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If human generosity entails that the needy are never left empty-handed, that the misguided are never left without advice, and that the lost are never abandoned without direction, what then of generosity when it is from is none other than Allāh Himself, Al-Karīm (the Generous)? A Lord who has given Himself such a name will never fail to overwhelm you and will never leave your branch unleafed.
So, who is Al-Karīm?
This majestic name has appeared in the Qur’ān. Allāh said:
يَا أَيُّهَا الْإِنْسَانُ مَا غَرَّكَ بِرَبِّكَ الْكَرِيمِ
“O humanity! What has emboldened you against your Lord, the Generous?”
The name has also appeared in another variation as Al-Akram (the Most Generous). Allāh said:
اقْرَأْ وَرَبُّكَ الْأَكْرَمُ
“Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous.”
If everyone in existence who was ever generous was to be lined up, Allāh’s generosity would eternally rise above them all. All goodness pales in comparison to His, and all generosity is but an extension of His.
1 – The linguistic meaning of the name Al-Karīm
قال بعض أهل اللغة: الكريم: الكثير الخير، والعرب تسمي الشيء النافع الذي يدوم نفعه ويسهل تناوله كريمًا
“Some of the linguists said: Al-Karīm is He who is abundant in goodness. The Arabs call the matters that are beneficial – the good of which remains and is easily accessible – karīm.”
Karam (generosity) is therefore not exclusive to the generous distribution of wealth, but instead has far wider connotations encompassing all forms of goodness to others that are both lasting and accessible. This is why the Arabs refer to the young camel as karīma, due to the abundance of the milk that it produces. The keyword is abundance.
Similarly, the Arabs say:
كَرُمَ السحــابُ، إذا جــــاء بالغيث
The clouds have karum, meaning, when they bring rain.
Likewise, the Arabs would call dates karm due to their numerous benefits and the fact that they can be eaten fresh or dry, and can also be squeezed into many forms of drinks.
Al-Zajjāji’s commentary on the noun karīm shows just how comprehensive of a word it is:
الكريم: الجواد. والكريم: العزيز، والكريم: الصفوح، هذه ثلاثة أوجه للكريم في كلام العرب، كلها جائز وصف الله – عز وجل – بها
“Al-Karīm is the generous, and Al-Karīm is the honourable, and Al-Karīm is the pardoning. These are three usages for the term Al-Karīm in the speech of the Arabs, and all of them can be used as descriptions of Allāh.”
Bravery, humbleness, forgiveness, overlooking petty matters, resisting sins, sacrifice, and helping the needy are all examples of karam.
Allāh has described the Qur’ān as being karīm due to the abundance of its goodness. Similarly, the Throne of Allāh has also been described as karīm for the same reason. Queen Balqīs described the letter that Prophet Sulaymān sent her to invite her to Islam as being karīm.
Allāh has described the ultimate prize – Paradise – as being a home that is karīm:
إِنْ تَجْتَنِبُوا كَبَائِرَ مَا تُنْهَوْنَ عَنْهُ نُكَفِّرْ عَنْكُمْ سَيِّئَاتِكُمْ وَنُدْخِلْكُمْ مُدْخَلًا كَرِيمًا
“If you avoid the major sins that you are forbidden, We will remove from you your lesser sins and admit you to an entrance that is karīm.”
Allāh also said:
أُولَئِكَ هُمُ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ حَقًّا لَهُمْ دَرَجَاتٌ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِمْ وَمَغْفِرَةٌ وَرِزْقٌ كَرِيم
“Those are the believers, truly. For them are grades of dignity with their Lord and forgiveness and a provision that is karīm.”
In another verse, Allāh said:
تَحِيَّتُهُمْ يَوْمَ يَلْقَوْنَهُ سَلَامٌ وَأَعَدَّ لَهُمْ أَجْرًا كَرِيمًا
“Their greeting the Day they meet Him will be, ‘Peace,’ and He has prepared for them a reward that is karīm.”
What gift in existence can be more accessible, enduring, and comprehensive in its goodness than Paradise?
Allāh is Al-Karīm, but who is He?
He is the One Who is Karīm in His Divine Self, Karīm in His Names, and Karīm in all of His actions.
إنه الذي يبدأ النعمة قبل الاستحقاق، ويتبرع بالإحسان من غير استثابة، ويغفر الذنب، ويعفو عن المسيء
“He is the One Who initiates the favours before they are deserved, donates goodness without seeking a reward, forgives sins, and pardons the wrongdoer.”
