The Oft Forgiving
- If a man willingly turns to God in guarantees His protection, honor and support to himself. But if he refuses and fails to respond, he will be afflicted by torment from where he does not reckon.
- The Arabic word “Ghafara” linguistically means “to cover or hide”, hence God is “Al-Ghaffar” in the sense that He keeps your innermost thoughts and intentions hidden from other fellow humans. Therefore, your innermost feelings, intentions, thoughts and ambitions are well-protected and well-covered.
- Another meaning of God’s name “Al-Ghaffar” is that He covers man’s ugly inner body with a nice-looking skin. Without an outer skin man’s body would look very ugly. In other words, man’s inner muscles and innermost parts would look horrible if they were on the surface of his body. But by Allah’s Grace, the outer skin makes man’s face and body look beautiful.
- He also conceals the evil thoughts as lots of ugly thoughts visit his mind: thoughts of evil things, thoughts of committing sins.
- This is also the meaning of Prophet Muhammad’s invocation: “O you (Allah), Who unveils that which is beautiful and veils that which is ugly!”.
- God is “Al-Ghaffar” that He veils a believer’s sins and misdeeds and does not show them. For that, if a believer were to see the evil things that he formerly did when he was ignorant and heedless, he would get burnt of regret. When a believer turns to God with repentance, He forgives him and his sins. But if he were to remember the evil things that he did in times of ignorance, he would bite his fingers of regret.
- Therefore, due to His infinite divine mercy upon believers in Paradise, God veils all their sins and misdeeds, so that neither they nor anyone else can see any of such sins or misdeeds.
The Exceedingly And Perfectly Forgiving
- One of Allah’s greatest names is Al-Ghafoor. It’s one of the most common names mentioned in the Qur’an (91 times). The name itself is on the pattern that denotes a very powerful doer of an action.
Islamic Meaning: Islamically, Allah, Al-Ghafoor is the one who shields and protects YOU form the consequences of your own actions. One of the connotations is, you shield and cover something based upon knowledge. So when Allah does maghfirah, he’s covering your sins, being fully aware of what they are. So we say he’s the one who FORGIVES, regardless of how large the sin is. That’s what Al-Ghafoor is—the one who does the concept of ghafara to a higher level. Even if it’s a large quantity—a HUGE sin—Al-Ghafoor will cover it up. It’s a QUALITY of covering.
- In contrast to Al-Ghafoor, Al-Ghaffaar is only mentioned about four times in the Qur’an. Al-Ghaffaar is the one who CONTINUES to forgive, again and again and again and again and again. So Allah forgives you REGARDLESS of how many times you sin—again and again, he gives you continuous forgiveness. It’s a QUANTITY forgiveness.
The Acceptor of Repentance, The Oft-Returning, The Acceptor of our Return
- All praises be to Allah, who is known by the Beautiful Name, at-Tawwab, the Oft-Returning. He is the one who is continuously turning, in forgiveness, to those who turn to Him, in repentance. He is the one who forgives the sins of those who repent. Allah turns to every person who turns to Him sincerely, by assisting them to repent, and by directing their heart towards Him. After he turns to them, by accepting their repentance, He forgives them their errors. How merciful is He? He is at-Tawwab, the Oft-Returning. Let’s turn to Him and ask Him for His forgiveness.
“...And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed.” [Qur’an, 24:31]
As the verse tells us, tawba (repentence) is for everyone because we all need to return. It does not simply have to be from a hideous sin. It can be because we are far, so we need to return. It can be because we have slipped here and there, so we need to return. It can be because we want to take that step to get closer to Allah (swt), so we need to return. That is the essence of tawba.
- Whatever causes you return to Him—whether it is an ayah (verse) in the Qur’an, an article, a friend who reminds you, or even the realization of a sin you committed—is only because He wants to accept your repentance. Then you come within the realm of at-Tawwabeen: those who constantly return.
The Effacing, The Eliminator of Sins
- The One who blots out and leaves no trace of any sin or fault.
- The One who passes over and absolves any fault.
- The One who can remove and obliterate all traces of wrong actions.
- The One who can make any sin, error or fault disappear.
- From the root 'a-f-a which has the following classical Arabic connotations:
- to forgive, pardon
- to pass over, forgo, absolve
- to obliterate all traces, efface, remove
- to kill-off, allow to die
- to turn away from punishing, not see, annul
- to make unapparent, imperceptible
- to give spontaneously, to give without constraint
- to give more than what is due
- The words Ghafûr and Ghaffâr denote simply forgiving or protecting, while 'Afuww indicates complete removal or obliteration of the condition.
- The classical Arabic dictionary Taj al-Arûs offers a beautiful metaphor wherein 'afuww is said to be like a mighty desert wind which completely obliterates the footprints in the sand.