Bismillah al-Rahman al-Raheem
A little while ago a reader expressed some interest in my doing a series on here with the 99 names of Allah swt. I myself have been trying to learn more about His beautiful names so that I can use them in my own du’a and prayers, so for this series what I would like to do is go through the names as I learn them and share my notes. I will alternate these posts with my Lives of the Prophets notes, in shaa Allah, so one month you will get a 99 Names post, and the next a Lives of the Prophets post.
As it is the most easily accessible information right now, I am going to stick with taking all of my notes from Understand Qur’an Academy, who has a great series on the names of Allah. I would definitely recommend you check out their site as well!
For today, I wanted to start with one of my favorite of Allah’s names: al-Rahman. I think I love this particularly because of it being the name of my favorite surah, but also because of its interesting linguistics, and of course its connotations of love and care.
Al-Rahman shows up 55 times in the Qur’an, not counting the 133 times in the basmallah. It is often translated as the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful, or the Entirely Merciful, but none of those two names can quite encompass the full Arabic meaning.
Rahman comes from the three root letters r, h, and m, which carry connotations of gentleness and love, of mercy, of showing favor, and lastly of having all that is required for beneficence. These root letters show up in various forms in the Qur’an a total of 339 times! These same root letters make up the word for the woman’s womb, the most nurturing environment possible.
Linguistically this name points to intensity or extremity, so al-Rahman points towards the intensity, abundance, and vastness of the mercy of Allah swt.
Two ahadith that can give us a glimpse of what this name truly signifies:
“Allah created a hundred mercies, and He placed one mercy among his creation, they show mercy to one another by it, and there are ninety-nine mercies with Allah.”
Narrated in Tirmidhi
“Verily, Allah when He created the creation, He wrote with His Hand concerning Himself, that: ‘My mercy prevails over My wrath.’”
Narrated in Tirmidhi
Now that we understand the depth and meaning of this name, how can we truly come to internalize it and live our lives accordingly? There are a few different ways.
Firstly, we should never despair of the mercy of Allah swt. No matter how many sins we amass, we can always turn sincerely back to Allah, and He will forgive us. Each sin and mistake is actually an opportunity for us to draw nearer to Him through our repentance, and there are so many ahadith which narrate how much Allah swt loves someone who has done wrong and turned back to Him.
Secondly, we can show mercy to others. This includes not only our families and friends, our Muslim communities and local mosques, but the community as a whole, and even the non-Muslims we come into contact with on a daily basis. This can be in the form of kindness and gentleness with our fellow Muslims or everyday acts of charity within the community.
Another very important form that this takes on in our deen is keeping our family ties, and giving special attention to our relationships with our parents. As I mentioned above, al-Rahman is derived from the same three root letters as the words for the womb and kinship ties, which just goes to show how important our family is. Make sure to give your family members a regular call or text, visit them if you can, and give random gifts that are thoughtful.
While it is important to keep ties with all of our family, our parents hold an especially high place of esteem in our deen. How many times in the Qur’an does it place disobedience to parents right after associating others with Allah? And how many ahadith are there that stress the importance of kindness and care shown towards your parents, especially as they begin to get older?
Finally, we can begin to act upon this beautiful name of Allah in our own lives by simply recognizing His mercy and blessings when we see them. Think about the food on our plates, the clothes on our backs. Think of all the family and friends we have who are there for us, all of the material blessings in our lives. More simply yet more profoundly, think of the fact that we are breathing right now, we are reading with our eyes. Think of the mercy of His having guided you to Islam in the first place.
You can read the article these notes are taken from HERE.