Over the past six days, we have been reflecting on questions about the human condition and have turned to the Qur’an, stories of the Prophet’s life, and Farmans for inspiration.
We have explored the connection between taqwa, or God consciousness, and love for the near-kin and the stranger. We have discussed the imperative to raise our voices for adl, or justice; our responsibility to the natural world; and the power of being in a constant state of shukr and tawba.
The difficulties we face in life may seem insurmountable at times, but they are as much part of our life as are joy and happiness. Sometimes, they may also present a test of our faith, only so that we may rise above them. For Allah says in Surah al-Baqarah that “He will surely test us in what He has given us – with fear, with loss of property, with loss of life. If we are patient and understand that we are from Allah and to Him we will return, He will then shower us with His blessings and His mercy.”
Every day, whether in our prayers or before we begin something, we consistently recite two attributes of Allah that remind us of His mercy: Allah is al-Rahman and al-Rahim – the Compassionate and the Merciful.
Both divine names share the same Arabic root, R-H-M, which means caring and mercy.1 The same root produces the word rahm, which means the womb. 2 This close connection between the names of Allah and the womb is eloquently expressed in hadith qudsi, considered the word of God:
“I am God, Allah, and I am the Merciful. I created the womb, rahm, and I have [given] it a name derived from My own name.”
This powerful linking of the terms provides a strong indication of the all-encompassing mercy of Allah.3 Like the mother’s womb, Allah’s mercy surrounds us, nurtures us, and protects us.
Let us bring our difficulties to Allah in the hope of receiving His Rahma and truly recognize that difficulties presented in life do not imply any abandonment from Allah or the removal of His Rahma. Further, let us not forget our own responsibilities to make an effort in our own human ways to emulate or mirror the attributes of Allah in our being. After all, Allah has imprinted His attributes onto us. We, therefore, have a critical role to play in striving to embody Rahma.
Hazrat Ali (a.s) explains this further when he says,
“I am astounded by the person who hopes for the mercy from [the] one above him, while he is not merciful to those beneath him...[indeed] the dispensing of mercy brings down [Divine] mercy.”4
Rather than understanding this as a conditional relationship, where Allah is only merciful if we ourselves practice mercy, we are called to remember that mercy exists no matter what. However, we are better positioned to feel it, receive it, and recognize it, if we polish our hearts and are merciful towards each other.
We encourage the Jamat to read the Farman made on December 17, 2017 in Karachi, Pakistan, published on pages 103–105 of the book: Farman Mubarak of Mawlana Hazar Imam Shah Karim Al-Hussaini Aga Khan, Diamond Jubilee (2017-2018). While reading this Farman, reflect upon the Imam’s guidance and see how we may embody Rahma to help our spiritual brothers and sisters.
Let us pray for Allah’s Rahma and for the strength to embody His attributes in our everyday lives.
We would like to thank the Jamat for participating in a special week of daily articles focused on inspirations from the Qur’an. We hope that this has provided solace and an opportunity for inner reflection on the importance of conceptions within the Qur’an in our own lives.
1 Dr. Karen Brauer, 2017, Emotion in the Qur’an: An Overview, pg. 3, http://www.iis.ac.uk/sites/default/files/emotion_in_the_quran_an_overview_by_karen_bauer_-_iis_website.pdf
2 Reza Shah-Kazmi, 2010, Loving Compassion in Islam and Buddhism: Rahma and Karuna, p. 9, https://iis.ac.uk/sites/default/files/loving_compassion_in_islam_pdf.pdf
3 Faith and Practice Volume 1, Secondary Curriculum, The Institute of Ismaili Studies, p. 208.
4 Reza Shah-Kazemi, 2006, Justice and Remembrance, p. 99. https://iis.ac.uk/node/230601?qt-publications=5#qt-publications