God’s mercy and the womb

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By Safi Kaskas

The word “Raham” in the Arabic text of the Qur’an is one of the most important words. It simply means womb.

The word is important because it is the root word God used in the Qur’an to describe two of his most important attributes; Al Rahman الرحمن and Al Raheem الرحيم translated as the Merciful to all and the Mercy Giver. Other translators might use the Compassionate and Merciful. The relationship God chose to establish between the womb and Himself as the source of all mercy in the Qur’an is remarkable and very intriguing.

Here I was able to establish that this concept is not new to the Qur’an as the last revelation from God to humanity but it was all along there as is shown in the Tanakh and the Old Testament.

Here is a brief presentation:

Words raḥam (Arabic: رحم, rechem Hebrew: רחם): “womb”.
• raḥ-m-mah (Arabic: رحمة), raxamim Hebrew: רחמים): “caring; cares, mercy”.

The Arabic stems
• raḥim: “be mild, care, have mercy”
• raḥama: “care for, feel sympathy for”
• istirḥama: “beg for mercy”

The Hebrew stems
• racham: “care, be mild, have mercy, have tender affection, have compassion”
• rachum: “mildhearted, softhearted, compassionate”
• rachmani: “mild, meek, careful, merciful, compassionate”
• rachm: “womb”

Names given to God
• al-Rahman: “The Merciful to All”
• al-Rahim: “The Mercy Giver”

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