Rahm, the Divine Mercy

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Islam, like many other religions, teaches that God’s mercy for mankind is infinite, all-inclusive and all-embracing.

By Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi

Spiritually inclined and mystical branches of all faiths and traditions share universal and essential values. Mercy is one of them. It’s called rahm in Islam and karuna or daya in Hinduism. The practitioners of these faiths experience the divine, as full of mercy and this moves them to relate to one another in merciful ways.
Etymologically, rahm has two beautiful meanings that corroborate each other: “womb of a mother” and “mercy”. From this root later came the Arabic word “Rahman” or “Raheem” (the most merciful), the two foremost attributes of Allah as mentioned in the very first verse of the holy Quran: Bismillah al-Rahman al-Raheem (In the name of Allah the most merciful, the most gracious). In the very beginning of the Quran, Allah conveys that just as the womb of a mother is full of mercy and unconditional compassion for the expected baby, his mercy is also all-embracing and infinite for all his creations.
It is heartening to know that 2016 has been declared as a jubilee year of mercy by the Catholic Church. This has created an opportune time for all adherents of faith and the wider world to deeply experience divine mercy and turn this wounded and broken world into an abode of God’s infinite mercy.
At a time when the entire world is suffering much violence, hostility, antagonism and intolerance, distress, a wide embrace of divine mercy is imperative for all mankind. Besides human violence, people carry deep wounds and sufferings because of sickness, ignorance, injuries, burden of sins not being atoned, extreme levels of poverty, etc. All this causes both physical and mental suffering. Therefore, the need of rahm is much greater than anything else. Nearly all spiritual masters of today feel that our time needs mercy more than ever.
Just as all faith traditions exhort, Islam tells that divine mercy for mankind is infinite, all-inclusive and all-embracing. This notion encourages us to follow it as the prime concern of our faith in God. Claiming that God’s mercy is restricted to only a certain group of his creations is erroneous. Not a single creature is exempted from his bountiful grace and divine mercy. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “When God gave life to his creatures, he wrote in the book: ‘Verily, my mercy prevailed over my wrath.'” Prophet Mohammad is reported to have stated: “God divided his mercy into 100 parts, kept with him 99 parts, and sent down to earth only one part.”
Through only one part of the divine mercy, all human beings, animals and other creatures treat one another with compassion, so much so that an animal lifts its hoof over its child lest it should hurt it.
Today, when the ungodly acts in the name of God are playing havoc across the world, creating doubts and mistrust among different faith groups, the notion of rahm can lead us in the right direction of peace, pluralism and inter-faith harmony. It gives us an opportunity to listen to one another in a spirit of goodwill and amicable respect.
(The writer is an alim (classical Islamic scholar) and a Delhi-based writer. He can be reached at: [email protected])