The Wise, The Judge of Judges, The One who is correct in His doings.
Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ is Al-Hakeem (in Arabic: ٱلْحَكِيمُ), the most judicious and the all-wise. He possesses the ability to determine right from wrong and is free from error and misunderstanding. His design in nature and life are perfect and accurate. He is the only one qualified to judge the worth of all things.
From the root h-k-m which has the following classical Arabic connotations: to prevent or restrain from wrongdoing or corruption, to turn someone back from wrongdoing or ignorance, to be wise, knowing the true nature of things, to pass judgment, to decide, pass a verdict.
Al-Hakeem shares the same root h-k-m with a closely related name we've already coveredAl-Hakam meaning, "The Judge." Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ is referred to as the all wise for a total of 93 times in the Qur'an and the judge six times.
This name is often used in pairs with the name Al-Alim ("The All-Knowing"). To avoid sounding like a broken record we invite you to read the write-up for the name al-Alim which covers what it means to be both the all-knowledgable and the all-wise. This frees us space on this page to explore other ways in understanding how Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ being the all-wise permeates every aspect of our lives. One of the best stories which illustrates how Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ is al-Hakeem is through the story of Yusuf (as).
Summary of the story of Prophet Yusuf (as):
When Yusuf (as) was a child, he had a special relationship with his father, Yaqub (as). He told his father about a dream he had, "O my father, indeed I have seen [in a dream] eleven stars and the sun and the moon; I saw them prostrating to me." (Qur'an 12:4). Not knowing how or when, but he knew this vision was from Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ. The other brothers grew envious of their relationship and plotted against Yusuf. One day Yusuf (as) went to play with his brothers, and they led him to a well. When he came close, they pushed him in and abandoned him.
This set off a series of unfortunate events for Yusuf (as). A caravan of travelers stopped by the well, and they found the young boy. They pulled him out and rescued him but decided to pawn him off as a slave to a man named Aziz, the chief minister. Aziz treated Yusuf (as) well, and he remained loyal to Aziz, but Yusuf (as) had to grow up not knowing his family. Yusuf (as) matured into an intelligent, charming, and handsome man under the care of Aziz.
The story then takes yet another turn, Aziz's wife became infatuated with Yusuf (as) and seeked to seduce him but he rejected her advances, "[I seek] the refuge of Allah. Indeed, he is my master, who has made good my residence. Indeed, wrongdoers will not succeed." (Qur'an 12:23) Hurt and embarrassed by the rejection, she tried to falsely accuse Yusuf (as) for approaching her, "And they both raced to the door, and she tore his shirt from the back, and they found her husband at the door. She said, "What is the recompense of one who intended evil for your wife but that he be imprisoned or a painful punishment?" (Qur'an 12:25) Yusuf (as) denied this accusation, "It was she who sought to seduce me." (Qur'an 12:26). In the end, Yusuf (as) was found innocent since the shirt was ripped from the back, not the front, which was a sign of escape, not assault. Still, to safeguard Zulaikha (Aziz's wife) and protect her honor, Yusuf was sentenced by Aziz to prison despite being innocent.
The next phase of his life was serving time in prison, but while in prison he developed a reputation for being able to accurately interpret dreams. The king was told of this skill since He had a recurring dream causing him troubles. This led to him being released and appointed by the King to help prepare the city from an approaching famine. He worked hard over the years, and this eventually led him to being reunited with His father.
