Allâh’s Beautiful Name: Al-Haleem:

Now, we go ahead to the twenty-first of Allah’s Beautiful Divine Names, “Al-Haleem” (the Most Forbearing). It is well known that some of Allah’s Beautiful Divine Names cannot be attributed to any of His human slaves, such as “Al-Khaliq” (The Creator), while others, such as “Ar-Raheem” (the Merciful), “Al-Haleem” (the Forbearing) and “Al-“’Afou” (the Pardoner), can be attributed to them. It is remarkable that Allah’s Messenger, (PBUH), confirms that:

“Forbearance is the best of all manners.” And it has also been said: “A forbearing person is almost a Prophet.”

But what is such quality that makes a person almost a Prophet? It is undoubtedly forbearance, which is the best of all manners. And Allah, All Mighty, is also “Haleem” (i.e. Most Forbearing). To this effect, the Quranic Verse goes:

“And if Allah were to punish people for that which they earned, He would not leave a moving living creature on its (the earth’s) surface; but He gives them respite to an appointed term; and when their term is come, then verily, Allah is Ever All-Seer of His slaves.” [XXXV; 45]

This Quranic Verse shows clearly that Allah, All Mighty, is “Haleem” (i.e. Most Forbearing). The words:

“And if Allah were to punish people for that which they earned”

means that people are wrong doers and that they should be punished, so how can this Divine Name be defined? There is a wrong doer, and there is a punishment for such wrongdoing, but how is Allah’s Forbearance manifested? There is a wrong doer or a disobedient, and there is a certain punishment for such wrongdoing or disobedience. But Allah is Most Forbearing in the sense that He delays punishment. But why does Allah, All Mighty, delay punishment? This is a very good question! If Allah were to hasten punishment for every sinner or wrongdoer, there would be no forbearance. Also, if Allah, All Mighty, delays punishment for wrongdoers in order to punish them later on, that would be a kind of rancor, which does not befit Allah, Most Gracious, because someone who harbors feelings of hatred or rancor may delay punishment for some reason or another. He might be weak, and his weakness might fill his heart with rancor or hatred. He might be strong and powerful, but he would like to delay punishment in order to allow the wrongdoer to do more wrongdoing and hence to deserve the severest punishment. In other words, when someone delays punishment for wrongdoers because he is weak and unable to punish them for the time being, this means that he is rancorous; and when he delays punishment in order to make the wrongdoer fall in more grievous wrongdoing and in order to increase punishment for him, this is also rancorous. This means that there are two types of rancorous people: weak and strong ones.
But delay of punishment on Allah’s part has nothing to do with rancor at all. When Allah cancels punishment altogether, He does so because He is Forgiving and Pardoning. When He delays punishment in order to give the wrongdoer a respite to reform and repent, He does so because He is Forbearing.

In order to make things clear, let us have the following example: Schools are usually meant to be establishments for education and teaching good manners and values. They have certain regulations that maintain discipline and good order. But an intolerant authoritarian principal will probably lose a lot of his students. In other words, since the purpose of establishing schools is noble and sublime, principals have to be understanding, tolerant and forbearing; otherwise schools will be a great failure. A principal should by no means be authoritarian, hasty or conformist if he really desires his school to be successful. That is why Allah, All Mighty, Most Forbearing, says
“And had it not been for a Word that went forth, before, from your Lord, and a term appointed, (their punishment) must necessarily have come (in this present world).” [XX; 129]

But what is such Word, without which Allah must necessarily have hastened punishment for wrongdoers and destroyed them? What is the Word for which Allah delays punishment and destruction for sinners and wrongdoers? What is it? It is Allah’s Divine Mercy! Allah desires to mercy them! To this effect, in a Divine Hadith, Allah, Most Forbearing, says
“My Mercy overrides My Anger! My Mercy embraces all things!”

In His Holy Quran, Allah, Most Gracious, also says:

“And My Mercy embraces all things, but I shall ordain it for the pious who give the alms and those who believe in Our Signs.” [VII; 156]

“Except him on whom your Lord has bestowed His Mercy; and for that did He (Allah) create them (mankind). And the Word of your Lord has been fulfilled: ‘Surely, I shall fill Hell with jinn and mankind all together.” [XI; 119]

“Say (O Muhammad): ‘My Lord pays attention to you only because of your invocation (to Him). But now, you have indeed denied (Him), so the torment will be yours for ever.” [XXV; 77]

Unless there is hope that you may know your Lord, Allah, and invoke Him, unless there is hope that you may repent and reform, and unless there is hope that you may evade punishment, your Lord, Allah, would never care for you but, rather, He would punish you and cause you to perish.
Therefore, one of Allah’s Beautiful Divine Names is that He is “Al-Haleem” (the Most Forbearing). It is well known to all Muslims that Al-Hudaibiyah peace treaty seems, on the face of it, a kind of humiliation to Muslims, as it included a lot of concessions on the part of Muslims despite their strong position. Some of the Prophet’s venerable Companions considered such concessions as a kind of humiliation and surrender, and they were greatly amazed at the Prophet’s attitude of accepting the treaty. When he noticed his Companions’ rejection of the treaty, the Prophet, (BPUH), said:

“I do what my Lord commands me to do: to accept this peace treaty.”

