Allāh's Attribute of Al-Kareem
(The Generous, The Forbearing, The Holy, The Noble, The Glorious, The All Laudable)
By Dr. Muhammad Ratib An-Nabulsi
In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;
All the praise and Thanks is due to Allāh, the Lord of al-‘ālameen. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam is His Messenger.
(The Most Generous, The Forbearing, The Holy, The Noble, The Glorious, The All Laudable,The Most Bountiful, The Most Esteemed, The Beneficent )
It means Allāh Almighty is:
· The One who is the most generous, both physically and spiritually.
· The One who is continually giving forth the grandest and most precious bounty.
· The One whose kind, noble and generous essence is most esteemed, valued and honored.
· The One who endlessly gives all manner of precious gifts, including support and refuge.
· The One who is eternally giving, even unto those who may not seem (to us) to be deserving.
From the root k-r-m which has the following classical Arabic connotations:
· to be noble, grand, high minded
· to be generous, giving, beneficent
· to be highly esteemed, honored, prized, valued
· to be excellent, precious, valuable, rare
· to be productive, fruitful
Allāh is “Kareem” in the sense that whenever He gives He gives most generously; and when He is disobeyed, He forgives most forbearingly.
Al-Kareem is one of Allāh’s divine names that can be attributed also to human beings; such a name embraces many great meanings: “the generous”, “the holy”, “the noble”, “the glorious” …etc
The Name Al-Kareem is confirmed by Allāh’s words: “O man! What has made you careless about your Lord, Al-Kareem (the All Laudable), Who created you, fashioned you perfectly and gave you due proportion? In whatever shape He willed, He put you together.” (Al-Infitar, 82: 5-8)
Allāh’s name “Al-Kareem” is also used in the emphatic form “Al-Akram” (the ever most generous) in the Qur’an: “Read in the Name of your Lord, Who has created (all that exists), Who has created man from a clot! Read! And your Lord is Al-Akram (The Ever All Laudable), Who has taught (the writing) by the pen, Who has taught man that which he knew not.” (Al-Alaq, 96: 1-5)
Linguists say: “Each and every laudable thing is described as being ‘Kareem’.” This adds a lot more meanings to the word “Kareem” than that commonly understood as “generous” (giving, or ready to give, freely).
The Arabic word “Kareem” embraces all illaudable qualities as: forbearing, generous, kind, gentle, patient, self-possessed, manly, noble, pure…etc.
Likewise, “Kareem” includes all laudable and admirable human qualities, contrary to “La’eem”, which embraces all illaudable qualities, such as: miserly, mean, arrogant, tyrannical, ungrateful, selfish…etc. includes all lowly illaudable ones.
Therefore, the word “Kareem” does not only mean “generous” but also “forbearing”, “kind”, “merciful”, “compassionate”, “pure”, “honest”, “friendly”, “fair”, …etc.
Precious stones, such as diamonds, rubies, and pearls are described in Arabic as“Kareem” (precious).
Another meaning is “of noble birth”. To this effect, Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) says: “Joseph is the noblest of all mankind.”
The word “Kareem” also means, “good looking”. As for the expression “Al-Maqam Al-Kareem”, the laudable station, it means paradise, where there is no fatigue, fear, worry, sadness, envy, hatred or any other troublesome thing whatsoever.
“Kareem” is ‘something that is very scarce, badly needed and cannot be done without.’
The word “Kareem” also means, “dear, most beloved, and most honorable”.
Also, the word “Kareem” means full of benefits and uses.
Allāh’s book, the Qur’an, is “Kareem” in the sense that it is full of benefits, facts, and guidance, it is full of good things and blessings, it is perfect in every sense of the word, and it is free from any defect or imperfection. It is “Kareem” perfect and free from any defect or imperfection.
A female camel is said to be “Kareemah” if she produces a lot of milk.
Grapes are also called in Arabic “Karmah” because they are full of benefits: They provide people with shade and delicious nutritive wholesome fruits.
Also, the expression “Makarim Al-Akhlaq” means the very best, purest and most noble manners and characters.
Now, when we describe Allāh as being “Kareem”, this means that He is all laudable, as He described Himself: “O man! What has deceived you as to your Lord, the All Laudable?” (Al-Infitar, 82: 6)
Different Meanings of Allāh’s Name Al-Kareem
Accurately and comprehensively, Allāh’s divine name, Al-Kareem denotes that His Existence is definitive. He is free from any defect or imperfection. He is the All Mighty and no one but Him deserves to be worshipped. This can be summed up in three notions with regards to Allāh: His existence, oneness, and perfection. In this sense Allāh is “Kareem”; He exists, He is one, and He is perfect. These three accurate divine attributes that have to do with Allāh’s name Al-Kareem can be explained as follows:
1 - Allāh is “Kareem” in the sense that He initiates His divine favors to His slaves, even though they do not deserve such favors. Out of His divine grace, He brings us into existence even though He is not obliged to do so. In other words, He bestows His divine favor upon us by bringing us into existence.
