Of all the 99 Beautiful Names of Allah (Subhaanahu WaTa’aalaa), it is Ar-Rahmaan and Ar-Raheem that we use, most frequently, in our Du’aas. Ar-Rahmaan and Ar-Raheem, are both derived from the same Arabic root word, Rahmah, meaning mercy, compassion.
Abdul Majid Daryabadi translates Ar-Rahmaan and Ar-Raheem, as, the Compassionate, the Merciful, and Mufti Taqi Usmani says, the All-Merciful, the Very Merciful.
Most of us, unfortunately, take Allah (Subhaanahu WaTa’aalaa)’s mercy and compassion for granted. But if we stop for a moment, and just reflect on the depth and extent of Allah (Subhaanahu WaTa’aalaa)’s mercy, we will be astonished beyond words.
The Holy Quraan frequently draws our attention to the world of Nature. So, let us consider, for a moment, the fragile world in which we live. We hear about the depletion of the ozone layer, the dangers of pollution, the need to preserve a sustainable environment for our children, and so on. Numerous books and media presentations about nature and the universe arouse our curiosity, our sense of wonder. In many ways, scientists are realizing today, what our Holy Quraan revealed over centuries ago: That we live in the centre of a violent universe, ever changing, constantly in motion. We are surrounded by forces that are so precariously balanced that the smallest shift could kill us all. A few years ago, the comet Schumacher-Levy plunged into Jupiter, and exploded with the energy of several million atom bombs. In astronomical terms, a difference of just a few degrees would have set it on a collision course with our planet earth. Indeed, the scientists say that human life is possible only on the very narrowest of margins.
To illustrate just how narrow is that margin, let’s take this example of an orange which is wrapped in plastic Clingfilm. If you can imagine that this orange is our planet earth, then the thickness of the clingfilm, is the atmosphere, the air we breathe. Most people think that the earth is solid. But, below us, much thinner than the skin of this orange, is the thin crust on which our continents are placed. Under that crust, are thousands of miles of boiling molten rock, oozing like a thick porridge around a solid iron core. In size, all living creatures are like the specks of dust and bacteria that cover the surface of this orange. You can’t even see it without a microscope, just as astronauts in space, cannot actually see any life on earth, without special equipment.
Just imagine! A few miles below our feet, like, under the skin of this orange, we have thousands of miles of boiling liquid, oceans of molten lava; above us, a thin skin of breathable air, only a few miles deep. Above that, nothing; a complete vacuum. And the sun, without which life would not be possible, is 93 million miles away. But, what does that mean? 93 million miles? We cannot even make sense of such a distance. It’s just 93 followed by six zeros. But let’s make it easier. If this orange was our planet earth, then the sun would be a ball the height of this room, and that ball would be about 55 miles away. Just imagine that! The slightest tilt of the earth, towards the sun in summer, and we complain that we’re unpleasantly hot. Then a slight tilt away from the sun in winter, and we’re freezing cold. Measure the distance of that tilt, a mere 4000 miles, compared with 93 million miles to the sun, and you will see that we boil or freeze within a range of, just 0.005 %. That is, not one percent, not one hundredth of a percent, but a mere one five thousandth of a percent!
Now, I’m not a scientist and I’m not an astronomer. But, if we reflect on this simple fact, we are left astonished. All life on this planet earth, is suspended, precariously, on the thin crust of a huge ball of boiling lava, covered by a thin membrane of oxygen, floating through space, passing deadly showers of meteors and comets and all kinds of deadly radiation. The mind just boggles. Any rock larger than about 1 or 2 miles thick, striking the earth head-on, like the comet Schumaker-Levy that struck Jupiter, would wipe out all life on this planet. The scientists and astronomers (some of them are atheists, they don’t believe in God), they tell us that we, the living creatures survive on this planet, only by the narrowest of margins. Statistically, the dangers are so great, they say, and the mathematical probabilities of our survival are so small, that we should really not have been here at all! We Muslims as Believers would say, that our creation and continued existence on this planet, it is due entirely to the mercy of Allah (Subhaanahu WaTa’aalaa), glorified and exalted is He. The Holy Quraan makes this point in many beautiful Aayaat (Verses). For example:
أَفَلَمۡ يَرَوۡاْ إِلَىٰ مَا بَيۡنَ أَيۡدِيهِمۡ وَمَا خَلۡفَهُم مِّنَ ٱلسَّمَآءِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضِۚ إِن نَّشَأۡ نَخۡسِفۡ بِهِمُ ٱلۡأَرۡضَ أَوۡ نُسۡقِطۡ عَلَيۡهِمۡ كِسَفٗا مِّنَ ٱلسَّمَآءِۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَأٓيَةٗ لِّكُلِّ عَبۡدٖ مُّنِيبٖ (9)
“Have they not, then, looked to the sky and the earth that lies before them and behind them? If We so will, We would make the earth swallow them up, or cause pieces of the sky to fall upon them. Surely, in this there is a sign for a servant (of Allah) who turns to Him.” (Sabaa 34:9)
إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يُمۡسِكُ ٱلسَّمَٰوَٰتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضَ أَن تَزُولَاۚ وَلَئِن زَالَتَآ إِنۡ أَمۡسَكَهُمَا مِنۡ أَحَدٖ مِّنۢ بَعۡدِهِۦٓۚ إِنَّهُۥ كَانَ حَلِيمًا غَفُورٗا (41)
