Rafed English

Surah al-Fatihah - Interpretation of Ar-rahmani’r-rahim

Ar-rahmani’r-rahim”‌ {the All-beneficent, the All-merciful}


Translating these two terms into Persian as “bakhshandeh-ye mehraban”‌ is not a perfect and expressive translation because according to ‘Allamah Shahid Mutahhari, “bakhshandeh-ye mehraban”‌ is the translation of the Arabic words javad {generous} and ra’uf {kind}, and not rahman and rahim. And in principle, there have been no equivalent Persian terms for both these words.


Although both “رَّحْمٰن”‌ “ “rahman”‌ and “رَّحيم”‌ rahim have been derived from the root-word “رَحْمَة”‌ “rahmah,”‌ “rahman,”‌ which encompasses the expansive beneficence of God, and is general and includes all human beings, however “rahim”‌ is a mercy which will be showered only on those who are good as a reward for their good deeds. Thus, according to Imam Sadiq (A.S) God is rahman in relation to all the creatures but He is rahim only to the believers. God has made mercy {rahmah} incumbent upon Himself: “He has made mercy incumbent upon Himself.”‌[1] Similarly, the Prophet and the Book of Allah are also mercies for all of creation:


( وَ مَا أَرْسلْنَٰكَ إِلا رَحْمَةً لِّلْعَٰلَمِينَ ‏) “We did not send you but as a mercy to all the nations.”‌[2]


His nourishment and training are based on mercy and His punishment and requital are like the stick of a teacher which is necessary in training. Forgiveness of sins, acceptance of repentance, concealment of people’s faults, and giving respite to compensate for the past are all manifestations of His all-encompassing mercy.


In essence, creation is a manifestation of His mercy and whatever reaches every creature from Him is grace and mercy. Thus, all surahs of the Qur’an (with the exception of Surah at-Tawbah) begin with Bismillahi’r-rahmani’r-rahim {In the Name of Allah, the All-beneficent, the All-merciful}.


Ar-rahmani’r-rahim alongside rabb al-‘alamin means that the divine nourishment is based on grace and mercy. In the same manner, His teaching is also anchored on mercy and compassion: “The All-beneficent has taught the Qur’an.”‌[3]


And this is itself a lesson for us human beings that the teacher and trainer must be always benevolent and compassionate.







[1] Surah al-An‘am 6:12.


[2] Surah al-Anbiya’ 21:107.


[3] Surah ar-Rahman 55:1-2.




Source: A Commentary on Prayer by Muhsin Qara’ati

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