We say this name before we eat, in our prayers, and numerous other times throughout the day. There is even a Surah in the Qur’an named after it. But do we truly understand the meaning of the name Ar-Rahman, or is it so normalized in our daily habits that we’ve forgotten its divine value? Let’s avoid the latter by re-examining the definition of one of Allah’s (SWT) 99 Names. Only when we comprehend Allah’s divine names can we begin to truly embrace them in our lives.
A lot of us are aware that Ar-Rahman correlates with Allah’s mercy, but we might get it confused with the translation of Ar-Raheem. Just keep in mind that the former refers to Allah’s intense mercy in this Dunya and the latter is his mercy in the Ākhirah. What comes to mind when you think of intense mercy in this Dunya?
To me, it signifies that the name Ar-Rahman goes beyond just mercy. It’s inclusive of all other divine characteristics – including the most gracious, most kind, most giving, and most loving.
Without having mercy, you can’t enable the other qualities. It is only He, the Almighty, that can be all of the above – all the time. Allah’s mercy is so vast and exceptional that it is mentioned 57 times in the Qur’an and has an entire chapter named after it. In Sūrat ar-Raḥmān (55), Allah talks about all of his creations from the sun and the moon to the humans and the jinn.
The intensity in the Surah builds up when He repeats a specific ayah: “So which of the favors of your Lord would you deny?” to highlight those who are ungrateful for what they have been given. But as you go on, the chapter gets softer and softer as He begins to describe Jannah (paradise) and the people of Jannah. And guess what? That same ayah, “So which of the favors of your Lord would you deny?” is used again. This chapter reiterates the fact that Allah (swt) created all of the above to serve as reminders for mankind. For example, when we are mesmerized by a beautiful sunrise, we say Subḥān Allāh (God is perfect) and remember the Creator above us who is responsible for what your eyes see. There are reminders of Him everywhere we look – if – we decide to open our hearts to him. And after witnessing all these blessings and creations day in and day out, how can we become so distracted by everything else and carelessly deny His favors?
We are only human – it is so easy for us to forget and digress from our true purpose in this world. Allah SWT knows that, which is why Sūrat ar-Raḥmān was sent down to us.
I mean just look at how many times one ayah was repeated and yet we still fail to simply remember our Lord’s favors. Salah was sent down to us as a divine remedy and yet we still fail to simply remember our Lord and his blessings.
This dunya was created to remind us of the Almighty, but instead, we are completely distracted by it.
That is what we do best as humans – we’re always missing the point, asking unnecessary questions, and easily straying off of the right path. But how does Allah (swt) respond to our carelessness and remorse?
He responds with Rahma (mercy).
No matter how many times we sin or walk away from our faith, when we come back searching for answers – desperate and hopeless – He is waiting for us. When we drop down to our knees in despair, He is listening to us. When the burdens of this Dunya are too heavy to carry, He relieves us.
When we forget the roots of our faith and ancestors, He reminds us. When our souls are starving and we sincerely repent and humble ourselves, He forgives us.
We all know this is easier said than done, but that’s the beauty of realizing you are not as invincible as you might think. There is a greater power above you who is responsible for it all – your health, your knowledge, your trials, and your blessings. Because only He knows best. And if we open our eyes just a little wider, we will begin to see Ar-Rahman in places we never did before. And if we learn to open our hearts in absolute devotion, they too will be filled with Rahma.
Nihal is a Palestinian-American-Muslim from New York with a bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts + Journalism & Political Science. She currently manages her own blog -- where she talks about modest fashion, lifestyle, and spirituality -- and is a social media consultant. Nihal is passionate about participating in global movements for girls and women through different mediums such as writing and forums. Besides dressing up, she also enjoys convincing others that coffee is a food group and feminism is common sense.
By Nuriddeen Knight