الكريم الذي إذا قدر عفا، وإذا وعد وفىّ، وإذا أعطى زاد على منتهى الرجاء، ولا يبالي كم أعطى، ولمن أعطى، وإن رفعت حاجة إلى غيره لا يرضى، وإذا جُفي عاتب، وما استقصى، ولا يضيع من لاذ به والتجأ، ويغنيه عن الوسائل والشفعاء، فمن اجتمع له جميع ذلك لا بالتكلف، فهو الكريم المطلق، وذلك لله سبحانه وتعالى فقط
“Al-Karīm is He Whom, when He overcomes, He pardons; and when He promises, He fulfils; and when He gives, He provides to the peak of hopes. He is the One Who is not bothered by how much He gives, nor to whom He gives. If requests are made from other than Him, it does not please Him. If He is ignored, He gently admonishes, and does not demand His rights in full. He never fails those who retreat to Him, but suffices them from needing anyone else. Thus, whoever has gathered all of these traits without any effort, then He is certainly the ultimate Karīm, and such is none other than Allāh.”
2 – What are the effects of believing in this name?
To call upon Him using this name
Allāh’s name Al-Karīm was never distant from the mind, heart, and words of the Prophet (sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam). One can only imagine the number of times he would walk into the mosque on a daily basis and say upon each and every entry:
أعوذ بالله العظيم، وبوجهه الكريم، وسلطانه القديم، من الشيطان الرجيم
“I seek refuge in Allāh, the Magnificent, and in His Face that is Karīm, and in His eternal kingdom, from the accursed Devil.”
The Prophet said:
فإذا قلت ذلك، قال الشيطان: حفظ مني سائر اليوم
“If you say this, the Devil says: ‘He is protected from me for the rest of that day.’”
One can only imagine the amount of stress and testing situations the Prophet (sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) endured on a daily basis. Yet his port of call during every one of those moments of grief was to make du’ā using Allāh’s name Al-Karīm.
Ibn ‘Abbās narrated that the Prophet (sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) would say the following words during testing times:
لا إله إلا الله العظيم الحليم، لا إله إلا الله رب العرش العظيم، لا إله إلا الله رب السماوات ورب الأرض رب العرش الكريم
“There is no god but Allāh, the Great, the Forbearing. There is no god but Allāh, the Lord of the Magnificent Throne. There is no god but Allāh, the Lord of the Heaven and the Earth, the Lord of the Throne that is Karīm.”
Even in the context of repentance, the name of Allāh Al-Karīm makes an appearance. ‘Ali b. Abu Tālib said:
“The Prophet (sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said to me:
أَلَا أُعَلِّمُكَ كَلِمَاتٍ إِذَا قُلْتَهُنَّ غَفَرَ اللَّهُ لَكَ وَإِنْ كُنْتَ مَغْفُورًا لَكَ؟
“Shall I not teach you some words which, if you were to utter them, Allāh will forgive you even if you are already forgiven? Say the following:
لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ العَلِيُّ العَظِيمُ، لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ الحَلِيمُ الكَرِيمُ، لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ، سُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ رَبِّ العَرْشِ العَظِيمِ
There is no god but Allāh, the High, the Mighty. There is no god but Allāh, the Forbearing, the Generous. There is no god but Allāh. Glory be to Allāh, Lord of the Mighty Throne.”
As you implore Al-Karīm, be aware that His generosity takes many shapes and sizes. Answering your requests is only one such example, and preventing you from your request is another. In the heat of the moment, however, one may struggle to come to accept this. One may be gripped by the desire of what one is requesting, but had Allāh uncovered the veils of the unseen to that beseecher, he would have realised that not acceding to that request was the very essence of endowment.
Love of Al-Karīm
In the first ever encounter of the Prophet Muhammad (sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) with revelation, the name of Allāh Al-Akram (the Most Generous) fell upon his ears when Allāh said to him:
اقْرَأْ وَرَبُّكَ الْأَكْرَمُ
“Read! And your Lord is Al-Akram.”
Commenting on this, Ibn ‘Atiyya said:
كأنه يقول: امض لما أُمِرْتَ به وربك ليس كهذه الأرباب، بل هو الأكرم الذي لا يلحقه نقص، فهو ينصرك ويظهرك
“It is as if Allāh is saying to him, ‘Proceed upon your mission, and realise that your Lord is nothing like their alleged gods. Rather, He is Al-Akram whose generosity is not touched by any deficiency. Thus, He will give you victory and support you.’”
