Why is “rahmah” singular and ‘barakah’ plural in the salaams?
Have you ever wondered why “rahmah”is singular and “barakat” plural in the salaams?
Rahmah is a masdar (verbal noun) that does not have a plural. It would be incorrect to say “Rahamat”, just as we do not say “ra’afaat” (kindness), instead we say “ra’fah”. Rahamat would signify a limit that would be contained within a certain number, while “rahmah” points to a more universal, specific and absolute meaning. So, the singular is better and more complete than the plural. This is one of the amazing aspects of the language, that a singular word is far reaching in meaning than the plural. This is why Allah azza wa jal says:
قُلْ فَلِلَّهِ الْحُجَّةُ الْبَالِغَةُ
‘Say: “With Allah is the perfect proof and argument”‘(6:149)
Hujjatul Baalighah (both singluar) is more perfect and more prevailing in meaning than saying “fa lillah al-hujaj al-bawaligh” (plural)
Similarly, Allah ta’ala says:
وَإِن تَعُدُّوا نِعْمَتَ اللَّهِ لَا تُحْصُوهَا
“And if you count the Blessings of Allah, never will you be able to count them.” (14:34)
The use of the singular word “ni’mat” is more universal than saying “ni’am”, the plural.
Similarly, the ayah:
رَبَّنَا آتِنَا فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِي الْآخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ
“Our Lord! Give us in this world that which is good and in the Hereafter that which is good, and save us from the torment of the Fire!”(2:201)
“Hasanah” has a more complete meaning than “hasanat”.
Likewise the ayah:
يَسْتَبْشِرُونَ بِنِعْمَةٍ مِّنَ اللَّهِ وَفَضْلٍ
“They rejoice in a Grace and a Bounty from Allah”(3:171) (Ni’mah and Fadl are both singular)
As for ‘barakat”, it refers to good that is continuous – when one good ends, another one begins. The plural is more universal than the singular with this meaning, which is why we see “barakat” used in the Qur’an:
رَحْمَتُ اللَّهِ وَبَرَكَاتُهُ عَلَيْكُمْ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ
“The Mercy of Allah and His Blessings be on you, O the family [of Ibrahim]” (11:73)
-Imam ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah (rahimahullah), “Bada’i al-Fawa`id”