Some people might understand from the famous Hadith of the prophet (SAAW) describing the Mercy of Allah (SW) in the 100 levels of mercy, that His mercy is limited to 100 levels only!

عن أبي هريرة قال: سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول:

جعلَ اللهُ الرحمةَفي مِائَةَ جزءٍ فأمسكَ عندهُ تسعةً وتسعينَ جزءًا وأنزلَ في الأرضِ جزءًا واحدًا فمنْ ذلكَ الجزءِ يتراحمُ الخلقُ حتى ترفعَ الفرسُ حافرهَا عن ولدِها خشيةَ أنْ تصيبَهُ.”رواه البخاري

Abu Hurairah (RAA) reported that the messenger of Allah (SAAW) said: “Allah has divided mercy into one hundred parts; and He retained with Him ninety-nine parts and sent down to earth one part. Through this one-part creatures deal with one another with compassion, so much so that an animal lifts its hoof over its young lest it should hurt it“.[1]

This Hadith is not talking about the ultimate Mercy of Allah (SW), rather it is talking about the assigned mercy that God had decreed to reach people in this life and the Hereafter. The ultimate Mercy of Allah (SW) is part of His attributes that has no boundaries to be measured or weighed or even comprehended by the human mind.

To understand this matter better, let us look at the name of our Lord, Allah. The name Allah has two roots in Arabic linguistics. One originates from the the verb ( أَلَهَ ) (Aa-La-Haa) which means “to worship” ( عَبَدَ ) and from that, the term “Allah” means “the worshiped” or ( المَعْبُود ). The second originates from the verb ( أَلِهَ ) (Aa-Lee-Haa) which means “to be puzzled” ( تَحَيَّرَ ) and from that, the term “Allah” means “the One minds are puzzled (reaching) the reality of His entity” ( تَحَيَّرَتْ العُقُوْلُ في ذَاتِهِ ).

With that being said, all God’s attributes are beyond the human mind’s ability to comprehend. And from all His attributes, the one attribute that was set equivalent to the name of God “Allah” is “Al-Rahman,” the All-Merciful. Allah (SW) said in the Quran: {Say call upon God or call upon the All-Merciful. By either you may call. For to Him belong the most excellent names} 17:110.  { قل ادعوا الله أو ادعوا الرحمن أيا ما تدعوا فله الأسماء الحسنى }.

So the question is, why did the prophet (SAAW) say that mercy is (only) in 100 levels? The answer is that he was referring to a degree of assigned mercy from Allah that will be sufficient to care for all of creation’s needs for mercy in this life and in the Hereafter. The Hadith was describing a relation (in numbers or levels) as a comparison between what is in this life versus that in the Hereafter, not describing the ultimate Mercy of God.

In the commentary by Imam Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani, in his famous book (Fath-Al Bari) explaining the Hadiths narrated by Al-Bukhari, elaborating on this Hadith particularly he said: “Al-Muhallab said that the Mercy that God created for His servants and settled in their souls in this life, is the one that will be used for forgiveness for matters among them at the Hereafter. God might use that Mercy to apply it on them, but also that is different from His Mercy that encompasses all that exists, and is part of His attributes.”

If one cannot measure the mercy in the heart of any mother towards one child of hers, what about the mercy among families and friends from the beginning of time till the Last Day? The prophet (SAAW) compared all that (including animals toward each other) as one level to 99 levels kept for the Hereafter. And again, that has nothing to do with the ultimate Mercy that is of the attribute of Allah Al-Rahman, Al-Raheem. Subhan Allah!

The term mercy is not to be felt within oneself without being acted upon. The prophet (SAAW) was described in the Quran as being sent as a {Mercy to the worlds.} 21:107. He (SAAW) was Rahmah to family, friends, public, enemies and even animals, and everything else. He (SAAW) did not have to practice effort to obtain that mercy in his feelings or actions. Allah (SW) made him a mercy that he, by nature, demonstrated without any effort at all.

We need to follow the footsteps of our prophet (SAAW) to try to be merciful, for he (SAAW) said: “The merciful are shown mercy by Al-Rahman. Be merciful on the earth, and you will be shown mercy from Whom is above the heavens.”[2]

By Sh. Kifah Mustapha

[1] Bukhari

[2] Tirmithi