By Ahmad Raza
June 01, 2018
ALLAH describes himself as ‘Rahman’ and
‘Rahim’ in the second verse of Surah al-Fateha. These are not just two simple
Arabic words. These are the words that describe the essential nature of the One
Ultimate Reality. They tell us about the core of the One Supreme Being. That
His Being is deeply rooted in mercy, and mercy alone.
He sustains the entire cosmos by mercy, and
mercy alone. He is neither weary, nor tired of feeding and nourishing His
creatures. Every moment, varied and complex life forms are sustained by Him,
through His boundless mercy.
‘Rahman’ and ‘Rahim’ are translated as
merciful and compassionate. The Arabic root of words ‘Rahman’ and ‘Rahim’
is ‘Rahm’, which means to ask for mercy, to have mercy, and to pity. The
word ‘Arham’ is a plural noun of ‘Rahm’, which is translated as
kinship in English. That means also the extended network of blood
relationships. The word ‘Rahm’ also refers to womb of mothers, which is
a place of conception, sustenance and growth of human embryo. Besides that,
foetuses are nourished and protected by the womb due to biological programming
of mothers by a sense of ‘Rahm’ (mercifulness, compassion).
Around the womb, the entire network of
kinship and blood relationships are interwoven and defined. Incidentally, these
close blood networks are sustained by mercy and compassion born out of the womb
of nourishment. The Quran also speaks about taking care of consanguine ties,
which constitute the basis of the human social system. Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH)
has also persuaded Muslims to care about the well-being of close blood
relations. Mercy and compassion are thus biologically programmed into the human
Hazrat Muhammad has said that the mercy of
Allah is greater than the mercy of a hundred mothers. That means the Rahm of
Allah is boundless and infinite. Everything known and seen as well as unknown
and unseen is nurtured by the breath of divine mercy. All creatures are interconnected
with the root of divine mercy in an infinite network of kinship and
togetherness. All creatures and systems of life are in reality sustained by the
Sustainer of the Worlds (Rab ul Alameen), and hence come to exist in profound
kinship with the Divine.
This complex cosmos can only be sustained
by an infinite merciful and compassionate Creator and Sustainer. The
multiplicity and complexity of the world systems imply the existence of a
Supreme Being, without which the complex systems cannot endure and survive. The
root of divine creativity is none other than a perpetual, permanent and eternal
state of mercy or Rahm. In the Quran, Allah says that His mercy contains
everything (in this universe).
In Surah al-Rahman, Allah further
communicates the depth and range of his mercifulness. First the very name of
the Surah tells us that this Kalam (revelation) is from Ar Rahman
— the merciful and compassionate. That He revealed the Quran to Hazrat Muhammad
out of His sheer and boundless mercy. That means that the Quran carries waves
of acoustic peace when you listen to it, and beyond that the words, symbols and
discourses mentioned therein also speak about infinite divine mercy.
It means that the Quran is a cure and
panacea for ailments for those who have faith in divine mercy. That it was the
endless mercy of Allah that led to the design of life and birth of man. That it
was due to the divine attribute of mercy and compassion that man was bestowed
with the gift of speech and language. That it was plain and simple mercy that
man was endowed with the gift of writing and communication by the symbolic
system of language. That it was through language that man can preserve and
convey knowledge to posterity.
By means of language, lamentations and
prayers are communicated to the Almighty. Words of mercy invoke Allah’s
compassion. The signs and symbols of language are an authentic means of
reaching and interacting with the divine space of mercy.
and Ar Rahim pervade every inch, dot and moment of existence. The plants
grow and are sustained because of this boundless merciful divine energy. Man
buries a dead and lifeless seed in the depths of the dark earth, and look what
emerges after a few days — a green sapling looking towards the sky, showing
submission to divine mercy. There is a manifest Mizan (balance) between
the heavens and earth. The proportions, dimensions and sizes of physical
objects lead us to wonder about the hand of the merciful and compassionate
None of the heavenly objects — be it the
sun, moon, planetary system and beyond, the luminous galaxies — can escape this
inherent cosmological conformity and order. The prevalence of the cosmic order
is nothing but the expression of divine mercy.
Ahmad Raza is a cultural psychoanalyst.