Mercy in Judaism, Christianity and Islam

Mercy in Islam

Islam is the religion of mercy. The most conclusive evidence for that is the derivation of two of God’s Most Beautiful Names from mercy. In Islam, God is Rahman and Rahim (“Entirely Merciful” and “Especially Merciful” in English) in reference to God’s infinite mercy towards His creatures.

Al-Rahman Al-Rahim” is also one of Al-Sab` Al-Mathani (“the Seven Repetitive Verses” in English) without which the prayer of a Muslim cannot be valid. Each Muslim must read “Al-Rahman Al-Rahim” in each of the units of the five obligatory daily prayers. That is to say, a Muslim must read “Al-Rahman Al-Rahim” at least seventeen times every day and night. This indicates how often a Muslim must conjure up the value of mercy from time to time.

In the opening chapter of the Qur’an, Surat Al-Fatihah, we read the following verses:

[All] praise is [due] to Allah, Lord of the worlds – The Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful (Al-Fatihah 1:2-3)

God’s infinite mercy in Islam has no match in other religions. For example, we notice that, in the Bible, especially the Old Testament, when Adam disobeyed his Lord, God did not forgive him, rather He threatened him and cursed the earth because of him.

In the Bible, we read: “To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:17-19)

Also, in the New Testament, we observe that the Bible based on Adam’s obedience an unforgivable sin. The Bible made salvation from such a sin through a demigod given the impossibility of the forgiveness of such a sin. Thus, this being had to be killed so that he would redeem mankind from this sin. Then, God could accept the repentance of His sinful creation.

In the New Testament, we read the following verses:

“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict” (John 3:14-19)

However, in Islam, we notice that Adam did not need to do anything after disobedience but to show sincere repentance. When he turned to God in sincere repentance, God accepted his repentance and showed infinite mercy to him. In the Qur’an, we read:

Then Adam received from his Lord [some] words, and He accepted his repentance. Indeed, it is He who is the Accepting of repentance, the Merciful. (Al-Baqarah 2:37)

Indeed, God’s mercy was quite far away from the previous communities. For example, the Children of Israel had sometimes to kill themselves so that they could qualify for God’s mercy. About that, God says:

And [recall] when Moses said to his people, “O my people, indeed you have wronged yourselves by your taking of the calf [for worship]. So repent to your Creator and kill yourselves. That is best for [all of] you in the sight of your Creator.” Then He accepted your repentance; indeed, He is the Accepting of repentance, the Merciful. (Al-Baqarah 2:54)

On the contrary, in Islam, God’s mercy is quite near to Muslims. If a Muslim disobeys his Lord and then invokes his lord in fear and aspiration, he will have the mercy and pleasure of God. In the Qur’an, we read:

And cause not corruption upon the earth after its reformation. And invoke Him in fear and aspiration. Indeed, the mercy of Allah is near to the doers of good. (Al-A`raf 7:56)

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Allah has divided mercy into one hundred parts; and He retained with Him ninety-nine parts, and sent down to earth one part. Through this one part creatures deal with one another with compassion, so much so that an animal lifts its hoof over its young lest it should hurt it.” (Al-Bukhari)

Whenever a Muslim cannot do something commanded, God will show mercy to him and accept from him what he can afford. In the Qur’an, we read:

There is not upon the weak or upon the ill or upon those who do not find anything to spend any discomfort when they are sincere to Allah and His Messenger. There is not upon the doers of good any cause [for blame]. And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.(At-Tawbah 9:91)

We even notice that if a Muslim has to commit a certain sin unintentionally, God shows him mercy, forgives him and accepts his repentance. In the Qur’an, God says:

But whoever is forced [by necessity], neither desiring [it] nor transgressing [its limit], there is no sin upon him. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.(Al-Baqarah 2:173)

Prophet Muhammad himself was mercy from God to the believers. In the Qur’an, we read:

And among them are those who abuse the Prophet and say, “He is an ear.” Say, “[It is] an ear of goodness for you that believes in Allah and believes the believers and [is] a mercy to those who believe among you.” And those who abuse the Messenger of Allah – for them is a painful punishment. (At-Tawbah 9:61)

The Qur’an points out that Prophet Muhammad was very merciful and compassionate towards the believers. We read:

There has certainly come to you a Messenger from among yourselves. Grievous to him is what you suffer; [he is] concerned over you and to the believers is kind and merciful. (At-Tawbah 9:128)

Moreover, the Qur’an makes it clear that if Prophet Muhammad had been rude or harsh, people would have certainly turned away from him. So Prophet Muhammad was so lenient and clement towards people. He himself was commanded to forgive and pardon people and even seek God’s forgiveness for them. In the Qur’an, we read:

So by mercy from Allah, [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah. Indeed, Allah loves those who rely [upon Him]. (Aal `Imran 3:159)

Actually, Muslims are commanded to follow in the footsteps of Prophet Muhammad. A Muslim must show mercy, leniency, pardon, and forgiveness and avoid rudeness, harshness and alienation.

Prophet Muhammad said: “Indeed, God shows mercy to the merciful out of His servants.” (Al-Bukhari)

Prophet Muhammad also said: “He who does not show mercy will not be shown mercy.” (Agreed-on hadith)

He also said: “God does not show mercy to he who does not show mercy to people.” (Agreed-on hadith)

He further said: ““Those who are merciful will be shown mercy by the Merciful. Be merciful to those on the earth and the One above the heavens will have mercy upon you. The womb is derived from the Merciful, so whoever keeps relations with his family then Allah will keep relations with him, and whoever abandons his family then Allah will abandon him.” (Al-Tirmidhi)

The Holy Scriptures which God sent down to His servants from Adam to Muhammad are mercy to them. About the Torah sent down to Moses, God says in the Qur’an:

Then We gave Moses the Scripture, making complete [Our favor] upon the one who did good and as a detailed explanation of all things and as guidance and mercy that perhaps in [the matter of] the meeting with their Lord they would believe. (Al-An`am 6:154)

He also says:

And when the anger subsided in Moses, he took up the tablets; and in their inscription was guidance and mercy for those who are fearful of their Lord. (Al-A`raf 7:154)

The Qur’an itself is also mercy. About the Qur’an, God says:

And We had certainly brought them a Book which We detailed by knowledge – as guidance and mercy to a people who believe. (Al-A`raf 7:52)

About the Qur’an, God also says:

O mankind, there has to come to you instruction from your Lord and healing for what is in the breasts and guidance and mercy for the believers. Say, “In the bounty of Allah and in His mercy – in that let them rejoice; it is better than what they accumulate.” (Yunus 10:57-58)

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