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Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said that when Allah completed the creation, He wrote in His book that His Mercy prevails over His Wrath. Abu Hurairah reported this, and both Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim collected this Hadith. Therefore, there is no doubt about its authenticity.
The topic of Allah’s mercy is something essential for Muslims to understand. Indeed, all humans need to understand. It’s easy for us into perspective if we look at another Hadith from Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim. The Prophet (PBUH) reported that Allah divided mercy into 100 parts. Of those, He kept 99 and sent down 1 part for all of mankind.
Hence, the acts of mercy and compassion that we see around us every day are, altogether, just one part of what is in existence. In another similar Hadith, the Prophet (PBUH) said that He divided the one piece among all humanity, jinn, animals, etc. Therefore, we can see the scale of Allah’s mercy is well beyond our imagination.
Allah’s names relating to His Mercy
Most Muslims recite bismillah ir Rahmaan ir Raheem multiple times every day. Rahmaan and Raheem are Allah’s names, meaning that He is the Most Gracious and Most Merciful. They are probably the most well-known names of Allah, after the word “Allah.”
One of the Surahs of the Quran that people admire the most is Surah Rahmaan. This Surah moves the hearts – of even those people who may not understand what it means. The Surah outlines Allah’s immense Mercy and His favors upon humanity.
The Prophet (PBUH) said that the best names for a Muslim boy are Abdullah and Abdur Rahmaan. Both mean slave of Allah, though the latter means slave of the Most Gracious, Allah. These names are among the most well-known in the world nowadays. Hence, Muslims are always aware of Allah’s immense Mercy.
Repentance and forgiveness
Allah created humans with freedom of will. Then, He sent down various prophets, and ultimately the Quran, to guide us. It is up to us to ensure that we try to listen to Him and do what He says while staying away from what He forbids.
However, humans fall into sin all the time. Even the Prophet (PBUH) said that he repents and asks Allah for forgiveness at least 100 times a day. And he was the best of creation! Just imagine the rest of humanity.
Allah doesn’t condemn people forever for sinning. Instead, He asks us to ask Him for forgiveness. Then, He can have mercy upon us and forgive us. Repentance and astaghfar are among essential everyday actions for Muslims.
Allah said that all sons of Adam sin. He said that despite that, the best of them were the ones who repented. We have the option to be like Adam (AS), who repented for his mistakes, after which Allah had mercy on him and forgave him. Alternatively, we can be like the accursed Satan, who was arrogant and refused to accept his faults.
The mercy of Muhammad (PBUH)
Allah says in the Quran in Surah al-Anbiya that He didn’t send Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) except as a mercy to the worlds. Allah didn’t limit the expression to ‘a mercy for mankind,’ but He kept it broader.
The basis of Islam is, therefore, mercy. And Allah sent the Prophet (PBUH) as a source of mercy for all creatures. Allah also says in Surah Taubah that when Muhammad (PBUH)’s people get hurt or are in difficulty, he is grieved and anxious. He also said that he is the most kind to the believers.
One of the things that the Prophet (PBUH) and Islam brought to an end was the tradition from Jahiliyyah, where people buried their babies alive if they were girls. He strictly forbade such horrible actions among the Muslims.
The Prophet (PBUH) displayed mercy for humankind on many occasions. When he was once leading the prayer, he prostrated during Sajdah and remaining in the position for a long time. When the companions later asked him why that was, he said that his grandsons al-Hasan and al-Husain were on his back, and he didn’t want to upset or hurt them.
On one occasion, a man revealed that he had many children but hadn’t ever kissed them, and the Prophet (PBUH) expressed displeasure. He said that a person who doesn’t have mercy for others would be shown no mercy in return.
The Prophet (PBUH) also showed immense mercy toward animals. He once stated that a woman was sent to hell because she had imprisoned her cat and let it die. On another occasion, he narrated a story where a sinner gave water to a dog in a desert, gaining Allah’s forgiveness and paradise.
The mercy of Muhammad (PBUH)’s companions
We can see examples of this mercy in the companions of the Prophet (PBUH) as well. Allah says in the Quran in Surah al-Fath that the believers are firm against their opponents but compassionate toward each other. The companions of the Prophet (PBUH) were mostly people from an ordinary background who went on to serve Islam with bravery and distinction.
We have the example of Abu Bakr (RA), who spent all his wealth in the way of Islam, freeing slaves from their masters. Everyone knows the example of Bilal and his cruel master Umayyah. After intense torture, it was Abu Bakr who gave money to the evil man and freed him.
Mercy during a battle in Islam
Even during harsh times, such as when one is engaged in battle, Allah and His Prophet (PBUH) laid out clear laws. Muslims didn’t have the permission to hurt innocent people. Muhammad (PBUH) told his companions not to hurt the women, children, elderly, etc. He didn’t allow them to destroy property and fields during war.
This is in stark contrast to the lack of mercy we see in the modern world where countries freely target large populations. Thousands, possibly millions, have died in recent times due to being ‘collateral damage.’ The killing of innocent people is seen as something unavoidable during war.
Allah gave permission in Surah Tawbah for Muslims to provide refuge to the enemies if they seek it. After that, He said that they should not face any harm. It’s only active combatants in a fight or a commander or leader that the Muslims can fight in battle.
The Muslims even treated captives with mercy. When they ate food, the Muslims would give them the bread they had, which was the superior food, while they themselves ate dates. The Prophet (PBUH) often freed captives if they paid their ransom or offered a service, such as teaching an illiterate child.
Lastly, we have the Conquest of Makkah. When the Prophet (PBUH) arrived in Makkah, he asked the people how they expected him to treat them. They said that he is a noble brother, and they expect nothing but goodness from him. In reply, he said that he’d say the same thing that Yusuf (AS) said to his brothers. That is, he forgave them and said Allah would forgive them too. Many of the disbelievers converted to Islam after this act of mercy.
The importance of being between the state of hope and fear
The Prophet (PBUH) mentioned that he commits himself to Allah out of hope and fear. Allah also mentions the concept of hope and fear in the Quran in Surah as-Sajda and Surah al-Anbiya.
Allah’s mercy and wrath must play a part in our everyday lives. We have to live life in a way that we are aware of both. Being aware of one less than the other is a recipe for disaster and failure.
If we are aware of Allah’s mercy, we will always know that we can repent for our sins. We know that we have hope of gaining forgiveness despite all that we have done. We don’t become hopeless in any situation.
Even when we face the toughest of tests, then we must have hope. We should know that Allah is the Most Merciful, and He will reward us. The key for us in such situations is to be positive and hopeful.
On the other hand, we must also be aware of His anger and fear him. In the good times, we tend to forget about Allah and become carefree. Instead, we must always be wary, knowing that Allah can take away everything in the blink of an eye.
This ensures that we maintain a delicate balance between the two states. We are aware of Allah’s mercy, so we don’t lose hope in tough times, and we repent. Simultaneously, we are aware of His wrath. Hence, we don’t lose control of ourselves even at the best of times, and we remain grounded and realistic.