A Commitment made by God
In the name of God, the Merciful, the Beneficent
Say: To whom do the heavens and the earth belong? Say: to Allah. He has committed Himself to (bestow) grace and mercy.
(Cattle,”Al Ana’am”: 6:12)
The surah begins here to give Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) certain instructions for a confrontation with the polytheists who were fully aware that Allah is the Creator of the whole universe, but they nevertheless, made certain beings, who have no power to create, equal to Him. They associate partners with Him whom they claim to have a say in conducting their lives. The Prophet is instructed to confront them with a question about the ownership of everything that is in the heavens and on Earth, after these things have been created. As the question is put, it is meant to include every single position in the whole universe. It is followed by a statement of fact over which they did not argue. The Qur’an tells us elsewhere that they used to acknowledge it fully: “Say: To whom do the heavens and the earth belong? Say: To Allah.”
Style of Life
Despite the depth of their ignorance which resulted in deviant concepts that devalued their quality of life, the Arabs in their pre-Islamic days were superior in this particular aspect to latter day “scientific” ignorance which does not acknowledge this fact. This modern ignorance shuts its mind to this fact while Arabs used to recognize and admit that Allah owned everything in the heavens and on Earth. However, they did not bring that recognition to its logical conclusion which would have required them to acknowledge Allah’s total authority over what he owns and that the only proper way to use what Allah has created is to get His permission and to act according to His law. Because of that, the Arabs were considered polytheists and their style of life was described as ignorant. How should those who deny Allah’s authority to legislate for human existence and, instead, exercise that authority themselves should then be described? They must be given a description other than that of polytheism. Allah describes them as unbelievers, wrongdoers and transgressors, no matter how strongly they claim to be Muslims and regardless of what religion is entered in their birth certificates.
His Mercy Takes Precedence
The Qur’anic verse follows this statement of asserting Allah’s ownership in the heavens and on Earth by stating that He “has committed Himself to bestow grace and mercy”. He is the sole, undisputed owner of the whole universe. Out of His generosity and by His own will, He has however, committed Himself to bestow grace and mercy. Grace and mercy is the basic rule in His treatment of and judgment over his servants in this life and in the life to come. Believing in this rule is one of the constituents of the Islamic concept of life. Even when Allah tests His servants with hardship, His mercy takes precedence. Indeed, the test is meant to prepare a group of them for the fulfillment of the trust He assigns to them after they have proved their dedication to His cause and preparedness to sacrifice for it. He actually sorts out the good among them from the bad: Those among them who are keen to follow Allah’s messenger distinguish themselves from those who turn back on their heels. The exercise of mercy and the bestowing of grace in all this are manifest.
If we were to try to make an exhaustive list of incidents and occasions of the bestowing of Allah’s mercy and how it is reflected in life, we need to devote our whole lives to that. Indeed, generations can come and go, before this task can be accomplished. In every moment Allah’s grace is showered over people. We have only pointed out mercy as reflected in hard tests, because often people do not see it as such. We have no inclination to attempt to make a full list of the occasions and the incidents where Allah’s mercy is brought into action. We will only make some brief references to that. However, we need to reflect a little on the way this Qur’anic statement is phrased. “He has committed Himself to bestow grace and mercy.” The same statement is repeated again in this surah with a slight difference: “Your Lord has committed Himself to (bestow) grace and mercy.” What immediately attracts our attention in this statement is the fact that Allah, the Creator, the Owner, the Almighty who has power over all His servants grants them the favor of making the exercise of His mercy and grace a commitment to which He has bound himself out of His own free will.
Man as Vicegerent
It is further reflected in the role Allah has assigned to man as vicegerent, and the care He takes of him by sending messengers to him to give him guidance.
It is only appropriate to acknowledge that it is impossible for us to attempt to make any exhaustive list of the aspects of Allah’s mercy and grace. Suffice it to say that it is beyond human ability to reflect on and appreciate the full significance of one moment in which Allah opens the gates of His mercy to His servant to give him a feeling of security and reassurance. To describe such a moment and the feelings it generates is a much harder task.