In the Name of God: The Extremely, Eternally, and Perpetually Loving and Caring
This was first published in The Muslim Observer.
Although it is true that God’s Mercy is balanced by God’s Justice, it is still very important to remember the very first thing God highlighted when introducing us to Himself:
All praise and thanks is simultaneously and perpetually due to God, the Extremely, Eternally, and Perpetually Loving and Caring. (1:1-2)
God could have used anything to describe Himself in the Fatihah. Yet, He purposefully used these two beautiful words: Al Rahman, Al Raheem. Because of these two attributes of God, we get food to eat and water to drink. We get the warmth of the Sun, the cool breath of the breeze, the soft feel of grass on our bare feet.
Because God is Al Rahman and Al Raheem, we wake up each day and live our lives to the fullest. We stand breathless at the majesty of the blue ocean, its waves gently breaking on the soft sand. We marvel at the unlimited expanse of the Universe, wondering about other worlds that have yet to be discovered.
It is impossible to avoid living and breathing God’s attributes of Al Rahman, Al Raheem.
Thus, the most natural response to all this goodness is gratitude. When one realizes how much she benefits from the goodness of God’s Love and Caring, she cannot help but be grateful. In fact, one can look at the first two verses of Al Fatihah in that manner: “All praise and thanks is due to God” [because He is] The Extremely, Eternally, and Perpetually Loving and Caring.”
And out of this gratitude come our ritual worship and good works. The Prophet (pubh) said this to his wife A’isha, saying that he stood in prayer until his feet swelled because he wanted to be a “grateful servant.”
We pray five times a day because it reminds us of Him, the One to Whom we are so grateful. We refrain from doing what He prohibited, because we are so grateful to Him for all His wondrous gifts. We spend out of the wealth with which He blessed us, because we are so grateful for His blessing us with that wealth in the first place. And it can go on and on.
In fact, when one is grateful, then God has no need for punishing that person. He said it himself in the Qur’an:
What purpose does God fulfill in punishing you if you are grateful and believe, seeing that God is always responsive to gratitude (or, Grateful) and all knowing? (4:147)
The order of the words in the verse is not an accident: God purposefully put gratitude before belief, further indicating that our belief (and subsequent actions) directly come out of our gratitude. When one is grateful to his Lord, then doing what He asks is not a burden. And when one is grateful to her Lord, her love for Him will only grow and blossom.
That is why, truly, “All Praise and Thanks is simultaneously and perpetually due to God.” And we praise and thank Him always because we are so grateful to Him for all that He has done; we are so grateful for His being Al Rahman, Al Raheem.