[Arabic bi-smi-llah(i), the first word of the Koran.]
(The exclamation) in the name of God; used by Muslims at the beginning of any undertaking.
The figures vary slightly according to different sources, but the proportion of Muslims in the United Kingdom stands at around 5%, and about 1% in Ireland. Saying bismillah, which is the opening word of every surah in the Koran but one, is an important aspect of daily Muslim life, and is said before meals and before undertaking any specific task. As with just just about every Arabic expression I hear, I do rather love the sound of it - maybe one day I'll work up the courage to learn Arabic, which currently sits alongside Russian and Hindi on my "Really hard languages that I'm going to learn one day" list. Until then, I will have to be satisfied with the scattered but beautiful words and expressions that have become part of English.