2 - When we invoke Allāh, “Ya Kareem Al-‘Afuw” (O All Pardoning!).This means that Allāh’s divine pardon does not mean only canceling His punishment for you but also making people forget your sin and: Due to Allāh’s infinite pardon, He, all pardoning, makes you forget the sin you have committed: “If a believer returns to Allāh with true sincere repentance, Allāh makes him, the angels and the whole world, forget his sins and misdeeds.” Delicately, due to Allāh’s infinite divine grace, if a believer commits a certain sin and then, for some reason or another, forgets it, Allāhdeals with him generously and makes him live happily and comfortably.
3 - Another meaning of Allāh’s name Al Kareem is that He covers His slave’s sins, and faults. That is why Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) says: “O Allah! I seek refuge with You from an evil neighbor: if he sees anything good (of me), he conceals it; but if he sees anything evil, he reveals it. O Allah! I seek refuge with You from an evil Imam (master): if I do well, he does not accept; but if I do badly, he does not forgive.”
4 - Allāh is Al-Kareem in the sense that He, the All Laudable, unveils His slave’s good deeds and qualities and veils his evil ones and keeps them secret.
5 - One of the beautiful meanings of Allāh’s name Al-Kareem is that He overlooks His slave’s sins and misdeeds although the latter is never unaware of them. To this effect, He says:
“Think you not that Allah is unaware of that which the wrong-doers do. It is only that He gives them a respite up to a Day when the eyes will stare in horror.” (Ibrahim, 14: 42)
For the same purport Allāh’s words stand: “And Sufficient is your Lord as an All-Knower and All-Beholder of the sins of His slaves.” (Al-Isra’, 17: 17)
6 - Allāh as well is Al-Kareem that if His slaves turn to Him with little sincere acts of devotion, He rewards them generously. In your present life, you offer to Allāh only a limited number of good righteous deeds: you help the poor and needy, you offer some prayers and acts of devotion...etc, but in the Hereafter, Allāh rewards you with the garden of paradise:
“And make haste to (attain) forgiveness of your Lord, and to (attain) a Garden (of Paradise), as wide as the heavens and the earth, prepared for the pious and dutiful.” (Al-‘Imran, 3: 133)
Quite often, Allāh grants a weak lowly person power and dignity! In this respect, Allāh says: “And fulfill your covenant with Me, I fulfill My Covenant with you, and fear none but Me.” (Al-Baqarah, 2: 40)
7 - Out of His infinite divine generosity, Allāh Al-Kareem makes us worthy of His divine love: “He (Allah) loves them and they love Him (Allah).” (Al-Ma’idah 5: 54)
“Verily, those who believe and work deeds of righteousness: the Most Gracious (Allah) shall bestow love upon them.” (Maryam, 19: 96)
8 - Of His infinite divine generosity Allāh Al-Kareem gives us the whole world: “It is He (Allah) Who created for you all that is in the earth. Then, He directed His Divine Power to the heavens and made them seven heavens; and He is the All-Knower of all things.” (Al-Baqarah, 2: 29)
9 - Allāh is “Al-Kareem” that He grants without a reminder, which human beings never do. When human beings do favors to one another, they usually remind them of such favors.
10 - Also, Allāh is “Al-Kareem” as He does not make you need any means to get His divine favors nor does He make the disobedient despair of repentance. To this, He 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 the Oft-Forgiving, the Most Merciful.” (Az-Zumar, 39: 53)
11 - Allāh is “Kareem” in the sense that whenever He gives He gives most generously; and when He is disobeyed, He forgives most forbearingly as He is most forbearing.
12 - Allāh is also “Kareem” to the extent that He never lets down His slaves or fails to fulfill their hopes; He never fails to fulfill hopes of His slaves. He bestows His divine favors upon His slaves and never reminds them of such favors.
13 - Another meaning that His infinite divine favors never end and His benefactions are innumerable. Also, His Hands are always stretched as He is most generous, and He spends as He pleases.
14 - Allāh is “Kareem” when He gets angry with those who do not ask Him or pray to Him. In this regard, Prophet Muhammad, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), says: “Allah, All Mighty, is “Kareem” (All Laudable); and He loves noble manners and hate lowly ones.”
(Also written as Al-Karim, Al-Kareem, The Most Generous: Ya Karim, Ya Kareem)
Wal-Hamdulilahi Rabbil ‘ālameen, Was-Salātu was-Salāmu ‘ala Sayyidil Mursaleen waimamil Muttaqeen, Wa ‘ala ālihi baitihi wasahbihi ajmaeen (And Praise is to Allāh, the Lord of the universe; Salawāt and Sālam on the sayyid of all the Apostles and its righteous followers, his family, members of his household and all the companions).
And Allāh Almighty Knows best.