Fatihah | 2

الرحمن الرحيم

The Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful. (Saheeh International)

I will simply render this as :

The Rahman, The Raheem

Both the words Rahman and Raheem come from the same root Rahm/ ر ح م.

Root Meaning:

The womb of the mother was called Rahm. (Mu'jam Al Isthtiqaaqi,Raghib,Lisan al Arab,Muhit)

This root was also used for a water skin which had developed pores in it overtime due to excessive usage and  from which water escaped. (Mu'jam Al Ishtiqaaqi)

The root meaning is for something hard to become soft due to which it becomes flexible and expands. Just like the belly of the mother, for it expands for the fetus and like the water skin which got soft overtime so much so that pores formed in it. (Mu'jam Al Ishtiqaaqi)

From this root comes the word Rahmah, commonly translated as mercy. Rahmah, based on what is mentioned above, means softening of the heart. It is as if the heart softens, allowing it to expand and someone finds a place inside it, which leads to feelings of love and care. (Mu'jam Al Ishtiqaaqi, Lisan al Arab, Raghib)

It is also said that Rahmah refers to the action of providing good in abundance and averting harm. Or it may also refer to the intention of providing good and averting harm both. It  also means to forgive the one who deserves punishment.(Muhit al Muhit)

Raazi, the famous exegete said that Rahmah is a gift given in due amount to get rid of any inner or outer shortcoming in a person. (Muhit al Muhit)

Rahmah means kindness, compassion and care which fulfills the needs and wants of the other and prevents harm from reaching him.

Before getting into the words Rahman and Raheem, it is important  to mention the most common and accepted opinion regarding these two words which is:

Allah is the Rahman of this life and Raheem of the hereafter.

(Raghib, Lisaan Al Arab)


The word Rahman has been translated as The Entirely Merciful by Saheeh International.

This word Rahman occurs on a specific pattern. In Arabic, we can use a root and add different letters in it to create different meanings in it. Rahman occurs on the Fa'laan pattern, which is formed by adding the letters ALIF and NOON after the three root letters.

This pattern is used for a quality which is

  • Active and operating in the present in such a way that it is apparent.
  • In extreme and abundant amounts
  • Is temporal and hence not permanent

From this pattern we get the words :

  • غضبان - Someone who is extremely angry such that his anger is shown by his actions such as frowning or facial expressions etc.
  • غليان - To boil.
  • خفقان - Accelerated heartbeats
  • عطشان - Someone extremely thirsty.

This pattern is not used for permanent and intrinsic qualities and attributes. Extreme thirst goes away, extreme anger settles down. Water does not boil forever. This quality, of extreme anger or thirst has to be displayed and occuring right now,as we speak. These are the meanings of this pattern.

This explains why people said Allah is the Rahman of this world. Because this world is temporary. The Rahmah of Allah is permanent. Rahman refers to the Rahmah of Allah in this temporary world.This Rahmah - love and care-  of Allah is manifest and in operation right now in this world as we speak in extremely high amounts.

Rahman is the entity whose Rahmah exceeds all other forms of Rahmah. (Lisan al Arab).
Whose Rahmah is manifest right now as we speak in extreme and huge amounts in ways we can perceive it.


The word Raheem has been translated as the The Especially Merciful by Saheeh International.

This word Raheem occurs on the Fa'eel/فعيل pattern.

This pattern is used for describing intrinsic and personal attributes and qualities. These qualites unlike the previous pattern, are permanent and continuous.

From this pattern come words such as these:

  • عليم - The ever knowing of everything
  • سميع - The ever hearing of everything.
  • مليك - The eternal owner of everything.

So Raheem refers to the eternal Rahmah of Allah which is eternal and continuous. This is why it was accepted that Raheem refers to the Rahmah of Allah in the hereafter since the hereafter is eternal.

Raheem is the entity whose love and care is constant and ever existing. This Rahmah exists eternally. And though it may not necessarily be manifest or in operation in the present, it does exist and has done so eternally.

Concise Commentary:

Allah says he is the Rahman and then the Raheem. Rahman refers to the love and care of Allah that is manifest right now, taking care of us, protecting us and preventing harm from us in the present. The Rahmah that takes care of our immediate needs right now. Once the immediate needs are taken care of, question arises regarding the future needs and so Allah is the Raheem also. His continuous and ever existing Rahmah will take care of our future needs and wants.

This verse shows how Allah has completely engulfed and surrounded us in his Rahmah, his love and care being available to us anytime and anywhere, now and after, present and future. This explains how Allah is our Rabb. Rabb is a kind master who completes and perfects his and watches over him. This Ayah expounds how Allah is our Rabb. By being Rahman and Raheem.

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