Such warm and comforting words were needed for a man who was at a very fragile moment of his life. Every bit of encouragement and reassurance was needed ahead of a task that would cost him for the rest of his life and the lives of many others as well. This phase needed the Prophet (sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) to love his Lord unconditionally, to hear words that would cause him to yearn for Allāh’s closeness, and to inspire a lifelong reliance upon Him. Of all the names that Allāh could have used to serve these purposes, the name Al-Akram was chosen – an incredibly telling reality.
The Arabs, who were the contemporaries of the Prophet, were obsessed with the trait of generosity, so it made sense that the introductory verses of the Qur’ān referred to Allāh’s name Al-Akram. The Arabs were being informed from the very start that Allāh is the Most Generous, and that His relationship with His creation is ultimately defined by boundless generosity. This is a Lord to be adored.
Al-Karīm is He whose goodness is eternally uninterrupted
Contrary to the generosity of man – whose giving is disturbed by countless factors such as forgetfulness, poverty, stinginess, illness, or death – Al-Karīm is forever untouched by any such factors. The torrent of His goodness is unceasing, drenching His creation with favours before their existence, during this life, and in the eternal afterlife.
Al-Karīm is He who includes every segment of creation in His giving
Al-Karīm’s generosity extends to all creation: humans and jinn, animals and insects, inhabitants of the heavens and the Earth, the most devout of believers, as well as the most stubborn of rejecters.
Al-Karīm is the overwhelming Giver
He gives before you ask, and after you do so, He gives you what you need and more. He gives from avenues you expected and from those you could not have expected, and He blesses you with favours that can be counted and others that are uncountable. He bestows upon you matters which you perceive and others which you never will realise. Al-Karīm is the overwhelming Giver Who leaves His beneficiaries lost for words.
When measuring blessings, one should measure the blessings that are a direct product of du’ā (that was specifically made for such blessings at some point in the past) against the innumerable blessings given without any prior request (or even knowledge of their existence). A simple journey through the functions of the human body highlights the countless blessings one has been provided with without having requested. Even for the blessings that came about through du’ā, who was the One Who inspired you to make the request? It was Al-Karīm who wanted to give you.
Al-Karīm is the Most Generous Pardoner
For those who repent, He offers to erase a lifetime’s worth of sins with a single moment of repentance. He replaces sins with good deeds that one might have never put forward. He even loves the penitent sinner more than He had loved him before the sin. Who can do that but the Most Generous?
Al-Karīm is Most Generous Documenter of good deeds
He does not record the sins of those under the age of puberty, yet He accepts the good deeds they offer. He does not hold to task those who do wrong out of forgetfulness, ignorance, or compulsion. He erases every sin of a disbeliever who embraces Islam whilst safeguarding his every good deed done in the past. He multiplies each good deed ten-fold, to 700-fold, to an unlimited amount. Who can document good deeds in such a way other than Al-Karīm?
Al-Karīm is He who has made Himself accessible
He does not require that you make an appointment with Him, nor does He stipulate the usage of a particular language when communicating with Him. He does not limit what you can ask for, nor for how long you can stay. To Al-Karīm, every language, time, location, and request is suitable. All what He requests is that an attentive heart accompanies your du’ā and that you do not ask for evil. Should you meet these criteria, then behold: you are now standing before Al-Karīm, the One Who is shy to turn you away empty-handed.
Al-Karīm is the Source of all generosity
Every dimension of generosity we witness in the universe is a branch of His generosity:
– How are the generous ones able to donate to others? Is it not by virtue of the earlier donation of Al-Karīm upon the giver?
– How are teachers able to disseminate their knowledge? Is it not by virtue of the earlier teaching of Al-Karīm to the teacher?
– How are those who do good able to assist the needy, relieve the poor, and ease the tension from the traumatised? Is it not by virtue of prior assistance from Al-Karīm to the person who does good?
When Al-Junaid recited the verse where Allāh praised Prophet Ayyūb:
إِنَّا وَجَدْنَاهُ صَابِرًا نِعْمَ الْعَبْدُ إِنَّهُ أَوَّابٌ
“Indeed, We found him patient – what an excellent servant. Indeed, he was one repeatedly turning back to Allāh.”
سبحـــان الله! أعطى وأثنى
“Subhān Allāh! Look at how Allāh gave then praised.”
Allāh inspired Prophet Ayyūb to be patient, then praised him for it. Hence, whenever you witness an awe-inspiring scene of generosity anywhere in life, trace it back to Al-Karīm and allow your heart to fill with His love.
