The name of Allah: AR-RAHMAAN & AR-RAHEEM



These are two descriptions of Allah, and two of the Names from amongst His Beautiful Names and are derived nouns and both come the same verb رحم

Both have been mentioned in the Quran many times. Interestingly RAHMAAN has been mentioned 57 times and RAHEEM 114 times [114 is double of 57], we will appreciate the difference in number when we come to know the difference in meaning between RAHMAAN and RAHEEM.

the common translation is the most merciful the most beneficent. I ask you when was the last time you used the word beneficent in a sentence?

The purpose of translation is so you and I can understand what we are reading and a translation should be with words you actually understand, use and can relate to. If you translate with words you cannot relate to then it defeats the purpose of translating.

Both of these words have the same root word RAHMA in there origin.

RAHMAAN, RAHEEM, RAHMA is usually translated as ‘mercy’ but there is a slight problem with this translation (As we shall see). But as long as we understand the concept of what RAHMA is, then inshaaAllah there is no problem in translating it as ‘MERCY’ (so long as we understand the concept).

The word RAHMAAN and RAHEEM comes from the word RAHAM. RAHAM in the Arabic language (does not mean mercy, it) is; the womb of the woman when she is pregnant.

In a HADITH QUDSI it is reported that the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said that Allah said:

 أَنَا الرَّحْمنُ خَلَقْتُ الرَّحِمَ وَشَقَقْتُ لَهَا اسْمًا مِنِ اسْمِي، فَمَنْ وَصَلَهَا وَصَلْتُهُ وَمَنْ قَطَعَها قَطَعْتُهُ

‘I Am Ar-Rahman. I created the RAHAM (womb) and derived a name for it from My Name. Hence, whoever keeps it (family ties), I will keep ties to him, and whoever severs it, I will sever ties with him.’.

Why did Allah take the word RAHAM (womb) and derive from it His name? We can say because a mother’s womb beautifully exemplifies the concept of RAHMA. A mother’s womb is a source of protection, it a place where one grows and develops and is nurtured in an unparalleled way.

The child inside the RAHAM is taken care of, in every single way. There is an interesting relationship between the mother and the child. Does the child know the mother? No. Does the child love the mother? No. But does the mother already love the child? Yes. Is the mother already looking after the child? Yes. In every way the entire world of the child is taken care of by the mother but the child has no idea no clue that he is loved so much, that the mother is willing to do so much for this child and protect it from every danger and harm.

Normally when a person protects themselves they will protect their face or body 1st etc but a mother before she protects herself she will protect her stomach out of concern for the child. She will be extra careful when she walks into a narrow space etc

(And to Allah belongs the Highest similitude) from this understand we can come to begin to understand the concept of RAHMA and it from this word we get RAHMAAN AND RAHEEM.

RAHMA is usually translated as mercy. Mercy however in English is used when you spare someone. Like if it is said, ‘I was going to punish you up but I turned the other cheek’ meaning you was expecting punishment but when I decided not to punish you I was merciful towards you.

A police officer stops you on the motorway for speeding, you expect a speeding ticket but he shows you mercy by not giving you a ticket etc So in the English language when we use the word mercy we are thinking about punishment and then the punishment went away and then we think about mercy. But the word RAHMA has nothing to do with punishment, the thought shouldn’t even cross our mind. It has everything to do with complete care and protection.

InshaaAllah as we have mentioned there is no harm in translating RAHMA as ‘Mercy’ as long as we bear in mind what we have mentioned (1. It is derived from the word the RAHAM womb and 2. It has nothing to do with punishment)

Someone who shows you RAHMA has compassion towards you, someone who wants to be soft and easy with you and make things delicate for you, they understand that you need to be handled with care.

So Allah is Ar-RAHMAAN He is saying He cares for you He understands that you are very delicate and that you must be handled with care and He will take care of every matter that you have. Hes not going to abandon you or leave you.

Notice His name is not AR-RAAHIM (the One who shows mercy) But rather His Nobel Name is AR-RAHMAAN. This in Arabic language RAH’MAAN is on the form of FA’AAL indicating something that is excessive and extremely in that particular action.

Example If you say you are thirsty you are AATISH but if you say عطشان ATSHAAN this means you are dieing of thirst, you couldn’t be any more thirsty.

If you are angry you say you are غاضب GAADIB but if you are full of anger you say your are GAD’BAAN meanings you couldn’t be anymore angrier.

ALLAH is AR-RAH’MAAN His mercy is at its peak, the unlimited form, it is extreme, beyond imagination. He is FULL of RAHMA.

People complain and get depressed and say ‘O Allah doesn’t care about me! Why do I have all these problems? etc’ They utter such ignorant statements because they haven’t thought about Ar-RAHMAAN enough (the meaning). You don’t want have to wait for His RAHMA its all ready here.

