Allahu Akbar… I say it almost a hundred times a day. In most times, I do it as if in a whisper. Allahu Akbar literally means Allah is the Greatest. But why are these words very important to me and to every other Muslim?
These same words reminds me of the nature of Allah (SWT) as the Supreme Being who is Compassionate and Merciful. Also, it reminds me that He is with me in every place I go.
Traveling has become a necessity in my work lately. I find myself going to different parts of Mindanao and sometimes to other countries to attend meetings and seminars. Most of the time, I travel to deliver a talk about Islam, about peace in Mindanao, and what Islam can offer in the world.
Whenever I say “Allahu Akbar“, I feel more relax and realize the beauty of Allah’s creation in this world and the miracle of being alive every single minute of the day. When I say “Allahu Akbar“, it reminds me of His nature of being compassionate and merciful.
Most of us do not realize that compassion is the central trait in Islam. Others are more inclined to think that is jihad or struggle as the core of Islam. But this is not so. By looking at the characteristics of Allah (SWT), compassion is far more central to Islam than jihad.
Why do I say this? What is my basis?
If we try to look at the Holy Quran, the very first chapter of the Qur’an, Al Fatiha (The Opening), has the second verse Al-Rahman al-Rahim (The Compassionate, the Merciful). The first verse also carries the sense of compassion when it describes Allah as Rabb al-‘Alamin (Sustainer of the whole world). The concept of sustenance of the whole world itself is based on His Mercy and Compassion for everything He has created. In fact rahmah is so central to Allah’s existence that it embraces all that exists in the universe (wasi`at kulla shayin, Verse 40:7).
Furthermore, most Muslim scholars will say that there are certain key words in the Qur’an which are greatly stressed of which four are very often repeated, like rahmah, ihsan ‘adl, and hikmah (compassion, benevolence, justice and wisdom). Rahmah (compassion, mercy) and its roots abound in the Holy Qur’an. Among Allah’s own names are Rahman and Rahim (compassionate and Merciful).
A Muslim begins everything by reciting Bi Ism-i- Allah al-Rahman al-Rahim (i.e. begin in the name of Allah Who is Compassionate and Merciful).
The Holy Quran also mentioned that He sent His Messenger Muhammad as the Mercy of the World (21:107). Thus, the Prophet of Islam also represents mercy to mankind. Mercy not only for Muslims but for all people of this world.
In my readings about the Holy Quran, I found out that the word rahm (mercy, compassion) was repeated several times. Thus, Muslim scholars say that this word and its various derivatives has been used more than 326 times in the Holy Quran. According to Mufradat al-Qur’an by Imam Raghib, an authentic dictionary of the Qur’anic terms, rahmah means softening of heart towards one who deserves our mercy and induces us to do good to him/her.
It is interesting to note that the womb of mother is also called rahm. A mother is always very soft towards her children (raqiq) and showers love and affection on them. Thus, anyone who doescompassion to others qualifies for rahm. To cultivate rahm is to be reminded of how to be faithful to one’s mother..
A friend of mine used to say that “this world is full of places and people, but only a handful of them leave an impression on you and bring you comfort.” In my line of work, I always encounter a lot of challenges. I see and hear the despair and frustrations in the eyes and words of many Muslim Filipinos in our country because of poverty, corruption, and greed for power.
Thus, when I say Allahu Akbar, it reminds me of His compassion and mercy to all of His creations. It energizes my mind, body, and soul. My heart tells me that there is no amount pain or suffering can stop me or discourage me to do and fulfill my task as a Muslim.
Being a Muslim means I submit myself to His divine will. And that Allah is with me in every breath that I take. We are always reminded in the Holy Quran that He is closer to me than my jugular vein.
Whenever I learn that people, whom I least expect, appreciates and learns from what I write, it warms my heart and inspires me to write more. Thank you to our family cardiologist, Dr. Bernard Chiew, for the inspiring words.