To expect nothing but the very best from Al-Karīm
It is only the doors of the generous that are knocked on for assistance, as the hope in their kindness causes people to flock in their direction. How, then, should the heart of a believer be dispositioned as he knocks on the door of Al-Karīm, Al-Akram? To scratch the surface of this answer, ponder over the following narration where the Prophet (sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) described in detail the account of the worst of all Muslims to enter Paradise. The narration is as follows:
آخِرُ مَنْ يَدْخُلُ الْجَنَّةَ رَجُلٌ. فَهُوَ يَمْشِي مَرَّةً وَيَكْبُو مَرَّةً. وَتَسْفَعُهُ النَّارُ مَرَّةً. فَإِذَا مَا جَاوَزَهَا الْتَفَتَ إِلَيْهَا. فَقَالَ: تَبَارَكَ الَّذِي نَجَّانِي مِنْكِ. لَقَدْ أَعْطَانِي اللّهُ شَيْئاً مَا أَعْطَاهُ أَحَداً مِنَ الأَوَّلِينَ وَالآخِرِين
The last to enter Paradise will be a man who will walk once (on the bridge over the Hellfire), stumbling at times and being burnt by the Fire at others. Then, when he crosses it, he will turn to it and say: ‘Blessed is He Who has saved me from you! Allāh has given me something He has not given to any one of those in earlier or later times!’
(He evidently will have no idea about the righteous ones who had entered Paradise many years before him, many of whom had no prior accountability)
فَتُرْفَعُ لَهُ شَجَرَةٌ. فَيَقُولُ: أَيْ رَبِّ أَدْنِنِي مِنْ هٰذِهِ الشَّجَرَةِ فَلأسْتَظِلَّ بِظِلِّهَا وَأَشْرَبَ مِنْ مَائِهَا. فَيَقُولُ الله عَزَّ وَجَلَّ: يَا ابْنَ آدَمَ لَعَلِّي إِنْ أَعْطَيْتُكَهَا سَأَلْتَنِي غَيْرَهَا. فَيَقُولُ: لاَ. يَا رَبِّ وَيُعَاهِدُهُ أَنْ لاَ يَسْأَلَهُ غَيْرَهَا. وَرَبُّهُ يَعْذِرُهُ. لأَنَّهُ يَرَى مَا لاَ صَبْرَ لَهُ عَلَيْهِ. فَيُدْنِيهِ مِنْهَا. فَيَسْتَظِلُّ بِظِلِّهَا وَيَشْرَبُ مِنْ مَائِهَا.
Then, a tree will appear before him and he will say: ‘O my Lord, bring me near this tree so that I may take shelter in its shade and drink of its water.’ Allāh will say: ‘O son of Adam, if I grant you this, perhaps you will ask Me for something else.’ He will say: ‘No my Lord,’ and he will promise Him that he will not ask for anything else. His Lord excuses him because He sees what he cannot help but desire. So, Allāh will bring him near it, and he will take shelter in its shade and drink of its water.
ثُمَّ تُرْفَعُ لَهُ شَجَرَةٌ هِيَ أَحْسَنُ مِنَ الأُولَى. فَيَقُولُ: أَيْ رَبِّ أَدْنِنِي مِنْ هٰذِهِ لأَشْرَبَ مِنْ مَائِهَا وَأَسْتَظِلَّ بِظِلِّهَا. لاَ أَسْأَلُكَ غَيْرَهَا. فَيَقُولُ: يَا ابْنِ آدَمَ أَلَمْ تُعَاهِدْنِي أَنْ لاَ تَسْأَلَنِي غَيْرَهَا؟ فَيَقُولُ: لَعَلِّي إِنْ أَدْنَيْتُكَ مِنْهَا تَسْأَلُنِي غَيْرَهَا؟ فَيُعَاهِدُهُ أَنْ لاَ يَسْأَلَهُ غَيْرَهَا. وَرَبُّهُ يَعْذِرُهُ. لأَنَّهُ يَرَى مَا لاَ صَبْرَ لَهُ عَلَيْهِ فَيُدْنِيهِ مِنْهَا. فَيَسْتَظِلُّ بِظِلِّهَا وَيَشْرَبُ مِنْ مَائِهَا.
Afterwards, a tree more beautiful than the first will be raised up before him and he will say: ‘O my Lord, bring me near this tree so that I may take shelter in its shade and drink of its water, and I promise to not ask for anything else.’ Allāh will say: ‘O son of Adam, did you not promise me that you would not ask for anything else? Perhaps if I was to draw you closer to it, you will ask for something else.’ The man, however, will promise Allāh to not ask for anything else. His Lord excuses him because He sees what he cannot help but desire. So, Allāh will bring him near it, and he will take shelter in its shade and drink of its water.
