Bishmallah ar-Rahman ar-Rahim
Often “considered virtually untranslatable,” the authors of Physicians of the Heart translate Latif as “subtle love” and to deepen an understanding of this, the 30th Divine Name, it is useful to examine the “various levels of meaning” as embodied in terms derived from the root L-T-F (99).
First, the subtly suggested by Latif is embodied in one of the physical meanings of the Name itself: Latif is the “sheerness of a piece
of cloth such as fine silk” while “in another dimension, this fineness of manifestation is a quality of the subtle centers of spiritual magnetism in the body,” much like chakras, “are called lata’if” (99). Latif also means “polished in manners” of one “whose actions are gentle, kind, and loving” (99).
Latif’s root is related to the process of tanning in that much like tanning a hide “makes it more soft, more natural and delicate,” Latif, the subtle, softens that which is hard. A further meaning “is to be thin and refined in stature, to be graceful in the limbs” (99) while the “word latifah means to caress, to pet” (99).
Such terms underscore the subtle quality of Latif in that “Latif is knowing the subtle, mysterious, or hidden knowledge” (99), the implication of which suggests that knowledge of such–that which is hidden–emerges when that which is hard/rigid is worked and softened (like a hide): “dry and brittle personalities need this moisturizing action” of Latif, thus bringing refinement of the personality structure, particularly “developing a refined quality of empathy” (99, 101), thus enabling an individual not only to get to know “a person very well at a very deep level” (101), but “to know the subtlest of things that are unknown, and thus not to be limited by finite conditioning” (49 emphasis added).
Whereas Latif embodies subtle knowledge, Khabir “included the whole realm of inner knowledge” as, the root form of the Name meaning “‘to till the soil,'” the 31st Name is the “depth of insight that penetrates into the most secret and buried places” (50). Frequently paired with Latif in the Qur’an, Kharbir “means to have a deep inner knowledge of everything, individually and totally, without exception” (304).
From a psychological point of view, Khabir is an “antidote” for attachment to the world, particularly the form of attachment that “obscures your view and you are unable to see the world as a divine manifestation” as it is “very limiting to thing that there is nothing more than this world, that this world is all there is” (305). So too is Khabir the antidote for attachment’s “opposite:” renunciation, or rejection of the world which results in the severing of relationships, the inability to see connections between the things of this world.
As such, Khabir is the “wisdom that arises from the oneness of things” (306).
Quite simply, Halim “is tender love, gentle, and kind love” which is “physical, emotional, and nurturing” that God “manifests…anywhere and everywhere, without exception” (50). An “antidote for anger and impatience,” Halim “brings a mildness of manner” (50) and the “ability to maintain calm or reason” as well as remain “deliberate and measured” when we are overcome by strong emotions (87).
Derived from the root H-L-M, this Name is related to hulm and ‘ahlam, or “categories in dream interpretation” (86). Halim “is the place where true dreams can arise:” it is a place of calm, of stillness where “the dreams…are really visions” (88). How difficulty it may be to remain calm when the proverbial shit hits the fan. But if one can and when one does, such state is Halim. The tricky part is finding that place, for to do so one must release attachments, the suggestion being that as long as we remain stuck in moments of such emotional upheaval, we are maintaining our attachments, thus creating (and perpetuating) “our own nightmare” (88).
That that still place is creative, “full of inspiration and guidance…and it will have a feeling of salvation” which “comes through grace” and “for grace to happen, you have to reach that place that feels like the greatest sigh of release” when you “wait on the divine to come and touch you” (88).
Halim is that “inner calm” that inner calm that is “so empty, so strong, that the greatest fear doesn’t color that emptiness, doesn’t disturb it. It just passes through” (90). It is this place of emptiness, that place “in the beginning” that is of the greatest potential, for “from it all creation can be manifested” (90).
Realization of this Name, of this space, engenders “an amazing ecstatic love” which is “nothing but Allah” for “in that place, nothing is left but Allah” (90).
Whereas Halim is the space, ‘Azim “actualizes the divine presence” (51). Derived from al-‘adaam, meaning “to grow strong in the bones,” the divine presence that is actualized with ‘Azim is felt “in the depths of your soul” (51). ‘Azim is “the experience of the infinite in your deepest essential self” and “means to embody the divine presence in a complete way, a physical way” (51).
And for one “who realizes al-‘Azim, each and every sign of God gives the experience of a vast and infinite presence” (160).
Other meanings derived from the root are again helpful: “numerous, vast, the middle part of an open road…grave, severe, awesome….magnitude” (160).
The connection of the actualization of the divine and the image of bones is not simply metaphorical, for
“when the experience of the absolute comes, the brittleness in the bones releases an awesome amount of terror….when such rears dissolve, the bones become soft” and the “second stage of actualization is the stage of suppleness and vulnerability. The bones are like cartilage…they have freedom. They can breathe again. Literally, we can now breathe in the bones…In time, the soft bones begin to jell and transform into what might be called diamonds…They physically contain in them a divine presence” (162).