Soon Later, Divine Revelation came down from the Lord, All Mighty:

“And were it not for believing men and women, whom you did not know, that you may kill them and hence, because of (killing) them unknowingly, may commit a (horrible) sin.” [XLVIII; 25]

In Mecca, there were men and women who believed in Islam but kept their belief secret as they were living among pagans of Mecca and, therefore, could not announce their conversion to Islam, lest they should be persecuted or even killed. It was Allah, Alone, Who knew about such secret Muslims in Mecca, so He, Most Gracious, desired to delay the conquest of Mecca by Muslims and bade His Messenger, (PBUH), to accept the peace treaty offered by pagans of Mecca, although such treaty seemed to be humiliating to Muslims. Allah did so in order to give those Muslims who concealed their Islam in Mecca the chance to announce their conversion to Islam. Hence, Allah is Most Forbearing.

In this context, in a Divine Hadith, Allah, Most Forbearing, says:

“O My slave! You have an obligation to fulfill for Me, and I have provision to provide for you. Even if you fail to fulfill your obligation for Me, I never fail to provide provision for you.”

He, Most Gracious, also says:

“If they (My slaves) repent, I am their Lover, but if they do not repent, I am their Physician: I afflict them with disasters in order to purify them from sins and defects.”

Some of Allah’s Beautiful Divine Names have t do with His Divine Self, some with His Divine Attributes, and some with His Divine Acts. Which type does Allah’s Name “Al-Haleem” (the Most Forbearing) belong to?

Since Allah delays punishment for wrongdoers, his Name “Al-Haleem” (the Most Forbearing) has to do with His Divine Acts. This is because Allah, Most Gracious, loves all of His slaves. To this effect, a Divine Hadith goes:

“If those who turn away from Me knew how earnestly I wait for them and look forward to their repentance of their sins, they would turn to pieces in Love for Me, and they would die of eagerness to (meet) Me.”

To the same effect, Jesus addresses his Lord, Allah, saying
“You know what is in my inner-self, but I do not know what is in Your inner-Self. Verily, You are the All-Knower of all that is hidden (and unseen).” [V; 116]

Sometimes a person does not punish a wrongdoer, but he burns with anger from inside, saying “I wish I could tear him up into pieces!” This is by no means forbearance. Forbearance is manifested clearly when one’s heart is filled with peace and tranquility and has no rancor or hatred against his enemies or wish to destroy them.

An ordinary believer who is forbearing has a heart that is pure, peaceful and free from rancor or hatred. So how would it be with Allah, Lord of all worlds?! Therefore, when you hear or read in Prophetic Hadith or the Holy Quran that Allah is Angry with or curses someone, you should know that Allah does not actually hates His slave but only his sins and misdeeds, and curses only His slave’s sins and misdeeds. Allah loves His slaves just like a mother loves her son when he returns to the right way. I once told the story of a knowledgeable scholar, called Thun-Noon Al-Masri, who felt depressed, confused and lost. He asked, “Where is my heart gone? Where is my heart lost?” While he was wandering in his hometown, he suddenly saw a door open and a mother beating her son severely, throwing him out of the house, and closing the door behind him. The boy sat crying, as he felt desperate and helpless. When his mother sent him away, he did not know where to go, who to ask for food or shelter, or where to sleep. All he could do was sit at his mother’s door crying and beseeching her to open the door for him. The boy’s compassionate mother, who was watching him from a hole in the door, suddenly opened the door and took her boy in her arms saying, “My love! My love! It was you who forced me to do this to you! Had you obeyed me, I would have never done you any harm!” When the scholar saw the compassionate mother embrace her son and kiss him lovingly, he said, “I’ve found my heart! I’ve found my heart!”

Hence, “Al-Haleem” (the Most Forbearing) is one of Allah’s Names that have to do with His Divine Acts. It means that He delays punishment for the sinners and wrongdoers. It can also be used to refer to Allah’s Divine Self or Attributes in the sense that He, Most Forbearing, does not have any initial rancor or hatred against any of His slaves.

In the same context, in a Divine Hadith, Allah says:

“O My slaves! I have forbidden injustice for Myself, and I have made it forbidden among you. O My slaves! If the first and last and the jinn and humans from among you had the heart of the most pious and dutiful one of you, this would increase nothing in My Kingdom. O My slaves! If the first and last and the jinn and humans from among you had the heart of the most profligate one of you, this would decreases nothing from My Kingdom. O My slaves! If the first and last and the jinn and humans from among you stood in one line to ask Me and I gave each and every one what they ask for, this would not decrease a thing of that which I have except as a needle would take from the ocean if it were dipped therein.”