ثُمَّ تُرْفَعُ لَهُ شَجَرَةٌ عِنْدَ بَابِ الْجَنَّةِ هِيَ أَحْسَنُ مِنَ الأُولَيَيْنِ. فَيَقُولُ: أَيْ رَبِّ أَدْنِنِي مِنْ هٰذِهِ لأَسْتَظِلَّ بِظِلِّهَا وَأَشْرَبَ مِنْ مَائِهَا. لاَ أَسْأَلُكَ غَيْرَهَا. فَيَقُولُ: يَا ابْنَ آدَمَ أَلَمْ تُعَاهِدْنِي أَنْ لاَ تَسْأَلَنِي غَيْرَها؟ قَالَ: بَلَىٰ. يَا رَبِّ هٰذِهِ لاَ أَسْأَلُكَ غَيْرَهَا. وَرَبُّهُ يَعْذِرُهُ لأَنَّهُ يَرَى مَا لاَ صَبْرَ لَهُ عَلَيْهَ. فَيُدْنِيهِ مِنْهَا.
Then, a tree will be raised up for him at the gate of Paradise, more beautiful than the first two, so he will say: ‘O my Lord, bring me near this tree so that I may take shelter in its shade and drink of its water, and I promise to not ask for anything else.’ Allāh will say: ‘O son of Adam, did you not promise me that you would not ask for anything else? Perhaps if I was to draw you closer to it, you will ask for something else.’ The man, however, will promise Allāh to not ask for anything else. His Lord excuses him because He sees what he cannot help but desire. So, Allāh will bring him near it, and he will take shelter in its shade and drink of its water.
فَإِذَا أَدْنَاهُ مِنْهَا، فَيَسْمَعُ أَصْوَاتَ أَهْلِ الْجَنَّةِ، فَيَقُولُ: أَيْ رَبِّ أَدْخِلْنِيهَا. فَيَقُولُ: يَا ابْنَ آدَمَ مَا يَصْرِينِي مِنْكَ؟ أَيُرْضِيكَ أَنْ أُعْطِيَكَ الدُّنْيَا وَمِثْلَهَا مَعَهَا؟ قَالَ: يَا رَبِّ أَتَسْتَهْزِىءُ مِنِّي وَأَنْتَ رَبُّ الْعَالَمِينَ». فَضَحِكَ ابْنُ مَسْعُودٍ فَقَالَ: أَلاَ تَسْأَلُونِّي مِمَّ أَضْحَكُ؟ فَقَالُوا: مِمَّ تَضْحَكُ؟ قَالَ: هَكَذَا ضَحِكَ رَسُولُ اللّهِ. فَقَالُوا: مِمَّ تَضْحَكُ يَا رَسُولَ اللّهِ؟ قَالَ: «مِنْ ضِحْكِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ حِينَ قَالَ: أَتَسْتَهْزِىءُ مِنِّي وَأَنْتَ رَبُّ الْعَالَمِينَ؟ فَيَقُولُ: إِنِّي لاَ أَسْتَهْزِىءُ مِنْكَ، وَلٰكِنِّي عَلَى مَا أَشَاءُ قَادِرٌ
When the man is brought near to it, he will hear the voices of the people of Paradise. So, he will say: ‘My Lord, allow me to enter Paradise.’ Allāh will say: ‘O son of Adam, what will bring an end to your requests to Me? Will it please you if I give you the entire world and another one like it?’ The man will say: ‘My Lord, are you mocking me whilst You are the Lord of the worlds?’
At this point, the narrator (‘Abdullah b. Mas’ūd) laughed and asked the listeners: ‘Will you not ask me why I am laughing?’ So they asked him, and he replied: ‘I am laughing the same way the Prophet Muhammad (sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) laughed, and so the Companions asked him: ‘Why do you laugh, O Messenger of Allāh?’ He said: ‘I laugh because of how the Lord of the universe will laugh when the man asks: ‘My Lord, are you mocking me whilst You are the Lord of the worlds?’ Allāh will respond: ‘I am not mocking you, but I have the power to do whatever I will.’’
The man will enter Paradise and Allāh will say to him: “Make your wish.” The man will make his wish, stretching his imagination as far as humanely possible. Allāh will then say:
لَكَ الَّذِي تَمَنَّيْتَ وَعَشَرَةُ أَضْعَافِ الدُّنْيَا
“Your wishes shall be granted and a further reward that is ten times the likes of life.”
