The first aya of Al-Fatiha firmly establishes that these two names refer to Allah, the Supreme Power, and to Him exclusively. They are used together (as a pair) and separately (individually) throughout the Qur’an extensively to describe or refer to Him in various contexts. The context of usage of these names in the Qur’an clearly defines their meaning. It is also important that their usage in Al-Fatiha, in aya 1 and again in aya 3, points out the fact that they are, in fact, a pair - as well as indicating the significance of being a pair.
First, the two names’ etymology stems from the same root: RAHM, which could mean “womb” or “place of origin”, the latter of which is here more applicable. Derivitives of this word are mainly in reference to “raheem” or “merciful”, and words of the same “family” of meaning, such as “rahma” or “mercy”, but the name “Al-Rahman” stands alone in its meaning, different than “raheem” or “merciful”, but leading students of Arabic to conclude that its name may be largely similar to “Al-Raheem”. The Qur’an, as we shall show below, shows us that the real meaning is, in fact, opposite to the meaning of “Al-Raheem”. But the shared root indelibly links these two names - as a pair. What is wrong with a pair of opposites? The entire creation is based on it!
The Second Most Important Word: Al-Rahman “The Almighty”
The second most important word in the Qur'an, and easily the most commonly misunderstood word, is the attribute-name Al-Rahman. As you have seen above, we are explaining the meaning of this name with the word "The Almighty", which is by far the closest English expression to the meaning of this name. Almost invariably, English translators and explainers use an expression that is a variant of "Merciful" to express the name Al-Rahman (glory to His name in the highest). Some, such as Yusuf Ali, use the word "Beneficent", others use the word "Most Gracious" (Yusuf Ali uses this occasionally, Rashad Khalifa uses this exclusively), and T. Irving uses the word "Mercy-giver" (which maintains some of the sense of a relationship between the two words, but still misses the point), to name some examples. All base their interpretation on the very same mistake made by Arabic-speaking explainers, who presume that because both words appear to have the same root, "rahm", which sounds very close to "rahim" or "womb", then both names must have a similar meaning. None base their interpretation on examination of usage in the Qur'an: how does Al-Rahman use His name in His message, the Qur'an?
And who is more qualified to interpret the name Al-Rahman than Al-Rahman? Usage, not etymology and certainly not dictionaries, is always the ultimate determining factor in word-meanings, and this is no exception. How a name is used in the Qur’an should be our determining factor in deciding what is the meaning of that name, and this is even more true for a name mentioned so often, and given such importance and prominence, as the name Al-Rahman (glory to Him in the highest). When one examines every single reference to this great attribute-name in the Qur'an, one finds with unvarying consistency that all point to one clear and unwavering and undeniable meaning, and that is referring to the power and authority and all-encompassing might of Allah, glory to Him in the highest! The name encompasses the meaning of all the attributes that are exclusively His as The Almighty!
First, the Almighty Himself described the name Al-Rahman as being commensurate with the name Allah, and the two names can be used interchangeably, as described in Surat Bani Isra’eel (17):110. Notice also that the name Al-Rahman cannot be used in a possessive form like rabb (Lord) or the English word “God” (e.g., “my God”). That is also true, of course, for the great name Allah (glory to His name in the highest). These two names stand alone: One. A person cannot say “my” in front of either the name Allah or the name Al-Rahman. Also, when the two names, Al-Rahman and Al-Raheem, are invoked together (in succession) in the Qur’an, their usage clearly declares the ultimate Authority and Power of Allah, glory to Him (refer to Surat Al-Baqara (2):163, Surat Fusillat (41):2, and Surat Al-Hashr (59):221).
Therefore, we shall examine the Qur’an directly and see which meaning in fact is most suitable for the name Al-Rahman, according to how this name is used in His own message to us. Surat Maryam (19) is the Sura in which the name Al-Rahman is mentioned most frequently (16 times). In aya 18 of this Sura, Maryam asks for protection from Al-Rahman against one whom she perceives as a man entering her private chambers, but who in fact is the Archangel Jibreel (Gabriel). She is asking for protection from the Most Powerful, the Almighty, not mercy from "the Beneficent"! She declares this asking for protection from Al-Rahman to the “intruder” in order also to frighten the “intruder”, for which situation the appellation “the Merciful” or “The Most Gracious” would hardly instill fear, and hence be unsuitable. Obviously, Maryam knew the meaning of the name Al-Rahman and we are shown here by Al-Rahman himself (who, according to Surat Al-Rahman 55:2, teaches us the Qur’an) that she used His name appropriately.
