Forgiveness of Allah
On the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), from among the things he reports from his Lord (mighty and sublime be He), is that he said:
"A servant [of Allah's] committed a sin and said: 'O Allah, forgive me my sin.' And He (glorified and exalted be He) said: 'My servant has committed a sin and has known that he has a Lord who forgives sins and punishes for them.' Then he sinned again and said: 'O Lord, forgive me my sin.' And He (glorified and exalted be He) said: 'My servant has committed a sin and has known that he has a Lord who forgives sins and punishes for them.' Then he sinned again and said: 'O Lord, forgive me my sin.' And He (glorified and exalted be He) said: 'My servant has committed a sin and has known that he has a Lord who forgives sins and punishes for sins. Do what you wish, for I have forgiven you.'" [Muslim (also by al-Bukhari).]
Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (PBUH) said,
"Allah, the Exalted, and Glorious said: 'A slave committed a sin and he said: O Allah, forgive my sin,' and Allah said: 'My slave committed a sin and then he realized that he has a Rubb Who forgives the sins and punishes for the sin.' He then again committed a sin and said: 'My Rubb, forgive my sin,' and Allah (SWT) said: 'My slave committed a sin and then realized that he has a Rubb Who forgives his sin and punishes for the sin.' He again committed a sin and said: 'My Rubb, forgive my sin,' and Allah (SWT) said: 'My slave has committed a sin and then realized that he has a Rubb Who forgives the sin or takes (him) to account for sin. I have granted forgiveness to my slave. Let him do whatever he likes".[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
The last sentence "let him do..". means, as long he keeps asking for forgiveness after the commission of sins, and repents, Allah will forgive him because repentance eliminates previous sins".
Commentary: This Hadith tells us that so long as the heart of a Muslim remains free from willful disobedience of Divine injunctions and he does not deliberately neglect his religious duties, that is to say he goes on committing sins and each time wholeheartedly begs pardon for them, Almighty, Allah will forgive him. The reason being that he is penitent for his wrongs and does not insist upon them for fear of accountability. This condition of his shows that his heart is full of awe and Majesty of Allah and he does not feel any disgrace in showing his utter humbleness before Him. Now this is a merit of the sinful which is pleasing to Allah. Thus, He says that so long as his slave continues submission and prostration He will go on forgiving him.
On the contrary, there is a person who goes on committing sins but he neither repents for them nor seeks pardon for his wrongs; nor has any fear of accountability. Obviously, he is altogether different from the kind of Muslims mentioned before, and he will be therefore treated differently by Allah. The conduct of the former is of a Muslim who, in spite of his sins, is liked by Allah while the second is of that of a rebel for whom He has kept severe punishment ready. May Allah rank us among the former category of people.
Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "Allah has divided mercy into one hundred parts; and He retained with Him ninety-nine parts, and sent down to earth one part. Through this one part creatures deal with one another with compassion, so much so that an animal lifts its hoof over its young lest it should hurt it".[Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
Another narration is: Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "Allah has one hundred mercies, out of which He has sent down only one for jinn, mankind, animals and insects, through which they love one another and have compassion for one another; and through it, wild animals care for their young. Allah has retained ninety-nine mercies to deal kindly with His slaves on the Day of Resurrection."[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Another narration in Muslim is reported: by Salman Al-Farisi: Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "Allah has hundred mercies, out of which one mercy is used by his creation for mutual love and affection. Ninety-nine mercies are kept for the Day of Resurrection."
Another narration is: Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "Allah created one hundred units of mercy on the Day He created the heavens and the earth. Each one of them can contain all that is between the heaven and the earth. Of them, he put one on earth, through which a mother has compassion for her children and animals and birds have compassion for one another. On the Day of Resurrection, He will perfect and complete His Mercy". (That is He will use all the hundred units of mercy for his slaves on that Day).
1. We learn from this Hadith that kind and compassionate treatment is liked by Allah and is in fact His Blessing and Benevolence. This is the reason He has given a part of it to His creatures, and a person who is so hard-hearted, that he is not even aware of it has a defect which is extremely displeasing to Allah. Moreover, it is a sign that such a person is deprived of Divine blessing and mercy.
2. On the Day of Resurrection, Almighty Allah will bestow upon the believers hundred mercies. This news has great hopes and joy for His slaves.
Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "By the One in Whose Hand my soul is, were you not to commit sins, Allah would replace you with a people who would commit sins and then seek forgiveness from Allah; and Allah would forgive them".[Muslim].
Commentary: This Hadith also tells us that Allah has a profound liking for such people who are penitent and seek pardon for their sins from Him. So much so that if such people cease to exist who neither commit sins nor seek pardon from Him, He will create people who will do so. It does not, however, mean that He likes sins or the sinful persons. What it really means is that He likes penitence and the penitents. This is the true purport of this Hadith.
