I was talking to a friend who came to meet our guide, Sidi, and learn about Sufism for the first time. One of the teachings had been about Mercy. Sidi spoke on how Mercy preceeds us on this earth journey, and God is All-Merciful, Ever-Compassionate.
My friend was struggling with this concept. He shared that in his view, Mercy was for people who did wrong, and he didn’t like feeling like he was wrong – a “bad person who needed mercy to be forgiven for sins.” I get it! Who wants to feel wrong or bad when they come seeking Love?
So, I thought this would be a good time to share from Sidi’s teachings on Mercy, ar-Rahim. In his book, The Meaning of the Names of Our Lord, Sidi addresses this question directly – please read the whole quote:
“Mercy may imply pity, long suffering patience and forgiveness, all of which the sinner needs and Allah, the Most Merciful, bestows in abundant measure. But there is mercy that comes before the need arises, the grace which is ever watchful and flows from Allah, the Most Gracious, to all His creatures, protecting them, preserving them, guiding them and leading them to clearer light and a higher life.”
This being human is a tricky thing. It’s full of challenges, and we’re meant to make what we call mistakes, or some call sins. We tend to associate negativity – failure, shame, blame, anger – with the concept of mistakes. And as every self-help guru will tell you, mistakes are a part of learning, and each mistake gets you closer to success if you don’t let it stop you.
If we stop with feeling wrong, it can lead us into further hiding or turning away – the shame and blame game. The purpose of this journey is to keep turning to God, Allah, The One, and for that, we need Mercy for our own hearts – to keep our hearts from closing and to bring our hearts back to Love. We need Mercy before, during and after all our attempts at navigating our human lives on planet earth.
It is said that even the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, asked for forgiveness 70 times a day. And the Mercy is always there. The asking is for ourselves, to remember and keep returning our hearts to receive it.