“Undoubtedly, Allah holds back the heavens and the earth from leaving their existing state, and if they were to leave, there is none who can hold them back, except Him. Surely He is Forbearing, Most-Forgiving.” (Faatir 35:41)
أَوَ لَمۡ يَسِيرُواْ فِي ٱلۡأَرۡضِ فَيَنظُرُواْ كَيۡفَ كَانَ عَٰقِبَةُ ٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبۡلِهِمۡ وَكَانُوٓاْ أَشَدَّ مِنۡهُمۡ قُوَّةٗۚ وَمَا كَانَ ٱللَّهُ لِيُعۡجِزَهُۥ مِن شَيۡءٖ فِي ٱلسَّمَٰوَٰتِ وَلَا فِي ٱلۡأَرۡضِۚ إِنَّهُۥ كَانَ عَلِيمٗا قَدِيرٗا (44) وَلَوۡ يُؤَاخِذُ ٱللَّهُ ٱلنَّاسَ بِمَا كَسَبُواْ مَا تَرَكَ عَلَىٰ ظَهۡرِهَا مِن دَآبَّةٖ وَلَٰكِن يُؤَخِّرُهُمۡ إِلَىٰٓ أَجَلٖ مُّسَمّٗىۖ فَإِذَا جَآءَ أَجَلُهُمۡ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ كَانَ بِعِبَادِهِۦ بَصِيرَۢا (45)
“Did they not travel in the land and see how was the end of those before them? They were stronger than these in power. Allah is not such that something in the heavens or the earth can frustrate Him. Surely He is All-Knowing, All-Powerful. If Allah were to take mankind to task for what they did, He would have not left a living creature on its back, but He delays them upto an appointed time. So when their time will come, then Allah is the One who will see His slaves.” (Faatir 35:44-45)
So, next time we look up to the starry skies, let us think about those powerful forces that surround us. Forces that keep our very existence poised on a knife-edge, and let us thank Allah (Subhaanahu WaTa’aalaa) for His Grace and Mercy.
How do we become worthy of Allah (Subhaanahu WaTa’aalaa)’s Mercy? We become worthy of His Mercy, when we begin that long journey from doing what pleases us, to doing what pleases Allah (Subhaanahu WaTa’aalaa). To someone who is not in the habit of doing good deeds, someone who instinctively does anything and everything that pleases his own selfish ego, it is very difficult to start doing things that please Allah (Subhaanahu WaTa’aalaa). This comes only by conscious effort. But remember, when you do just one good action, you can repeat it, and it can become a good habit. Like a farmer with his seed, when you sow an action, you reap a habit. You sow a habit, you reap a character, You sow a character, and you reap a destiny. And the good destiny we all seek is to enter the garden that Allah (Subhaanahu WaTa’aalaa) has prepared for those who seek His Pleasure, and Mercy.
We should also remember, that part of Allah (Subhaanahu WaTa’aalaa)’s Mercy, is that he is very patient with our shortcomings. We all have many faults, but Allah (Subhaanahu WaTa’aalaa)’s anger does not just descend on us like a bolt of lightning, as soon as we step out of line. He always gives us time, lots of time, to recognize the error of our ways, and to put things right, to ask for His Mercy.
In the same way, we must not be impatient with others. We must also show mercy, wherever we have power and authority. This is especially towards our wives and our children. We must not project our fears and anxieties on them. We should never insult, embarrass or humiliate them over petty things. Taking an aggressive attitude usually does more harm than good. It is much better, to teach and to encourage, using kindness and setting a good personal example, without arrogance or self-righteousness. Let our sisters and children take their own time, to make their own decisions. We expect Allah (Subhaanahu WaTa’aalaa)’s mercy and patience for ourselves. Why then, should we not show mercy and patience for others, especially our women and children? The following Hadeeth Qudsi reminds us: “When Allah decreed the Creation He pledged Himself by writing in His book which is laid down with Him: My mercy prevails over my anger.”
This Hadeeth confirms that mercy is more powerful than anger. It is one of the noblest qualities. When Prophet Hadhrat Muhammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) entered Makkah al Mukarramah with an army of 10,000 soldiers, he could have severely punished the Kuffaar (Infidels) of Quraish Tribe, for the cruelty and suffering they inflicted in the early years of Islam. Except for 4 individuals, he showed them all his mercy. The conquest of Makkah al Mukarramah was almost bloodless. Nearly everyone was forgiven. Look throughout the pages of history. You will not find anywhere, a better example of mercy shown by a victorious conqueror. No wonder, Prophet Muhammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam)’s kindness and mercy touched them so deeply, that virtually all of Makkah al Mukarramah accepted Islam.
During the last week’s Eid party, many of us commented on the wonderful spirit we all felt during Ramadhaan. One brother said to me, that when he stood in TaraaweehSalaah, he could almost touch and feel the bond of brotherhood and affection. This is a wonderful gift, of Allah (Subhaanahu WaTa’aalaa)’s Mercy, that descended on our little group during the Holy month.
Let us pray to Allah (Subhaanahu WaTa’aalaa). May His mercy descend into our homes and in our hearts, not only during Ramadhaan, but also throughout the year. May we all show greater mercy to one another, especially to those over whom we have some authority. May Allah (Subhaanahu WaTa’aalaa) guide our leaders to show mercy to their citizens, our employers to their workers, our parents to their children. And May He reward us all, according to the best of our deeds. May this Ummah grow and prosper in love, mercy and brotherhood, and may we all, set a good example to other communities inside and outside of Islam.Aameen!