MERCY. Arabic Rahmah The attribute of mercy is specially mentioned in the Qur’an as one which characterizes the Divine Being; each chapter of that book (with the exception of the ixth), beginning with the superscription, Bishmillahi ‘r-Rahmani ‘r-Rahim, “In the name of God the Merciful, the Compassionate.” In the Tafsir-i-Raufi it is said that ar-Rahman is only applicable to God, whilst ar-Rahim may be applied to the creature as well as to God; but the Jalalan say the two terms are synonymous, and on this account they are used together. Al-Baizawi remarks that the attribute as mercy expresses “softness of heart” (riqqatu ‘l-qalb), and “a turning with kindness and favour towards a person,” and in this way it expresses God’s sympathy with mankind, although the terms are not strictly applicable to an unchangeable Being. In the Qur’an. Job is described as speaking of God as “the most merciful of merciful ones.” (Surah xxi. 83). And the angels who bear the throne, and those around it who celebrate God’s praises, cry out “Our Lord! thou dost embrace all things in mercy and knowledge!” (Surah xl. 7.) The “Treasuries of the mercies of the Lord,” are often referred to in the Qur’an (e.g. Surahs xvii. 102; xviii. 81). The word Rahmah, “a mercy,” is a term used for a divine book; it is frequently applied to the Qur’an, which is called “a mercy and a guidance” (Surahs x. 58; xvii. 84), and also to the books of Moses (Surahs xi. 20; xli. 111). In one place it is used f or Paradise, “They are in God’s mercy” (Surah iii. 108). The bounty of God’s mercy is the constant theme both of the Qur’an and the traditions; e.g. Surah vii. 155: “My mercy embraceth everything.” To despair of God’s mercy is a cardinal sin. Surah xxxix. 54: “Be not in despair of The mercy of God; verily, God forgives sins, all of them.” Surah xv. 56: “Only those who err despair of the mercy of their Lord.”
In the Traditions, Muhammad is related to have said: ‘ When God created the world He wrote a book, which is with him on the exalted throne, and therein is written, Verily my mercy overcomes my anger. And again, Verily, God has one hundred mercies: one mercy hath he sent down to men and genii, but He hath reserved ninety-nine mercies, by which He will be gracious to His people. (Mishkat, book a. ch. 4.)
The LVth Surah of the Qur’an is entitled the Suratu ‘r- Rahman, or the “Chapter of the Merciful,” in which are set forth the “bounties of the Lord.” It is a chapter which is sadly marred by its concluding description of the sensual enjoyments of Muhammad’s paradise.
The Christians are spoken of in the Qur’an, Surah lvii 27, as those in whose hearts God “placed mercy (rahmah) and compassion ra’fah)
Based on Hughes, Dictionary of Islam