Al-Hakeem: Wisdom of the All-Wise
“And whosoever is granted wisdom is indeed granted abundant good.” (Al-Baqarah 2: 269)
All of Allah’s attributes can be summed up in three main notions, namely that He exists, that He is one: in His own self, attributes and acts, and that He is perfect, which is the nearest in meaning to God’s name Hakeem (The All-Wise).
However, the name “Al-Hakeem” is one of some of Allah’s divine Names that are nearer than others to human beings; and the nearest of all of His names to human beings are “the Lord”. To this, the Lord, Allah, All-Mighty, says:
“So wait patiently for your Lord’s Decision, for verily you are under Our Eyes; and glorify the Praises of your Lord when you get up from sleep.” (At-Tur 52:48)
This shows clearly that decision of all issues and matters belongs only to Allah, the Lord, who knows everything, who is most gracious, and who is all-wise.
How God is Al-Hakeem?
1- The Arabic word “hakeem” means “someone who is well experienced and whose work is perfect, i.e. faultless”. For example, if a carpenter fails to cut a piece of wood accurately, his work is not satisfactory enough. In this case, we could say: “If his calculations were accurate, his work would be perfect and faultless.” And the more accurate calculations are, the better and more faultless work is.
Expensive machines are usually perfect and faultless, while bad cheap ones are full of faults and defects. In fact, accuracy and faultlessness are essential elements in good machines. This is what makes them more valuable and more expensive.
For that the word “hakeem” means “someone who does his work most accurately and perfectly, because he knows how to calculate, measure and design perfectly well.” And God is Hakeem (All Wise) that He creates all things in perfect faultless measurements.
Consider your human body: The blood that runs through your veins and arteries contains a very accurate amount of salt, 0.78%. If this very accurate amount of salt decreased, blood corpuscles would shrink and cause immediate death. If it increased, the corpuscles would burst and also cause immediate death. Who has made the ratio of salt in the human blood fixed?
It is Allah, most bounteous, who makes the kidneys maintain such fixed ratio of salt in the blood! Also, there are 2.5 billion types of tissues in the world. This means that only one human being in the whole world has a type of tissue similar to yours.
“He (Allah) has created everything and has measured it exactly according to its due measurements.” (Al-Furqan 25: 2)
Thus, “Al-Hakeem” is He Who perfects all the things that He creates:
“It is He (Allah) Who has created seven heavens, one above another; you can see no fault in the creation of the Most Gracious. Then, look again: can you see any rifts?” (Al-Mulk 67:3)
Consider creation of an ant, a fly, an elephant, a galaxy, an atom, or any other creature! They are all perfect, and they bespeak the creator’s absolute divine wisdom:
“It is He (Allah) Who made everything that He has created perfect, and began the creation of man from clay.” (As-Sajdah 32: 7; Al-Infitar 82:5-8; At-Tin 95:4)
2- “Al-Hikmah” (Wisdom) is to possess the best knowledge; and Allah’s divine knowledge is infinite, while man’s human knowledge is limited. To this effect, Allah, the All-Wise, says:
“And over all those endowed with knowledge is the All-Knowing.” (Yusuf 12:76)
3- “Al-Hakeem” (All Wise) is attributed to the omniscient, Allah, whose divine knowledge is infinite, all-embracing and free from all kinds of ignorance, imperfection or defect. No human being can ever claim to have acquired all knowledge or experience, not even doctors, engineers or scientists. They often make mistakes. But Allah, alone, is the one who is the omniscient. That is why Imam Al-Ghazali says:
“No one knows Allah except Allah (Himself).”
4- “Al-Hakeem” (The All Wise) is He Who is far above doing things that should not be done. Put it differently, He does the proper thing in the proper way in the proper place and the proper time. For human beings, a wise person is someone who does the proper thing in the proper way in the proper place and the proper time. Such is a “Hakeem” (a wise person).
5- God is Hakeem (All-Wise) that all things in the world happen only by His divine will and if He wills that something should happen, it happens. Allah’s divine will is associated with His absolute divine wisdom that whatever He wills will inevitably come to pass and that His divine wisdom is associated with absolute good.
No leaf of a tree could ever fall down except by Allah’s absolute divine will and wisdom. Too many seemingly evil things turn out good in the end; and in Allah’s kingdom, there is no injustice, in the real sense of the word. Even unjust tyrannical rulers or leaders are, as it is said, Allah’s sword in the earth; He retaliates by them and then He retaliates from them.
6- Allah is infinitely pre-existent; and He is one and only. No existence is like His infinite divine existence. He is absolute and perfect, and hence, He is all wise. Thus, if you ask, “Where is Allah?” your question means that He does not exist. Nay! Allah is pre-existent. To this, He says:
“Think not that Allah is unaware of that which the wrong-doers do. Nay! He only gives them respite up to a Day when the eyes will stare in horror.” (Ibrahim 14:42)
7- Moreover, there is no other dominator of the whole universe except Allah. This is Islamic monotheism: in the whole existence, there is only one hand that controls everything, namely the Hand of Allah, the irresistible, the omnipotent, the all-wise, the all-powerful, who is Free to honor or dishonor, give or withhold, provide or deprive, exalt or disparage.
