By observing humankind’s religious history we notice that paganistic civilizations such as Hindus, Greeks, Romans, invoked various deities in times of difficulty and happiness. There was a god for each: luck, rain, wind, and fire, one that ruled the stars and one that ruled over mountains. There was a god for life another for death. This natural tendency within humans to seek assistance from a higher power in matters pertaining to individual and collective needs resulted in paganism in humankind’s religious history. To prevent minds from seeking plurality in their assistance which corrupts the purity of concept of One Supreme Being, Allah ﷻ sent Prophets to correct people’s beliefs and remind them to seek all assistance from The One rather than forming myths and dividing the authority of that Supreme Being.
The pagans once taunted the Prophet ﷺ of practicing idolatry as he invoked two beautiful names of Allah ﷻ: “O Most Gracious (Al-Rahman), O Most Merciful (Al-Raheem)”. As a response Allah ﷻ revealed: "Invoke Allah or invoke Al Rahman, by whatever name you invoke Him, for to Him belong the Best Names." This was to teach entire humankind to seek assistance from the One who controls everything, our destiny, rewards, blessings, sustenance in this world and the hereafter, our forgiveness and protection in this life and afterlife. Seek help of the One who is generous, kind, who controls life and death, invoke Him alone without partners. Hence Allah ﷻ taught 99 divine names through which we seek His assistance for all needs. For something special we recite the names Al Kareem, Al-Wahhab (The Generous, The Giver), for seeking forgiveness we beg Al-Ghafoor (The Forgiving), in extreme circumstances we invoke Al-Rahman (Most Gracious) and Ar-Raheem (Most Merciful) for His grace and mercy and so on.
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