Also in Surat Maryam (19):45 , Prophet Ibraheem says to his father, a disbeliever and idol-worshipper, "I fear you could be struck with the wrath of Al-Rahman, and [in retribution] Satan would be your guide." Is this the act of The Merciful, or The Beneficent, or The Most Gracious, to wrathfully leave Satan as the guide of someone? Does this act express His mercy and beneficence? Or is this the act of The Almighty, the Ultimate Authority, the All-Powerful Avenger? Does it express His authority and power, His setting of limits, His meting out of justice by condemnation and destruction of evil? It is within the bounds of His authority and power (and justice), but it is not within the definition of "mercy” or “beneficence” or “graciousness” to exert “wrath” or cause “torture” (for the Arabic word aazab literally means “torture” as well). Even though it could be argued that in the greater scheme of things, torture to the unbelievers is a “mercy” to the whole of creation, we are discussing which of two complementary or opposite attributes is expressed here. (Should we, for the sake of such circuitous arguments, also say that mercy to the believers “tortures” or at least “punishes” the disbelievers? Yes - and He is both Al-Rahman, Al-Raheem from any vantage point!) Allah mentions many of His attributes in the Qur’an with distinct names for a reason, and there being relative elements of two sides in an attribute in no way argues against the distinct meaning that is inherent in a name.
In Surat Maryam (19): 85-96, one of the most powerful and clarifying illuminations of the meaning of the name Al-Rahman, used here repeatedly, forcefully condemns the idol-worship of Aissa (Jesus) by Christians and any allegation that the Almighty (all glory to Him in the highest) shares power with any other, or procreates. No, He is the Creator, alone, and there is none like Him, and all others and all else are creatures, categorically different, and all are utterly and completely subjected to His authority and are His worshippers: recognize it or not! These ayat mention that the mountains, the heavens and the earth all prostrate in awe and worship of Al-Rahman. They vividly describe how this blasphemy invokes His wrath. Is this the description of "The Beneficent" or "Most Gracious"? Do these ayat describe a benevolent benefactor (as in "beneficent") or a generous host (as in "gracious"), “graciously” accommodating His “guests” or the recipients of His largesse, or a kind-hearted ruler forgiving His subjects, or do they describe NONE but THE ALMIGHTY??? For a word of such magnitude, such immense significance, an inept substitute for the true meaning cannot be simply brushed off as a minor "mistake".
The consequences of this "mistake" are a chain reaction of "mistakes" and errors in understanding the Qur'an that have led many to accept two unacceptable premises:
1) That Allah's mercy is the attribute with which He predominantly deals with humankind, thus relieving us of the anxiety and fear associated with His overwhelming Power and Authority and potential anger; and
2) That the Qur'an's meaning is more symbolic than literal and should be interpreted by those long-accepted 'ulama' or scholars who supposedly know how to interpret the symbolic meanings better than "regular people" who are not specially knowledgable or gifted. In reality, it is one of the facts having highest priority in the Qur'an, that Allah (glory to Him in the highest) is both the Almighty and the All-Merciful and, in His relationship to His creatures, these attributes are in exact equivalent proportion on the most profound level. Just as the name Al-Raheem (the All-Merciful) is mentioned in the Qur'an (in reference to Allah) exactly twice as many times (114 times) as the mentioning of the name Al-Rahman (The Almighty) (57 times), so His power, being the "heavier" element, is balanced with twice as much mercy, such that His mercy "is as wide as everything" or encompasses all that exists (Surat Al-Aaraf 7:156).