[Narrated by Muslim on authority of Abu Thar]

In His Holy Quran, Allah says
“And Moses said: ‘If you disbelieve, you and all those on earth together, then verily, Allah is Self-Sufficient (Free from all needs), Owner of all Praise.” [XIV; 8]

He, All Mighty, also says:

“He (Allah) likes not disbelief for His slaves; and if you are grateful (by being believers), He is pleased therewith for you.” [XXXXIX; 7]

Allah, Most Forbearing, desires to make Himself known to us, so He has made the family system that overtly consists of father, mother, children, and bringing up, but is covertly meant to know Allah by way of similitude. Let’s have another more general example: How does Allah make the food that we eat, i.e. meat? Due to His Divine Wisdom, He makes the animal’s stature similar to that of a human being. Not every one of us is a physician, and not every one of us can see what is inside a human being: stomach, liver, intestines, lungs, heart, veins, arteries, muscles, nerves, glands, kidneys, brain, eye, bladder, ureter, …etc. But we see all of these parts of body every day at a butcher’s shop, where we can see and buy all of these things. At a butcher’s, we can see the different parts of the body. We buy a brain in order to eat it, but we should remember that it is the factory where the red blood corpuscles are made. It is due to Allah’s Infinite Divine Wisdom that He has made animals’ bodies like the human body. Those who do not go to a faculty of medicine can see the human body at a butcher’s.

Let’s go back to the parental system of the family. The father sometimes neglects himself for the sake of his children and in order to satisfy their needs, and so does the mother. Although the children are, quite often, impolite, rude, and disobedient to their parents, the parents’ hearts are so strongly attached to their children. Whenever a disobedient child returns to his father or mother with repentance, he/she is most warmly accepted and welcomed.

I think that the parental system in the family has another purpose than only bringing up of children. It is meant to help us know Allah, All Mighty, Most Gracious, by way of similitude. A father or mother does not have any rancor or hatred towards their children. On the contrary, parents are ready to sacrifice everything for their children and their happiness. In this context
someone was asking Allah’s Messenger, (PBUH), “How is it possible for Allah, the Most Merciful and Most Gracious, to cast a human being into Hell-Fire?” At that moment, a woman was standing aside with her beloved baby, kissing it tenderly. Allah’s Messenger, (PBUH), asked the man, “Is it possible for that woman to cast her baby into the fire?” “Of course not!” The man replied. Allah’s Messenger said, “I swear by the One Who has Muhammad’s soul in His Hand! Allah is more Merciful to His slave than that woman is to her baby!”

A loving father does not forsake his child, nor does a loving mother whose heart is full of love and compassion. But who has imbedded such amazingly great mercy and tenderness in the heart of the mother, who gets up several times in the night for the sake of her little baby, who cries earnestly if anything goes wrong with it, and who desires to give it her food, health and life? Hence, the family system has two goals, to bring up children and, more importantly, to know something about Allah’s Infinite Divine Mercy.

Sometimes, you see a horrible accident in which Allah’s Infinite Divine Mercy and Care are manifested clearly, for everybody is safe and well. Quite often, Allah’s Infinite Divine Mercy and Care make difficult things easy and turn distress into happiness and despair into hope. To this effect, the verses go:

Many a catastrophe a fellow may fail to bear,
With Allah is the way out thereof.
It had befallen, but after its rings had been so tightly wrought,
It was so easily, though so unexpectedly, unwrought.

Al-Khandaq Battle (the Ditch Battle) is not unknown to you, dear reader. In this battle, Allah, All Mighty, Most Gracious, desired to test truthfulness, perseverance, endurance and sincerity of true believers. To this effect, the Quranic Verses go:

“O you who believe! Remember Allah’s Favor to you: when there came against you hosts, and We sent against them a wind and forces that you saw not. And Allah is Ever All-Seer of what you do. When they came upon you from above you and from below you, and when the eyes grew wild and the hearts reached the throats, and you were harboring doubts about Allah. There, the believers were tried and shaken with a mighty shaking. And when the hypocrites and those in whose hearts is an ailment (of doubts) said: ‘Allah and His Messenger promised us nothing but delusion.”
[XXXIII; 9-12]

But afterwards, Allah, Most Forbearing, was Most Merciful to true believers, as He, All Mighty, honored them and granted them His Divine Help and Victory, although it seemed to believers that Islam was about to be eradicated from the surface of the earth, because that battle was not a matter of victory or defeat but of existence, i.e. to be or not to be, as is the case with all decisive battles.

