to move and think and feel, yet we are totally dependent upon the Creator for the very essence of life itself.
Thus, this beautiful word bismillah is a magnificent reminder of our relationship to our Creator and our relationship to all of creation.
In one simple word bismillah expresses our wonder, awe and thankfulness while it also expresses our innermost prayer that we may have the blessing of another breath, another moment of life, and that we may walk on a path of truth and understanding.
To say bismillah is to humbly offer one's self as a vehicle for the glory and majesty of The One..."