“When a window is facing the sun, and the window is opened, the sun’s rays enter. Similarly when a person turns his or her attention towards God, the Supreme, and there is no intervening screen between them and God, then at once, a luminous flame descends on that person and illumines them and dispels all inner uncleanliness” (1).
The first verse of the Holy Qur’an reads, “In the name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful” (2). In this verse alone are stated, two of God’s greatest attributes. Fourteen hundred years ago, Allah revealed through the Holy Qur’an that He was ar-Rahman (the Gracious), and ar-Rahim (the Merciful).
According to Islamic teachings, these two attributes of Allah have vast and deep meanings. The attribute of ar-Rahman (the Graciousness of God) refers to all inanimate and animate creations that exist. Whatever exists in the sky, such as the sun, moon, stars, rain, and air, and whatever exists on earth, such as rivers, trees, fruits, medicines, animals, etc., are all manifestations of Allah’s Rahmaniyyat(Graciousness). These are not the result of anything created by man. It is in reference to this that the Holy Qur’an states:
“The Rahman taught the Qur’an” (3).
The true worshippers of Allah not only appreciate Allah’s Graciousness, but they strive to embody some aspects of this attribute of Rahman. They are those who walk humbly upon the earth, and when the ignorant ones address them harshly they reply to them with words of peace and compassion. They offer kindness in place of harshness, and in return for abuse, they pray for their revilers, and thus they exhibit gracious (Rahmani) qualities. Just as our Gracious God bestows the bounties of the sun, the moon, the earth, and other countless favors upon all of His creatures regardless of whether they are good or bad, we as humans can embody some aspect of this attribute in ourselves. If we behave in a way where we are bountiful in our giving, without expecting anything in return, if we exhibit unending kindness towards both those who behave well towards us and to those who do not, we can achieve some aspects of Rahmaniyyat (mercy) in our behavior.
Allah’s Rahmaniyyat is for all of His creation, but His Rahimiyyat is Reserved only for Humans.
While the attribute of Rahmaniyyat applies to God’s creation of the universe, to celestial bodies, and all creatures on earth, His attribute of Rahimiyyat is limited to humans. As God has not bestowed on other animals the ability to pray, they can never be recipients of God’s Rahimiyyat.
The attribute of Rahimiyyat is mentioned in several passages of the Holy Qur’an. For example, it states, “Allah is Rahim (Merciful) towards the believers,” meaning that the disbelievers and the rebellious are not able to benefit from this attribute (4). The Holy Qur’an never states that He has reserved Rahmaniyyat (Graciousness) only for the believers. The special mercy that is reserved for the believers has been called Rahimiyyat every time.
In another verse of the Holy Qur’an, we are told:
“The Mercy of Allah is for those who do good” (5).
Therefore, to become the recipient of God’s Mercy (Rahimiyat), special effort, exertion, purification of heart, prayer, and supplication towards Allah are necessary. It is only the one who earnestly seeks this grace who will receive it. God is called Rahim, the all-Merciful, when accepting the prayers and supplications and righteous actions of people. He safeguards them against calamities, misfortunes, and waste of effort. Those who strive in the way of Allah, and keep away from every type of darkness and mischief are the benefactors of this attribute. Therefore, Rahim requires something of man for him to benefit: a striving through worship and prayer. Rahim urges man to acknowledge his weakness and to rely on his Creator in hope and expectancy. The attribute forces man to bow to Allah in utmost humility, in a state between fear and hope, and affirm that it is only through the help of Allah, that he can achieve his goals.
The Blessing of Khilafat is an Example of Allah’s Rahimiyyat
Regarding Allah’s attribute of Rahimiyyat (Mercy), Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), the Promised Messiah and Mahdi, explains:
“Allah showers His support on them at the time of their striving and helps them with His spirit by His clemency and grants them peace of mind and sends down on them perpetual tranquility. Next, He determines to show them a sample of the Day of Requital, and He confers on them sovereignty and Khilafat” (6).
Khilafat, therefore, is a blessing that emanates from Allah’s attribute of Rahimiyyat. In the Holy Qur’an, it states:
“Allah had promised to those among you who believe and do good works that He will surely make them Successors in the earth, as He made Successors from among those who were before them” (7).
