Question: What is the difference between Al-Hilm (forbearance) and Al-Sabr (patience), which is one of Allaah’s Attributes?
Answer: Al-Hilm is to delay the punishment for a servant (granting them respite so that they may repent from their sins). Allaah (Glorified and Exalted be He) is described as Al-Halim (the All-Forbearing) and the Patient as narrated in the following Hadeeth Saheeh (authentic Hadeeth): None is more patient over offending words (he hears) than Allaah. They ascribe a son to Him whereas He gives and provides them with sustenance. Al-Sabr is the delay of imposing the punishments. Although many people are transgressors, unjust, and commit Shirk (associating others with Allaah in His Divinity or worship), Allaah does not hasten their punishment. Allaah (Exalted be He) says: And most of mankind will not believe even if you desire it eagerly. And:And if you obey most of those on the earth, they will mislead you far away from Allaah’s Path. He gives them respite, as He (Glorified and Exalted be He) says, Consider not that Allaah is unaware of that which the Zaalimoon (polytheists, wrong-doers) do, but He gives them respite up to a Day when the eyes will stare in horror. This Aayah combines both characteristics: patience and forbearance… read more here.