(3) اَلرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ
” The Beneficent, The Merciful”
The meaning of /ar-rahman/ ‘ the Beneficent ‘ and /ar-rahim/ ‘ the Merciful ‘, together with their broad sense of meaning and the difference between them, was explained at length while commenting on /bism-il-lah/, the repetition of which is not required.
A point that should be added to the commentary, here, regarding ‘ar-Rahman’ and ‘ar-Rahim’, is that these two attributes, which are the most significant attributes of Allah, are repeated at least 30 times, every day, in our (5) daily prayers; (twice in Sura Al-Fatihah, and once in the Sura we recite after it). In this way, we praise Allah sixty times as being ‘ Mereiful ‘ each day.
This, indeed, is a lesson taught to all human beings more than anything else that they should try to acquire this attribute, and practice it in their daily lives and activities. Moreover, it points to the fact that if we count ourselves among the true, obedient servants of Allah, we should not follow or imitate the manner in which tyrant slave owners use against their servants when dealing with our servants.
The history of slavery indicates that the tyrant owners used to treat their slaves in horrifyingly cruel ways. For example, if a slave moved a little slow in performing services, he would receive harsh punishments: i.e. be whipped, put in chains or fetters, fastened to a mill-stone and forced to turn it, instructed to work in mines, imprisoned in deep, dark, wet holes and, if his faults were greater, he would be hanged.
Another reference in the history of slavery also shows that condemned slaves were put in wild animal cages. If the slave succeeded in staying alive, another animal would be let in on him.
These are some examples of the conduct of some owners with their slaves. But, Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, has mentioned repeatedly, in the Holy Qur’an, that Allah is Oft-Forgiving and Most Merciful to the servants who are repentant of their disobedience to Him. For example: Sura Az-Zumar, No. 39, verse 53 says: ” Say: ‘ O’ My servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah: for Allah forgives all sins, for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful’ “.
Therefore, the terms ‘ar-Rahman’ (the Beneficent) and ‘ar-Rahim’ (the Merciful) used after the phrase /rabb-il-‘alamin/ ‘the Lord of the Worlds’ refer to the idea that, He, with the absolute Power He has, is yet Merciful to all His creatures. This quality, which Allah possesses, attracts His servants to Him and they eagerly say:’ar-Rahman-ir-Rahim’, (the Beneficent, the Merciful).
It is here that one’s attention is drawn to the fact that the behaviour of Allah, the Exalted, toward His creatures is, by far, different from that of masters toward their servants, in particular, during the horrible period of slavery.
Therefore, ‘ belief in Allah ‘ is the first of the five principles of Islam.
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