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Al-Latīf – Allah is Most Kind, Aware of Subtleties

The Arabic word latīf has many meanings. In essence, it connotes “gentleness”. However, it is used in many contexts and takes on a wide spectrum of meanings depending on the manner in which it is used.

When it refers to someone’s behavior towards others, it usually conveys the meaning of kindness. When we describe a person with the word latīf, we are saying that he or she is a kind person. When referring to someone’s knowledge, it communicates an acute awareness of subtleties. When describing someone or some thing’s physical being, the word latīf means that it is either delicate or very hard to perceive.

As a name of Allah, al-Latīf appears in the Qur’an seven times, conveying a number of these meanings.

The Knower of Subtleties

Allah says: “Do you not see how Allah sends down water from the sky and then the Earth becomes green upon the morrow? Lo! Allah is the Knower of Subtleties, All-Aware.” [Sūrah al-Hajj: 63]

Nothing escapes Allah’s knowledge, no matter how insignificant or fleeting it might seem. Allah says: “Surely if there be but the weight of the grain of a mustard-seed, even though it is in (the heart of) rock, or (high above) in the heaven or (deep down) in the earth, Allah will bring it to light; surely Allah is the Knower of Subtleties, All-Aware” [Sūrah Luqmān: 16]

Allah knows the intricacies of all affairs. He knows where every benefit is to be found, no matter how hidden or indirect, because He is the Creater of those benefits. From His immense kindness to His creatures, He delivers those benefits to them, even when they are unable to determine for themselves what is good for them.

Allah is Most Kind

Allah says: “Lo! My Lord is Most Kind to whom He pleases.” [Sūrah Yūsuf: 100]

Allah shows His kindness to us by not taking us to task immediately when we sin. Instead, Allah often guides us in our lives in subtle ways that we are not aware of, and in doing so He helps us to return to Him and to conduct ourselves in ways that please Him.

Allah also places kindness in the hearts of His creatures so that they help one another. He places children in the care of their parents and, when the parents reach old age, He places the parents in the care of their children. He places all human beings under the care of His angels.

Allah is not only Kind in what He provides for us. He shows His kindness also in what He withholds from us.

Allah says: “Allah is Most Kind to His servants; He gives sustenance to whom He pleases.” [Sūrah al-Shūrā: 19]

Allah, out of His kindness, gives us what is best for us and withholds from us what is not in our best interests. He does so according to the dictates of His wisdom, mercy, and justice.
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