In two similar verses, Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) says:
وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ يَعْلَمُ مَا فِي أَنفُسِكُمْ فَاحْذَرُوهُ ۚ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ حَلِيمٌ
“And know that Allah knows what is in your minds, so fear Him. And know that Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Forbearing.” (Qur’an 2:235)
And He (swt) says,
وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ مَا فِي قُلُوبِكُمْ ۚ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ عَلِيمًا حَلِيمًا
“Allah knows what is in your hearts. And Allah is Ever All Knowing, Most Forbearing.” (Qur’an 33:51)
Why does Allah (swt) mention His Name Al-Haleem (Most Forbearing) here? When someone is haleem, it means they respond to the harm that is done to them with generosity, whereas a saabir (patient person) accepts the sorrows and hardships without showing it. Hilm is another dimension of sabr.
The use of Allah (swt)’s Majestic Name Al-Haleem gives us hope. People harbor so many negative, evil and ugly thoughts. We feel ashamed when we hear these ayaat (verses)—that Allah (swt) is aware of these ugly and evil thoughts. Allah (swt), while knowing these horrible thoughts, while having access to what is hidden in us, is Haleem with us… He is so Generous with us even though we have so much evil in our hearts. Despite what He knows of us inside, He is Haleem.
From His Divine Wisdom, He (swt) did not give humans access to each other’s internal thoughts and realities. If people knew what their loved ones thought about them, they would not forgive! This is why there is Divine Wisdom in the prohibition of spying on one another—we are not endued with enough mercy, forbearance, and love to handle what we do not know.
We must remember that Allah (swt) sees inside of us, so we must look inside of ourselves. When we are faced with a conflict, even if the other person is wrong, we must ask ourselves “What have I harbored internally that added to this conflict?” If we become angry, we should ask ourselves, “What do I have inside of me that triggered that reaction?” We only keep theories of Divine and Prophetic teachings. We must work to harbor them.
-Shaykh Mokhtar Maghraoui