UI – Part 205 – Mercy – God vs. Allah
Reading the Bible and the Quran the words Mercy and Grace often appear as an attribute of God. Just what is Mercy? Just what is Grace?
Understanding these terms is imperative to understanding God. What is provided humans when they experience God’s Mercy and/or God’s Grace?
This week we will delve into the term, ‘Mercy.’
Mercy – Quran
Allah is Merciful begins every chapter of the Quran except Chapter 9. It is important then to understand Allah’s Mercy. Sura 6:12 states ‘Allah has ordained mercy on Himself.’ It suggests mercy is the very nature of Allah. He has created all things for the benefit of man. What about the spiritual needs? 6:54 says that if a human commits an evil act in ignorance, then repents and acts ‘aright’, then Allah is forgiving. Not so for those acting with forethought. In 6:160 Allah provides 10 fold rewards for the good one does vs. the evil, weighing the opportunity for mercy by Works. The Quran equates Mercy with Forgiveness. Allah’s mercy is conditional, as noted in 17:54 “He will have mercy on you, if He please or He will chastise you, if He please.” 3:128 is interesting is that the Quran is telling believers to have no concern in the matter whether Allah is merciful towards an infidel; that is up to Allah. And for those who believe in Islam, in Allah, there is a double dose of mercy, noted in Sura 57:28, ‘two portions’ – meaning on earth and in the hereafter.
Allah is said to have infinite mercy. The Quran is seen as a manifestation of Allah’s mercy, the guidebook and instruction manual for Muslims. (Sura 17:9), “Surely this Qur’an guides so that which is most upright (follow the path), and gives good news to the believers who do good (right actions) that theirs is a great reward.”
Forgiveness may be that which is Allah’s dominant mercy. From Sura 37:53, “Say: O My servants who have been prodigal regarding their souls, despair not of the mercy (forgiveness) of Allah; surely Allah forgives sins altogether. His is indeed the Forgiving, the Merciful.”
And whoever does a wrong or wrongs himself, but then seeks forgiveness from Allah, he will find Allah forgiving and merciful. (Sura 4:110). But one must ask, is Allah’s forgiveness conditional; as is the case with ‘Grace’? (See prior Blog)
Mercy – Bible
God’s presence is known to the believer when His Mercy is upon them. They notice in themselves a countenance that is accepting and purposeful, with a direction taken that is guided by daily prayer and a focus on living for God. It is God’s steadfast love that is seen in life. Transgression is faced head-on and resistance is credited to God having mercy. “According to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin? For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you only have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight…I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Psalm 51:1-5) What follows is Grace. That is God’s mercy upon mankind. Free of sin, perfect, God made a sacrifice for us all. “He (Christ) committed no sin, neither was deceit found in His mouth.” (1 Peter 2:22) Truth personified, yet he was the one punished. The Perfect example of the Ultimate sacrifice for the many transgressions of mankind since the Fall in the Garden. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the (cross), that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.” (1 Peter 2:23) God showed Mercy on us all by Grace.
Christians are encouraged to pass it on, show mercy on others as God has shown on them. This leads us to forgiveness. We are to forgive others as God, through Jesus Christ, forgave mankind. “And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?” (Matthew 18:33) God forgave us our sins, once and for all. Christians need to acknowledge they are sinners, accept the fact, and repent, atoning for their transgressions. God has forgiven. This is unconditional forgiveness except for believing in the Risen Lord, acknowledging the bad news and accepting the Gospel. It is provided by the unconditional love God has for everyone.
We are to live as free people, all of us. “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood (of those who believe in Christ). Fear God. Honor the emperor.” (1 Peter 2:16-17). We are not forced to live for God; we chose to live for God. The environment may not be paradise, it may be filled with non-believers, but that is what we must accept. We must be purposeful in our faith to avoid the conditions surrounding us replete with all nature of temptations. In it we suffer, but exit stronger and more loving of God and the Mercy he demonstrates.
Mercy as with Grace is a condition in Islam that Allah controls and bestows as He sees fit. He forgives those who ask and he chooses to forgive, but remember that Allah is the best of deceivers. A Muslim can assume he is forgiven, by asking, but never really know. Can his forgiveness be taken away? When the Muslim transgresses anew must the process be repeated, and repeated for all transgressions. If one transgression is missed, even one considered minor, then is there the potential for Allah’s Mercy? Having a love of Allah does not by itself assure salvation.
For the Christian Mercy is demonstrated by God thru Grace, the example of His Mercy beyond which there is no comparison. Christians are a forgiven lot. Instilled with the Spirit, they are also a forgiving lot. The expectation is to live their life for God, with a heart for God, Christ as an example, taking steps each day to grow in a relationship with the Lord. The Word itself is not God’s Mercy, but the inspiration God provides to guide us Home. It is the means by which our Lord speaks to us and provides knowledge and truth.
There is no attempt in the Christian faith to have the governance of an area in which they dominate, or live, governed spiritually and temporally by the Bible. Followers of God, believers in Christ, lead a life demonstrating their conviction and commitment to the Lord. They are guided spiritually to live as God would have them conduct themselves. Ethical and moral values, many of which can be attributed to both the Christian faith and Islam, are desired and asked to be part of the constitution of their countries. But it is the common good, that which benefits all people, not just a religious contingent, that is the objective of a government. That is not the case in Islam.
Historically Islam has sought conquests of a spiritual nature, only to then establish itself in the halls of government and induce laws that include all aspects of the Laws of Islam. This is a divergence from the main topic of Mercy, yet can be understood from the viewpoint of an Islamist government justifying its actions using Allah, the Quranic defense, implying the laws, restrictive as they may be, demonstrate Allah’s Mercy as counseled by the ulema, the scholars of Islam. What becomes obvious is the rule of law of an Islamic influenced constitution exclude non-Muslims. On them there is no Mercy, other than the munificence possibly offered by the ruling class, who all too often look askance when crimes are committed by the populace against non-Muslims, failing to act and punish equally.
May the Grace and Mercy of the Lord find the hearts of all mankind as God intended, so that each and every person is treated equally, their individual dignity is respected and peaceful co-existence is attained. Let all voices be heard so that the truth may surface and the collective gift of intelligence enjoyed by humans enables them to discern the logical path. God never intended his word to be suppressed; that would only be the goal of Iblis (Satan). To do so is unmerciful. I find interesting Sura 7:27 which informs that Allah created the devil and his companions (‘the devils’) “to be the friends of those who believe not.” Thus anyone tempted by any means has come face-to-face with the devil as Allah created and are then not a true Muslim. From Sura 4:79, “Whatever good befalls thee, it is from Allah, and whatever misfortune befalls thee, it is from thyself.” So Allah creates the devil, but takes no credit for the failures of humans – it is not Allah’s fault, but man’s. That seems more a human trait than a godly one. Is this Allah’s demonstration of Mercy? It is not the Biblical God’s Mercy.
Hold onto the hope for transformation. Speak hope, grace and mercy according to God’s Word (the Bible) into the lives of others. My prayer is for a Great Awakening to the Truth of God’s Mercy and Grace, especially to those who have never heard or felt the true Love of God. From Hosea 14:9, “Who is wise? He will realize these things. Who is discerning? He will understand them. The ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.”
Grace and Peace