Allah’s name Al-Haleem— The Most Forbearing, The Calm Abiding, The Most Kind and Gentle— occurs eleven times in the Quran. He is the One who keeps on bestowing blessings, both visible and hidden, even though we disobey Him. Al-Haleem can punish us instantly, yet how often He grants us respite in a mild and serene manner, giving us the chance to turn back to Him!
Most Forbearing, Calm Abiding, Most Kind and Serene
Haleem comes from the root Haa-laam-meem, which points three main meanings. The first main meaning is to be forbearing, lenient and to be forgiving and the second is to be calm and serene. The third main meaning is to be not hasty and exhibit moderation.
This root appears 21 times in the Quran in two derived forms. Examples of these forms are ahlaamin (dreams), al-huluma (puberty), ahlaamuhum (their minds), and haleemin (forbearing).
Linguistically, the concept of hilm refers to the patience that arises from a sense of deep serenity and lenience and the concept of sabr points to the patience that arises by self-restraint and enduring something without complaint. Al-Haleem: . . . observes disobedience to Him, yet anger doesn’t incite Him, nor does wrath seize Him, nor do haste and recklessness move Him to rush to take vengeance even though He’s utterly capable of doing that. [Al-Ghazali]
Al-Haleem Himself says: If you loan Allah a goodly loan, He will multiply it for you and forgive you. And Allah is Most Appreciative and Forbearing [Quran, 64:17]. . . And Allah is Forgiving and Forbearing. [Quran, 2:225]
Why does Al-Haleem delay punishment?
Al-Haleem Himself says: And if Allah were to punish people for what they have earned, He would not leave upon the earth any creature. But He gives them respite for a specified term. [Quran, 35:45] Al-Haleem can delay a punishment to give you time to return to Him, seek His forgiveness, and change your ways, because He is forbearing. He can even cancel your punishment altogether. Isn’t Al-Haleem acting out His love for us in an amazing way?
The hilm of people versus the hilm of Allah
Imagine that you got caught doing something bad, but the person let’s it slide and doesn’t punish you or embarrass you. Would you feel embarrassment, relief, and gratitude, telling them you’re not going to do it again and be grateful for their forbearance? What about Allah? Every single day we do things we shouldn’t, and in most instances He lets it go. Because He is Al-Haleem, His hilm is far above any forbearance a human being can ever show.
A beautiful similitude: parents and children
The parental system teaches us about Al-Haleem; the father and mother don’t have any rancour or hatred towards their children. In fact, they’re ready to sacrifice everything for their happiness. In this context Umar ibn al-Khattaab said: Some prisoners were brought to the Messenger of Allah, and there was a woman among the prisoners who was searching (for her child). When she found her child she embraced him and put him to her breast. The Messenger of Allah said to us, ‘Do you think that this woman would throw her child in the fire? We said, No, by Allah, not if she is able not to. The Messenger of Allah said, Allah is more merciful to His slaves than this woman is to her child. [Al-Bukhaaree, Muslim] Who imbedded the great mercy and tenderness in a loving mother’s heart? Allah Al-Haleem.
How Can You Live by This Name?
1. Be forbearing to others: contemplate and practice.
No matter your temper, everyone can practice developing forbearance. The Prophet salallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said to Ashajj ‘Abdu’l-Qays: You have two qualities which Allah loves: forbearance and steadiness. [Muslim] Is it forbearance when you let it slide once or twice but explode the third time because you have so much rancour inside you? Many relationships get destroyed because of moments of rage. Hilm is when you’re in a position to show your anger but still hold it back. How? Let Al-Haleem inspire you. Another way is to simulate forbearance for the sake of Al-Haleem, even though you feel enraged. Tell yourself: I’m suppressing my anger because I love Him and seek His Love, because I want to be close to Him, and because I would like to obey His messenger.
2. Don’t take advantage of the hilm of Allah.
Al-Haleem says to the people who inherited a garden but didn’t let the poor benefit from it: Such is the punishment [of this world]. And the punishment of the Hereafter is greater, if they only knew. [Quran, 68:33] This punishment was a wake-up call for them and a mercy, because they realized their mistake. If Allah had allowed them to do as they wanted, their punishment in the Hereafter would be unforeseen. So know that Al-Haleem did set rules out for you and never take advantage of His forbearance.
3. Show a good example to a sinful person.
Never be arrogant to a sinning person and try to advise him gently and by showing a good example. Think to yourself: such a sinful person may, one day, turn to Al-Haleem with sincere repentance and become better and dearer to Allah than I am. Only put a person in check for the sake of Allah, so that they are made aware of the consequences of their actions and return to Allah.
4. Be grateful for the hilm of Allah.
Just like you would be grateful to anyone who overlooks your faults and mistakes, recognize the extreme and intense forbearance of Al-Haleem towards you and return to Him after you sin. And as a way of being thankful to al-Haleem for His forbearance, remember to train yourself to be forbearing.
5. Make dua for hilm.
Make dua to Al-Haleem, asking Him for His forbearance for yourself and your loved ones. And ask Him to forgive you, because only He can protect you from His justified anger.
O Allah Al-Haleem, we know You are the Most Forbearing and You delay and cancel Your Punishment with great Wisdom. Protect us from taking advantage of Your Hilm by persisting in bad deeds, aid us to return to You after we sin, adorn us with gratitude for Your Forbearance and patience in hardships, make us of those who are forbearing and kind to others, never be arrogant and help us to develop hilm in times of anger, ameen!
And Allah knows best.