It also means that it is natural for man to commit sins, and that Allah loves whenever a slave commits a sin to rush and beg for His forgiveness. (Editor's Note).
Abu Ayyub Khalid bin Zaid (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "Were you not to commit sins, Allah would create people who would commit sins and ask for forgiveness and He would forgive them".[Muslim].
Abu Dharr (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (PBUH) said, "Allah, the Almighty, says: 'Whosoever does a good deed, will have (reward) ten times like it and I add more; and whosoever does an evil, will have the punishment like it or I will forgive (him); and whosoever approaches Me by one span, I will approach him by one cubit; and whosoever approaches Me by one cubit, I approach him by one fathom, and whosoever comes to Me walking, I go to him running; and whosoever meets Me with an earth-load of sins without associating anything with Me, I meet him with forgiveness like that".[Muslim]
Commentary: This Hadith mentions the infinite Compassion and Mercy of Allih to His obedient slaves and a special expression of which will be made by Him on the Day of Resurrection. On that Day, He will give at least ten times reward for each good deed. In some cases it may be far more than that, seven hundred times or more, as He would like. Such benevolence on His part warrants that a Muslim should never lose hope of His forgiveness.
“Say, ‘O My servants who have transgressed greatly against themselves through sins! Do not despair of the Mercy of Allaah. Indeed Allaah forgives all sins to those who repent. Indeed He is the Oft-Forgiving, the Most Merciful." Soorah az-Zumar (39):54
Some of the Salaf have said that this aayah from the Book of Allaah, is the one that gives the most hope to the one who seeks forgiveness. Moreover, Allaah, the Most High, in encouragement of seeking forgiveness, and in making clear its excellence and its fruits both in this worldly life and in the Hereafter, refer to what Nooh said: “He says: “I said to them, ‘Ask forgiveness from your Lord, indeed He is Oft-Forgiving. He will send rain to you in abundance and He will give you increase in wealth andchildren, and bestow on you gardens and rivers.” Soorah Nooh (71):10-12
This tremendous aayah promises numerous benefits and offers important lessons for those who seek forgiveness and for those who constantly ask forgiveness for their sins. It is related that a man came to al-Hasan al-Basree, the noble Taabi'ee, and complained to him of poverty. So he said to him, ‘Ask forgiveness of Allaah.' Another man came to him complaining that he did not have any children. So he said to him, ‘Ask forgiveness of Allaah.' A third man came to him complaining of the barrenness of his garden. So he said to him, ‘Ask forgiveness of Allaah.' He then recited to them the
saying of Allaah, the Perfect and Most High: “I said to them, ‘Ask forgiveness from your Lord, indeed He is
Oft-Forgiving. He will send rain to you in abundance and He will give you increase in wealth and children and bestow on you gardens and rivers." Soorah Nooh (71):10-12
These then are some of the fruits of seeking forgiveness and some of its benefits in the worldly life. As for the Hereafter, then the benefits of seeking forgiveness are very great and tremendous. With regard to the Sunnah, there are many texts from the Prophet encouraging the seeking of forgiveness and making clear its excellence.
Also from the ahaadeeth reported on the subject of seeking forgiveness is that of Aboo Hurairah, reported by al-Bukhaaree' that the Prophet SAW said, "By the One in whose Hand is my soul, I certainly ask forgiveness of Allaah and repent to him more than seventy times each day." The Prophet SAW was such that Allaah had forgiven his earlier and later sins, yet he still used to ask Allaah's forgiveness more than a hundred times each day. Indeed, as Ibn 'Umar said, "We used to count that in a single gathering he would say, ‘I ask Allaah's forgiveness and I repent to Him, more than seventy times." Thus he ! would continuously ask for forgiveness and give it great importance.
Also from the ahaadeeth showing the excellence and great importance of seeking forgiveness is that reported by Muslim in his Saheeh from Aboo Hurairah from the Prophet SAW that he said, "By Allaah! If you did not commit sins, Allaah would have taken you away and brought a people who seek Allaah's forgiveness,
and He would forgive them." He would have taken you away and He would have brought a people who seek Allaah's forgiveness, and He would forgive them - this shows the extent to which Allaah,the Majestic and Most High, loves the seeking of forgiveness and that He loves those who ask for His forgiveness.
Amongst the perfect Names of Allaah, the Majestic and Most High, is Al-'Afuww - ‘He who pardons,' and Al-Ghafoor - ‘He who forgives,'and Al-Ghaffaar - ‘The Oft-Forgiving.' Allaah, the Majestic and Most High, loves that we call upon Him by His names and that we worship Him by that which His names demand. As He Himself said:
“And Allaah has the most excellent and perfect names, so worship and invoke Him by them” Soorah al-A'raaf (7):180.