I reiterate that Allah, All Mighty, is Most Forbearing; and it is well known that He loves perfection, that He is Good and accepts only good things, that He loves laudable things. In this context, dear readers should not understand from my words that Allah likes to be praised. Nay! He only loves perfection. He loves work that makes man praiseworthy. He loves forbearance He loves mercy. He loves equity. And He loves justice.
It is also well known that Allah’s Messenger, Muhammad, (PBUH), is the best human being and the most beloved to the Lord, Allah, All Mighty. During his lifetime, a woman committed adultery and, therefore, had to be punished by stoning. Her people came to the most beloved man to Allah’s Messenger, Usamah Bin Zaid, may Allah be please with him, asking him to intercede with him for her. Usamah came shyly to Allah’s Messenger asking him to have mercy on the woman. Allah’s Messenger, (PBUH), turned red with anger and said
“O Usamah! Do you intercede in one of Allah’s Divine Punishments?!”

Another story goes:

Narrated ‘A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, that the tribe of Quraish were concerned about the woman, from Makhzoom, who had stolen, and wondered who would talk to Allah’s Messenger for her. They said, “Who dare do so except Usamah Bin Zaid, whom he loves so much?” They went to Usamah, who, in turn, went to Allah’s Messenger, (PBUH), and talked to him for the woman. Allah’s Messenger, (PBUH), said angrily, “O Usamah! Do you intercede in one of Allah’s Divine Punishments?!” Then, he (PBUH), stood up among his Companions saying, “Verily, those who were before you were destroyed because when an eminent person from among them stole, they would leave him go (unpunished); but if an insignificant one stole, they would punish him. I swear by Allah! Even if Fatimah, daughter of Muhammad, were to steal, I would cut her hand off!”
[Sahih Al-Bukhari]

Allah does love work that entails praise to its doer. He loves good noble manners
“Verily, Allah is Most Generous; and He loves generosity. He loves Sublime issues and abhors lowly ones.”

[Narrated by Al-Khara’iti on authority of Talhah Bin ‘Ubaidillah Bin Kuraiz]

In fact, Allah loves you to be noble and highly respected by people.
Allah, All Mighty, loves those who are forbearing, because He is Most Forbearing, i.e. the Forbearing loves those who are as such. That is why our relationship with this Divine Name, “Al-Haleem” (the Most Forbearing), is that we should always be forbearing. But how can we be forbearing? This is a very important question.

Since Allah, All Mighty, loves all good qualities, one of which is forbearance, how can I be forbearing? In fact, contemplation on this Divine Name, “Al-Haleem” (the Most Forbearing), enables us to be forbearing. Another way is to feign forbearance, i.e. to simulate being forbearing.
Each and every one of us has got a certain status with Allah. Suppose a low-status person had to face a provocative situation: for example, after a long day of hunger, toil and trouble, he entered his home to find that his wife had gone to visit her family without his permission and had made no food for him. An ordinary person may reproach his wife severely, call her bad names and even beat her. But what does a true believer do? Allah, Most Gracious, says:

“…and those who repress anger and pardon (other) people; and verily, Allah loves the good-doers.” [III; 134]

In this Verse, Allah, the Most Forbearing, praises repression of anger and encourages His slaves to it. Allah’s Messenger, (PBUH), also encourages Muslims to simulate forbearance even though they might not really be forbearing. He invites them to control themselves at times of anger and to simulate forbearance even though they might be burning from inside like a volcano. They should feign being forbearing and show adequate patience. This is simulated forbearance. But if you ask yourself, “Why did I suppress my anger?” you answer yourself, “For the sake of Allah and because I love Him and seek His Divine Love, because I would like to be intimate to Him, because I would like to obey His Messenger. One time after another, you feel that Allah, Most Gracious, loves you and is pleased with you if you covenant Him to be forbearing.
Moreover, once you get connected with Allah, All Mighty, you realize that good manners are only His and that once He loves a slave of His, He grants him good manners.

In fact, there are two kinds of forbearance, one that is real and another that is simulated. The latter kind of forbearance is attainable by suppressing one’s anger and controlling oneself, despite the great anger and resentment burning inside.

In this context, the venerable Companion, Abuddarda’, may Allah be pleased with him, was quoted as saying, “knowledge is acquired by learning, and forbearance (is also acquired) by simulation of being forbearing. Goodness is given to those who seek it, and protection is also given to those who seek it.”

The above saying means that real forbearance is attainable by simulation of forbearance. In other words, after affecting forbearance one time after another, you become really forbearing. In this context, it has been rightly said, “A hero is not someone who commits highway robberies but someone who is pious and dutiful to the Lord, Allah, All Mighty. To this effect
Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him, quoted Allah’s Messenger, (PBUH), as saying “A strong person is not someone who fights others; a strong person is someone who controls himself in anger.”

