Truly, we did call unto Him from of old: truly it is He, the Benevolent, the Merciful. (Quran 52: 28)
This name Al-Barr “The Benevolent” is closely related to the Arabic word for piety, birr (with an i). It refers to every form of charity, generosity, and kindness that we as people can carry out.
The name al-Barr (with an a instead of i), however, is a name of Allah. It conveys the meaning that everything in existence benefits from Allah’s generosity and goodness.
Indeed, Allah is both Merciful and Generous, rewarding the least of our good deeds with a tenfold reward. He never punishes a misdeed with anything more than its merit, and He often simply pardons it. Allah is the Giver of Good.
Since Allah is the Benevolent, and benevolence is one of His attributes, it follows that He loves us to be benevolent to one another.
The relationship between the Arabic words for benevolence and piety, we find that this indeed indicates a genuine and close relationship between the attributes of benevolence and piety.
This can be seen in the fact that a great deal of what constitutes our obedience to Allah takes the form of acts of kindness to others, like our duty to be kind to our parents, relatives, and everyone we have dealings with.
Righteous deeds of all kinds bring us closer to Allah, but this is especially true of our acts of kindness to others. This not only applies to human beings, but to all creatures other creatures.
This kindness might come in the form of our personal behavior, our sharing of our wealth, giving assistance with our abilities and our influence, or praying to Allah on their behalf. We need to especially consider the disenfranchised, the widows and orphans, and the poor.
The Prophet (peace be upon us) said:
There was a merchant who used to extend credit to people. If he found one of his customers to be in straightened means, he would say to his assistants: “Forgive them their debt, perhaps Allah will forgive us.” Allah did forgive him. (Sahih al-Bukhari 2078 ; Sahih Muslim 1562)
Moreover, Allah has made honesty the hallmark of piety, and piety the path to Paradise. He has made the hearts of those who are honest sensitive to what is kind and to what is generous, so that the heart becomes itself a guide to what Allah wants from us.
This is why the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
Piety is what the heart feels comfortable with, while sin is what disquiets the heart and makes it hesitate, even if people say that it is alright. (Musnad Ahmad 18035; and Sunan al-Darimi 2523)
A pure, honest heart is like a mirror, except that what it reflects is truth through the light of knowledge and understanding. A corrupted heart, by contrast, gets nothing from good advice or instruction, because it is unreceptive.
Allah loves the benevolent heart. And likewise He loves the pious actions that such a heart inspires its possessor to perform.