Remember Me; I will remember you. And thank Me, and never be ungrateful. [Al-Baqarah 2:152]
Abdullah ibn Busr reports that a man said, “O Messenger of Allah, the laws of Islam are too many for me, so tell me something I can hold onto.” The Messenger of Allah(SAW) said, “Keep your tongue moist with the remembrance of Allah.”
[ Sunan al-Tirmidhī 3375]
And what is the effect of this remembrance? It acts as a polish for the hearts from its rust, and causes us to be remembered by God the Most High. Our heart hardens when we do not remember God. The heart’s nourishment is the remembrance of God, and when we fail to remember Him, it is no wonder that we feel down for no apparent reason.
Ibn al-Qayyim stated: “In the heart there is hardness which can only be softened by remembrance of Allah(SWT). So the slave must treat the hardness of his heart with the remembrance of God.” Our heart hardens when we do not remember God. The heart’s nourishment is the remembrance of God, and when we fail to remember Him, it is no wonder that we feel down for no apparent reason.
Yahya ibn Mu`adh al-Razi (Allah have mercy upon him), one of the great imams of the spiritual path from the early Muslims (salaf), used to say:
“Yaa ghafool Yaa jahool” O oblivious person, O foolish person,
“law sami’ta sareeral aqlaam taktub usmak heena dhakarta mawlaak“ If you could only hear the sound of the pen when it was writing your name up there when you mention the name of your Lord
“la mutta shawkan ilaa mawlaak” you would have died out of loving for your Lord. If you would died just hearing the writing of the pen, then what about hearing Allah(SWT) speaking about you?
May Allah(SWT) enable us to feel the depth of that blessing. It is said amongst the learned that the king of all knowledge is the knowledge of the King of Kings – Allah(SWT) Himself.
Ibn al-Qayyim says, “knowing Allah is the foundation of all knowledge”, for without this knowledge, we cannot possibly put life into perspective” and “Whoever knows Allah will inevitably love Him. And when one loves Allah, the clouds of darkness dissipate from him. Grief, anxiety, and sorrow are removed from the heart, and it is [then] filled with joy and happiness.”
The beating heart of our belief is the love of Allah(SWT). And that’s why Allah(SWT) reminds us
“Still there are some who take others as Allah’s equal—they love them as they should love Allah—but the ˹true˺ believers love Allah even more. If only the wrongdoers could see the ˹horrible˺ punishment ˹awaiting them˺, they would certainly realize that all power belongs to Allah and that Allah is indeed severe in punishment.”
They love others the way they are supposed to be loving Allah. The primary definition of a believer is that they are more intense in their for Allah(SWT).
So, we begin with the first name of the blessed names of Allah(SWT).
“When Allāh created Ādam and blew within him the soul, Ādam sneezed. He said, “Alhamdulillah” so His Lord said, “O Ādam, Allah has mercy upon you.” These were the first words which the ears of man heard from Āllah. [Mishkat al-masaabih]”
The name of Allāh, ArRaḥmān (The Most Merciful), must occupy a special status within the heart of every Muslim since it clearly occupies a special status in the Qur’ān.
The only name which doesn’t appear without “al” We find Al-Azīz (definite) and Azīz (indefinite), Al-Ghafūr and Ghafūr. The exception to this rule is the name “Allāh” and another; “ArRaḥmān” There is no “Rahman”.
It is not placed second in reference We find “ArRaḥmān ArRaḥīm” but not “ArRaḥīm ArRaḥmān”, or “Al-Ghafūr Ar-Raḥmān”. There is only one other name which has this characteristic – “Allāh”.
The only name associated with the istiwa ‘alal Arsh (ascension over the Throne) apart from lafdhul jalalah – the highest name, Allāh.
The only other name used in the Qur’ān when speaking about this is “ArRaḥmān”.
The only other name when speaking about the revelation of the Qur’ān – “ArRaḥmān. ʿalamal Qur’ān”
The only other name when seeking refuge from Shayṭān with Allah(SWT) – we are all used to a’oodhu billah. When Jibra’eel (AS) came to Maryam to give her glad tidings that she would give birth to Prophet Isa(AS), “ She said, “I seek refuge with the All-Merciful (Allah) against you, if you are God-fearing.”
The only other name when speaking about Shafāʿa (intercession) on the Day of Judgement. “That day no intercession will be of any use to anyone, except the one whom the RaHmān (All-Merciful, Allah) has permitted and was pleased with his word.”
