What is the difference between two of the most beautiful names of Allah? “Ar-Rahman” and “Ar-Raheem”
Essentially these two words are about “Mercy”, having said that, the question is, why then does Allah use two similar words if they both have the meaning of “Mercy”? There must be a reason and differences between the two. So let us now explore the differences and see how complete and perfect Allah is when he says what he says.
These two attributes of Allah we recite in our Salaah, in Faatihah, when we recite Quran and whenever we want to initiate something. We do it seeking the Barakah (blessings) of Allah by these two names and attributes. It deserves some attention.
The word Ar-Rahman has within it 3 Qualities. _ _ _ _ _ _ _
* Quality Number 1: By definition, it’s something very extreme. The ‘an’ at the end of words in Arabic, such as in “Ar-Rahman” makes that word extreme, the quality in that word extreme.
So Ar-Rahman is not simply just ‘Merciful’, It’s “Extremely, unimaginably, unusually, highly and incredibly Merciful!”
Not normal mercy, It’s extreme mercy. . . So that’s quality 1. _ _ _ _ _ _ _
* Quality Number 2: ‘It is something that is happening right now, at this very moment in time, taking place right now.
So, not only is it extreme, but the quality, the attribute of Ar-Rahman is also happening right now, as you are reading this.
Now let me explain how that makes sense.
For example, if I’m here in England and my teacher is somewhere else in another country around the world, I say to you about him, “My teacher is patient.”
Do I know for a fact, that he is being patient right now? No, I don’t know that.
I’m explaining a quality of his but that does not necessarily mean the quality he has that comes out sometimes, is necessarily happening in this very moment, right now, like immediately.
That’s why when you translate in English “Ar-Rahman” as ‘Merciful’ or even “Extremely Merciful”, the meaning falls short.
Just because you call someone “Merciful” in English, does not guarantee that he’s being merciful at this moment.
So the closer translation to “Ar-Rahman” is, “The one that is being extremely merciful (Right Now)” Immediacy is part of the word.
That was Number 2. _ _ _ _ _ _ _
* Quality Number 3: Now this one is kind of scary. In English you’d call it ‘Transience’ – meaning it’s temporary [You may be thinking that sounds bad, how can any of the attributes of Allah be temporary? So let us try to understand it first]
Other words in Arabic that sound like “Rahman”; “‘atshAN” – Thirsty “jawAN” – Hungry “ghadbAN” – Angry,
Are these words above, qualities which are permanent or temporary? You’d say temporary right? Why? Because something comes to take them away.
Thirst is quenched by drink, Hunger is satiated by food, Anger is subsided by some means or another, whether it’s time, a joke, a smile of a baby, whatever it could be.
So these qualities can be taken away by another thing.
What we’re learning is; 1. Allah’s Mercy is Extreme! 2. It’s happening Right Now! 3. Yet. You might do something that will, take it away. [That’s Scary]
So These are the 3 Qualities of “Ar-Rahman”
In the next post we will discuss the word “Ar-Raheem” [InshaAllah]
You’ll get to appreciate the sheer awesomeness of how Allah uses these 2 words together, just how perfect Allah is in his speech. Just how well they go together and compliment each other.
For the time being though, just try to absorb what’s mentioned above for now.