In every instance of the usage of the name Al-Rahman in the Qur'an, the only appropriate interpretation is expressed in the name The Almighty. In another clear example, we have the description in SuratTaha: 1-5, culminating when "Al-Rahman 'ascends' on His throne (more accurately 'assumes power on', for estowa has no sense of 'going up' as does the term 'ascend' and Allah is higher than His throne)." This is the perfect image of power and authority, the assumption of full authority over everything. The concept of mercy is irrelevant here: that is not its time, its place. Note translations of the Towrah (Torah) of Moosa (Moses) use the word "Mercy-seat"; could this not be a mis-translation of the name Al-Rahman as "Mercy" and Al-aarsh (throne) as "seat"? Bear in mind that these two names, Al-Rahman, Al-Raheem are part of the most ancient and profound and universal/eternal thikr! Misconceptions also have begun deeper in history than we may think.
In the beginning of Surat Taha (20), which in a sense completes the description of Al-Rahman in Surat Maryam (19), even the approach to the name Al-Rahman in this Sura is preceded by fear (aya 3): the proper attitude of mu’mineen (faithful people) to the Almighty (we fear His power, not His mercy). Then the source of the Qur’an is clearly declared (aya 4): the Creator of the earth (closest to us) and the high heaven (farthest from us, closest to Allah). Aya 5 declares His authority (not His mercy or beneficence) as Al-Rahman, glory to Him in the highest. Aya 6 declares His ownership of (to Him belongs) the heavens, the earth, and all that is between them, and what is within the earth, inclusive, and Aya 7 declares His complete omniscience. This sequence is culminated in aya 8, where the “Power-Statement” or la illaha ila Allah (there is no god but Allah) is given. This specific statement is of great power and significance, to the point where its declaration is considered equivalent to the declaration of one’s Islamic faith, called the shahada. Its use in the Qur’an is always with power and most emphatic. Here it completes the image of Allah’s total authority. The cumulative effect of these words and their relationship to the name Al-Rahman emphasizes and powerfully demonstrates to us the obvious fact that this name refers to none other than the Almighty! There are many appropriate places to invoke His mercy, His benevolence, and His grace, but this is not one of them!
Furthermore, this portion of Surat Taha (20):1-8 ends with mentioning that “His are the best names” or al-asma’ alhhusna. Although alhhusna is often translated as “beautiful” it actually means the infinitive of “good” both in the esthetic sense (beautiful) and in the general sense. In the general sense, one of the attributes of “goodness” in a name is its appropriateness. Notice that in the Qur’an, He repeatedly ends many ayat with a pair of names, showing us appropriate attributes to the issue or story revealed in that aya. Again, it is as if the important point for us to know is His particular attribute, as if He is telling us about Himself, first and foremost. The fact that His names are the culminating fact revealed by these 8 ayat would indicate that these 8 ayat are telling us something directly about the meaning of the name Al-Rahman, which was also referred to in Surat Bani Isra’eel (17):110 as one of the asma’ alhusna. Specifically, they show the appropriateness of this great name to the most graphic description of His power and authority, the power and authority which solely belongs to The Almighty!
In this same SuratTaha, following a devastating description of the Day of Judgment and Allah’s terrible power on that Day, ayat 108 and 109 give a powerful and terrifying description of Al-Rahman’s authority and power on that Day: wherein all will be totally submitted to Him, and you will not hear except slight whispers, and no intercession will be allowed except that for which He has already made a decision and granted permission (and even that permission is for the angels only - humans cannot intercede on behalf of other humans). These two ayat are followed by aya 110 describing vividly Allah’s omniscience and aya 111 stating that all faces will be submitted to the Living, the Eternal (Al-Hayy Al-Khayyum) and that those who carry the burden of even a single act of oppression (sin) will be doomed (without His forgiveness - where is the alleged allusion to “mercy” and “beneficence” here?). This entire sequence also emphasizes the power and authority and devastating wrath of the Almighty!
In order to conduct your own study if this great attribute-name, we have listed below all references to the name Al-Rahman for you to investigate and see how consistently the name refers to the attribute of omnipotence, and those attributes which are derived from omnipotence, but not the attribute of mercy or "beneficence" or "graciousness". Also note that the name Al-Rahman (glory to His name in the highest) is not derived from an adjective that can refer to anything or anyone else than the Almighty. Other attribute-names, such as Al-Qadir (the Capable), Al-Ghufur (the Forgiver), and even Al-Raheem (the Merciful), are all derived from roots, removing the prefix Al-, that are applicable to human beings and others, and it is only their being in the Al- form that makes them solely applicable to Allah (glory to Him in the highest). The highest exclusivity is reserved for the name Al-Rahman and this emphasizes the name's greatness, significance, and meaning as referring to the Almighty, and also referring, in that sense, specifically to His being One, His being categorically unique.
