Muslims use the word “beneficent” frequently. It is a common translation for the Arabic, Rahman. But they often pronounce it incorrectly. Furthermore, both Muslim speakers and Muslim audiences seem unaware of what the word means.

Here is a much needed guide to the word beneficent. First, the pronunciation goes like this: buh-nef-uh-suhnt. The bold print indicates the stressed syllable. If you go here,, and click the speaker icon, you can hear the correct pronunciation.

Now the meaning. The word has three parts: bene, fic, and ent. Bene means good or well as it does in the word benefit. Fic comes from a verb that expresses doing or making. Think of the word fiction – things that are made up. This root can also be spelled fac so you can also relate this to factory – a place where products are made. Oddly enough, fact comes from the same root as fiction, but it means something that has been done, not something made up.

The end of the word, ent, just makes the word an adjective. If you replaced the ent with ence, you would have beneficence, a noun, the quality of doing good.

So putting it together and returning to, beneficent means “doing good or causing good to be done; conferring benefits; kindly in action or purpose. ”

One last note, there is a difference between Rahman and Ar-Rahman. The first is a normal adjective, the second is a superlative adjective. Superlatives refer to “the best,” “the greatest,” or “the most.” Ar-Rahman is The Most Beneficent.


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