Friday 6 March 2020

99 Attributes of Allah: Al Halim - The Oft Forbearing

Continuing with our series of posts on 99 Attributes of Allah, today we share yet another great attribute of Allah, which if had not been the quality of Allah, the world would have seen frequent catastrophes and wrath of Allah falling on to the human beings who are ever sinning and violating the commandments of Allah.

Al Ḥalīm " ٱلْحَلِيمُ " (pronounced Al-Haleem) is this attribute which means the One who is Oft Forbearing. That is Allah is the often who is the most patient and restrained when it comes to punishing the evil doers or the sinners or those following the footsteps of the Satan.

It is said in Surah 3. Al-i'Imran verse 155:

اِنَّ الَّذِيۡنَ تَوَلَّوۡا مِنۡكُمۡ يَوۡمَ الۡتَقَى الۡجَمۡعٰنِۙ اِنَّمَا اسۡتَزَلَّهُمُ الشَّيۡطٰنُ بِبَعۡضِ مَا كَسَبُوۡا ​ۚ وَلَقَدۡ عَفَا اللّٰهُ عَنۡهُمۡ​ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰهَ غَفُوۡرٌ حَلِيۡمٌ

"Surely those of them who turned their backs on the day when the two armies met (at Uhud) did so because Satan made them slip because of some of their lapses. But Allah has pardoned them; He is All-Forgiving, All-Forbearing."

In the verse above, the attribute Al Ḥalīm comes together with yet another attribute of Allah: Al-Ghafur (الغفور) - the All Forgiving. These two attributes are synonymous to each other as while Allah is Oft Forbearing, it is because He is All Forgiving. For despite the fact that He has the power to punish the sinners and destroy all of them but He treats them leniently and postpones their punishment or even forgiving some of their gravest errors and acts.

The attribute Al-Ḥalīm stems out from the root word hilm (ha Lam Meem) which means: taking the time to do something. Thus Allah is the One who is calm and deliberate, never hasty, even with the rebellious and wrongdoers by managing His temper.

Many a times the disbelievers of Makkah taunted the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) that if they were wrong, why didn't a calamity or catastrophe hit them. The ignorant forgot that "Allah does not catch those who disobey Him at once. He gives them time so that they repent. He has the power to punish all sinners at the same time but He does not punish and catch them at once." 

تُسَبِّحُ لَهُ السَّمٰوٰتُ السَّبۡعُ وَالۡاَرۡضُ وَمَنۡ فِيۡهِنَّ​ؕ وَاِنۡ مِّنۡ شَىۡءٍ اِلَّا يُسَبِّحُ بِحَمۡدِهٖ وَلٰـكِنۡ لَّا تَفۡقَهُوۡنَ تَسۡبِيۡحَهُمۡ​ؕ اِنَّهٗ كَانَ حَلِيۡمًا غَفُوۡرًا‏ 

(Surah 17. Al-Israa: 44) The seven heavens, the earth, and all that is within them give glory to Him. There is nothing but gives glory to Him with His praise, though you do not understand their hymns of praise. He is Most Forbearing, Exceedingly Forgiving."

That is, the entire universe and everything in it bear witness to the fact that their Creator and Guardian is free from each and every fault, defect and weakness, and that He is far above this that there should be any partner or associate in His Godhead.

Everything is not only singing hymns of the glory of its Creator but is affording the proof that He is perfect in every respect and worthy of all praise. Everything is an embodiment of the proof that its Creator and Administrator is the one in whom there is perfection of every quality. Therefore, He alone is worthy of praise.

And it is due to His forbearance and forgiveness that though you are persistently insolent to Him and go on inventing one false thing or the other against Him, He forbears and forgives you. He neither withholds provisions from you nor deprives you of His favors nor strikes an insolent person instantly dead with a thunderbolt. Above all, He is so forbearing and forgiving that He gives long enough respite to the individuals and communities to mend their ways, sends His prophets and reformers for their admonition and guidance and forgives all the past mistakes and errors, if one sincerely repents and adopts the right way.

Had Allah not been Oft Forbearing, then:
If Allah were to take people to task for their deeds, He would not leave any living creature on earth, but He grants them respite to an appointed time. When their appointed time comes to an end, surely Allah fully observes His servants. (Surah 35. Fatir: 45) 
Therefore, Al Ḥalīm does not bring about a swift vengeance. He continues to loosen the rope and gives time for the sinners to repent, lest a hurried act could rob the people from an opportunity to realize their mistakes and seek forgiveness. 

لَيُدۡخِلَـنَّهُمۡ مُّدۡخَلًا يَّرۡضَوۡنَهٗ​ ؕ وَاِنَّ اللّٰهَ لَعَلِيۡمٌ حَلِيۡمٌ‏ 

He will surely admit them to a resort which will please them. Most certainly Allah is All-Knowing, Most Forbearing. (Surah 22. Al-Hajj: 59)

In the verse above, Al Halīm attribute comes along with another attribute of Allah: Al-`Alim (العليم) - The All-Knowing, The Omniscient.  As Allah is All-Knowing, He knows well those who left their homes for His sake and what reward they deserve. He is Clement, and forgives minor errors and weaknesses of the people; therefore these things will not hinder Him from rewarding the believers for their services and sacrifices.

قَوۡلٌ مَّعۡرُوۡفٌ وَّمَغۡفِرَةٌ خَيۡرٌ مِّنۡ صَدَقَةٍ يَّتۡبَعُهَاۤ اَذًى​ؕ وَاللّٰهُ غَنِىٌّ حَلِيۡمٌ‏ 

"To speak a kind word and to forgive people’s faults is better than charity followed by hurt. Allah is All-Sufficient, All-Forbearing." (Surah 2 Al Baqarah: 263) 

The meaning of above quoted verse implies two things. First, Allah does not stand in need of anybody's charity, for He is Self-Sufficient. Secondly, He likes those people who are generous and large-hearted, but does not like frivolous and narrow-minded people, for He Himself is Generous, Clement and Forbearing. 
Allah is al-Haleem such that He forgives and grants respite. His anger does not overwhelm Him and is not provoked by the ignorance of the ignorant or the disobedience of the disobedient. He who forgives when he is not able to punish does not deserve to be called haleem; rather the one who is al-Haleem is the One Who forgives when He is able to punish and Who gives respite and does not hasten the punishment.
Another attribute of Allah is As Sabūr (الصبور) which means is the patience that arises by self-restraint, enduring something without complaint. While Al Halīm means the patience that arises from a sense of deep serenity, lenience, calm deliberation.

Thus, Al Halīm keeps bestowing blessings, both visible and hidden, on His creation, even though they disobey Him and make many mistakes. So He forgives and does not give the sinners the punishment they deserve; He encourages them to repent and gives them time to turn to Him.

This attribute teaches us to be soft hearted, though firm, liniment and oft forgiving others who bring harm to us and help others as Allah helps us even when we know we are the wrong doers and sinners. If we are helpful and oft forgiving, then Allah will surely be helping us and preventing us from committing more sins.

You may refer to our post "99 Attributes of Allāh" for complete list of 99 attributes of Allah Almighty with meaning and explanation.

You may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Quran

Photo | References1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 |

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