The Sura named Al-Rahman is one of the most powerful in the Qur’an, describing in vivid details His creation in this world and the next, that creation being clear evidence of His power and supremacy as the Creator. In that Sura, this name is mentioned only once, in the first aya, and in fact, forms the entire aya. This fact alone emphasizes the importance of this name. The very next aya mentions that He (Al-Rahman) teaches (us) the Qur’an, then the following ayat mention that He created humankind, and taught humankind to distinguish between things (including right from wrong). His creation of the sun and moon and the heavens, and the prostration of the stars and the trees, all are mentioned and all show His great and ultimate power over all things as The Almighty. He also includes a warning in this first set of ayat in this Sura to people not to be inequitable in weighing (i.e., not to cheat others for one’s own personal gain). Creation, teaching (the imparting of knowledge requires that first there be that knowledge, and then the power and authority to communicate it), subjecting all creation to Him, and warning against wrong actions, are all acts of The Almighty. The very refrain in this Sura challenges humans and jinn to deny any of His marvels, and does not offer mercy for those who deny them. Is this the description of a “gracious” host or is the appropriate name for this set of acts “merciful” - or is it most appropriately understood to be the description of The Almighty, the All-Powerful, the All-Knowing, the Ultimate Avenger, the Supreme Power, The Creator, glory to Him in the highest? Yes, He is also the All-Merciful - but we must first fear His power and authority before we can be eligible for consideration for His mercy! Do you not see that the name Al-Rahman is always invariably mentioned before the name Al-Raheem? Do you not see that both attributes are described separately and very frequently in the Qur’an, to show us that these two opposite (complementary) attributes, absolute power and absolute mercy, are and can only be, His alone, and this dynamic and extreme attribute of possessing the ultimate and absolute of the most basic of all opposites is, in fact, the very “seat” or modus operandi of His power? This is not conjecture. This is obviously what He wants us to know, and what mu’mineen of other eras described in the Qur’an also knew. Afa la taa’qiloon? Will you not use your minds?
These are all references to the name Al-Rahman in the Qur’an, listed by the number of the Sura followed by a colon (:) followed by the number of the aya: 1:1, 1:3, 2:163, 13:30, 17:110, 19:18, 19:26, 19:44, 19:45, 19:58, 19:61, 19:69, 19:75, 19:78, 19:85, 19:87, 19:88, 19:91, 19:92, 19:93, 19:96, 20:5, 20:90, 20:108, 20:109, 21:26, 21:36, 21:42, 21:112, 25:26, 25:59, 25:60, 25:60, 25:63, 25:63, 26:5, 27:30, 36:11, 36:15, 36:23, 36:52, 41:2, 43:17, 43:19, 43:20, 43:33, 43:36, 43:45, 43:81, 50:33, 55:1, 59:22, 67:3, 67:19, 67:20, 67:29, 78:37, and 78:38. In all of these instances, the name Al-Rahman means The Almighty.
Al-Raheem The All-Merciful
The name Al-Raheem, The All-Merciful (glory to Him and all His names in the highest), is generally correctly understood and interpreted by itself, as an attribute-name, but not in its significant and critical relationship with the name Al-Rahman. That is simply because the name Al-Rahman has been wrongly interpreted, and thus no dynamic relationship has been evident between two names concluded to have similar meanings. But when we look at the two names together considering the true meaning of Al-Rahman to be as the name The Almighty, we can immediately see two names representing attributes that are diametrically opposite (or one could say, “complementary”) in meaning.
