The following is stated in a hadith: "Show mercy to those who are on the earth so that those in the heaven will show mercy to you." Is determining a place for Allah in question in this statement?

Details of the Question

The following is stated in a hadith: "Show mercy to those who are on the earth so that those in the heaven will show mercy to you." Is determining a place for Allah in question in this statement?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

1. The whole hadith in question is as follows: "Allah (ar-Rahman) has mercy on those who are merciful. If you show mercy to those who are on the earth, those in the heaven will show mercy to you. The womb (tie of kinship) is named after Ar-Rahman, so whoever connects it, Allah connects him, and whoever severs it, Allah severs him." (Abu Dawud, Adab 58; Tirmidhi, Birr 16)

The hadith is very important in that it explains the importance of mercy. It is remarkable that when the phrase those who are merciful is used, a general expression is used. That is, there is no specification as "people" or "believers" or "righteous people" or "the poor". Then, showing mercy to all creatures is in question. That is, showing mercy to all people, whether righteous or sinning, all animals, whether domestic or wild, is a deed that will please Allah, whose mercy is endless.   

Allah's having mercy on those who show mercy means granting them a lot, treating them and forgiving them.

However, it should be known that mercy should be in compliance with the Book and the Sunnah. The mercy that is contrary to the Sunnah and the consent of Allah Almighty is not the mercy that is praised and encouraged here. For instance, to show mercy by not punishing those who commit sins by transgressing the limits imposed by Allah is not the mercy that Allah wants.

2. There are two views regarding the phrase those in the heavenin the statement those in the heaven will show mercy to you” in the hadith:

According to the first view, what is meant here is Allah. The statement “Allah (ar-Rahman/the Compassionate) has mercy on those who are merciful” at the beginning of the hadith supports this meaning. According to Ahl as-Sunnah scholars, Allah is free from space and time. He is also free from being in the sky. Such expressions aim to address man’s thought. For, people generally imagine the earth as down and the sky as up. Up fits loftiness, greatness and magnificence. Mentioning the sky in order to remind the magnificence of Allah’s spiritual post will make it understood better. As a matter of fact, when we pray (make dua), we raise our hands toward the sky. When we perform a prayer we turn toward the Kaaba – whose magnificence is realized in the mind; similarly, when we pray, as it is stated in the hadith, and when we imagine Allah’s mercy, which expresses high grace, to turn toward the sky, whose magnificence and high post are realized in the mind and to place the sky in the center – even if metaphorically – means to address man’s thought even though partially. Yes, grace, mercy, compassion, help – in terms of the post of fitting – come down from above. As a matter of fact, The following is stated in a hadith: “The hand above is superior to the hand below.” What is meant by the hand above is the hand that helps and gives by showing mercy. The hand below is the hand that receives help.

According to the second view, what is meant by those in the heavenin the hadith are the angels in the sky. As a matter of fact, a narration is as follows: “Show mercy to the people of the earth so that the people of the sky will show mercy to you.” (see Tuhfatul-Ahwazi, the explanation of the hadith in question) Angels are clearly mentioned in this hadith.

“Those who sustain the Throne (of Allah) and those around it Sing Glory and Praise to their Lord; believe in Him; and implore Forgiveness for those who believe: "Our Lord! Thy Reach is over all things, in Mercy and Knowledge. Forgive, then, those who turn in Repentance, and follow Thy Path; and preserve them from the Penalty of the Blazing Fire. ”(Ghafir, 40/7) In addition, we see in the verse above that angels show mercy to believers and that they pray for them to be forgiven. This is evidence for the trueness of the second view.

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