قَالَ عَذَابِي أُصِيبُ بِهِ مَنْ أَشَاءُ ۖ وَرَحْمَتِي وَسِعَتْ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ

[ Allah ] said, “My punishment – I afflict with it whom I will, but My mercy encompasses all things.” A’raf:156


There is another type of mercy which is called RA’FA usually translated as compassion and from this word we get the name of Allah, AR-RA’OOF, usually translated, The Most Compassionate. So whats the difference between RAHMA AND RA’FA?

RA’FA; Is an act compassion/mercy/kindness that people can recognize as such. It is associated with [everyone recognizes a person’s compassion because it is usually]  gentleness and kindness without any harm or dislike. Example if I invite you to my house let you sit on my comfy couch put the heating on give you nice food etc I have shown you RA’FA there is no harm/pain or dislike/discomfort that comes with my ‘RAHMA’

RAHMA; has aspects of RA’FA i.e kindness/compassion but it is possible sometimes a person is merciful to someone but the person who is receiving that mercy might not recognize it as mercy.

Example your child is seriously ill so you take your child to the doctor. Your child needs an injection this will momentarily harm your child which will leave your child in discomfort and possible pain. Are you doing this to to punish the child? This momentary harm is very beneficial to the child so your are showing mercy to your child but will your child see it as an act of mercy towards them? So you are showing RAHMA to your child not RA’FA

Another example of this is when a parent disciplines their child. Do parents discipline their child to punish them? Or is it really an act of mercy? It is an act of mercy because they want that child to be an upright individual and thus be nurtured in a correct way.

It could be argued that if the parents where to be constantly showing RA’FA towards their children there would be absolute chaos. The child falls ill but because the child doesn’t want to talk medication the parents don’t give it to them thus the child is harmed even further. The child is misbehaving but because the parents don’t want anything but RA’FA towards the child they say and do nothing thus the child grows up with no manners etc So there is a time and place for RA’FA and there is a time and place for RAHMA.

When you understand this point you understand the confusion of some who say ‘If Islam is a religion of mercy why does it cut the hand of the thief or kill the murderer?’ They are confusing RA’FA with RAHMA i.e it may not be seen as an act of mercy towards the criminal and the society but in fact it is. The criminal is spared the punishment of his act in the Hereafter and a  mercy towards the society as it acts a powerful deterrent to all other would-be theifs.



So if both of these words means RAHMA what is the difference between the two? When  two words are similar to each other in meaning in the Arabic language and they are put next to each other, then the point is to show you that there is a difference (not just to show you that they are similar) So when Allah puts them together its to indicate to you they are different.

We already know what makes them similar (they both come from the word RAHMA) as Al-Qurtubi said, “It was said that both Ar-Rahman and Ar-Rahim have the same meaning. The difference lies in the usage of the word. Allah uses AR-RAHMAAN in some instances and AR-RAHEEM in other.

Ibn Jarir said; As-Surri bin Yahya At-Tamimi narrated to me that `Uthman bin Zufar related that Al-`Azrami said about AR-RAHMAAN and AR-RAHEEM, “He is AR-RAHMAAN with all creation and AR-RAHEEM with the believers.” Hence. Allah’s statements,

ثُمَّ اسْتَوَى عَلَى الْعَرْشِ الرَّحْمَـنُ

Then He rose over (Istawa) the Throne (in a manner that suits His majesty), AR-RAHMAAN (25:59),) …and

الرَّحْمَـنُ عَلَى الْعَرْشِ اسْتَوَى

AR-RAHMAAN  rose over (Istawa) the (Mighty) Throne  (20:5)

Allah thus mentioned the ISTAWA – rising over the Throne – along with His Name AR-RAHMAAN, to as to embrace the whole of His creation with His mercy. Likewise Allah says,

أَوَلَمْ يَرَوْا إِلَى الطَّيْرِ فَوْقَهُمْ صَافَّاتٍ وَيَقْبِضْنَ ۚ مَا يُمْسِكُهُنَّ إِلَّا الرَّحْمَٰنُ ۚ إِنَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ بَصِيرٌ

Do they not see the birds above them, spreading out their wings and folding them in? None upholds them except AR-RAHMAAN (Allah). Verily, He is the All-Seer of everything. [Mulk:19]

meaning from His RAHMA to His creation is His kindness to the birds and His holding them in the sky while they are spreading out their wings and folding them in.

or just read surah Rahman …

Abu `Ali Al-Farisi said, `Ar-Rahman is a name that encompasses every type of mercy that Allah has. Ar-Rahim is what effects the believers, for Allah said,

وَكَانَ بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ رَحِيماً

And He (ALLAH) is ever RAHEEM (merciful) to the believers [AHZAB:43]

Thus encompassing the believers with His Name AR-RAHEEM.

