The Koranic word karim means nobility of lineage, a man of noble birth, going back to an illustrious ancestry and unblemished pedigree, occurring 270 times in the Koran. Since in the old Arab conception of human virtue, extravagant and unlimited generosity was the most conspicuous manifestation of man’s nobility, karim had acquired also the meaning of a man characterized by an extravagant generosity.

The Koran declared with utmost clarity that “the most karim (noble)” of all men was the one who took the attitude of taqwa towards God: “Surely the noblest of you all in the sight of God is one who is characterized by the greatest taqwa” (49:13).

It would be no exaggeration to say that this was indeed a revolution in the history of the moral ideas of the Arabs, for nobody in ancient Arabia would ever had thought of giving a formal definition of karam (nobility) in terms of taqwa.