The man will be reunited with his spouses, who will say upon seeing him:
الْحَمْدُ لله الَّذِي أَحْيَاكَ لَنَا وَأَحْيَانَا لَكَ
“All praise is due to Allāh who gave you life to be with us and gave us life to be with you.”
The man will proclaim:
مَا أُعْطِيَ أَحَدٌ مِثْلَ مَا أُعْطِيتُ
“Nobody has been given what I have been given!”
Think of the very worst Muslim you have ever met in your life – the man mentioned in this hadīth is worse. He is the lowest of all believers and the very last to enter Paradise, yet his reward will be ten-fold of what our current life has to offer.
To put things into perspective: Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, is estimated to earn around $3,605 per second, $216,000 per minute, $12 million per hour and $311 million per day., and he is on his way to becoming the world’s first trillionaire.
This is the fortune of only one human being during one moment in history. The reward for the man mentioned in the hadīth above will include more than this; more than the wealth of Jeff Bezos, Qārūn – whom Allāh described by saying: “We had granted him such treasures that even their keys would burden a group of strong men” – and every person who has ever made it into the Forbes billionaires list, and the wealth of every empire at any time in human history, combined. All of this wealth combined, multiplied by ten, will be presented to the man in the hadīth, notwithstanding the wishes that Allāh would have already given him.
If this is how the worst of all Muslims to have ever trodden the Earth will be treated by Al-Karīm, what about those who have spent a lifetime praying, repenting, perfecting their Hijab, teaching the religion, reciting Qur’ān, and refining their manners?
What about those from the very first batch of Muslims who will be granted entry to Paradise? One can only imagine their faces as they finally make their way into Paradise in the most regal fashion, as the Prophet (sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:
أَوَّلُ زُمْرَةٍ يَدْخُلُونَ الجَنَّةَ عَلَى صُورَةِ القَمَرِ لَيْلَةَ البَدْرِ ، ثُمَّ الَّذِينَ يَلُونَهُمْ عَلَى أشَدِّ كَوْكَبٍ دُرِّيٍّ فِي السَّمَاءِ إضَاءةً
“The first group of people to enter Paradise will be shining like the moon on the night of a full moon. The group after them will be like the brightest planet in the sky.”
Realising how generous Al-Karīm is with the worst of all people brings about enormously positive expectations in Him. In the face of every seemingly disastrous situation, a believer in Al-Karīm finds his heart resting in peace, knowing that it is impossible for the Most Generous to leave His loved ones empty-handed.
To become the most generous of people
Confer the same generosity on people that you so desperately hope that Al-Karīm will confer on you.
The Prophet (sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:
إن الله كريم يحب الكرم، ويحب معالي الأخلاق ويكره سفسافها
“Allāh is generous and loves generosity. He loves noble manners and hates the lowly ones.”
إِمَّا يَبْلُغَنَّ عِنْدَكَ الْكِبَرَ أَحَدُهُمَا أَوْ كِلَاهُمَا فَلَا تَقُلْ لَهُمَا أُفٍّ وَلَا تَنْهَرْهُمَا وَقُلْ لَهُمَا قَوْلًا كَرِيمًا
“If one or both of them reach old age in your care, never say to them uff nor yell at them. Rather, address them with an honourable (karīm) speech.”
Your neighbours and guests
The Prophet (sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:
مَنْ كَانَ يُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ فَلْيُكْرِمْ جَارَهُ وَمَنْ كَانَ يُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ فَلْيُكْرِمْ ضَيْفَهُ
“Whoever believes in Allāh and the Last Day should honour his neighbour, and whoever believes in Allāh and the Last Day should honour his guest.”
The honoured one in a community
The Prophet (sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:
إِذَا أَتَاكُمْ كَرِيمُ قَوْمٍ فَأَكْرِمُوهُ
“If an honoured one (karīm) amidst a community comes to you, then honour him.”
Your search for more of Allāh’s generosity should include a search for students who are struggling to make ends meet, or new Muslims who aspire to do Hajj or ‘Umrah, or refugees who are new to their locality, or family members who are laden with debts. As you search for these people to help them, keep in mind that avenues of generosity are not restricted to giving money, but could also include spending time with people who need it, offering undivided attention to your loved ones, offering advice to the misguided, sharing knowledge to your circle, and using your status in the community to benefit those who require your intercession.
