Al-Kareem is one of God’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 God’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)
God’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 (peace be upon Him) 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.
God’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 God 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 God’s Name Al-Kareem
Accurately and comprehensively, God’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 God: His existence, oneness, and perfection. In this sense God is “Kareem”; He exists, He is one, and He is perfect. These three accurate divine attributes that have to do with God’s name Al-Kareem can be explained as follows:
1- God 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 God, “Ya Kareem Al-‘Afou” (O All Pardoning!), this means that God’s divine pardon does not mean only canceling His punishment for you but also making people forget your sin and: Due to God’s infinite pardon, He, all pardoning, makes you forget the sin you have committed: “If a believer returns to God with true sincere repentance, God makes him, the angels and the whole world, forget his sins and misdeeds.” Delicately, due to God’s infinite divine grace, if a believer commits a certain sin and then, for some reason or another, forgets it, God deals with him generously and makes him live happily and comfortably.
3- Another meaning of God’s name Al Kareem is that He covers His slave’s sins, and faults. That is why Prophet Muhammad 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- God 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 God’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 God’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- God 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 God 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, God 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, God grants a weak lowly person power and dignity! In this respect, God 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, God 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 God 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- God 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, God 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- God 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- God 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- God is “Kareem” when He gets angry with those who do not ask Him or pray to Him. In this regard, Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon Him, says: “Allah, All Mighty, is “Kareem” (All Laudable); and He loves noble manners and hate lowly ones.”
This article is a summarized version of the article (Al-Kareem) by the author, published at his web site http://www.nabulsi.com
Dr. Muhammad Ratib An-Nabulsi is a Muslim Syrian preacher and writer. He has written a number of Islamic books, most remarkable of which are: “Encyclopedia of the Beautiful Names of Allah”, “Encyclopedia of Scientific Miracles of the Holy Qur’an and Prophetic Sunnah” , “Outlooks on Islam” and “Contemplations on Islam”. He delivers a number of lessons, orations, symposiums and chat programs broadcasted on the Syrian, Arab, and Islamic radios and Televisions.