By Sadia Dehlvi
Jul 13, 2016
Humanity is created in the divine image and we know that God is absolute knowledge and compassion. Amongst the 99 known names of Allah, the two primary ones are Rahman and Rahim, most merciful and compassionate. Except for one chapter, the remaining 113 chapters of the Quran begin with Bismillah-ir-Rahman-ir-Rahim that is an invocation of these two names. It is God’s compassion that sustains the journey of our lives. The Quran says, “By the morning hours and the night when it falls, your Lord has neither forgotten nor forsaken you.”
Both the words, Rahman and Rahim, come from the Arabic root verb Rahm that means womb. Prophet Muhammad often said that God’s mercy was akin to the love and compassion that a mother has for her child. Allah endowed women with his primary attribute of mercy.
Just as it is important to believe in God’s mercy, it is necessary to base human relations on forgiveness. We cannot expect Allah’s forgiveness unless we also forgive those who wrong us. Forgiving each other, even forgiving one’s enemies remains at the core of Islamic teaching.
In one of the prayers that the Prophet taught, he said, “O Allah, you are most forgiving one, you love to forgive, so forgive me.” We need to invoke God’s love, mercy and forgiveness all the time.
Prophet Moses had once asked, “O my Lord! Who is the most honourable of thy servants to thee?” God said: “He who pardons when he is in a position of power.” Constantly invoking God’s mercy and compassion leads to God consciousness and helps keep one on the righteous path.
Love, compassion and mercy are attributes of a sound heart that is aligned with God. Prophet Muhammad once pointed to his heart and said, “Renunciation is here, the love and fear of Allah is here, sincerity is here.” When the heart becomes pure, serene and sound, it is able to hear the call of God, the call of the prophets, Sufis and sages. A sound heart is tender, compassionate and detached from worldly lusts and acts in accordance with the will of God.”
People who show no mercy and whose eyes never get moist have hardened hearts, signs that they are disconnected with God. Once a man complained to the Prophet about the hardness of his heart to which he replied, “Stroke the head of an orphan and give him something to eat.” Softening of the heart requires fulfilling moral obligations towards our families, relatives, neighbours and society.
Sadia Dehlvi is a Delhi-based writer and author of Sufism: The Heart of Islam.