These are just a few examples indicating that the name “ArRaḥmān” occupies a status of its own. And so our Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) would teach us “The most beloved of your names to Allaah are ‘Abd-Allaah and ‘Abd al-Rahman.” [Muslim 2132]
In another narration the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Give your children the names of Prophets, and the most beloved of names to Allaah are ‘Abd-Allaah and ‘Abd al-Rahman, and the most truthful are Haarith and Hammaam [these names both refer to one who is always doing something, whether good or bad], and the worst are Harb and Murrah [meaning ‘war’ and ‘bitterness’ respectively].” [Saheeh Abi Dawood]
What are the implications of this name on our lives? Both ArRaḥmān and ArRaḥīm are taken from the root word: Raḥma which is often translated as mercy. However, this is a limitation of the English langauge which does not reflect the true meaning of the word Rahma. In English, mercy tends to indicate forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm. This is not the case with the Arabic meaning – the root word Rahm refers to the womb of a mother.
Abu Huraira narrated that the Prophet (ﷺ) said, Innar rahima sujnatum minar Rahman “The word “Rahima” (womb) derives its name from Ar-Rahman (i.e., one of the names of Allah) and Allah said: ‘I will keep good relation with the one who will keep good relation with you, (womb i.e. Kith and Kin) and sever the relation with him who will sever the relation with you, (womb, i.e. Kith and Kin).[ Bukhari 5988]
Why? Imagine as you were putting your shoes on when leaving the masjid that when you bend over, someone kicks you from behind. You may be annoyed but let them off the first time. You bend down again to put your shoe on and again you get in kicked. Most of us would probably not be able to control ourselves a second time, and definitely not a third. Consider our mothers – every time they are kicked by their baby, how do they respond? Joy and excitement, a sense of compassion which few of us can relate to once we are out of the womb – unconditional love with little, if any, expectation.
It was narrated that ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “Some prisoners were brought to the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), and there was a woman among the prisoners who was searching (for her child). When she found her child she embraced him and put him to her breast. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said to us, ‘Do you think that this woman would throw her child in the fire?’ We said, ‘No, by Allah, not if she is able not to.’ The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, ‘Allah is more merciful to His slaves than this woman is to her child.’” [Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 5999, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2754]
Rasoolullah(SAW) said, “Verily, Allah has (created) 100 portions of mercy. From 1 portion the creation has mercy between themselves and 99 portions are reserved for the Day of Resurrection.” [Muslim]
So imagine how much your mum loves/has mercy for you, from the moment of birth to the moment of death. If we could somehow capture all that love/mercy and place it in a bottle. Then we capture all the love of all the mothers in the world from the beginning of time till the the end and places all that love in that bottle. Then we captured all the mercy showed by every father towards his children from the beginning of time till the end. We capture all the mercy that exists between All the animals and insects from the beginning of time till the end. Then we capture all the mercy that as ever existed between a husband and wife from the beginning of time till the end etc.
In fact, the child almost kills their own mother at the point of childbirth but does she hate her child for it or instead, continue going to work immediately suckling and caring. Similarly, a baby knows its dependence on its mother and keeps returning back to its mother. We too kick against Allah(SWT) through our disobedeince despite the fact our breath, our fuel, our health all relies on Him.
It’s the womb where you were all taken care of without any worry about food, drink, rent or anything – a place without any problems. We are just as ignorant as the baby in the womb while He (SWT) provides for us – blood, air around our bodies. Love and compassion is probably a more appropriate understanding of rahma.
Even the definition of Allāh’s Rahma is most definitely different to our analogy of compassion and loving care. Ibnul Qayyim explains that “The Raḥma of Allāh is a characteristic which entails that Allāh provides His servant with bounties and benefits even if he does not want it and hates it.”
To bring the meaning closer, a parent may force his child to revise for an exam and thus ban him temporarily from seeing friends. The child hates this but the parent sees this as mercy and it surely is. It’s said that the entrance to success and distinction is sometimes through the doors of sadness and pain, but only Allah(SWT) guides us to success.
And what’s the significance of knowing Ar-Rahman?
In the opening aayaat of Surah ar-Rahman, Allah (SWT) tells us “Ar-Raḥmān. He taught the Qur’ān. He created man. He taught Him clear speech”.
Imām Ibnul Qayyim comments on this:
“Ponder over how Allāh made one’s creation and his teaching a product of Allāh’s mercy, connected to His name, Ar-Raḥmān.”