Also, the Prophet SAW said in a hadeeth reported in the two Saheehs' from Aboo Hurairah #, "Allaah has ninety-nine names, a hundred except one. Whoever memorises and is mindful of them (ahsaahaa) will enter Paradise." However, ‘... memorising and being mindful of them ...' (ihsaa), is not merely to take these names upon a piece of paper and to recite them - as some people do. In fact, the scholars have explained that ihsaa of the names
comprises three levels. The first of these is to memorise the names. The second is to understand their meanings. And the third is to call upon Allaah by these names and to act as they demand.
As an example of this, we may take from the names of Allaah that of (say), At-Tawwaab. We then understand that its meaning, ‘He who guides His servants to repent and accepts their repentance,' is telling us that Allaah, the Majestic and Most High, accepts His servant's repentance, guides them to repent and grants that to them. We also understand that He, the Most High, is the only One to grant forgiveness. Having understood all this, we act as the name demands by repenting to Allaah from all our sins. This is the manner in which we must memorise and understand all the perfect names of Allaah. However, it is important that our understanding of them should be correct and far removed from such corrupt methodologies as ta'weel, which attempts to explain away the meanings of Allaah's attributes by deviated and twisted understandings, or ta'teel, which denies both the attributes and that which they indicate - that which Allaah and His Messnger ! intended. No, our understanding is based upon the methodology of the Salaf of the Ummah.
Allaah is Al-Ghafoor - ‘The One who forgives,' and He is Al-Ghaffaar - ‘The Oft-Forgiving,' and He is Al-'Afuww - ‘The One who pardons.' These, from the perfect names of Allaah, demand that we constantly seek forgiveness, that we frequently repent and that we turn in repentance to Allaah, the Most High. Yes, Allaah is indeed the Cane who forgives.
As He, the Most High, said in the Noble Qur'aan:
“Allaah does not forgive that anything is associated in worship with Him, but He forgives whatever is lesser than shirk to whomever He pleases.” Soorah an-Nisaa (4): 48
However, in addition to deserving and seeking forgiveness, there are other conditions that must be fulfilled by the one who seeks it.
From those sayings of Allaah the Most High, that most comprehensively lay down the conditions for attaining forgiveness of sins, is this aayah from Soorah Taa Haa:
“Indeed I am forgiving to the one who repents, truly believes, does righteous and correct deeds, and then remains constant upon right guidance”Soorah Taa Haa (20):82.
So, "Indeed I am forgiving ..." and who is he who receives forgiveness from Allaah, the Majestic and Most High? It is the one who fulfills Allaah's conditions.
Firstly, it is he who repents. Repentance - at-Tawbah - is the only action that will cause all sins to be forgiven. It is reported, "Repentance erases what came before it." It wipes away the previous sins. Allaah forgives the sins of the repentant even if they are as many as the foam of the ocean. As Allaah has said: “Say, ‘O My servants who have transgressed greatly against themselves through sins! Do not despair of the Mercy of Allaah. Indeed Allaah forgives all sins to those who repent. Indeed He is the Oft-Forgiving, the Most Merciful." Soorah az-Zumar (39)54
"Do not despair ..." means here, ‘Repent to Allaah,' because He is, indeed, the Oft-Forgiving, the Most Merciful.
Secondly, the one who fulfils Allaah's conditions for repentance is he who, "... truly believes ...," he truly believes in Allaah, His Angels, His Books and His Messengers. He believes in the fundamentals of Eemaan.
The third condition for the one who is seeking Allaah's forgiveness is that he, "... does righteous and correct deeds ...," he does these after repenting. Devoting himself to worship, to Prayer, to remembrance of Allaah, to fearing Him and to being mindful of Him. By devoting himself to these deeds of the heart and limbs, he turns to Allaah.
Fourthly, "... he remains constant upon right guidance ..." He remains upright upon that, he does not break it nor turn back from it. He remains upon it until he dies. Whoever is like that, Allaah forgives his sins and conceals his faults. He is one of those who attain the forgiveness of Allaah, the Majestic and Most High.
We should give great importance to memorising the wording, to understanding it correctly and to acting upon it.
So from Shaddaad ibn Aws from the Prophet SAW that he said, “The noblest and most excellent manner of seeking forgiveness is that the servant says: ‘O Allaah, You are my Lord. None has the right to be worshipped except You. You created me, and I am Your slave/worshipper. And I am faithful to my covenant and my promise as far as I am able. I seek Your refuge from the evil of what I have done. I acknowledge before You all the favours that You have bestowed upon me. And I confess all my sins toYou. So forgive me, since none can forgive sins except You.” Ameen