Power and might are associated with authority, punishment, retribution, and the ability to overwhelm and conquer all who are without power - and in the context of the Almighty, all else has no power relative to Him. Mercy, on the other hand, is associated with forgiveness, kindness, leniency, the act of extending help and relief to those without power, of giving without asking in return, of considering the point of view and situation of one outside oneself, someone different, of being responsive and receptive. And in the case of Allah (glory to Him in the highest) all else is unlike Him, hence different, and all else is the recipient of His mercy. It is His mercy that connects to us, that deals with our wants (from our point of view or situation) and needs, and through which we can relate to Him. For we are, relative to Him, powerless, and unable to perceive or contact Him, except through His mercy (and Power which enables His mercy). And so we have two crucial attributes: absolute power and authority on the one hand, and all-encompassing mercy on the other. The relationship between these two attributes, two opposites, is absolutely dynamic, profoundly so, and that profound dynamic indicates something of the profoundly dynamic nature of the Supreme Power, of Allah - glory to Him in the highest!
Just entering into this understanding, we can clearly see that Allah is not a static provider of mercies and benevolence, as many perhaps unconsciously picture Him, but rather an unfathomably dynamic and powerful Creator and Sustainer and Caretaker of, directly interacting with, all that exists - continuously, actively creating in the past, present and future, not One who created everything only in the past and now leaves everything to just continue along a path pre-set by Him, as some picture it. (Note that one of the meanings of “creation” is “transformation”, to completely change one thing into an entirely different thing, an act which is the done only by Allah, and which cannot be done to Him - by definition!) The Qur'an mentions repeatedly that Allah creates whatever He wills (Surat Al-Rom 30:54, Al-Shura 42:49, Al-Qasas 28:68), in the present tense, and describes the conception and growth of each human fetus as an act of creation by the Creator, (see Surat Al-Zumar 39:6, Abas 30:19) and the germination and growth of plants from seeds as an act of creation by the Creator, in each individual instance, or, as He so eloquently asks in Surat Al-Waq'aa : (in paraphrase) relating to the plants we people plant in the ground: "Did you cause them to germinate and grow, or did We grow them?" This means that He is constantly and continuously interacting with all creation. Think about the unfathomable, unimaginable ability of such action, or such a reality, of our Creator, who both continuously creates, Al-Rahman, and continuously watches and listens to and sees and provides for and responds to all that exists, Al-Raheem, and imagine how these two vital attributes, without which nothing could exist in the first place, let alone survive, are simultaneously active attributes of Allah, yet direct opposites, and perhaps you can begin to imagine the immense power and dynamic that this understanding of Allah (glory to Him in the highest) brings!
The dynamic interrelationship between these two attributes of Allah (glory to Him in the highest) is of tantamount importance in the Qur'an, which continuously defines and clarifies it, giving examples and applications. Simply by examining the Author's usage of the two names in the Qur'an, one can see how significant the interaction between the two attributes really is. Why, for example, in the fundamental and all-important Surat Al-Fatiha, does Allah (glory to Him in the highest) mention these two names a second time, in a separate aya (number 3), after already having mentioned them in the Invocation in the first place? This is not only to show their immense significance, but also to show what that immense significance is (to the extent we are able to grasp it, that is). It is first a way of making us repeat and mention these names again, and thus, ponder their meaning, and consider that their meaning must be special.
This "opens us up" for the second point, namely, that these two attributes are together as a pair. Again, this conforms with the description of (what could be considered to be) Al-Fatiha in Surat Al-Hijr (15): as "seven pairs". This leads us to wonder, "Why are these attributes considered as a special pair?" Upon thinking about this question, we must realize that Allah wanted us to consider them as a pair because in doing so, the opposition of their meaning takes on a dynamic power of its own, showing Allah to be Capable, in the most categorically ultimate sense, of being both Almighty and All-Merciful simultaneously, meting out punishment to the oppressors and those who ignore or deny Him, and rewarding the righteous and those who are faithful to Him, and forgiving those who seek His forgiveness with a contrite heart. He is the infinitive of both attributes: power and responsiveness, authority and forgiveness, and no other than Him is, or can be, both simultaneously in the fullest sense.
