ar-Raḥmān & ar-Raḥīm: A Brief Study

ar-Raḥmān (الرحمن) & ar-Raḥīm (الرحيم) are two blessed Names of Allāh ﷻ from His ninety-nine. Every Sūrah in al-Qurʾān begins with these two blessed Names except for Sūrah at-Tawbah, & it was from the Sunnah of The Prophet ﷺ to begin his letters with these two blessed Names.

Generally translated as meaning “The Most Merciful” & “The Most Gracious”, there are actually much more vital points that could be extracted from these Names, which is to follow ʾIn shāʾ Allāh.

فصل
AR-RAḤMĀN IS GENERAL & AR-RAḤĪM IS SPECIFIC:

Shaykh Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-‘Uthaymīn رحمه الله (d. 1421 AH/2001 CE) said: “ar-Raḥmān is a name from the Names which are exclusive to Allāh alone and are not used in reference to anyone else. The meaning of this name is The One Who possesses infinite mercy.

ar-Raḥīm is a name which refers to Allāh The Mighty and Majestic but may also be used to refer to other than Him. The meaning of this name (in regards to Allāh) is The One Who bestows His Mercy upon others.

So, ar-Raḥmān is The One Who possesses infinite mercy while ar-Raḥīm is The One Who bestows His mercy upon others.” [1]

Shaykh Ṣāliḥ al-Fawzān حفظه الله said: “ar-Raḥmān means the Possessor of General mercy for all of His creatures, while ar-Raḥīm means the Possessor of Special Mercy for the believers according to His saying, The Exalted:

هُوَ ٱلَّذِي يُصَلِّي عَلَيۡكُمۡ وَمَلَٰٓئِكَتُهُۥ لِيُخۡرِجَكُم مِّنَ ٱلظُّلُمَٰتِ إِلَى ٱلنُّورِۚ وَكَانَ بِٱلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ رَحِيمٗا
It is He who confers blessing upon you, and His angels [ask Him to do so] that He may bring you out from darknesses into the light. And ever is He, to the believers, Merciful.
– Sūrah al-Aḥzāb, ʾĀyah 43

[End quote.]” [2]

Shaykh ʿAbd al-Muḥsin al-ʿAbbād al-Badr حفظه الله said: “The name ar-Raḥmān is a Name which is not applied to anyone other than Allāh, while the name ar-Raḥīm appears in al-Qurʾān applied to Allāh and other than Allāh as well. Allāh said concerning His Prophet Muḥammad :

لَقَدۡ جَآءَكُمۡ رَسُولٞ مِّنۡ أَنفُسِكُمۡ عَزِيزٌ عَلَيۡهِ مَا عَنِتُّمۡ حَرِيصٌ عَلَيۡكُم بِٱلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ رَءُوفٞ رَّحِيمٞ 
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.
– Sūrah at-Tawbah,ʾĀyah 128

[End quote.]” [3]

فصل
ONE IS THE ATTRIBUTE & THE OTHER IS THE ACTION:

ibn Qayyim al-Jawzīyyah رحمه الله (d. 751 AH/1350 CE) said: “ar-Raḥmān points to the Attribute that He possesses, Glorius is He, and ar-Raḥīm points to it’s connection with those shown mercy just as He The Exalted said:

وَكَانَ بِٱلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ رَحِيمٗا
And ever is He, to the believers, Merciful.
Sūrah al-Aḥzāb, ʾĀyah 43

It is never mentioned of Him that ‘He is ar-Rahman to them.’ So, the first Attribute (ar-Raḥmān) describes the Attribute itself, while the second (ar-Raḥīm) concerns the action. The first shows that Mercy is among His Attributes while the second proves that He shows His mercy to His creatures.” [4]

In summary:

  • ar-Raḥmān (الرحمن) is used solely for Allāh alone & it is one of His Attributes entailing infinite & general mercy towards all of His creation.
  • ar-Raḥīm (الرحيم) can be used for others when dropping the ال (al-) & it is Allāh’s action of bestowing His mercy specifically towards the believers.

May Allāh make us from those He Has mercy upon in this life & the next.

All praise is due to Allāh, may His peace & blessings be upon our final Prophet Muḥammad, his family, his companions, & all those who follow him in guidance.

Sources:
[1] Sharḥ Kashf ash-Shubuhāt (شرح كشف الشبهات) by Shaykh Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-‘Uthaymīn | Page 72

[2] Sharḥ al-ʿAqīdah al-Wāsiṭīyyah (شرح العقيدة الواسطية) by Shaykh Ṣāliḥ al-Fawzān | Page 9
[3] Tafsīr ʾĀyāt min al-Kitāb al-ʿAzīz (تفسير آيات من الكتاب العزيز) by Shaykh ʿAbd al-Muḥsin al-ʿAbbād al-Badr | Sūrah 1, ʾĀyah 3
[4] Badā‘i al-Fawā’id (بدائع الفوائد) by ibn Qayyim al-Jawzīyyah | 1/24

Ṣafīullāh Labīb ibn Salīm ʿAbd al-Malik
27th of Ṣafar 1444 – 23rd of September 2022

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