Al-Halim Implies That Despite Having the Unlimited Power to Punish, Allah Almighty Forgives Sinners
1. Halim literally denotes a person who has the power to punish but chooses not to.
2. Even while Allah possesses unlimited power to exact rapid vengeance, He is not someone who is motivated by hurry and recklessness to do so, because He is Al-Halim.
3. Our Lord Allah is Al-Halim, So we also must be kind to others and forgive their transgressions.
By Kaniz Fatma, New Age Islam
26 July 2022
Al-Halim is one of the 99 names of Allah which are revered by Muslims. The word "Halim" derives from the Arabic word "hilm" which has the following traditional connotations: being forbearing, moderate, lenient, clement; being forgiving, gentle, and methodical; acting deliberately and not hastily; being calm and serene; managing one's temper; or displaying moderation. Halim is used in the Quran, the Sunnah, and other Islamic books to denote the attribute of Allah that, although having the ability to punish, He Almighty forgives offenders when they repent.
Imam Al Ghazali translates Al-Halim as "The Non-Precipitate and Forbearing One" in his work "Al-Maqsad Al-Asna fi Sharah Asma' Allahu al-Husna" ("The greatest way in describing Allah's Beautiful Names"). He asserts that Allah is “the One Who is not angered or inflamed by anger despite witnessing the disobedient disobey and the command (amr) being violated. Even while He possesses unlimited power to exact rapid vengeance, He is not someone who is motivated by hurry and recklessness to do so”. He then reads verse 35:45 from the Quran, which states that “If Allah were to impose blame on the people for what they have earned, He would not leave upon the earth any creature....”
Al-Sa’di wrote in his Tafsir book that “Al-Halim is the One Who continues to shower His creation with blessings, both obvious and subtle, despite their disobedience and numerous errors. As a result, He pardons sinners and spares them from receiving the just punishment they deserve; He also inspires them to repent and provides them time to turn to Him.”
Although Allah has the power to chastise offenders and destroy them all, He chooses to have mercy on them and postpones the punishment. Allah Almighty is al-Halim (the Forgiving) in this regard. Those who disobey Him are not immediately punished by Him. In case they decide to alter their minds, He gives them some time. He has the power to punish and seize all violators at once, yet He chooses not to.
If a person lacks the power to punish, they cannot be called Halim. There are so many powerless individuals who, if given the power, would destroy towns and populations. If they do not punish, they are not considered Halim since they lack the power to do so. Halim denotes a person who has the power to punish but chooses not to. In this sense, Allah is the Halim. Despite having the ability to command the stars to move like catapult stones with a single command, He does not chastise those who offend Him and does not immediately capture them. He offers them time to repent.
The Word ‘Al-Halim’ in the Quran
Numerous verses in the Quran make reference to Al-Halim. Examples include 2:235, 2:263, 4:12, 5:101, 17:44, 22:59, 33:51, 35:41, and 64:17. Al-Halim appears frequently alongside other Names of Allah in the Quran.
For instance, Al-Halim may occasionally be paired with Al Ghafur in the Quran (The Most Forgiving One). In such a place, the commentators suggest that in addition to forgiving us and covering up our transgressions, Allah also remains patient and overlooks them. He also protects us from the repercussions of our transgressions. This is the case due to the assertion that Al Ghafur derives from the word Ghafara, which means to cover.
Al-Halim is also combined with Al-Aleem (The All-Knowing), another attribution name. According to the commenters, this combination shows that even though He is aware of our actions, He is still in control of His rage even though we deserve to be the ones to experience His rage.
Al-Halim is also combined with Al-Ghani (The Self Sufficient, Rich beyond any need). Some commentators interpret this coupling to suggest that although He doesn't require anything from us, He nonetheless pardons us for our transgressions and sins. This demonstrates His Clemency Attribute. It can be argued that when a judge or a police officer absolves someone of a crime, they may have done so because of some benefits. In no way, shape, or form does Allah gain anything from any of his creations. When the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) said in verse 14:8 of the Quran, "If you were to be ungrateful, you and everyone on Earth, Allah is Rich beyond Need, Praiseworthy," he was expressing a profound understanding of this.
In the Quran, Al-Halim is likewise coupled with His Name As-Shakur (The Appreciative). Combining these two facts could mean that believers will not only have their sins forgiven, but will also get blessings that go above and beyond what they deserve.
The Word ‘Al-Halim’ in the Hadith
Imam Ahmad, Imam Bukhari, and Imam Muslim mention a hadith in their Hadith books, that it was narrated by Hazrat Ibn Abbas that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) advocated uttering this supplication during times of difficulty:
“La ilaha illallahul-Azimul-Halim. La ilaha illallahu Rabbul-'Arshil-'Azim. La ilaha illallahu Rabbus-samawati, wa Rabbul-ardi, wa Rabbul-'Arshil- Karim.”
This means “None has the right to be worshipped but Allah the Incomparably Great, the Compassionate. None has the right to be worshipped but Allah the Lord of the Mighty Throne. None has the right to be worshipped but Allah the Lord of the heavens, the Lord of the earth, and the Lord of the Honourable Throne." (Riyad as-Salihin, Book 17, Hadith 1502)
On the authority of Hazrat Ali ibn Abi Talib, Imam Tabarani related that the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) instructed him (Hazrat Ali) to use the following phrases at times of fear:
“La Ilaha Illallahu al-Halim al-Karim, Subhanallah wa Tabarak Allah Rabb al-Arsh al-Adheem, wal Hamdulillahi Rabbil Aalameen”
This means: “There is no god but Allah, The Generous and Forgiving. All praise is due to Allah, The Lord of the Mighty Throne, and Blessed is He, The Creator of the Universe.”
He is such a Halim that He covers errors, forgives sins, and absolves the repentant. His mercy and forgiveness both outweigh His wrath and torture. He offers rebels safety, gives those who despair hope, and saves those who sin. He does not instantly chastise the culprits. He hides unpleasant stuff. He doesn't rip the covering off of misdeeds. His pity is great, His forgiveness is great, and his forbearance is lovely.
We should learn the following lessons from His Name Al-Halim. First and foremost, we need to understand that the reason we are not immediately punished for our misdeeds is not that they are unknown or because we are invisible. Because of the revelation of the name of al-Halim on us, we do not immediately incur the consequences of our misdeeds. We shouldn't imagine that Allah is unaware of us, unconcerned about our disobedience, unaware of our wrongdoings, or willing to absolve us of the consequences of our disobedience.
Absolutely not! And by God! He is familiar with us. He is closer to us than the veins in our jugulars. But since He is Halim, He gives us some time and does not catch us right away. His gracious treatment of us is for His being Al-Halim. In contrast, He will treat us with His names al-Aziz (the Mighty), al-Jalil (the Glorious), and al-Qahhar (the Subduer) instead of His name al-Halim when we no longer merit this name. Knowing this, we must all pray for one another, asking Allah to always treat and forgive us in the name of Al-Halim.
We can infer the following things from understanding this Attribute of Allah. Almighty Allah is al-Halim; He is kind to us. He doesn't immediately capture us because of our crimes, and He doesn't humiliate us because of our disobedience. Therefore, we ought to be trained in this good behaviour and be kind to those who make mistakes. We should ignore their transgressions, cover them up, and allow them some leeway; we should also avoid being egotistical or arrogant.
Kaniz Fatma is a classic Islamic scholar and a regular columnist for New Age Islam.
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