The words Al Rahman (الرَّحْمَـنِ) and Al Rahim ( الرَّحِيم) contain the root words Raa haa meem, which is the womb . The womb is something of the utmost tenderness which provides protection and nourishment to the child. The two words, however, have distinct meanings.
Al-Qurtubi said, “The proof that these names are derived (from Ar-Rahmah), is what At-Tirmidhi recorded -Abdur-Rahman bin `Awf heard the Messenger of Allah say,
قَالَ اللهُ تَعَالى: أَنَا الرَّحْمنُ خَلَقْتُ الرَّحِمَ وَشَقَقْتُ لَهَا اسْمًا مِنِ اسْمِي، فَمَنْ وَصَلَهَا وَصَلْتُهُ وَمَنْ قَطَعَها قَطَعْتُهُ
Allah Almighty said, ‘I Am Ar-Rahman. I created the Raham (womb, i.e. family relations) and derived its name from My Name. Hence, whoever keeps it, I will keep ties to him, and whoever severs it, I will sever ties with him.’) He then said, “This is a text that indicates the derivation.
Al Rahman (الرَّحْمَـنِ)
Al Rahman is a general term used to describe Allah’s mercy to all of his creation. It is a characteristic of Allah that is available to all of his creatures whether muslims or non-muslims. Rahman is a name that pertain only to Allah and he does not share with any of his creatures. Similar to Al Rahman and is exclusive to Allah alone is Allah, Ar-Rahman, Al-Khaliq (the Creator), Ar-Raziq (the Sustainer).
For instance, Allah said in the holy Quran:
قُلِ ادْعُواْ اللَّهَ أَوِ ادْعُواْ الرَّحْمَـنَ أَيًّا مَّا تَدْعُواْ فَلَهُ الاٌّسْمَآءَ الْحُسْنَى
(Say (O Muhammad ): “Invoke Allah or invoke Ar-Rahman (Allah), and by whatever name you invoke Him (it is the same), for to Him belong the Best Names) (17:110),)
Abu `Ali Al-Farisi said, `Ar-Rahman, which is exclusively for Allah, is a name that encompasses every type of mercy that Allah has.
Al Raheem (الرَّحِيم)
Ar-Rahim is the mercy bestowed by Allah upon the believers, for Allah said in the holy Quran:
وَكَانَ بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ رَحِيماً
(And He is ever Rahim (merciful) to the believers.)’ (33:43)
Also, Ibn `Abbas said – about Ar-Rahman and Ar-Rahim, `They are two soft names, one of them is softer than the other (meaning it carries more implications of mercy).”’
Allah is the most Merciful one who provides his mercy to an individual based on his actions and deeds. Allah is always showering the believers with mercy as long as they are willing to receive and are conscious of him. Al Rahim is not exclusive to Allah alone and is an attribute of humans as well. Allah has described some of His creation using some of His other Names. For instance, Allah said in the holy Quran:
إِنَّا خَلَقْنَا الإِنسَـنَ مِن نُّطْفَةٍ أَمْشَاجٍ نَّبْتَلِيهِ فَجَعَلْنَـهُ سَمِيعاً بَصِيراً
(Verily, We have created man from Nutfah (drops) of mixed semen (sexual discharge of man and woman), to try him, so We made him hearer (Sami`) and seer (Basir) (76:2).
Salman Al-Farisi reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
God, Mighty and Majestic, possesses 100 mercies, one of which He sent down to the earth to divide among the whole of His creation so hat they might be merciful to one another and show compassion. He retained the remaining 99 for Himself to exercise over His servants on the Day of the Resurrection. (Sahih Muslim 2753).