Bismillah ar-Rahman ar-Raheem. I begin with the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
This is a phrase that we say every day, several times per day. However sometimes we forget how mighty a phrase it is and we forget that mercy is one of His attributes that we, as imperfect human beings, constantly rely upon Allah’s blessings.
Allah is the Most Gracious and the Most Merciful, His mercy encompasses all things, and is the source of all the compassion and mercy that exists.
My Mercy embraces all things… (Quran 7:156)
In English the word mercy has several meanings including compassion, forgiveness, kindness, and tenderness. In Arabic, the term for mercy is rahmah; Ar-Rahman and Ar-Raheem, two of the most important names of Allah derive from this root word.
The Mercy of Allah is that ethereal quality that also embodies gentleness, care, consideration, love and forgiveness. When these qualities are observable in this world, they are a mere reflection of Allah’s mercy towards His creation.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) informed us that Allah is more merciful to His slaves than a mother is to her child, and in fact, the Arabic word for womb, is derived from the same root word as mercy – rahmah.
This is a sign of the unique connection between Allah’s mercy and the womb. Allah nurtures and shelters us, just as the womb nurtures and shelters the unborn child. In the Quran, in the authentic Sunnah and throughout the world there are many signs of Allah’s mercy to His creation.
Some Signs of Allah’s Mercy
- The Prophets and Messengers
Allah sent Prophets and Messengers to guide us and help us to remain on His straight path leading to eternal Paradise.
All the Prophets and Messengers were mortal, human beings, sent to different nations at different times but proclaimed the same message – worship One God and not to associate anything or anyone with Him. They showed the people the best way to live and lead a life that would give them success and happiness in this life and in the next.
Prophet Muhammad being the last of them, was sent to all of humankind. He was sent with a message that was suitable for all people, in all places, at all times. Allah describes the Prophet as a mercy upon humankind. He, the Exalted, says:
And We have not sent you, (O Muhammad), except as a mercy to the worlds. (Quran 21:107)
Prophet Muhammad was the embodiment of mercy. He showed gentleness and compassion to all those he came in contact with his family, orphans, friends, slaves, and strangers.
And by the Mercy of God, you dealt with them gently. And had you been severe and harsh hearted, they would have broken away from about you; so pass over (their faults), and ask (Allah’s) Forgiveness for them… (Quran 3:159)
- The Quran
The Quran is Allah’s greatest gift to humanity – it is a book like no other. The Quran guides humankind to high standards of morality and exhorts them to strive to be the best human beings possible.
Whenever life becomes too difficult or we are beset by injury, illness or unhappiness, Quran will light our way and lighten our burdens. It is a source of solace and ease. It is a mercy to humankind.
And We have not sent down the Book (the Quran) to you (O Muhammad), except that you may explain clearly unto them those things in which they differ, and (as) a guidance and a mercy for a people who believe. (Quran 16:64)
And this is a blessed Book (the Qur’an) which We have sent down, so follow it and fear Allah (i.e. do not disobey His Orders), that you may receive mercy. (Quran 6:155)
- Leniencies in Matter of Worship
Islam teaches that every single aspect of life can be an act of worship. Everything from eating and drinking to sleeping and going to the bathroom can be done in a way that pleases Allah. Islam is a faith that is flexible, lenient and merciful.
For instance, if a believer is sick and cannot fast during the month of Ramadan, he is not mandated to fast. In fact he is encouraged to not fast. Similarly if a Muslim cannot make the Hajj due to physical or financial difficulties he or she is excused from doing so.
It is the mercy of Allah that allows a Muslim traveler to combine prayers when traveling, because stopping every few hours to pray may make the trip longer and more arduous.
Mercy is One of Allah’s greatest attributes. It is incumbent upon those who believe in Allah to show mercy in all that they do and say.
…He is the Most Merciful of those who show mercy! (Quran 12: 92)
Prophet Muhammad explained the quality of mercy to his companions, telling them that God has divided His mercy into one hundred parts and has sent down one part to be shared amongst the creation. This is why people are compassionate and kind towards one another and wild animals treat their offspring with gentleness.
However, God withheld the other 99 parts to be bestowed upon the believers on the Day of Judgment.