They said, “This testifies to the fact that AR-RAHMAAN carries a broader scope of meanings pertaining to the mercy of Allah with His creation in both lives. Meanwhile, AR-RAHEEM is exclusively for the believers.”

To conclude so it is clear.

AR-RAHMAAN is the One endowed with mercy that extends to all of creation in this world (and to the believers in the hereafter). So He is RAHMAAN ‘merciful’ to the believers and disbelievers, His friends and enemies, birds, fish, plants planets EVERYTHING. The name RAHMAAN is a general to everything. He feeds them, looks after them, guides them to that which will benefit them etc. As for the hereafter He will only be AR-RAHMAAN with the believers only.

AR-RAHEEM on the other hand is the One endowed with mercy that extends only to the believers in this world and the akhirah.

This is a specific mercy only towards the believers and this is a higher level/quality of mercy. This type of RAHMA is where Allah (in the dunya) takes care of the affairs of the believers, internally in terms of looking after the state of their hearts, nurturing their Emaaan and beautifying it for them, giving them Tawfeeq & Guiding them etc and in the Hereafter saving them from much punishment and harm according to His Will and Wisdom etc.

This could possible be why RAHEEM has been mentioned twice as much as RAHMAAN in the Quran because it is of a higher level/quality of mercy and is actually implemented more by Allah then the generic form of mercy. This should melt our hearts knowing that the slave of Allah receives both mercy’s. This should make us want to be the best slaves we can.

[Quick note: Others have said the name Ar-Rahman is a Name pointing to the Attribute of the Essence of Allah (Himself) and Ar-Raheem is a Name pointing to the attribute of Deed. RAHMAAN is the One who possesses mercy and RAHEEM is the one who bestows that mercy. Allah knows best]



We can never truly comprehend the mercy of Allah.

Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah, صلى الله عليه وسلم said, Allah created mercy in one hundred parts and He retained with Him ninety-nine parts, and He has sent down upon the earth one part, and it is because of this one part that there is mutual love among the creation so much so that the animal lifts up its hoof from its young, one, fearing that it might harm it.  [Muslim]

Salman Al-Farisi reported: The Messenger of Allah, صلى الله عليه وسلم , said, “Verily, Allah has (created) one hundred portions of mercy. From one portion the creation has mercy between themselves and ninety-nine portions are reserved for the Day of Resurrection.” Muslim

So imagine how much your mum loves/has mercy for you, from the moment of birth to the moment of death. If we could somehow capture all that love/mercy and place it in a bottle. Then we capture all the love of all the mothers in the world from the beginning of time till the the end and places all that love in that bottle. Then we captured all the mercy showed by every father towards his children from the beginning of time till the end. We capture all the mercy that exists between All the animals and insects from the beginning of time till the end. Then we capture all the mercy that as ever existed between a husband and wife from the beginning of time till the end etc.

We capture ALL the mercy that has ever been shown between any of Allah’s creatures from the the beginning of time till the Last day and we bottled it all in one bottle. This would only represent 1% of the 100 parts of the Mercy that Allah created. The 99 other parts of this created mercy is reserved for the believers on the Day of Judgment.

It was narrated that ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab said: “Some prisoners were brought to the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم and there was a woman among the prisoners who was searching (for her child). When she found her child she embraced him and put him to her breast. The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said to us, ‘Do you think that this woman would throw her child in the fire?’ We said, ‘No, by Allah, not if she is able not to.’ The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, ‘Allah is more merciful to His slaves than this woman is to her child.’”  Al-Bukhaari & Muslim

Explanation coming soon inshaaAllah, though it is self explanatory.

There are so many text from Quran & Sunnah inshaaAllah will update this section in time.



إِنَّ رَحْمَتَ اللَّهِ قَرِيبٌ مِنَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ

Indeed the mercy of Allah is near to the Muhsinoon [A’Raf:56]

وَرَحْمَتِي وَسِعَتْ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ ۚ فَسَأَكْتُبُهَا لِلَّذِينَ يَتَّقُونَ

My mercy encompasses/embarrasses all things.  So I will decree it [especially] for the Muttaqoon [A’raf:156]

The most deserving of this specif mercy is the Muhsinoon and Muttaqoon. The more we actualize the attributes of the Muhsinoon and Muttaqoon within ourselves, the more closer we come to Allah’s mercy in this life and the next. We shall elaborate on this section more in future. But for now contemplate upon these two verses.



The name AR-RAMAAN is one of the names unique to Allah and is not permissible to name any other with it. For this reason Allah says;

قُلِ ادْعُوا اللَّهَ أَوِ ادْعُوا الرَّحْمَٰنَ ۖ أَيًّا مَا تَدْعُوا فَلَهُ الْأَسْمَاءُ الْحُسْنَىٰ

Say, “Call upon Allah or call upon the AR-RAHMAAN. Whichever [name] you call – to Him belong the best names.” . Isra: 110



If you know Allah is AR-RAMAAN & AR-RAHEEM towards you, this should have an impact upon your life. It should make you rethink your relation between Allah and you between the Master and slave.

