Allah is “As-Sabour” (The Most Patient), who does not hasten His punishment to those who disobey Him; always gives respite, but He never neglects:
And if Allah were to punish men for that which they earned, He would not leave a moving living creature on the surface of it (the earth); but He gives them respite to an appointed term; and when their term comes, then verily, Allah is Ever All-Seer of His slaves. (Quran 35: 45)
God’s name As-Sabour is not literally mentioned in the Quran, but was actually mentioned in prophetic Hadith in which Prophet Muhammad speaks about Allah’s beautiful Divine names and attributes. However, there are a lot of indications and references to this name in the Quran.
How God is Sabour (Most-Patient)
1- God says:
And had it not been for a Word that went forth before, from your Lord, and a term determined, (their punishment) must necessarily have come (in this present world). (20: 129)
When he has power over other fellow humans, man is usually inclined to punish severely those who arouse his anger. But God is ever most patient.
This shows clearly that severe punishment and complete destruction for the disobedient and deviant must have come in this present world unless a Word had gone before from the Lord, Allah, to delay punishment. But what was that Word? It is:
2- In consistence with His name “Ar-Rahman” (The Most Gracious), God’s name “As-Sabour” (The Most Patient) denotes that God’s infinite divine mercy embraces all things in this present world and the Hereafter because God has created mankind in order to have mercy on them:
And your Lord is All-Forgiving, Owner of Mercy. Were He to call them to account for what they have earned, then surely, He would hasten their punishment. But they have their appointed time, from which they shall find no escape. (18: 58)
3- So long as man seeks forgiveness from His Lord, the Lord’s mercy is near to him; and the Lord’s divine mercy is infinite, which is meant to give man a chance so that he may repent and reform, and consequently achieve happiness. It is meant as a mercy for him.
In other words, if God were to inflict a severe or destructive punishment on man as soon as he commits a sinful deed, He would not leave any human being on the surface of the earth alive.
And indeed (many) Messengers before you were mocked at, but I granted respite to those who disbelieved, and finally I punished them. Then, how (terrible) was My Punishment! (13: 32)
In that sense, this divine name meets with “before you were mocked at, but I granted respite to those who disbelieved”
Allah’s name “As-Sabour” (The Most Patient), in this sense, meets with His Divine name “Al-‘Afou” (the All-Pardoning)
4- In order to unveil man’s reality, God gives man respite and provides him with power, affluence, strength, authority, might, high social rank, prestige, …etc:
And many a township did I give respite while it was tyrannical. Then, (in the end) I seized it (with punishment). And to Me is the Final Return. (22: 48)
Someone may sometimes lose his balance when he sees that a strong powerful affluent wealthy disbeliever is being made even stronger, more powerful, more affluent, and wealthier.
To that goes God’s saying:
So, when they forgot that (warning) with which they had been reminded, We opened for them the gates of all (pleasant) things, until, while they were enjoying that which they had been given, We took them (in punishment) all of a sudden, and lo! They were plunged into destruction with deep regrets and sorrows. (6: 44)
Consider not that Allah is unaware of that which the wrong-doers do, but He gives them respite up to a Day when the eyes will stare in horror. (14: 42)
5- Due to His infinite divine mercy, He delays punishment for them and gives respite so that they may repent and reform.
That is why Allah says:
And Allah would not punish them while you (O Muhammad) are amongst them, nor will He punish them while they seek (Allah’s) Forgiveness. (8: 33)
6- Scientifically speaking, the Arabic word “mateen” has to do with resistance against forces of pull. Religiously speaking, when Allah says :“And I respite them; certainly My Plan is mateen (strong)”, He means that no human being could ever escape from His divine power and control. It is as if Allah’s plan were an infinitely strong rope that could embrace all things and could never be broken.
Here is another verse that shows clearly that how God is ever Most Patient:
And those who reject Our Signs, We shall gradually seize them with punishment in ways they perceive not. And I respite them; certainly My Plan is mateen (strong). (7: 182-183)
Abridged from www.nabulsi.com