Begin by tracking down the closest of all people to you: your mother and father. Then, work your way outwards, finding others one by one. With the positive expectations of a believer, realise that the generosity of Al-Karīm is already on its way to you.
To refuse a life of degradation
In the Qur’ān, Allāh asks a question that compels a lowering of the head in shame and the humbling of every iota in one’s body into shyness and silence in submissive apology:
يَا أَيُّهَا الْإِنْسَانُ مَا غَرَّكَ بِرَبِّكَ الْكَرِيمِ
“O mankind, what has emboldened you against your Lord, Al-Karīm?”
What was it that encouraged you against the Generous One?
– Was it the glory of health and vitality that has blinded you?
– Was it your standing in your community that caused you to cast Him aside?
– Was it His sheer patience on you, allowing you to transgress repeatedly without seeing immediate punishment?
Pinpoint it with all honesty and ask: what is it that has deceived me against my Lord? What is it that has cost me my shyness of Him, my sense of indebtedness to Him, and my own sense of dignity? In most cases, you will find that the culprit is an outstanding sin that has been reinforcing its roots within your life for years on end, the fruits of which are the bitter sense of inner degradation and shame.
وَلَقَدْ كَرَّمْنَا بَنِي آدَمَ وَحَمَلْنَاهُمْ فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ وَرَزَقْنَاهُمْ مِنَ الطَّيِّبَاتِ وَفَضَّلْنَاهُمْ عَلَى كَثِيرٍ مِمَّنْ خَلَقْنَا تَفْضِيلًا
“Indeed, We have honoured the children of Adam, carried them on land and sea, granted them good and lawful provisions, and privileged them far above many of Our creatures.”
You were created by Allāh as an honoured being. Whilst some creatures walk on all fours and others move on their bellies, you were designed to stand on two feet, walking in an upright, honoured, and dignified manner. Perhaps this is one of the wisdoms why, when we stand back up from the bowing position in prayer, we are taught to say:
رَبَّنَا وَلَكَ الْحَمْدُ
“O our Lord, all praises belong to You.”
You are a dignified human being. Consider the following:
– Angels were commanded to prostrate to your father Adam (sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam)
– The devil was exiled from Paradise because he refused to do so
– Man has been allocated four angels to be by his side at any moment during the day, and another four angels at night
– Despite man being one of the smallest of Allāh’s creation, Allāh has nevertheless humbled the most powerful of animals for his use and livelihood, as Allāh said:
وَذَلَّلْنَاهَا لَهُمْ فَمِنْهَا رَكُوبُهُمْ وَمِنْهَا يَأْكُلُونَ
“We have tamed them (animals) for them (humans), so some of them they ride, and some of them they eat.”
Realise who you are: a dignified human being and a servant of Al-Karīm, a name of which one of the meanings is the Honoured One. Beware of abasing yourself with a dirty habit, shady business, private conversation, compromising clothing, or careless lifestyle. You know all too well the consequences of such abasement: a humiliating dismantlement of one’s karīm-sense of self.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a theory in psychology proposed by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper titled A Theory of Human Motivation. It is a motivational theory in psychology comprising a five-tier model of human needs, often depicted as hierarchical levels within a pyramid.
Needs lower down in the hierarchy must be satisfied before individuals can attend to the loftier needs higher up. A closer look at the ramifications of perpetual sinning on each of these needs makes it clear why the life of dignity is the very first casualty.
– Physiological needs: much of these needs are eventually taken away from the life of the chronic sinner, who sees a gradual deterioration in basic livelihood as signs from Allāh.
– Safety needs: the life of a sinner is one possessed by terror, restlessness, and a torrent of anxiety.
– Belonging and love needs: hatred towards the chronic sinner is cast into the hearts of the believers, as the most righteous of people find themselves unexplainably averse to the sinner.
– Esteem needs: these are crushed within the heart of the adamant sinner, whose confidence takes a huge hit and whose sense of accomplishment is shattered to pieces.
– Self-actualisation needs: this could not be any further from the sinner, for the adamant sinner lives a life of self-gratification, self-loathing and self-denial, keeping the sinner miles apart from the lofty levels of fulfilling potential.
Our battle with Shaytān is a battle of honour vs humiliation. Shaytān himself made this abundantly clear from the very outset. It all started when, in a display of arrogance, Shaytān refused to obey Allāh’s instruction to prostrate to Prophet Adam.
