Bismillah Al-Rahman Al-Raheem. In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful, Most Kind.

Perhaps one of the most beautiful and vital phrases identified by Muslims across the world. Bismillah, or In The Name of Allah. Soon images of our childhood begin to flood our memories, as we reminisce the days of our younger selves sitting diligently in our Islamic school classrooms, chanting verses after our proud instructor. Before prayer!, the teacher would remind us. Recite it before every meal and every surah. With time, we found that it all flowed in such synchronized rhythm from our tongues and into our daily practice. Naturally, it became more than habit. It became a lifestyle.

The phrase Bismillah has become so beautifully popular throughout various occasions and during different stages within our lives. At first thought, it is most commonly associated before reciting the holy text of the Qur’an. However, today we find even the word Bismillah is more than the mere introduction to Qur’anic recitation; rather, it grew up with us, embodying a concept of faith and the start of new beginnings.

As flawed humans living in an short-lived world, we tend to give our every decision as much thought as possible, carefully examining our pros and cons in hopes of making the “right” choices.  We plan and plan, constantly formulating verdicts that involve with factors greater than us that include our loved ones, academics, career choices, relationships, and much more. But with age and increase in such responsibilities, the decision making process begins to consist of an inevitable element of fear of the unknown. We then begin to repeatedly ask ourselves, is this what I want to study for the next four years? Is this person the one I really want to spend the rest of my life with? Does this career choice define who I am?

The questions undoubtedly cloud over us with an overwhelming trepidation of what the future may or may not hold. And so we  panic. And we question our intentions. And we reassess the situation and return to our initial thoughts. At times we feel as if we have fallen into a never ending cycle. But have we so quickly forgotten what our Creator has reassured us? Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) says in the Qur’an,

“But they plan, and Allah plans. And Allah is the best of planners” (8:30).

For how can we expect to plan for the unknown when the All-Knowing Himself has it all written? Why then, do we fear? And so with that in mind, we grasp onto our faith, hold onto our heart, and utter the words that we’ve so beautifully conditioned to repeat whenever we were in doubt back in our classrooms, “bismillah.”

And so with the new academic year upon us, Muslim students across the university brace themselves for another year filled with emotional roller coasters, academic achievements, and social gatherings. The reunion is bittersweet, for it encompasses the realization of a fully passed year but an opportunity to embrace another one.  We enter this year in reflection, as we promise ourselves to improve our study habits, begin going to the gym, and through it all actually make time for friends.

But new beginnings do not just begin with new schedules and goals, they also embody an endeavor for good character and a moral conscious, one that entails understanding that at the end of the day, we are  humans with very limited vision on our own futures. That it is okay to worry, to plan and to attempt to rationalize logic. But with all of that, it is rather imperative to remember that certain elements are truly beyond our control and most importantly, that indeed He is is the best of planners.

So with a new year ahead of us and a new perspective in mind, here’s to new beginnings, all under His perfect planning.

Let it begin, bismillah.

Image © Mohammad Alagha

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