20. In most prophetic narrations, there is explicit mention of taking the name of Allāh with the words, ‘bismillāh’. It is narrated from Aisha (r.a.) that the Messenger of Allāh (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said: “When one of you eats food, then let him say: ‘bismillah’. If he forgets in the beginning, then let him say: ‘bismillah fī awwalihī wa ākhirih (In the Name of Allah in its beginning and its end.)” (Tirmidhī)
‘Amr bin Abī Salamah says that: “I was a boy in the care of the Messenger of Allāh (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) and he said to me, ‘O young boy, when you eat then say ‘bismillāh’, and eat with your right hand, and eat from whatever is in front of you.’ (‘Amr bin Abī Salamah says) This remained my continuous habit after this.” (Ṭabarānī)
It is narrated from a female companion that watabah (a dish made from dates, cheese and clarified butter) was presented to the Messenger of Allāh (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). A Bedouin ate it all in three mouthfuls. On this, the Messenger of Allāh (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “If he had said ‘bismillāh’, it would have sufficed everyone. (Musnad Abī Ya‘lā)
It is narrated from a companion who served the Messenger of Allāh (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) for eight years that when he would present the Messenger of Allāh (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) with food, he would say ‘bismillah’. (Sunan Kubrā Nas’aī)
The above narrations show that it is sunnah to recite ‘bismillah’ before eating. Thus, one should recite this before eating and not add anything further.
Some scholars have said that ‘bismillāh’ on its own will suffice. However, if ‘bi-smi llāhi r-raḥmāni r-raḥīm’ is uttered in it’s entirety, it will be better.
21. The words ‘bi-smi llāhi wa-ala barakatillāh’ have not been reported from any authentic report. Although, if someone recites the above without the intention of it being sunnah, it will be permissible. However, the discussion is whether this specific phrase is sunnah or not? (Something which is prevalent among people). 
When uttering ‘ bismillāh’ has been proven to obtain barakah (blessings), then there is no need to utter the actual word ‘barakah’ in the supplication. Rather, barakah (blessings) will be attained from the mere uttering of ‘bismillāh’. 
 It should be noted that Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Muftī ‘Āshiq Ilāhī Bulandshehri writes: “Recite ‘bi-smi llāhi wa-ala barakatillāh’. These words have been reported in a narration. In Ḥiṣn-ul-Ḥaṣīn, under the chapter of the etiquettes and supplications of eating, in an incident where the Messenger of Allāh (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), Abū Bakr (r.a.) and Umar (r.a.) visited a home where they ate fresh dates, meat and drank cold water, there is mention of the Messenger of Allāh (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) saying: ‘when you begin eating, say bi-smi llāhi wa-ala barakatillāh’.” (See: Ḥiṣn-ul-Ḥaṣīn Urdu, translation and commentary by Mawlānā Muftī ‘Āshiq Ilāhī Bulandshehri, pg. 217)
However, after reviewing the above incident in primary ḥadīth sources, the words: ‘bi-smi llāhi wa-ala barakatillāh’ could not be found. This incident has been reported with detail in Shamāil Tirmidhī and Shu‘abul Imān under the chapter of the Messenger of Allāh (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), Abū Bakr (r.a.) and Umar (r.a.) coming out of the house due to hunger. However, the above wording is not found even in these narrations. In Mustadrak Ḥākim and Mu‘jam-ul-Awsat, the words ‘bi-smi llāhi wa- barakatillāh’ is mentioned, which will be discussed later.
This proves that Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Muftī ‘Āshiq Ilāhī Bulandshehri relied upon Ḥiṣn-ul-Ḥaṣīn and this (i.e. ‘bi-smi llāhi wa-ala barakatillāh’) was a misjudgment from the author of Ḥiṣn-ul-Ḥaṣīn.
And Allāh knows best. Muhammad Riḍwān.
 There is, on the other hand, a narration which contains the words ‘bi-smi llāhi wa-barakatillāh’.
عبد الله بن كيسان عن عكرمة عن ابن عباس ان النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أتوا بيت أبي أيوب فلما أكلوا و شعبوا قال النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم : خبز و لحم و تمر و بسر و رطب إذا أصبتم مثل هذا فضربتم بأيدكم فكلوا بسم الله و بركة الله هذا حديث صحيح الإسناد و لم يخرجاه. (مستدرك حاكم ٧٠٨٤، المعجم الاوسط ٢٢٤٧، المعجم الصغير ١٨٥)
Nevertheless, the narration is reported by ‘Abdullah bin Kaysān, who some scholars have considered weak. And Allamah Ibn Ḥajar has said regarding him, “truthful but errs excessively”. While Ibn ‘Adī has classed his narrations from ‘Ikrimah as “non-corroborated”.
The incident mentioned in the above narration has been reported from Abū Hurayrah (r.a.) which does not contain the addition of ‘bi-smi llāhi wa-barakatillāh’, which adds credence to the probability of ‘Abdullah bin Kaysān erring in the wording. Furthermore, apart from ‘bi-smi llāhi wa-barakatillāh’ contradicting the majority and more famous narrations, the apposition (‘aṭf) of ‘wa-barakatillāh’ on ‘bi-smi llāhi’ seems incorrect on the outset. Something for scholars to ponder upon.
Moreover, the act of eating and drinking is one which occurs everyday, and the companions eating in the presence of the Messenger of Allāh (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) has been reported on numerous occasions. Therefore, uttering those words which have been transmitted in majority of narrations will be a means of barakah (blessing); which is ‘bismillāh’ on its own and nothing further.
Furthermore, when one forgets to utter the name of Allāh before eating, many narrations mention saying: ‘bimillāhi awwalahu wa-ākhirahu’. Even in this instance, there is ‘bismillāh’ (without ‘wa-barakatillāh’), although with the addition of awwalahu wa-ākhirahu (which is to compensate for what was missed earlier).
On the other hand, some narrations merely mention uttering the name of Allāh, which can be achieved by saying ‘bismillāh’ (without the need for ‘wa-barakatillāh’)
Additionally, when a human craves food, his attention does not go towards uncommon and long sentences. For the above-stated reasons, the inclination of this servant (Muftī Muhammad Riḍwān) is towards the opinion of those scholars who consider just ‘bismillah’ before eating as sunnah. It is a different matter that the one who utters ‘bismillah’ in its entirety, will achieve the sunnah as it contains the sunnah words. It is incorrect to consider uttering it in it’s entirety as a bid‘ah (innovation) like Shaykh Nāṣir al-Dīn al-Albanī has in his ‘Silsalat al-Hadith as-Sahihah’. There is a command to utter ‘bismillah’ before every significant task, in which eating is also included. However, if someone considers the entire ‘bismillah’ as sunnah, believing that it was said by the Messenger of Allāh (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) before eating, and at the same time considers just ‘bismillah’ contrary to the sunnah, then in such a case the ruling of bid‘ah (innovation) may be applied.
Allah knows best and His knowledge is Most-Perfect and Flawless.
Muhammad Riḍwān. 3 Rabī’ al-Awwal 1433
(Adapted from Khāne Pīne ke Ādāb by Muftī Muhammad Riḍwān. Published by Kutub Khāna Idāra Gufrān, Rawalpindi.)
More to follow …