Wa raf’a abawaihi ‘alal ‘arshi wa kharroo lahoo sujjadaa; wa qaala yaaa abati haaza taaweelu ru’yaaya min qablu qad ja’alahaa Rabbee haqqaa; wa qad ahsana beee iz akhrajanee minas sijni wa jaaa’a bikum minal badwi mim ba’di an nazaghash Shaitaanu bainee wa baina ikhwatee; inna Rabbee lateeful limaa yashaaa’; innahoo Huwal ‘Aleemul Hakeem
"And he raised his parents upon the throne, and they bowed to him in prostration. And he said, “O my father, this is the explanation of my vision of before. My Lord has made it reality. And He was certainly good to me when He took me out of prison and brought you [here] from bedouin life after Satan had induced [estrangement] between me and my brothers. Indeed, my Lord is Subtle in what He wills. Indeed, it is He who is the Knowing, the Wise." (Qur'an 12:100)
The lesson of the story:
Yusuf's life was overcoming one obstacle after another. When there seemed to be light at the end of a tunnel, he realized it was just an oncoming train. Yet, with everything that happened, he takes it in stride. He tackles each situation with resolve and never loses hope or faith. Why? He believed in Allah's attribute of being al-Hakeem, trusting He knows what to do and with whom. When we read about the story of Yusuf (as), we learn a crucial life lesson, that it's impossible to connect the dots looking forwards, we can only connect them looking backwards. We see how Yusuf (as) endured all the pain to end up where he did. In the end, Yusuf (as) saved the people of Egypt from famine, attained immense success, and was reunited with his family. Ultimately the vision he had in his childhood came true. It was not easy, and he kept in pursuit; he believed in Allah and knew the dots would somehow connect in the future but never exactly knowing how.
This also brings about another question, if we could rewind the clock should we tell Yusuf (as) to not play with his brothers that day? The answer we know is no, but still we may be reserved in our answer not feeling one hundred percent confident. Our mind thinks, maybe his life could've been better? Perhaps a route to the same destination with less pain? Even in our own lives we may wish things in our past may have gone differently. This goes to the idea that as humans we always wish for things to be better. We rarely embrace and accept reality as it is even though it can't be any other way. But to the one who sees Allah سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ as al-Hakeem, they will recognize how all things are interconnected. That sometimes we should not just endure but learn to love and say alhamdulillah for the way the all-wise has decreed things to unfold.
Kutiba alaikumulqitaalu wa huwa kurhullakum wa ‘asaaa an takrahoo shai’anw wa huwa khairullakum wa ‘asaaa an tuhibbo shai’anw wa huwa sharrullakum; wallaahu ya’lamu wa antum laa ta’lamoon (section 26)
"Fighting has been enjoined upon you while it is hateful to you. But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not." (Qur'an 2:216)
Event of Ifk:
Another story of adversity comes from the seerah of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. It surrounds the traumatic events that took place in an attempt to attack the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and his family. Ayat 11-20 from Surah Nur addresses this matter, but we'll focus on two verse in particular.
Innal lazeena jaaa’oo bilifki ‘usbatum minkum; laa tahsaboohu sharral lakum bal huwa khairul lakum; likul limri’im minhum mak tasaba minal-ism; wallazee tawallaa kibrahoo minhum lahoo ‘azaabun ‘azeem
"Indeed, those who came with falsehood are a group among you. Do not think it bad for you; rather it is good for you. For every person among them is what [punishment] he has earned from the sin, and he who took upon himself the greater portion thereof – for him is a great punishment." (Qur'an 24:11)
In the tafsir of Maududi it is written regarding this verse, "That is, you should not lose heart. Though the hypocrites, according to their own presumptions, have made the worst attack on you, it will eventually bring misfortune on them, and will prove to be a blessing in disguise for you." In the following verses it continues mentioning:
Wa yubaiyinul laahu lakumul Aayaat; wallaahu ‘Aleemun Hakeem
"And Allah makes clear to you the verses, and Allah is Knowing and Wise." (Qur'an 24:18)
This is yet another example of how we should have faith in Allah's attribute of being the all-wise and all-knowing. Things may not make sense to us at the moment, and to iterate the point, we can not connect the dots looking forwards. We know Allah knows the truth in every situation. Our duty is to find the good in every 'tragedy,' "Do not think it bad for you; rather it is good for you." In the hadith, it was narrated by Abu Hurairah who said: "Mention of fever was made in the presence of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), and a man cursed it. The Prophet (ﷺ) said: 'Do not curse it, for it erases sin as fire removes filth from iron.'"