Note that these two names define attributes of Allah (glory to Him in the highest), and that these two attributes are active - that is, they both describe how He acts. These acts define His relationship to the creation, which consists of all that is not Him (glory to Him in the highest). Every act of Allah, every attribute of Him, can be categorized as either an attribute of Al-Rahman, the Almighty, or Al-Raheem (the All-Merciful). In that sense, these two names encompass the entire scope of the attributes of Allah (glory to His name). They are also in perfect balance: the penetrating power of The Almighty - mentioned 57 times in the Qur'an - is balanced by the all-encompassing grace of The All-Merciful - mentioned exactly twice as many times in the Qur'an, or 114 times, in reference to Allah (glory to Him in the highest). The "massive weight" of authority and power is thus balanced by the "encompassing embrace" of mercy. We need certain powers and capabilities, which He has given us, and we need His capability and power to help us, but we need His mercy even more - in fact, exactly twice as much!
Note that Allah's authority and power being total - an attribute none but Him can logically and conceivably have - enables His mercy to be all-encompassing - also an attribute none but Him can logically and conceivably have, and that therefore the two attributes represented by the names Al-Rahman and Al-Raheem (glory to Him in the highest) define each other as being exclusive to Him. In fact, the invoking of these two names together invokes the meaning of the powerful phrase la ileha illa Allah, “there is none to be worshipped except Allah. “ None but Him is or can be almighty or all-merciful, let alone both simultaneously. These perfectly and dynamically juxtaposed opposite attributes practically and simply define for us the most profound truth about who Allah (glory to Him in the highest) is.
On this same issue, the name Al-Rahman (glory to His name in the highest) can only be applied to Allah (glory to Him in the highest), and has no adjective derivative form to apply to others, while the name Al-Raheem is exclusive to Him only with the Al- prefix - the adjective raheem is derived from this name and means "merciful" in the generally applicable sense. In fact, it is applied to the Prophet Mohammad in Surat Al-Towba (9:29) (Note there are those who say this particular aya and the one that follows it were injected later into the original Qur’an, an opinion about which is some controversy, of course). This expresses the fact that we cannot share power in any sense with the Creator, but can, by acting with mercy, exhibit on a very limited scale, that attribute. This is what He intended for us to do: i.e., show mercy. And in order to be clearly distinguished from almighty power, the mercy we show is not based on being all-capable, which we obviously are not. Thus, "showing mercy" does not mean doing everything impeccably or without mistakes, although doing so would definitely be a "mercy" to others, but rather refers specifically to responsiveness to others - including the willingness to forgive, to give to others with kindness and thoughtfulness, and to help.
Understanding the meaning of these two names is the most profound and fundamental knowledge, and critical to the true understanding of the meaning of the entire Qur'an. People in general tend to want one or the other attribute to be effective according to their own personal needs and desires, a sort of mercy and/or power on demand. Allah shows us repeatedly in the Qur’an how He acts with Supreme authority and with Supreme mercy, and we have absolutely nothing to do in the matter but submit to Him. The Qur'an teaches us that it is of paramount importance for us to know who Allah (glory to Him in the highest) is, as much as we possibly can, and the constant repetition and prominent placement of these two names only emphasizes how central to that knowledge is the proper understanding of the meaning of the names Al-Rahman, Al-Raheem.
Allah (glory to Him in the highest) is the ultimate Truth, the ultimate Reality, and so it is useless and a waste of time at best, and a devastatingly destructive act at worst, to try to deny or distort any facts regarding His Reality to fit our personal preferences, weaknesses, etc. On a massive scale, Christians have relegated the concept of The Almighty to the "Old Testament" and the concept of The All-Merciful to the "New Testament", as if, and The Almighty condemns and is far above and unaffected by what they falsely allege, they want to portray the "Old Testament" Creator, the Almighty, as a cruel taskmaster, with insufficient mercy, in which case it became necessary to "take the form of" or “incarnate as” a human being and thus develop sufficient sympathy to enhance and increase His mercy (what impudent liars!) to the point where it wipes out His wrath and its consequences, that "incarnation" having taken the consequences, including a temporary "dip" in hell, of all subsequent human beings, who can now supposedly act with impunity without fear of retribution. In other words, they invented a lie by which they believe they will meet, on the day of Judgment, Al-Raheem only without facing the judgment of Al-Rahman! What a disastrous Day they will find themselves in facing The Almighty and His wrath for that very lie!