“And Allah is Ever All Mighty, All Wise.” (Al-Fat-h 48: 19; An-Nisa’ 4: 130; Yusuf 12: 6)
Al-Hakeem (The All-Wise) in the Qur’an:
The word “Hakeem” (The All Wise) is mentioned thirty-three times in the Qur’an with different denotations. Some of them are:
“And if all the he sea (were ink wherewith to write), with seven seas behind it to add to its (supply), yet Allah’s Words would not be exhausted. Verily, Allah All Mighty, All Wise.” (Luqman 31: 27; 11: 1; 24: 10; 41: 42; 60: 10)
1- Allah’s book the Qur’an is described as being “Hakeem” (i.e. a Book full of wisdom”. To this effect, Allah, the All Wise, says:
“Alif Lam Ra’: Such are the Verses of the Book, “Al-Hakeem” (i.e. full of wisdom)” (Yunus 10: 1; 36: 1; 2:129)
2- Scholars of Qur’anic interpretation hold that whenever the word “Hikmah” (i.e. wisdom) comes together with the Qur’an, it means prophetic Sunnah and tradition, because the Prophet’s Hadith and Tradition are the best interpreters of the Holy Qur’an:
“Verily, Allah conferred a great Favor upon believers when He sent to them a Messenger from among themselves, reciting unto them His Verses (the Qur’an), purifying them, and instructing them (in) the Book (the Qur’an) and wisdom (Prophetic Sunnah), while before that they had been in manifest error.” (Aal `Imran 3: 164)
3- Also, “Al-Hikmah” (wisdom) should be used in the call for Allah and His religion. To this effect Allah says:
“Invite to the Way of your Lord with wisdom and fair preaching and argue with them in a way that is better. Verily, your Lord knows best who has gone astray from His Path, and He is the Best Aware of those who are rightly guided.” (An-Nahl 16:125)
4- “Al-Hikmah” (wisdom) can also be granted to people. If Allah gave you the best woman in the world, but did not give you wisdom, you would make the worst woman of her. If He gave you enormous wealth, but did not give you wisdom, you would soon waste it and make of it a source of sorrow and regret for you on the Day of Judgment. If He gave you good health, but did not give you wisdom, you would use your health in trivialities and foolish things. And if He gave you good children, but did not give you wisdom, your own children would be the cause of your entering hell-fire.
In other words, if you lack wisdom, everything leads you to endless sorrows and losses on the day of resurrection. That is why Allah says:
“(He (Allah) grants wisdom to whomsoever He pleases; and he who is granted wisdom is indeed granted abundant good. But none remember except those possessed of understanding)” (Al-Baqarah 2: 269)
Man’s Share of Al-Hikmah (Wisdom)
Allah’s Divine Name “Al-Hakeem” (the All-Wise) is nearest to human beings. Sometimes, man sees or meets things that he does not like, i.e. unpleasant things, as Allah sometimes afflicts man with things that seem to be unpleasant to him, i.e. things that he does not like. However, it is most unwise and ignorant of man to get angry or discontented with his Lord; it is wise for man, under all circumstances, to be contented with his Lord, and with His foreordainment and divine decree.
This Divine Name “Al-Hakeem” (The All Wise) is one of Allah’s Names that can be adopted by human beings, according to the saying that goes, “Adopt Allah’s Names and Attributes”. In other words, a true believer should be wise. And, as a true believer, he should derive his wisdom from his knowledge of Allah. Let’s have the following example: If you have a very complicated and sophisticated machine, and you have the operation instructions, it is wise to follow such instructions because they come from the manufacturer. This is very clear and easy. If you read and understand Allah’s book the Qur’an, prophetic Sunnah and tradition, and if you commit yourself to Allah and His messenger’s commands, then, you are a wise person.
Hence, you are wise when you follow the commands of God, All Wise, and His messenger, peace be upon him. And the more believing a person is, the wiser he/she is. Moreover, Allah’s messenger, Muhammad, peace be upon him, was the wisest of all mankind because he was the nearest and most devoted to Allah, the fountain of all wisdom.
Indeed, the more devoted and committed we are, the wiser and more rightly guided.
This article is a summarized version of the article (Al-Hakeem) by the author, published at his web site www.nabulsi.com.
Muhammad Ratib An-Nabulsi is an Islamic scholar; he was born in 1938 of a religious and well educated, family. His father was one of the religious scholars of Damascus city.
He was appointed orator in the mosque of his grandfather, Sheikh Abdulghani An-Nabulsi, and a religion lecturer in the mosques of Damascus.
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 Sunna”, “Outlooks on Islam”, “Contemplations on Islam”. He also wrote articles for some Syrian, Arab, Islamic, and Western magazines and newspapers.