Anas Bin Malik, may Allah be pleased with him, also narrated that Allah’s Messenger, (PBUH), passed by a woman crying at a grave. He, (PBUH), addressed her, “Fear Allah and be patient.” The woman, not knowing who the speaker was, said, “Leave me alone! You don’t have a disaster as mischievous as mine!” When she was told that the speaker was Allah’s Messenger, she went to him and found no gatekeepers. She apologized, “I’m sorry! I did not know it was you!” He, (PBUH), said, “Patience is but at the first shock.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari]

A few days ago, a man passed away, and one of his relatives uttered some angry words that do not befit Allah, All Mighty. After some time, he came round from his shock and sorrowfully regretted uttering such bad words. In other words, he failed the test. Yes, indeed! He failed the test, even if he had apologized a thousand times to the Lord. This is simply because patience is at the first shock. Upon receiving the painful news of his relative’s death, he should have said contentedly, “O Lord! Praise belongs to You. We are content with Your Divine Decree.” Such words reflect real Faith in Allah and contentment with His Infinite Wisdom and Divine Decree. Such good words reflect knowledge that Allah is All Wise and that all His Divine Acts bespeak His Absolute Divine Perfection, Justice and Mercy.

Therefore, forbearance is attained by constant simulation of being forbearing under all circumstances. Simulated forbearance, which is that of beginners, leads in the end to real forbearance. In other words, long sincere honest faithful strife to be forbearing is inevitably conducive to real forbearance. If you were to open the heart of a true believer, you would find it filled with peace and forbearance. When once a man addressed one of the Prophet’s venerable Companions with severe provocative words, the latter said calmly, “If what you say about me is true, I beseech Allah to forgive me. But if what you say about me is not true, I beseech Allah to forgive you.”

A lot of people destroy their future with their severe irrational reactions when they are enraged. Someone divorced his wife, from whom he had three children, and, thus, committed a terrible crime.

A businessman had a row with one of his employees, so he sacked him. In the employer’s warehouses, there were some smuggled goods. Therefore, the employee informed the authorities, who confiscated the goods and fined the employer 600,000 in the year 1970, i.e. more than six million pounds these days. The employer, who got furious with what the employee did to him, shot the employee with his gun and had to spend 30 years in prison. That was all because of anger and irrationality. Such irrational actions that lack forbearance are really too serious. A great many families, companies, and businesses have been destroyed due to lack of forbearance, which protects people from foolish irrational deeds and fill their hearts with peace and tolerance. I reiterate: if you were to open the heart of a true believer, you would find it filled with peace, tolerance and forbearance.

I have heard of a man whose wife was ignorant of the regulations of Islamic religion, particularly those concerned with the way women should speak to foreigner men in public places. While she was buying some things at a shop, ad while she was speaking to the shopkeeper, she unintentionally used certain words from which the shopkeeper misunderstood that she intended to invite him to her house for an indecent relationship. So, he waited until her husband was out, went to the woman and rang the doorbell. When the woman came to open the door, he tried to force himself into the house. The woman was greatly surprised and tried to stop him, but he rudely pushed her in and began to seduce her to indecent work. The woman shouted to her little son, who was in the house, and told him to go to his father for help. The boy went to his father and told him, “O Dad! There is a man in our house, trying to attack my mother!” The father furiously rushed to the house, and when he saw the man with his wife, he locked the door and called the police, who arrested both his wife and the shopkeeper and took them to the police station. Then, the man unjustly accused his wife publicly and even divorced her. Later on, he found out that she was innocent and pure although she was not careful enough with her words to the immoral shopkeeper, who tried to force her to an indecent relation. He felt regretful and came to me in order to help him reclaim his wife. Undoubtedly, the wife committed a foolish naïve mistake by not being careful enough with her words to the shopkeeper, but the husband committed an even more foolish and serious mistake when he defamed his wife by accusing her publicly and even divorcing her. He was completely ignorant of the teachings of Allah’s Messenger, (PBUH), when a similar thing happened to him, when his innocent holy wife, ‘A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, was unjustly and unfairly accused of indecency. When Allah’s Messenger, (PBUH), heard the evil painful slander against his chaste wife, ‘A’ishah, he remained for a whole month in a state of utmost forbearance and self-control, until Allah, All Mighty, revealed the truth and put an end to such false accusation. In short, without forbearance, anger may turn people into erupting volcanoes that devastate everything in their way. In this context, it has been rightly said:
“Forbearance is acquired by simulation of being forbearing, generosity is acquired by simulation of being generous, and knowledge is acquired by learning.”

You simulate forbearance, you suppress your anger, you endure patiently, and you strive until you establish a kind of real connection with the Lord, Allah, All Mighty, Most Gracious. You fight against your own desires and caprices, and you remember Allah’s Messenger’s words that he said after he returned from one of his holy battles: “We have returned from the minor strife to the major strife, namely that against our own desires and caprices.”

