Class Two – Ar-Rahman and Ar-Raheem

99 Names of Allah

Ar-Rahman and Ar-Raheem

Ar-Rahman and Ar-Raheem. Usually translated as “encompassingly merciful” and “particularly merciful” or “most merciful” and “most gracious”.

Introductory remark 
Two names derived from the root Rahma. Is mercy the best definition for Rahma?

What is rahma?

Rahma linked to Rahim (the womb). Family ties in Arabic is known as silatul-rahim (literally – connections of the womb), essentially they are connections of care and concern.

“I am al-Raḥman and created the rahm (womb) – And I named it after Me.” We enter Jannah through Allah’s Rahma. – Hadith Qudsi

“Mercy” comes from the Old French “mercit/merci”, a “reward, gift, or kindness” but the modern definition found in dictionaries is: “compassion or forgiveness shown towards someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.” Mercy is used a way of surrender, we often here that “you are at that person’s mercy” i.e. they can do what they like with you. It doesn’t get across the gentleness and compassion which Rahma should bring forth.

Imam Ar-Razi’s definition in his concise book, Mukhtar as-Sihah:
“Rahama/rahmah” is (riqah) to soften/incline towards and (Ta’attuf) to bend towards.

The best way to understand Rahma is by this hadith, “Allah has one hundred parts of Rahma, of which He sent down one between the jinn, mankind, the animals and the insects, by means of which they are compassionate and merciful to one another, and by means of which wild animals are kind to their offspring. And Allah has kept back ninety-nine parts of Rahma with which to be merciful to His slaves of the Day of Resurrection.”

So mercy forms a small part of Rahma, whereas Compassion, gentleness, care and a bestowal of blessings perhaps forms the greater part – we can see how they are all linked.

The names

Fa’laan pattern (Rahman) has a meaning of completeness and encompassing – opening of mouth when saying it.

Fa’eel pattern (Raheem) intensity of the meaning .

What is Rahma with respect to Allah. Rahma is a change which occurs within (the heart) – can that apply to Allah? No – Allah is eternal, beyond time, Allah does not exist within time and so change cannot occur with Allah because change is alteration of state in the context of time. Change is a state of the heart (seat of emotion) and Allah is not made up of limbs.

When you feel Rahma towards something – the net result is wanting or doing good for that person. So for Allah it isn’t the beginning which is affirmed, but the consequence. Willing to bestow blessings (iradatul’inaam), showing concern.

Rahmaan is unique to Allah as no one can have encompassing rahma (note the hadith above). No one can be called Rahman, but you can be Raheem. Ar-Rahman is closest of divine names to Allah, because this is the rahma of originating creation – which no one else has.

Rahman is also the “bestower of manifest blessings” (blessings means – something of good) and this meaning encompass everyone. He created the world from his Rahman. Originating (Ijaad) – reflect on surah ar-Rahman.

Raheem is the “bestower of subtle blessings” i.e. in the next life, or just to believers, or sugar in tea. He sustains the world from his Raheem. Sustaining (imdaad)

Therefore, there are two blessings that nothing in creation is bereft of, (1) the blessing of creation and (2) the blessing of being sustained. Everything in creation owes this debt to Allah and they come from Ar-Rahman and Ar-Raheem.

Imam Sanusi gives 4 ways of using these names:

  1. Have rahma to all of Allah’s servants (everything in existence)
  2. Turn away from all besides Allah (don’t seek Rahma from other than Allah) – la rahima ilallah
  3. Behold all favour as being from Allah alone and have gratitude for that in your heart – He is the Giver
  4. Renouncing worldliness (seeking things from this life which distracts you from Allah)

Drawing close to Ar-Rahman:

  1. Reflect on Rahma
  2. Take the means for Rahma to rain down i.e. tawbah, making repentence. “Your Lord has decreed Rahma upon Himself” – He chose this for Himself, the dealing with His creation would be Rahma.
  3. Look at all of creation with the eye of Rahma and then Allah will show Rahma to you

How to relate to and draw close to Ar-Raheem?
Characterise oneself with compassion – assisting the needy, granting support to those in distress, having gentleness and concern for all of Allah’s creation – both the righteous and disobedient, those close to you and far. Umar ibn Abdulazeez felt that if an animal tripped on a pothole in a public road he would feel responsible.

Saying these names softens the heart and increase rahma in one’s heart for others.

Utilise these names with every duah


Class Two – Ar-Rahman and Ar-Raheem was completed on the 5th of July 2018 at the Islamic Centre Coffee Hall, Milton Keynes by Ustadh Mohamed

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