O Allah, have mercy on us above the earth and below the earth and on the Day when our deeds will be presented to us. And cause us to be merciful to one another just as the Companions of Your Prophet (Peace be upon him) were merciful. And have mercy on our dead ones and put those who have mercy from amongst Your Servants in charge over us, O Most Merciful!


In The Name of Allah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy

All praise is due to Allah, Lord of all creation. May Allah extol the mention of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) in the highest company of Angels and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, his family, his Companions and all those who follow him exactly till the Day of Judgement.

Dear brothers and sisters, know that Islam teaches us to be merciful to the entire creation, to Muslims and non-Muslims, to friends and enemies and even to animals. Mercy (Ar-Rahmah) in Islam has a very wide meaning that includes kindness, compassion, love, tolerance, patience with people, and to treat others the way we would love to be treated. This Islamic value is at the core of the Prophetic message and meaning of faith, just as it was in all of the revealed religions before Islam. Every Muslim needs to strive to be an agent of mercy on earth to all human beings and creatures.

Respected brothers and sisters, to examine a theology of mercy in Islam may seem somewhat strange in today’s context of what could be called a plague of terrorist attacks against both Muslims and non-Muslims in many parts of the world. However, their interpretation of the Qur’an and their interpretation of the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) – which forms the religious rationale for their political and military movements – does not represent the vast majority of Muslims.

Now, my beloved servants of Allah, what is the theological understanding of mercy in Islam? This can be found in the two primary sources of revelation, the Qur’an and the Sunnah. The Qur’an is the sacred scripture written in Arabic, and the Sunnah includes sayings, teachings, habits, practices and silent approvals of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). These were verbally transmitted until they were later collected and recorded in writings known as Hadiths.

Respected believers, mercy in Islam is seen as having two manifestations – internally: a kind heart and compassionate soul, and externally: pardoning those who slip, forgiving those who are mistaken, helping those in trouble, assisting the weak, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, tending to the sick, and consoling the grieved, as well as many other things.

The Prophet (Peace be upon him) once kissed Al-Hasan Ibn Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, while Al-Aqrah Ibn Habis was in his presence. So Al-Aqrah, may Allah be pleased with him, said to him: “Do you kiss your children? I swear by Allah, I have ten children but I have never kissed any one of them!” Thereupon, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: “Whoever is not merciful will not be treated mercifully.” [Muslim]

Verily, in Islam, mercy encompasses this world and the Hereafter, as well as humankind, animals, birds and the surrounding habitats. Allah the Almighty says:

“And My Mercy encompasses everything.” [Qur’an, 7:156]

Allah has ascribed Mercy to Himself and He has also described His Prophets (Peace be upon them) and righteous servants as being endowed with it. Allah the Most High says:

“Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah and those who are with him are severe against the disbelievers and merciful to one another.” [Qur’an, 48:29]

Allah has made his sending forth of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) as a mercy to all of creation, as He says:

“And We have not sent you (O Muhammad) except as a mercy to the worlds.” [Qur’an, 21:107]

Here, the word “worlds” (Aalamin) is general and includes the world of the humans, the world of the Jinn, the world of the animals, the world of the birds, as well as the nations found on land and in the sea.

Allah the Most High says:

“Then he was among those who believed and advised one another to patience and advised one another to mercy.” [Qur’an, 90:17]

And Allah the Almighty says:

“When those come to you who believe in Our verses, say: Peace be upon you. Your Lord has decreed mercy upon Himself.” [Qur’an, 6:54]

Allah has commanded that mercy be applied to everything and in every action. Thus, even when you slaughter a sacrificial animal, you show mercy to it by saying ‘Bismillah’ (In the name of Allah) and by sharpening your knife (so that it will be a quick and painless death). The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:

“Verily Allah has prescribed Ihsan (goodness) for everything. So when you slaughter, slaughter in a good manner, and when you kill (in war), then kill in a good manner. And let each of you sharpen his blade and let him spare the animal he slaughters from suffering.”

It is reported that Allah forgave a prostitute, from the children of Israel, who showed mercy to a dog that was dying from thirst. She filled her shoe with water and then taking hold of the dog’s mouth, gave it the water to drink. Allah appreciated what she did and forgave all her sins.

Once our beloved Prophet (Peace be upon him) saw that one of his Companions, may Allah be pleased with him, grabbed the chick of a lark, and it began screeching over the heads of the Companions, may Allah be pleased with them. So he Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:

“Who bereaved this (lark) of her child? Return her children back to her!”

The weaker and poorer a human being is, the more we are required to show mercy to and be gentle with him. This is why our Lord has forbidden us from oppressing the orphan. Allah the Almighty says:

“Therefore, treat not the orphan with oppression. And do not repel the beggar.” [Qur’an, 93: 9-10]

The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:

“The person that looks after and supports the widow and the needy one is like the Mujahid (one who makes Jihad) in the Cause of Allah.”