The Holy Qur’an does not state that Khilafat is for all of humanity regardless of whether they believe or do not believe in God, but instead, Allah the Supreme, declares that He has reserved Khilafat only for those who “believe and do good works.” Hence Khilafat is an example of Allah’s attribute of Mercy, as it is limited to those who fulfill the requirements.
It is also by virtue of Allah’s Rahimiyyat that He is displeased when humans do not seek His help. A Hadith relates that “Allah’s wrath befalls one who does not pray to Him and does not seek help from Him.” If we go no further than appreciating Allah’s quality of Rahmaniyyat, then we limit ourselves from seeking our daily needs from Allah. It is through His quality of Rahimiyyat that we turn to Allah for something as minor as asking for a shoelace, or salt for our food.
Therefore, Allah’s Mercy is directly linked to man’s supplicating for help through prayer. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), the Promised Messiah and Mahdi, states:
“Whosoever makes prayer obligatory on themselves, meets Allah, the Friend, Who is hidden behind the screens of invisibility, and such a person is delivered from doubt and uncertainty. His days become bright, his words shine like pearls, his face becomes refulgent like a full moon and his station is elevated” (8).
He goes on to say:
“Prayer indeed attracts the grace that saves us and is named Rahimiyyat, impelling man towards continuous progress. It is through this grace that a true worshipper reaches the stage in which Allah becomes his guardian, his faith. And man reaches the state where he believes in Allah with such certainty as if he sees Him with his own eyes” (9).
Truly Experiencing Allah’s Attributes of Rahman & Rahim Requires Annihilation of the Ego
In Surah Al-Fatihah, Allah, the All-Mighty, has placed the phrase: “We worship Thee alone” before the phrase “We implore Thy help,” so that we are reminded of His Graciousness before asking for His Mercy. Therefore we first thank our Creator by saying: “Lord, we thank Thee for Thy bounties with which Thou has favored us,” then we pray for our needs. In the phrase, “We worship Thee alone,” Allah urges His servants to first place utmost effort in obeying His commandments, as this is the highest level of worship and appreciation of Allah’s Rahmaniyyat.
The verse is then followed with, “We seek Thy help and protection,” invoking the attribute of Rahimiyyat. What are we seeking protection against? First and foremost, it is against our pride and self-esteem. The Qur’anic position is that the ego is a barrier which prevents the communion between God and His servant. Once the ego is removed from the heart of individuals, they can perceive the Divine reality that pervades the universe. The primary aim of Surah Fatihah in inculcating the attributes of Rahman and Rahim is to make us humble and to eliminate our egos so that we may experience Divine reality.
This is the purpose of our existence.
Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) states:
“Whoso makes himself lowly before Allah in Prayer will find that God makes kings humble before that person and makes such a slave, a master. Therefore, while the attributes of Rabb and Rahman make a person feel that there could be a God when we pray to Allah, we are blessed with the attribute of Rahim, in that Allah blesses our prayers and our endeavors” (10).
As the stars appear stage by stage, similarly God’s attributes appear to us stage by stage. Man is sometimes under the shadow of the Divine attributes of Glory and Self- Sufficiency, and sometimes he is under the shadow of His attributes of Beauty. That is indicated in the Holy Qur’an: “Every day He reveals Himself in a new state” (11).
Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) explains that in Surah Al-Fatihah, Allah the Supreme, is saying:
“O My servants, regard yourselves as corpses and seek strength from Allah. Let not a youth take pride in his vigor, nor an old one rely on his staff, nor a wise one feel elated with his intelligence nor a scholar trust in the accuracy of his knowledge, nor let a recipient of Divine revelation depend for support on his inspiration and revelation and the fervor of his prayers. Allah does what He pleases, rejects whom He pleases and admits among His chosen ones whom He pleases” (12).
When the moon faces the sun, it receives light from the sun, but when it starts moving away it grows darker and darker. The same is true of man. So long as he is prostrate at His portal, believing himself to be utterly dependent on his Creator, then Allah raises him up and bestows His grace on him. But when the man begins to rely on his own strength, he is humiliated (13). That is why, in the Holy Qur’an, we are commanded to “Keep company with the righteous” (14).