By remembering Allah(SWT) by His name Ar-Rahman, you’re also asking him to erase your sins, both the ones which you remember and the ones which you have forgotten about. Allāh says:
When those who believe in Our verses come to you, say to them, “Peace on you. Your Lord has prescribed for Himself mercy, so that if any one of you does an evil deed out of ignorance and thereafter repents and mends his ways, then (you will see that) He is Most-Forgiving, Very-Merciful.” [al An’am 6:54]
When you ask for His Rahma, you are asking for the easing and removal of every one of your difficulties in life. With the Raḥma of Allāh life becomes a dream come true and, without it, life becomes a long lasting nightmare. Someone may be eating from the finest of food and enjoying all of lifes pleasures, but if Allāh’s Raḥma is not existant, that pleasure will feel like pain and that food will seem like poison. On the other hand, one may be eating enough to survive and his income may be minimal, but if the Raḥma of Allāh is with him, the blessing in that provision will seem to be affluence and trauma will seem to be bliss.
This was the Raḥma which Ibrāhīm (ʿalayhi al-Salām) experienced when he was in the fire. It became bliss. This was the Raḥma which Yūsuf (ʿalayhi al-Salām) experienced in the well and in the prison. It became bliss. This was the Raḥma which Mūsā (ʿalayhi al-Salām) experienced as he grew up in the care of a tyrant. It became bliss. This was the Raḥma which Yunus (ʿalayhi al-Salām) experienced as he sat in the belly of the whale, it became bliss. This was the Raḥma which the youth of the cave experienced in a dark and dingy cave, it became bliss. This is the mercy which, if it touches any human being after begging Allāh for it, his pain becomes happiness, his sorrow becomes joy and the trial becomes a garden of bliss and contentment.
Should Allāh accept your Duʿā’ for His Raḥma, you will be the happiest person in the world and no one can take away this Raḥma from you ever again. Allāh says,
“Whatever Allāh grants to people of mercy – none can withhold it; and whatever He withholds – none can release it thereafter. And He is the Exalted in Might, the Wise.”[Surah Fatir 35:2]
Also, when you ask Allāh to give you from His Raḥma, you are asking Him to allow you to walk into Paradise. Our deeds cannot and will not give us access to Jannah on their own, for even the deeds of the Prophets do not qualify them for a moment in Paradise. People will only enter by Allāh’s Raḥma. The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said,
قَارِبُوا وَسَدِّدُوا ، وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّهُ لَنْ يَنْجُوَ أَحَدٌ مِنْكُمْ بعَمَلِهِ قالُوا : وَلا أَنْتَ يَا رَسُول الله ؟ قَالَ : وَلاَ أنا إلاَّ أنْ يَتَغَمَّدَني الله برَحمَةٍ مِنهُ وَفَضْلٍ
Aisha reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Follow the right course, seek nearness to Allah, and give glad tidings. Verily, none of you will enter Paradise by his deeds alone.” They said, “Not even you, O Messenger of Allah?” The Prophet said, “Not even me, unless Allah grants me his mercy. Know that the most beloved deed to Allah is that which is done regularly, even if it is small.” [ al-Bukhārī 6099, Muslim 2818]
Glad tidings be to one for whom these are their traits; whose regret is over their sins; ever-yearning in need by night and day; weeping before Allah in the depths of the night; calling upon the All-Merciful; seeking the Gardens of Paradise; and fearing the Fires of Hell.” [Related by Abu Nu`aym, Hilyat al-Awliya, 10.58]
Access to this Raḥma is not through mere hopes and wishful thinking, it is through work, planning, giving up of sinful cravings. When Allāh sees that effort from you, even if it is small, His Raḥma will take you the full length.
So, expose yourself to the Raḥma of Allāh and do not deprive yourself from it. How can we expect the Raḥma of Allāh to fall upon us as we sit in the club or inhale at the Shisha lounge? How can we expect the Raḥma of Allāh to fall upon us as we lend our eyes and ears to the filthiest of TV and internet scenes or the vilest of music? How can we expect His Raḥma to touch us whilst, despite our age, we still have not prepared a strategy for our Hereafter? How can we expect the Raḥma of Allāh to fall upon us if we abuse ourselves with sin?
Yahya ibn Mu`adh al-Razi (Allah have mercy upon him), one of the great imams of the early Muslims said:
“Glad tidings be to a servant who has:
- Made their occupation worship (`ibada);
- Neediness (faqr) their longing;
- Spiritual seclusion (`uzla) their desire;
- The Hereafter their concern;
- Seeking a living their means [rather than an end in itself];
- Death their reflection (fikr);
- Their intention busy with renunciation (zuhd);
- Killed through abasement (dhull) their pride (`izz);
- Making their Lord their sole need;
- Remembering their errors in their solitude (khalwa);
- Sending forth in ecstasy their contemplation;
- Complaining only to Allah regarding their strangeness (ghurba);
- And asking through repentance for Allah’s Mercy.