You turn to Allah, All Mighty, Most Gracious, in order to color yourself with His Divine Name “Al-Haleem” (the Most Forbearing). Then, you really become forbearing, i.e. Allah, Most Gracious, makes you forbearing. What does Allah say in this context? He, Glory to Him, says
“And seek help in patience and prayer; and truly it is extremely heavy and hard except for those who obey Allah with full submission.” [II; 45]

By virtue of the above Verses, Allah, Most Gracious, bids you first to be patient and then to perform prayer, which brings you a lot of good: forbearance, mercy and equity.
In the battle of Al-Khandaq (the Ditch), the holy Prophet, (PBUH), was accompanied by three thousand venerable Companions. It was very cold, and there was hunger and fear. The pagan army was more than 10,000 fighters who came in order to eradicate Muslims from the face of the earth. The holy Prophet was with his venerable Companions in the ditch, digging and fortifying their places, although they were stricken by starvation. One of the Prophet’s Companions, who could not stand the situation any more, stood up and asked permission to go back home in order to make some food for the Prophet. By the way, due to their great love for the holy Prophet, his venerable Companions would never feel like eating without him. However, after some time, the man came back with a slaughtered sheep and some bread of ground barley, but the food was not enough for all of the Companions to eat. Could the holy Prophet eat alone or with a small group of his Companions, leaving the others to starve? Of course not! So what did he do? He called out: “Your brother so and so invites you all to have food with him.” The man was so embarrassed, because he had made food that was enough only for the Prophet and three or four other men, but there were thousands of hungry warriors. The holy Prophet, who was most compassionate and merciful to everyone, did not eat one single piece of food alone, but invited everyone to take part in the meal. He was, as Allah described him:

“He (Allah’s Messenger, Muhammad) is full of pity, kind, and merciful to believers.” [IX; 128]

In our modern times of hypocrisy, you find a great many people cunningly feign to be merciful and forbearing. When the electric current was cut off in one of the American cities for only one hour one night, more than two hundred thousand robberies were committed despite all of the stern security measures taken. This shows clearly that greatness of religion lies in the fact that it creates in man an inner moral self-deterrence rather than a fake external compulsory deterrence imposed by laws or authorities. Laws are meant to deter people by force. For example, so long as roads are under radar control, no one exceeds the speed limit, but when roads are not under control, people usually exceed the speed limit, unless they have an inner self-deterrence. In other words, without such moral and value-based self-deterrence that religion creates in people, no one would obey man-made laws and restrictions. In fact, moral and religious values make people as pure and holy as angels.

Two days ago, I attended a party celebrating the Prophet’s birthday, and I delivered a speech that I began like this: Abdullah Bin Omar, may Allah be pleased with them, desired to test a shepherd, so he asked him, “Give me that sheep and I’ll give you some money for it.” The shepherd said, “It does not belong to me.” Abdullah said, “Tell its owner that it died or was eaten by a wolf.” The shepherd said, “By Allah! I am in bad need of the money that you shall give me for the sheep! And if I said to its owner that it died or was eaten by a wolf, he would believe me, because he trusts me and thinks I am honest and trustworthy. But man! Where is Allah?!” Such shepherd knew the essence of religion.

I think it is hard these days to find believers who say, “Where is Allah?” when they buy or sell, when they speak to others, when they describe, or when they praise. Very often these days, merchants praise and over-estimate badly selling goods in order to persuade customers to buy them. But what does Allah’s Messenger, (PBUH), say in this respect?

Narrated Al-Asbahani on authority of Mou’ath Bin Jabal: Allah’s Messenger, (PBUH), said: “Verily, the best earning is that of merchants who do not tell lies when they speak, who do not fail to keep their promises when they make promises, who do not betray when they are trusted, who do not dispraise things when they (desire to) buy them, who do not praise things when they (desire to) sell them, who do not delay discharging their debts when they are in debt, and who do not put pressure on their debtors when they are creditors.”

It was related that when Abraham, (PBUH), once saw someone who was involved in a sinful deed, he invoked, “O Allah! Cause him to perish!” But Allah, Most Gracious, revealed to Abraham, “If We (Allah) were to destroy all sinful slaves, there would remain only a few. Nay! if the one of them commits a sinful deed, We give him a respite (to reform and repent). If he repents, We accept him. But if he insists (on committing sinful deeds), We delay punishment for him, as We know that he cannot get away from our Dominion.”

After one of the Prophet’s Companions had converted to Islam and persuaded his parents and wife to do, he went to his people and found them indulged in adultery. He went back to the holy Prophet, (PBUH), saying, “O Allah’s Messenger! Beseech Allah to destroy them!” The compassionate holy Prophet, (PBUH), said, “No my brother! I shall beseech Allah to forgive them and have mercy on them. A Prophet is not meant to be a curser.”

Of course, if things were left up to people, they would destroy one another. But Allah is Most Merciful.