Rahman and Rahim Remind Us That We Are One Community of Believers
After the attributes of Rahman and Rahim are mentioned in the first half of Surah Al-Fatihah, the believer does not then recite, “I beg the help of Thee.” This would imply only self-preference which is inconsistent with righteousness. Instead the next two verses are, “Thee alone do we worship, and Thee alone do we implore for Help.” Why is the believer taught to pray in the first-person plural and not in the singular?
It is because a righteous person includes all humankind in his prayer. In this Surah, Allah, the Supreme, has instructed the use of the first-person plural, conveying that this prayer is for the benefit of all of one’s fellow brothers and sisters, and not only for the benefit of the person praying. Thus Allah urges the Muslims towards mutual accord, unity and love and requires that a supplicant should put himself to hardship for the promotion of his brother’s welfare as he would put himself to hardship for the promotion of his well-being and should concern himself with and strive to meet his brother’s needs just as he is concerned with and strives to meet his own needs. It is as if Allah, the Sublime, is commanding: O My servants, give one another gift of prayer as brothers and friends exchange gifts, and widen the scope of your prayers and your motives and your aims, making room in them for your brethren and become like brothers.
The End Goal of Islam
When we were children, we enjoyed watching cartoons and eating candy. But when we became teenagers, our preferences changed, and as we matured further into adults, our tastes continued to develop. Spiritual growth is similar. When the love of Allah is instilled in one’s heart, the entire world begins to appear as if it were a childish playground, and we continue to evolve until God’s Beauty becomes our primary joy.
It is through an unending growth in our understanding of Allah’s attributes, beginning with His attributes of Rahman and Rahim, that we start to experience Allah’s Divine Beauty. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) states:
“When a person experiences those Divine attributes which constitute Allah’s Supreme Beauty, his faith is strengthened beyond measure, and he is drawn towards God as iron is drawn towards a magnet. His love for God increases manifold, and his trust in God becomes very strong. Having experienced that, all his good is in God, his hopes in God are strengthened…his supplications proceed from the fountain of power and certainty, and his resolve becomes extremely firm and unshakable. In the end, having observed Divine favors and bounties, the light of certainty enters with great force into him, and his ego is altogether consumed. On account of the frequent contemplation of the Greatness and Power of God, his heart becomes the House of God” (15).
“The Holy Spirit surges inside him all the time, and he speaks under the instruction of this very Spirit. Verities and insights flow out of him, and the tent of the Lord of Honor and Majesty is ever set in his heart. The delight of certainty, sincerity, and love flows through him like water, whereby every limb of his is nourished. His eyes exhibit the brightness of nourishment, and his forehead reveals it. His countenance appears as if it had been washed by the rain of Divine love and his tongue partakes fully of this freshness. All his limbs exhibit a brightness, as after a spring shower an attractive freshness is revealed in the branches, leaves, flowers and the fruits of trees” (16).
This article appears in the Fall 2019 issue.
1. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Commentary on the Holy Qur’an, Volume 1, Surah Fatihah, 237
2. The Holy Qur’an ( 1: 1)
3. The Holy Qur’an ( 55: 2-3)
4. The Holy Qur’an ( 33:44)
5. The Holy Qur’an (7:, 57)
6. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Commentary on the Holy Qur’an, Volume 1, Surah Fatihah, Pg. 159
7. The Holy Qur’an (24:56)
8. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Commentary on the Holy Qur’an, Volume 1, Surah Fatihah, pg. 202
9. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Allah the Exalted, pg. 27-37
10. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Allah the Exalted, pg.
11. The Holy Qur’an, (55:30)
12. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Commentary on the Holy Qur’an, Volume 1, Surah Fatihah, pg. 192
13. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Commentary on the Holy Qur’an, Volume 1, Surah Fatihah, pg. 210
14. The Holy Qur’an (9:119)
15. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Allah the Exalted, pg. 55
16. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Allah the Exalted, pg. 56
Last modified: April 2020