Stories of Rahma
The wheelchair of discipline
“I did not know the way to mosque even though my father was a sheikh who taught Quran. The wealth that was easily available to me corrupted me and kept me far away from the path of Allah. Then Allah willed that I should have a car accident, and I lost the ability to walk completely. The doctors confirmed that there was no clear reason for his handicap except that nervous shock had destroyed my ability to move.
One day I was on my way to meet my new friend: the wheelchair to which I moved as soon as I left my car which had been adapted for use by the handicapped. Before my brother put me on my wheelchair, the muadhin gave the call to Maghrib prayer. His voice was beautiful and suddenly touched my heart, moving me deeply. It was as if I was hearing the Adhan for the first time in my life, and I wept. My brother was surprised when I asked him to take me to the mosque so that I could pray with the congregation.
Many days passed as I was praying regularly in the mosque. Even fajr prayer I did not miss. Despite my instense suffering, I decided never to turn away from the path of Allah the Exalted. One night before fajr prayer, I saw my father in a dream, he had risen from his grave and patted me on my shoulder while I was weeping, and said to me ”O my son , do not grieve , for Allah has forgiven me because of you”. I felt very happy because of the good news and I went to pray and prostrate to Allah in gratitude. I saw the dream several times.
Years went by, and one morning, I was praying Fajr prayer in the mosque next to our house. I was sitting in a wheelchair at the end of the first row, and the Imam began to recite a long Du’a al Qunoot supplication. I was deeply moved by his supplication; my tears rolled down and I felt my body trembling and my heart leaping from my chest. I felt death was close at hand. I calmed down suddenly and completed my prayer. After I said the Salam, I felt strength flowing through my body that I had never felt before. I got up out of the wheelchair and pushed it aside, so that I could stand on my feet and pray two rak’ahs in gratitude to Allah, May He be Exalted.
The worshippers gathered around me, congratulating me, and we all wept together. My joy and sincere feelings cannot be described. The Imam came and whispered in my ear, as he embraced me “Beware lest you forget the bounty and Rahma that Allah has bestowed upon you. If you think that you will disobey Allah the Exalted then go back to the wheelchair and never leave it until you discipline yourself”
[Source: Islamic medicine the key to a better life by Yusuf Al-Hajj Ahmad]
The VIP’s doctor humbled through dua
A Shaykh from Saudi Arabia narrates that there was a doctor that visited him from Pakistan and told him this true story.
The doctor is a top neurologist another who was much sought after and perhaps you’d have to wait months on end before you can get an appointment to see him. He says constantly flying from one city or country to another consulting on rare cases serving the rich and famous. On one such journey, while on a plane, the weather suddenly changed – huge clouds built up and lightning started to strike. Rain started pouring and there was lots of turbulence. Then, one of the engines was struck and the damage forced the pilot to land at a little, nearby airport. On landing, there was no repair facilities and so they had to wait for support to arrive.
The doctor asked the captain how long they would be delayed as he was still keen on maing his appointment and they were only a three-hour drive from his destination. So the Dr called a local taxi and set off. However, the harsh weather continued and the rainfall was so heavy they had to stop in an open area of farmland. Not far away, they saw a small house and they hadnt eaten so the Dr volunteered to go there and see if he could purchase some food and a place to rest.
On knocking on the door, an elderly lady opened and kindly offered them some tea and a dry place to rest. While preparing the tea, she would constantly check on a young child who lay in bed. As soon as she had served them, she returned to a musalla prayer mat and made dua, stopping occasionally to check on the child.
Once they were refreshed the Dr and the driver rose to thank the lady and asked her about the child, She explained that the child is an orphan who is very unwell. She had tried all the local doctors but they said it was a very specialist matter that they could not support with and, in fact, they only knew of one specialist consultant in the land who may be able to help but he was booked for at least six months and was very far from her. She explained she had been making dua to Allah ever since that day that Allah make it easy for us. The Dr asked the name of this specialist and was shocked to hear her say his very name – immediately he burst into tears and on calming said through your dua, Allah(SWT) made me travel a journey in this direction, brought such weather, stranded the plane, placed me in this taxi and dragged me humbled to your door.