It is related that a young man committed a lot of sins, but he did not insist on them, as every now and them, he would repent and regret. When Satan noticed this, he whispered to him, “How long will you be still doing this: committing sins and then repenting, repenting and then committing sins?” In fact, Satan desired to make the young man despair of Allah’s Mercy. But when the night came, the young man performed ablution and stood up to perform prayer. Then, he looked up, invoking the Lord, Most Gracious, “O You, Who have safeguarded those who are safeguarded, Who have protected those who are protected, Who have reformed those who are reformed! If You safeguard me, You shall find me safeguarded! If You neglect me, You shall find me desperate! My forelock is in Your Hand! My debts are in Your Hand! O You, Who cause the hearts to fluctuate (between belief and disbelief)! Let my heart cling firmly to Your Religion!” Allah, Glory to Him, addressed His angels, “O My angels! Don’t you hear what he is saying? Bear witness that I have forgiven him all of his foregoing sins!” To the same effect, in His Divine Book, the Holy Quran, Allah, Most Gracious, says:

“Say (O Muhammad) (to) My slaves who have transgressed against themselves: ‘Despair not of Allah’s Mercy. Verily, Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.’”
[XXXIX; 53]

Joseph, the holy Prophet, (PBUH), set an amazing example of truthful modesty and sincere servitude to the Lord, Allah, All Mighty. He, (PBUH), said:

“O my Lord! Prison is more desired for me than that to which they (the women) invite me. And unless You turn away their plot from me, I will feel inclined to them and be one of the (sinful) ignorant.” [XII; 33]

A dear brother, whom I knew was an enthusiastic repentant believer, once came to me crying sorrowfully. “What’s the matter?” I asked. “I can’t lower my gaze! I can’t help looking at indecent women!” He said regretfully. “Why don’t you repent to Allah?” I asked. “I’ve done, many times!” He replied, “But I keep breaking my promise over and over again! I can’t help it!” While the man was complaining to me, it suddenly occurred to me that when he repented to the Lord, Allah, All Mighty, for the first time, which was long ago, he felt so proud of himself and looked upon sinners and wrongdoers disdainfully and accused them of profligacy and infidelity. Therefore, Allah, All Mighty, desired to punish him and made him weak towards women and unable to lower his gaze. This soon drove him to turn to Allah with repentance most weakly and humbly. That man might have forgotten that none could ever safeguard man from sins except Allah’s Divine Might and that nothing could ever help him obey Allah except His Divine Power. He might have forgotten the basic and most important Verse of the first Surah of the Holy Quran:

“You, (Alone), (O Allah) we worship, and You, (Alone), we ask for help.” [I; 5]

He seems to have remembered
“You, (Alone), (O Allah) we worship”

but forgotten
“and You, (Alone), we ask for help.”

Undoubtedly, the feeling of being in bad need of Allah, All Mighty, is very helpful.
Abu Hanifah, the knowledgeable venerable religious scholar, had a noisy troublesome drunkard neighbor, a singer whose loud songs used to disturb the whole neighborhood. His most favorite song was:

They have ruined me, and what a great man they have ruined!
To a day of mischief and a secret plague!

One night, Abu Hanifah didn’t hear any noise coming from the neighbor’s house, so he asked about him, and soon learnt that for some reason or another the governor had imprisoned him. Being highly respected by the governor, Abu Hanifah helped his neighbor, the young profligate singer, to get out of prison, although the governor did not expect that Abu Hanifah, the venerable religious scholar, would himself come to intercede for such profligate man. However, Abu Hanifah took the young man by the hand and asked him, “O man! You say ‘they have ruined me, and what a great man they have ruined!’ Did we really ruin you?!” Such noble compassionate attitude on the part of Abu Hanifah towards his irreligious neighbor made him repent and reform. This means that if you are forbearing with a deviant irreligious person, that may be the cause of his repentance and reform, but if you reproach him and consider him as a profligate irreligious person, and if you curse him, you may make him even worse than he is. In this context, we should follow the good example of our Prophet, Muhammad, (PBUH), who never cursed anyone. We should never curse anyone. We are not judges, and we are not meant to judge people or call them for accounting. We are only preachers and callers for the Lord, Allah, Most Gracious.

Undoubtedly, forbearance safeguards us from committing a great many foolish irrational destructive deeds. Forbearance is also very helpful in guiding people and calling them to Allah, Most Forbearing, and His Religion. Forbearance is something desirable, as it makes one almost a holy Prophet. That is why it is rightly said:

“Forbearance is the best policy.”

By forbearance you are greatly admired and highly respected by people. That is why Malik Bin Dinar, a well-known religious scholar and Imam, said: One of our neighbors was a profligate irreligious man who did a lot of trouble and mischief to his neighbors, who detested him and were so desirous to get rid of him. One day, the neighbors came to me, complaining about him. I summoned him and told him either to repent and reform or to go away. When he refused to comply with our wishes, we threatened to complain to the Sultan, but he said, “The Sultan knows about me.” We said, “We shall invoke Allah against you.” He replied, “Allah is more Merciful to me than you are.” His stubborn rude rejection made me very angry; and when it was the night, I stood up to perform prayer and invoke Allah against the man. Suddenly, a secret voice came from inside me, “Do not invoke Allah against him! Invoke Allah to help him repent and reform!” However, the man repented and reformed and turned to Allah with true faith and sincere devotion. Later, when it was time for the Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca), Imam Malik saw the man going round the Ka’bah wailing sincerely.

