Why is there no Bismillah before Surah Tawbah
In the name of Allah, the most Beneficent, the most Merciful.
The Holy Quran was revealed bit by bit during the period of twenty three years. The verses of a surah were revealed at different times. When Saaiduna Jibraeel Alayhis Salam would come with a revelation, he would also point out to the intended arrangement of each revealed verse explaining that it should be placed in such and such surah after such and such Ayah (verse). And when at the end of one surah the next was to begin, Bismillahir-Rahmanir-Rahim would be revealed before the next actually did.
However, with Surah Tawbah, Bismillah was not revealed nor did the Prophet of Allah Sallallahu Alahi Wasalam instruct the scribe of the revelation to so.
When Saaiduna Usman Radiallahu Anhu arranged the Holy Quran in the form of a book during the period of his Khilafah, Bismillah was not there at the beginning of Surah Tawbah. Therefore a doubt arose that perhaps this is not an independent Surah but was part of another surah, in which case what would this other surah be? In terms of its subjects, Surah Al-Anfal seemed to fit the slot.
Also it is narrated by Saaiduna Usman Radiallahu Anhu that during the blessed period of the Prophet of Allah Sallallahu Alahi Wasalam, both these surah’s were called “Qarinatayn” (the connected ones).
From the above we learn that the reason for not writing ‘Bismillah’ at the beginning of Surah Tawbah lies in the probability that Surah Tawbah may not be an independent surah but being part of Surah Anfal. On this basis Muslim jurists have said that a person who was already been reciting Surah Anfal from above and is going to begin Surah Tawbah then he or she should not recite Bismillah. But a person who is starting his or her recitation of the Holy Quran or from somewhere in the middle of Surah Tawbah should say ‘Bismillahir-Rahmanir-Rahim”. (Maariful Quran p.300-p.302 v.4)
Only Allah Knows Best
Mohammed Tosir Miah
Darul Ifta Birmingham