وَإِذْ قُلْنَا لِلْمَلَائِكَةِ اسْجُدُوا لِآدَمَ فَسَجَدُوا إِلَّا إِبْلِيسَ قَالَ أَأَسْجُدُ لِمَنْ خَلَقْتَ طِينًا (61) قَالَ أَرَأَيْتَكَ هَذَا الَّذِي كَرَّمْتَ عَلَيَّ لَئِنْ أَخَّرْتَنِ إِلَى يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ لَأَحْتَنِكَنَّ ذُرِّيَّتَهُ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا
“And when We said to the angels, ‘Prostrate to Adam,’ and they prostrated, except for Iblīs, who said, ‘Should I prostrate to one You created from clay?’ Adding, ‘Do you see this one you honoured above me? If you delay my end until the Day of Judgment, I will certainly take hold of his descendants, except for a few.’”
The Arabic word above that was translated into ‘I will certainly take hold’ is ahtanikanna. This is derived from the concept of bridling an animal (tahnīk), where a rope is tied around the animal’s mouth (hanak), and thus it is obediently steered from direction to direction.
With this understanding, the imagery that the verse creates is incredibly profound. Shaytān is promising Allāh that he will drag around his submissive victims to his desired destinations of sin, just like animals led on a rope; the image of such a person is anything but karīm.
Shaytān has conceded, however, that there will be a ‘few’ whom he will be unable to exercise this type of degrading influence. Thus, the true servant of Al-Karīm who has rejected this life of humiliation insists: “I now see the ropes of Shaytān, I have realized my worth as a servant of Al-Karīm, and I am determined to be from those ‘few’.”
The true karīm is the practicing Muslim who, even if without qualifications, is a stranger in his midst and uncelebrated by the world. Similarly, the abased one is he who shuns Allāh, fails to prostrate to Him, and has made the appeasement of his carnal urges his primary goal in life, even if he wears the finest clothes and is praised by humanity.
وَمَنْ يُهِنِ اللَّهُ فَمَا لَهُ مِنْ مُكْرِمٍ
“…and whoever Allāh disgraces, none can honour…”
The scales of honour in the Eyes of Al-Karīm are Islam and its practical manifestations, regardless of how such a person may be perceived in the eyes of people.
 Al-Qur’ān, 82:6
 Al-Qur’ān, 96:3
 Al-wasf al-dhāti
 Al-wasf al-fi’lī
 Sha’n Al-Du’ā
 The Prophet (sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), however, prohibited us from giving it that name, saying:
لا يقولنَّ أحدُكم : الكرمُ . فإنما الكرْمُ قلبُ المؤمنِ
“None of you should say al-karm, for al-karm is the heart of the believer.”
 Ishtiqāq Asmā’ Allāh
 Al-Qur’ān, 56:77
 Al-Qur’ān, 23:116
 Al-Qur’ān, 27:29
 Al-Qur’ān, 4:31
 Al-Qur’ān, 8:4
 Al-Qur’ān, 33:44
 Al-Asmā’ wa Al-Sifāt, Al-Bayhaqi
 Al-Maqsad Al-Asnā
 Abu Dāwūd
 Bukhāri and Muslim
 Al-Qur’ān, 96:3
 Al-Muharrar Al-Wajīz
 Al-Qur’ān, 38:44
 Al-Qur’ān, 28:76
 Al-Bukhāri and Muslim, on the authority of Abu Huraira
 Al-Hākim, on the authority of Sahl b. Sa’d
 Al-Qur’ān, 17:23
 Muslim, on the authority of Abu Huraira
 Ibn Mājah, on the authority of Ibn ‘Umar
 Al-Qur’ān, 82:6
 Al-Qur’ān, 17:70
 Al-Tirmidhi, on the authority of Abu Huraira
 Al-Qur’ān, 36:72
 See Al-Qur’ān, 16:112-114
 Al-Qur’ān, 17:61-62
 As was posited by Ibn ‘Atiyya, Ibn ‘Āshūr, and Muhammad Al-Amīn Al-Shanqīti
 Al-Qur’ān, 22:18
Shaykh Ali Ihsan Hammuda is Islam21c’s Tarbiya Editor. A UK national of Palestinian origin, he gained bachelors and masters’ degrees in Architecture & Planning from the University of the West of England, before achieving a BA in Shari’ah from al-Azhar University in Egypt. He is currently based in Wales and is a visiting Imām at Al-Manar Centre in Cardiff, and also a senior researcher and lecturer for the Muslim Research & Development Foundation in London. Shaykh Ali is the author of several books including ‘The Daily Revivals’, ‘The Ten Lanterns’ and ‘The Friday Reminder’. He delivers sermons, lectures and regular classes across the country.