1. It necessitates our love for Allah.

This is because when someone shows you so much mercy, you can do nothing except love that being. (And to Allah belongs the Highest similitude) Then how more should we love Allah knowing every good we receive from creation, the actual cause of that blessing is because of Him.

2. It instils in a believer a sense of shyness from disobeying His commandments.

Because when someone has showered you with their blessings it becomes very difficult to go against their commands. Imagine two people; 1st person has never given you anything, never shown you any act of generosity and one day he asks you to do something for him. It will be very easy for you to make excuses, perhaps even say no to his request.

The other a close friend of yours, someone who is always there for you and always showers you will gifts and favors etc. If he comes one day and asks you to do something for him, it will be extremely difficult for you not to respond or disobey him. (And to Allah belongs the Highest similitude) So in respect to Allah, when He commands with anything, we feel a sense of shyness/shame. How can we disobey Allah after all that He has given us?

3. It naturally makes a believer want to be more merciful to others.

Allah say

وَلْيَعْفُوا وَلْيَصْفَحُوا ۗ أَلَا تُحِبُّونَ أَنْ يَغْفِرَ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ ۗ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ

“Pardon (people) and overlook (their faults). Do you not wish that Allah should forgive you? And Allah Most Forgiving Most Merciful” (24:22)

Meaning: if you want Allah to show His mercy towards you, show mercy to others.

Jarir Bin Abdullah narrarted that the messenger of Allah عليه السلام said ‘Whoever does not show mercy to mankind, Allah will show no mercy to him [Bukhari] and he عليه السلام said ”Allah is merciful towards His merciful slaves.”

4. A person will strive to know what Allah loves and hates.

Imagine a person who has always been good to you and he comes to your house as a guest. Are you going to cook for him something that he likes or dislikes? And if you don’t know what he likes you’ll ask him ‘What will you like to eat?’ because this is a natural feeling, that when someone is kind towards you, you want to respond by doing something that they will love in return. (And to Allah belongs the Highest similitude) So the believer strives to learn the HALAAL & HARAM. This is how he views the HALAAL & HARAM, not like those who view it as a strict code of law i.e. if I do this act, I’m going hell…’ but rather the believer learns the HALAAL & HARAM so he can know what does Allah love what does He hate.

So when we study for example the fiqh of Salaah, your essentially learning or have this desire to worship Allah in a way that he loves, when you study the HARAAM, your being careful not to fall into what Allah hates.

5. You have these feelings that you can never repay back Allah/ you can never fulfill the rights of Allah.

So the believer is always in a state of regret, no matter how much EBAADAH he performs he always realizes that this act of ebaadah [he is doing] will never amount to the generosity of Allah shown towards him.

Hence when we view the lives of the SALAF, we see they were never people who would feel proud of their acts of EBAADAH rather they would always feel as though they fell short in their EBADAAH, not because of the nature of their EBADAAH but because they realized the greatness of Allah and the amount of mercy He bestowed upon them. They could not match their EBADAAH with the kindness and generosity of Allah. Otherwise their acts of ebaadah were great and plentiful.

6. The servant will never despair from His mercy

The true slave of Allah recognizes that he has done so much sin to the point that the heavens and earth cannot contain them. His sins weight heavier then all the mountains put together, he has oppressed this one harmed that one, this slave feels as tho he is deserving of no mercy or Allah will not forgive him rather Allah says


Say, “O My Slaves who have transgressed against themselves, do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.” Zumar:53


This concludes the section on the Name AR-RAHMAN & ARRAHEEM. There is so much more that can be said that has not been said but إن شاء الله this will suffice for now.

I will go into much more detail in future إن شاء الله but this will suffice for now.

Click HERE to return to the tafseer of verse 2 of Surah Al-Faatiha

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3 Responses to The name of Allah: AR-RAHMAAN & AR-RAHEEM

  1. Pingback: 1:2 Ar-Rahman Ar-Raheem | ContemplateQuran

  2. Nabee says:

    This Ramadan i made a goal to memorize all 99 names of Allah All Mighty. But not just to simply memorize them, but to learn their in depth meanings. I want to be close to my Lord. And this page was absolutely fantastic and so beautifully done. Its written so easily for anyone to understand and its written so clearly, with much love and compassion. Jazakallah for sharing. I hope to read more from this author, In Sha Allah. May Allah guide us all to see him in Janaatul Firdousi. Ameen. Salaam.

    • jazaakallah khiran. Appreciate the comment. This post is not complete as this topic as you can imagine it is a deep topic. But inshaaAllah in due time.

      May Allah aid me and you


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