The Mercy of Allah

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(part 1 of 2) Description:  A brief at the meaning of the mercy of Allah and how it permeates every aspect of our lives, including details o...

(part 1 of 2)

Description: A brief at the meaning of the mercy of Allah and how it permeates every aspect of our lives, including details of some of the signs of Allah’s mercy. 
Objectives:
·       Understand the vastness of Allah’s mercy.
·       Recognise the signs of Allah’s mercy in everyday life.
Arabic terms:
·       Bismillah – Literally ‘I begin with the name of Allah’.
·       Rahman – The quality of mercy that Allah has for the whole of creation, sustaining the universe with an endless flow of blessings.
·       Raheem – This has a more specific meaning, it refers to Allah’s mercy on a believer particularly on the Day of Judgement.  ‘...And He is ever Raheem to the believers.  (Quran 33:43)
·       Hajj - A pilgrimage to Mecca where the pilgrim performs a set of rituals.  The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, which every adult Muslim must undertake at least once in their life if they can afford it and are physically able.
·       Ramadan - The ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar.  It is the month in which the obligatory fasting has been prescribed.
Mercy_of_Allah1.jpgBismillah 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 rahmahAr-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, may Allah praise him, informed us that Allah is more merciful to His slaves than a mother is to her child,[1]  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 theHajj due to physical or financial difficulties he or she is excused from doing so.  It is the mercy of Allah that allows a Muslim traveller to combine prayers when travelling, 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 Judgement.[2]


Footnotes:
[1] Saheeh Muslim, Saheeh Al-Bukhari
[2] Saheeh Muslim

The Mercy of Allah (part 2 of 2)

Description: A continuation of the signs of Allah’s mercy and a discussion about the link between mercy and forgiveness.
Objectives:
·       Appreciate the vastness of Allah’s mercy towards the believers and towards the whole of creation.
·       Understand the connection between mercy and forgiveness.
Arabic Terms:
·       Sunnah – The word Sunnah generally means whatever was reported that the Prophet said, did, or approved of.
·       Wali -  an Arabic word that means helper, supporter, protector.

More signs of Allah’s Mercy

·       Rain
While rain can sometimes be a reminder of God’s punishment; it is a true blessing and a mercy of the highest order.  Without rain, life as we know it would not exist.  All power and strength is from God Alone and He reminds us of that in the Quran.   God is Almighty, with total control over rain and its bounties.
“And We sent down from the sky water (rain) in (due) measure…” (Quran 23:18)
“And He it is Who sends down the rain after they have despaired, and spreads His Mercy.  And He is the Wali, Worthy of all Praise.” (Quran 42:28)
·       Life everlasting in Paradise.
It is the mercy of Allah that will admit the believers into Paradise on the Day of Resurrection.  No one will ever enter Paradise because of his deeds alone.  Prophet Muhammad, may Allah praise him, explained that to his companions saying, “No one’s deeds will ever admit him to Paradise.” They said, “Not even you, O Messenger of Allah?” He said, “No, not even me, unless Allah showers me with His Mercy.[1]  However it is the good deeds of a person that draws Allah’s Mercy.
Mercy and all it involves is a very important concept in Islam because from it stems generosity, respect, tolerance and forgiveness; all qualities that a Muslim is expected to cultivate in this life.  Because of this Islam places great emphasis on developing the qualities of compassion, sympathy, forgiveness, and love.   Both the Quran and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad display and encourage these ideals.  Allah blesses Muslims who are kind to others and dislikes behaviour that is hard hearted or cruel.  Consequently Prophet Muhammad could often be heard invoking God’s Mercy on the believers. 

Mercy & Forgiveness

Allah’s mercy should never be underestimated and the qualities of mercy and forgiveness are linked together throughout the Quran and the authentic traditions - theSunnah - of Prophet Muhammad.   Allah asks us to seek forgiveness from Him and Prophet Mohammad reminded us that God forgives when we turn to Him.   In the last part of the night, when darkness lies heavily across the land, God descends to the lowest heaven and asks His slaves.   “Who is saying a prayer to Me that I may answer it?  Who is asking something of Me that I may give it to him?  Who is asking forgiveness of Me that I may forgive him?”[2]
“Say, ‘O My slaves who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah.  Indeed, Allah forgives all sins.  Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.’ And return [in repentance] to your Lord and submit to Him before the punishment comes upon you; then you will not be helped.” (Quran 39: 53 – 54)
Allah created humankind with an inclination to commit sins and make mistakes, however when a person repents he or she is able to see and experience Allah’s divine attributes of mercy and forgiveness.  Prophet Muhammad said, “If you did not commit sins, Allah would wipe you out of existence and replace with another people who would commit sins and in turn seek Allah’s forgiveness.[3]  Falling into error, realising the mistake, and seeking Allah’s forgiveness whilst hoping for His mercy, is spiritual growth that develops a person’s love for Allah.  Allah loves those who constantly turn to Him seeking forgiveness. 
Although Allah is eager for all human beings to turn to Him and ask forgiveness, and although His mercy is vast and all-encompassing, this is not a license to commit sins.  In order for a person to feel the mercy of Allah and be forgiven for his or her transgressions, the conditions of repentance should be fulfilled[4].  Then and only then will the mercy of Allah descend.   
The mercy of Allah is made manifest when Allah counts the sin of the sinner as one sin.  It is further manifested when Allah rewards the righteous person ten times what his good deed is worth and then Allah may multiply his reward even more than ten times.  “Allah ordered (the appointed angels over you) that the good and the bad deeds be written, and He then showed (the way) how (to write).  If someone intends to do a good deed and he does not do it, then Allah will write for him a full good deed; and if he intends to do a good deed and actually did it, then Allah will write for him (its reward equal) from ten to seven hundred times to many more times.  And If someone intends to do a bad deed and he does not do it, then Allah will write for him a full good deed (in his account) with Him, and if he intends to do a bad deed and actually did it, then Allah will write for him one bad deed.”[5]  Also, Allah erases sins with each good deed performed.  “…Verily, the good deeds remove the evil deeds…”(Quran 11:114)


Footnotes:
[1] Saheeh Al-Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim
[2] Saheeh Al-Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim, Malik, At Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud.
[3] Saheeh Muslim
[4] The first is be sorrowful for having committed the sin, the second to immediately quit the sin and the third is to vow not to return. If the sin includes transgression against someone’s right, that right should be restored to that person.
[5] Saheeh Al-Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim

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