Others take a different tactic to lie to themselves about this same issue. The Jews, for example, want their Maker to be Al-Raheem for them exclusively - as His "chosen people" - and this alleged "right" or privilege to be accorded not by their deeds, but rather by their lineage or geneology, that is, by inheritance. Thus, they too seek to avoid meeting Al-Rahman on the Day of Judgment by fictitiously claiming that they have an inherited right to be dealt with only by Al-Raheem. Do they not see that only Al-Rahman can be Al-Raheem, and that the two attributes are inseparable? Do they pretend not to know that Al-Rahman is the Almighty, in complete and sole control and authority over the Day of Judgment? How can one conceivably show all-encompassing mercy without capability to know what is merciful for each individual, which in turn requires all-inclusive power and knowledge, which is the exclusive domain of Al-Rahman?
Many Muslims also seek to ensure that they ultimately will meet only Al-Raheem, that their final meeting with Allah (glory to Him in the highest) will be full of mercy, reward and relief, and not have to face the terrifying prospect of the judgment of Al-Rahman. Many a Muslim funeral has a “sheikh” asking for the “departed” individual to go to paradise without passing through judgment or reckoning. Do they think that because a “sheikh” asked for this that it could possibly happen? Apparently, none of them read the Qur’an!
Because the Qur'an so repeatedly, emphatically and unequivocably expresses the fact that Allah is Al-Rahman, Al-Raheem both, and acts with both attributes simultaneously yet appropriately, those who seek to be called Muslim yet avoid facing the reality about who they are worshipping spend more time reading hadeeths which often take a less clear-cut approach and allow more narrow-mindedness and at the same time relief from accountability than the Qur'an. This includes hadeeths claimed to be quotes from the Prophet Mohammad and those claimed to be direct statements from Allah Himself (glory to Him in the highest), but not included in the Qur'an (itself problematic), also called hadeeths qudsi. Many hadeeths actually contradict the Qur'an, both in meaning and in presentation. Many are used to micro-manage Muslims' lives down to the last nitpicking detail. And many are used to provide evidence that Muslims have, by simply mouthing a simple creed, carte blanche to paradise and will meet Al-Raheem on the Judgment Day "b'ghayer hassab" or "without an accounting (of their deeds)." This latter "Muslim version" of the Christian and Jewish desire to change reality by lying about it culminated in the changing of the actual understanding of the meaning of the name Al-Rahman to be essentially the same as the meaning of the name Al-Raheem. Many an imam has rhapsodised on this fact, as to how His mercy is so great that He invoked it twice, etc., etc. Do they not read the Qur'an, which clearly states that whom we will all meet in the Day of Judgment is Al-Rahman, whose name carries the same weight and authority as the name Allah (Surat Bani Isra’eel 17:118), the Almighty, and that all people without exception must face the terror of His potential wrath, and His judgment, before being granted, if eligible (and Al-Rahman alone determines eligibility here), His mercy, courtesy of Al-Raheem?
Note also the similarity of the sound and meaning of these great names to the Chinese words "yin" and "yang", or, to put them in the right order, "yang" and "yin". These words are now merely concepts, but when Allah sent His names to the Chinese people they were the same words with the same meaning: "yang" being the principle of Al-Rahman, referred to in the ancient Chinese text Yi Jing as "The Creative", representing the concept of power and creativity; and "yin" being the principle of Al-Raheem, referred to in the Yi Jing as "The Receptive", or the concept of receptivity, mercifulness, responsiveness. Even the symbol of "yin" and "yang", a perfect circle enclosing the two dynamic attributes appropriately pictured as two dynamically intertwined shapes each of whose center has the color representing its opposite attribute, shows the inseparable and dynamically interactive nature of the two principles. This is exactly true of the two attributes of Al-Rahman, Al-Raheem. They are exact opposites, inseparable, dynamically interactive, in perfect balance, and two aspects of an indivisible, powerful, ineffable One! They are, as this unique combination of ultimate attributes, the force that moves and operates the universe, the entire creation (regardless if one calls it "universe" or "universes"). Or, more accurately, Allah (glory to Him in the highest), is the One who moves and operates and completely controls the universe or entire creation with His two great attributes in perfect and profound dynamic interaction and balance. And there can be none other than Him - only one can be Al-Rahman, Al-Raheem, for the very definition of One who encompasses these two attributes perfectly can only be the Supreme Power!
By Sister W.H. (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)