Imam Malik Bin Dinar also related another similar story in which he said that while he was walking down town, he saw a drunkard lying unconsciously on the ground with foam on his lips, saying “Allah, Allah”. The great holy religious scholar, Imam Malik, was shocked to hear Allah’s Name on the defiled mouth of a drunkard. So, he came to him gently and began to wipe his mouth for him tenderly. The Imam was very kind to the man although he was in a miserable repulsive state. When the man came round later, he was told that the venerable Imam Malik Bin Dinar took care of him while he was lying unconsciously on the ground. The man was so impressed by the Imam’s compassionate attitude that he began to cry both thankfully and regretfully. By the way, most sinners and wrongdoers have delicacy of feeling that, very often, makes them cry. However, the Imam went to bed that night; and in his sleep he dreamed of a voice coming from the Lord, Allah, Most Gracious: “O Malik! You purified the man’s mouth for Us, so We purified his heart for you.” And when the Imam went out to perform Salat Al-Fajr (the Dawn Prayer) in the mosque, he saw a man standing alone praying and wailing. The Imam asked the man, “Who are you, may Allah have mercy on you?” The man answered, “The One Who rightly guided me (i.e. Allah) told you about me.”

You cannot imagine how great is a true believer’s feeling when he guides to Allah a deviant profligate person who wrongly believes that Allah is not Just or Merciful. If you can convince someone who is far astray and gradually help him obey Allah and stick to His Right Path, you are a real hero.

A knowledgeable religious scholar once told his disciple, “O son! A good righteous person is not in need of your preaching, but a deviant profligate is.” You are a hero when you can admonish and help not the righteous and virtuous but the disobedient and deviant. And the prostitute who saw a dog that was dying of thirst and hastened to offer it water to drink and whose sins were, therefore, forgiven by the Lord, Allah, the Most Forbearing, is a good example of sincere repentance and faithful righteous work, even if it were to a brute animal.

In Allah’s Book, the Glorious Quran, the holy Prophet, Abraham, (PBUH), invoked the Lord
“My Lord! Grant me good judgment and join me with the righteous.” [XXVI; 83]

And Allah, Most Forbearing, answered Abraham’s invocation by granting him a forbearing son.
Religious scholars say, “The Forbearing One is He Who forgives all sins and covers all faults.” It is also said: “The Forbearing One is He Who forgives after He covers. The Forbearing One is He Who maintains love, keeps promises, and fulfills covenants. The Forbearing One is He Who forgives the disobedient and rebellious. And the Forbearing One is He Who is not angered by disobedience of the disobedient or transgression of transgressors.”

Whenever a true believer meets a sinful deviant person, he treats him gently and tenderly and is never arrogant or haughty to him. Whenever a true believer sees a sinful person, he thinks to himself, “Such a sinful person may, one day, turn to the Lord, All Mighty, Most Forbearing, with sincere repentance and truthful devotion, and, thus, become better and dearer to Allah than I am.”

I reiterate: Never belittle or disparage a sinful person, but beseech Allah to rightly guide him and help him repent and reform. Be kind and merciful to sinners and wrongdoers. Remember what the venerable Companion, Habashi, did before he embraced Islam. He killed the venerable Companion, Hamzah. But when he returned to Allah with sincere repentance and truthful devotion, Allah accepted his repentance and joined him with the righteous.

Also, remember Souhail Bin ‘Amr, whose head the venerable Companion, Omar Bin Al-Khattab, wished to chop off with his sword, because when Allah’s Messenger asked Souhail to write: “This is what Allah’s Messenger, Muhammad, has agreed upon,” the latter refused to write down or acknowledge that Muhammad, (PBUH), was Allah’s Messenger, but rudely said, “Had we believed in you, we would never have rejected your call. I shall write down ‘Muhammad son of Abdullah.’” In fact, Souhail was so rude and impolite to Allah’s Messenger that Omar Bin Al-Khattab was on the point of killing Souhail with his sword. But Allah’s Messenger, (PBUH), stopped Omar, saying, “O Omar! You may, one day, hear from him (i.e. Souhail) words for which you praise him.” In fact, upon Allah’s Messenger’s death, Souhail said excellent praiseworthy words.

Also, ‘Umair Bin Wahab was more detested to Omar than a pig when ‘Umair entered upon Allah’s Messenger in order to kill him and rid pagans of Mecca of him. But when ‘Umair got out of Allah’s Messenger’s place after having embraced Islam and become a truthful devoted Muslim, he became dearer to Omar than some of his own children.

To wrap up, we do beseech Allah to grant us forbearance, as it is a most laudable attribute, and since we are studying Allah’s Beautiful Divine Names and Attributes in order to color ourselves with them.

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