He (Peace be upon him) would rub the head of the orphans and say:

“I and the guardian of an orphan will be like this in Paradise”, and he gestured with his index and middle finger.

Indeed the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) commanded us to take care of the children, women and the elders. Thus, in his last words to his Companions, may Allah be pleased with them, and his nation, he (Peace be upon him) said:

“The prayer and whatever your right hands possess.”

“Take good care of the women (i.e. wives).”

And he said:

“The best of you is the best to his wives. And I am the best amongst you to my wives.”

Dear brothers and sisters, Mercy is something innate, which Allah has placed into the hearts of His creatures, even the lions – the most ferocious of beasts – are merciful to their children. Yet, Allah is more merciful to His creation than a mother to her child. It is reported that on the day that Allah created mercy, He created one hundred parts of it. He left ninety-nine parts with Him, by which He will show mercy to His servants on the Day of Judgment and He sent down one single part of mercy to the Earth, which humans and animals share amongst themselves.

The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) has condemned the person that is devoid of any mercy, and he condemned the one who breaks family ties. He (Peace be upon him) said:

“Kinship is connected to the Throne (Arsh). It says: ‘Whoever severs me, then Allah will break (away from) him. And whoever maintains me, then Allah will keep connected to him.”

In another narration he (Peace be upon him) said:

“Verily, the kinship will be connected to the Throne of the Most Merciful on the Day of Judgment. It will say: ‘This is the place for the one who sought refuge in You from the severing (of family ties).’ So Allah will say to it: ‘Will it please you that I connect those who maintained you and that I cut off those who severed you?’ And it will say: ‘I will be pleased (with that), my Lord.'”

Allah has named Himself Ar-Rahman and Ar-Rahim, so he is the most merciful in this world and the Hereafter (i.e. Ar-Rahman), and the bestower and giver of mercy (i.e. Ar-Rahim). This is why He has commanded it in every place and in every situation. A Muslim begins his action by saying ‘Bismillahir-Rahmanir-Rahim’ (in the name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Giver of Mercy) so that Allah can bless him in his action. Every action that is devoid of mercy has no blessing in it, nor does it have any good. If the servants of Allah show mercy towards one another, this is a cause for Allah sending His mercy down on them.

The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:

“The Most Merciful shows mercy to those who have mercy on others. Show mercy to those on earth, and the One above the heaven will show mercy to you.”

In the Qur’an, Allah is revealed as having mercy on believers:

“[Allah] is ever merciful (Ar-Rahim) to the believers.” [Qur’an, 33:43]

‘Believers’ in this context refers to those who believe in Allah and have accepted Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), as the Messenger of Allah, i.e. Muslims [Qur’an, 4:136]. The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) was sent as a messenger of this divine mercy to his followers:

“Surely, a Messenger has come to you from among yourselves; …ardently desirous is he of your welfare; compassionate and merciful towards the believers.” [Qur’an, 9:128]

His mission also extended beyond ‘the believers’ to all:

“(O Muhammad!) We have only sent you as a mercy for all worlds.” [Qur’an, 21:107]

The famous Turkish scholar, Cafer Yaran, concludes:

“Therefore, it is possible to conclude that mercy is one of the most essential Islamic virtues and anything which conflicts with mercy does not coincide with the Prophet Muhammad’s mission.”

When asked to pray against idolaters (Mushriks), Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) is reported as replying:

“Verily I was not sent to invoke curses, but rather as mercy.” [Muslim]

Muslims, as well as receiving the mercy of Allah, are required to extend mercy to others. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:

“Allah will not be merciful to those who are not merciful to the people.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

Meaning, being merciful is basic to being Muslim.

Respected servants of Allah, this brief exploration of a theology of mercy reveals an aspect of Islam that is very important to millions of Muslims. Following various terrorist attacks, many Muslim leaders make public statements condemning the actions and motivations of the perpetrators, and their message is:

“They do not represent us.”

Muslims in general hold strongly to their belief that Islam is a religion of peace, and being merciful is an essential element of being a good Muslim.

Dear servants of Allah, we must do our best to be merciful to the entire creations of Allah, to the Muslims and non-Muslims, to our families and relatives, to friends and strangers, to people and animals, and even to our most bitter enemies.

O Allah, have mercy on us above the earth and below the earth and on the Day when our deeds will be presented to us. And cause us to be merciful to one another just as the Companions of Your Prophet (Peace be upon him) were merciful. And have mercy on our dead ones and put those who have mercy from amongst Your Servants in charge over us, O Most Merciful!

May Allah accept our Ibadah (worship) and supplications, guide our leaders and provide us with a lasting peace in our beloved country Nigeria, ameen Ya Mujib!

May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon our beloved Prophet and Master, Muhammad peace and blessings be upon him, his family and all his Companions.

Murtadha Muhammad Gusau is the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and the late Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: gusaumurtada@gmail.com or +2348038289761.

This Jumu’ah Khutbah (Friday Sermon) was prepared for delivery today Friday, Al-Muharram 20, 1441 A. H. (September 20, 2019).