The Concept of Mercy in Islam

Islam teaches us to be merciful to the entire creation, to Muslims and non-Muslims, to friends and enemies and even to the animals. Mercy in Islam has a very wide meaning that includes kindness, compassion, love, tolerance, patience with people, and to treat others the way we would love to be treated. This Islamic value is at the core of the prophetic message and meaning of faith, just as it was in all of the revealed religions before Islam.  Allah says:

ثُمَّ كَانَ مِنَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالصَّبْرِ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالْمَرْحَمَةِ

“Then he was among those who had faith and advised one another to patience and advised one another to mercy.” (Surah al-Balad 90:17)

Allah intends for the mercy of Islam to touch every person on earth. The creation of human beings and all their faculties is great mercy in itself. God Almighty is full of love and kindness to His creation. All blessings and goodness in this world and the next are clear proofs of His Mercy. Indeed, Islam teaches that God is more merciful toward us than our own mothers. Allah says:

وَيقُولُونَ سُبْحَانَ رَبِّنَا أِنْ کَانَ وَعْدُ رَبِّنَا لَمَفعُولاً * وَيخِرّوُنَ لِلأَذقَانِ يبْکُونَ وَيَزِيدُهُمْ خُشُوعاً 

“Surely, those who were given knowledge before it, when it is read unto them, fall down and prostrate on their faces in reverence, saying: ‘Glory to our Lord! Verily, the promise of our Lord must be fulfilled. They fall down on their faces, weeping, and it increases humility in them.” (Surah Bani Isra’il 17:107-109)

“Mercy for Mankind” represents the love of God for all people alike, deserving and undeserving, the righteous and the wicked, the pious and the sinful, the moral and the depraved, the saintly and the dissolute. Every Muslim needs to strive to be an agent of mercy on earth for all human beings and creatures.

Merciful people show compassion, sympathize, and are patient, kind, and tender-hearted:
  1. Mercy deeds our fellowmen with various temporal goods
  2. Mercy speaks about the sentence at the last judgment
  3. Mercy scepter shows the force of temporal power
  4. Mercy practice in  the Holy Scripture assures
  5. Mercy regaining our lost graces of sanctity
  6. Mercy both temporal and eternal goods
  7. Mercy also brings an immortal reward
  8. Mercy is an attribute to God himself
  9. Mercy develops seasons of justice
  10. Mercy is the attribute and majesty
  11. Mercy cleanses us from our sins
  12. Mercy is above the sceptered sway
  13. Mercy is the dread and fear of kings
  14. Mercy obtains for us graces and light
  15. Mercy becomes better than his crown
  16. Mercy is the mightiest in the mightiest
  17. Mercy always saves our soul from evils
  18. Mercy is enthronèd in the hearts of kings
  19. Mercy droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
  20. Mercy treasure to lay up than any store of gold
  21. Mercy is in need of the special grace of forgiveness
  22. God mercy is so complete that He forgives us on our sins

From the beginning of creation, the man was not left to face the struggles of life alone. Due to God’s Mercy, the man received revelation through Prophets, who conveyed and taught it to their people to guide and protect them. The most perfect and merciful of revelations was the Qur’an and the last of the prophets was Muhammad (peace be upon him). Allah says:

“It is He Who has sent down the Book (the Qur’an) to you (Muhammad) with truth, confirming what came before it. And He sent down the Torah and the Injeel (the original revelations revealed to Prophets Moses and Jesus respectively).” (Quran 3:3)

Forgiveness of sins is another example of Allah’s Mercy, as Allah knows we are imperfect and commit mistakes. The fact that believers commit sins does not mean that we should lose hope of Allah’s Mercy or that we have exhausted Allah’s Forgiveness. Allah says:

Allah, the Exalted, says in the Holy Qur’an,

  • “And My Mercy encompasses everything.” (Quran 7:156)
  • “Obey Allah and the Messenger that you may obtain mercy.” (Quran 3:132)
  • “Surely Allah is Most Gentle, Ever Compassionate to people.” (Quran 22:65)
  • “And We have not sent you (O Muhammad) except as a mercy to the worlds.” (Quran 21:107)
  • “Therefore, treat not the orphan with oppression. And do not repel the beggar.” (Quran 93: 9-10)
  • “And they carry your heavy loads to lands that ye could not (otherwise) reach except with souls distressed: for your, Lord is indeed Most Kind, Most Merciful.” (Surah An-Nahl, 7)
  • “Our Lord! Make not our hearts to deviate after You have guided us aright, and grant us mercy from Yourself; surely You are the Bestower.” (Quran 3:8)
  • “And this is a blessed Book We have revealed; therefore follow it and protect yourself (against evil), that mercy may be shown to you.” (Quran 6:155)
  • “Keep up prayer and pay the compulsory charity (to the needy) and obey the Messenger, so that mercy may be shown to you.” (Quran 24:56)
  • “Or that He may not call them to account by a process of slow wastage – for thy Lord is indeed full of kindness and mercy.” (Surah An-Nahl, 47)
  • “This day let no reproach be (cast) on you: Allah will forgive you, and He is the Most Merciful of those who show mercy!” (Surah Yusuf, 92)
  • “And we have not sent you, [O Muhammad] except as a mercy for the entire humanity.” (Al Anbiya: 107)

Islam is a religion of mercy and peace. The people who receive more of Allah’s Mercy are those who have acknowledged His blessings and favors; used them in a way which pleases God; spent their God-given wealth in charity and to look after the needy; employed their hands to care for orphans; utilized their gift of speech to speak good, and performed other honorable acts ordained by God.

جَعَلَ اللَّهُ الرَّحْمَةَ مِائَةَ جُزْءٍ فَأَمْسَكَ عِنْدَهُ تِسْعَةً وَتِسْعِينَ جُزْءًا وَأَنْزَلَ فِي الْأَرْضِ جُزْءًا وَاحِدًا فَمِنْ ذَلِكَ الْجُزْءِ يَتَرَاحَمُ الْخَلْقُ حَتَّى تَرْفَعَ الْفَرَسُ حَافِرَهَا عَنْ وَلَدِهَا خَشْيَةَ أَنْ تُصِيبَهُ

“Allah has made mercy into one hundred parts. He kept with Himself ninety-nine parts and sent down one part to the earth, so because of the creation is merciful such that a horse raises its hoof over its child for fear of hurting it.”  (Sahih Bukhari 5570)

Creation itself is an expression of divine favor, mercy, and love. God invites us to observe the effects of His mercy around us. God loves compassion. Muslims view Islam to be a religion of mercy. To them, their Prophet is God’s gift of mercy to all humanity. Muslims are encouraged to have a hope of reward for good deeds while being concerned about sins they may perform. When they commit sins, they repent sincerely and are hopeful of being forgiven. Allah says:

وَإِذَا جَاءَكَ الَّذِينَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِآيَاتِنَا فَقُلْ سَلَامٌ عَلَيْكُمْ ۖ كَتَبَ رَبُّكُمْ عَلَىٰ نَفْسِهِ الرَّحْمَةَ

“When those come to you who believe in Our verses, say: Peace be upon you. Your Lord has decreed mercy upon Himself.” (Surah Al-An’am 6:54)

Islamic value is at the core of the prophetic message and meaning of faith, just as it was in all of the revealed religions before Islam. Every Muslim needs to strive to be an agent of mercy on earth for all human beings and creatures. A Muslim is to think better of Allah. No denying the fact that Allah is Mighty, Just and Wrathful, however, at the same time He is Merciful and forgiving.

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