Two Aspects of the Mercy of God by Promised MessiahAhmadiyya Gazette, August 1994
First is the mercy which was manifested for man without any action having proceeded from man; for instance, in the creation of the earth and heaven and sun and moon and planets and water and air and fire, and all those other bounties upon which man's life and survival are dependent. Without doubt all these bounties are a mercy for man which have been bestowed upon him without any right, through pure grace and beneficence. This is the grace which came into operation even before the coming into being of man who had no kind of hand in it.
The second type of mercy is that which follows upon the good actions of man. For instance, when he supplicates God earnestly, his prayer is accepted, and when he cultivates the earth laboriously and sows the seed, Divine mercy fosters the seed, with the result that a large quantity of grain is gathered. In the same way careful observation would show that Divine mercy accompanies every one of our righteous actions whether they are religious or secular. When we labor according to the laws prescribed by God, Divine mercy comes into operation and makes our labor fruitful.
These two types of mercy are such that we cannot survive without them. No one can doubt their existence. These are the bright manifestations which support the whole pattern of our lives. When it is established that Almighty God has caused the springs of two mercies to flow for our sustenance and perfection, and they are two of His attributes which are manifested in two aspects for the watering of the tree of our being, we must find out how these two springs, when they are reflected in the Arabic language, are designated.
By virtue of the first type of mercy, God Almighty is called Rahman in Arabic, and He is called Raheem by virtue of the second type of mercy. It is in order to illustrate this quality of the Arabic language that we have mentioned the expression Rahman in the very first line of our Arabic discourse. As the divine attribute of mercy by virtue of its elementary division comprises two types according to the Divine law of nature, the Arabic language has two elementary words for it. A seeker after truth would find it most helpful to adopt as a criterion the Divine attributes and works that are visible in the book of nature, for the purpose of discerning the subtle distinctions of the Arabic language, and to seek for these divisions which appear according to the law of nature in the elementary words of Arabic.
Whenever it is desired to bring out the distinction between such Arabic synonyms as are related to the attributes or works of God, attention should be directed towards the division between those attributes and works which is exhibited in the law of nature, inasmuch as the true purpose of Arabic is to serve Divinity, as the true purpose of man is the comprehension of God Almighty; and the qualities of everything can be appreciated only by keeping in mind the purpose for which it has been created. For instance, an ox is created for the purpose of plowing or transport. If overlooking this purpose we seek to use it as a hunting dog, it would fail utterly and would prove useless and valueless. On the other hand, if we try it in the field of its true purpose, it soon proves that it carries a great responsibility within the system of the means of maintenance of human livelihood.
In short the worth of everything is proved by its being utilized for its true purpose. Thus the true purpose of Arabic is to illustrate the bright countenance of all manifestations of Divinity. As the proper carrying-out of this delicate and subtle operation, and to be safeguarded against mistakes, was beyond human capacity, God the Noble and Merciful, revealed the Holy Quran in the Arabic language, a miraculous illustration of the qualities of the Arabic language and of the delicate distinction between the different elementary words and the extraordinary rich connotations of its compounds, in such manner that all heads were bent before it. All these qualities of the Arabic language were not only acknowledged by the highest contemporary linguists, but their failure to match them established that human faculties are not able to set forth those verities and insights, to illustrate the true and real beauty of the language. We have learnt the distinction between Rahman and Raheem from the same Holy Book which we have cited, as an instance in our Arabic discourse. Every language contains many synonyms, but till we become aware of the distinctions between them, and so long as those words do not relate to subjects pertaining to Divinity and religious teaching, we need take no account of them.
It should also be remembered that man cannot invent these elementary words, but once they are created by Divine power, man can, by study, discover their subtle distinctions and their proper use. For instance, the grammarians have not discovered anything new, nor have they framed any rules which other people must conform to; but having studied this natural language, they discovered that it was illustrative of a system of rules and they proceeded to formulate those rules in order to facilitate the study of the language. Thus the Holy Quran, by using every word in its proper place, illustrated how the Arabic elementary words can be manipulated, how they serve the subjects of Divinity, and how subtle are their mutual distinctions.