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Friday, September 20, 2019

99 Attributes of Allah: Al-Ghafūr - The Ever Forgiver


Allah is Al-Ghafūr " ٱلْغَفُورُ " - The Ever Forgiver. There is none but He Who is the sole Forgiver of Sins and Faults of His servants. It is only Him Who is The Ultimate Pardoner, the Oft Forgiving. When a believer repents, there is none but He Who accepts repentance and pardons sins, no matter how grave these may be.


قُلْ يَا عِبَادِيَ الَّذِينَ أَسْرَفُوا عَلَىٰ أَنفُسِهِمْ لَا تَقْنَطُوا مِن رَّحْمَةِ اللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ جَمِيعًا ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ ۝

Say, "O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah . Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful." [ Al Quran, Surah Az Zumar 39:53 ]

This verse says it all and sends a clear message to those who think that any deity other than Allah is empowered to forgive one's sins. Here in this verse, the Prophet of Allah has been instructed to tell the believers that when someone errs and transgresses and commits a sin, they should not be in despair, rather hopeful of mercy of Allah, for it is Only He Who can forgive sins of those who sincerely repent their sins and ask forgiveness. And indeed He is the Most Forgiving and Merciful (Ar Raheemالرَّحِيمُ " The Most Merciful, The Most Compassionate]

Al-Ghafūr is from the root gh-f-r which in classical Arabic means: (1) to cover, veil, conceal, hide, (2) to pardon, to forgive, to set aright, and (3) to cover a thing to protect it from dirt.

Many instances of such people, who sincerely repented and reformed their lives, have been related in the traditions. For instance, Ibn Jarir and Tabarani have related an incident from Abu Hurairah, who savs: One day when 1 returned home after offering the lsha / night prayer in the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) Mosque, I saw a woman standing at my door. I saluted her and walked into my room, closed the door and busied myself in voluntary worship. After a while she knocked at the door. I opened the door and asked what she wanted. She said that she had come with a problem: She had committed zina, had become pregnant, given birth to a child and then killed it. She wanted to know if there was any chance of her sin being forgiven. I replied in the negative. She went back grief stricken, exclaiming, Ah! this beautiful body was created for the fire! The next morning, after the prayer, when I related the night’s incident before the Prophet (peace be upon him), he said: You gave a very wrong answer, Abu Hurairah: Haven’t you read the Quranic verse which says: (Those) who do not invoke any deity other than Allah...except the one who may have repented (after those sins) and have believed and done righteous deeds? Hearing this from the Prophet (peace be upon him), I went out in search of the woman, and had her traced again at the Isha time. I gave her the good news and told her what the Prophet (peace be upon him) had said in reply to her question. She immediately fell prostrate on the ground and thanked Allah, Who had opened a way for her forgiveness. Then she offered repentance and set a slave-girl, along with her son, free. 

In Qastalānī's commentary on Bukhārī, it is said that the root gh-f-r means a covering or protection which is either between man and the commission of sin [protecting, or watching over], or between sin and the effects of that sin [forgiving, veiling or concealing].


In al-Nihāyah (a dictionary of hadīth), it is said that Ghāfir refers to the One who protects us from the commission of sins, and that Ghafūr refers to the One who forgives our sins and faults.

The Holy Quran has referred quite often to forgiveness, and Allah has diversified it so that the hearts of those who disobey Him may not lose hope of His mercy, and so that no criminal will despond of the mercy of Allah. He forgives the sins and accepts the repentance. Allah gives good tidings to His servants in Surah 40. Al-Mu'min verse 3:

غَافِرِ الذَّنۡۢبِ وَقَابِلِ التَّوۡبِ شَدِيۡدِ الۡعِقَابِ ذِى الطَّوۡلِؕ لَاۤ اِلٰهَ اِلَّا هُوَؕ اِلَيۡهِ الۡمَصِيۡرُ‏ 

"the Forgiver of sins, the Acceptor of repentance, the Stern in retribution, the Bountiful. There is no god but He. To Him are all destined to return."

This attribute of Allah is in fact a veil and shielding of our sins and faults. Without divulging our sins to anyone else, we only confide it with Allah and seek His forgiveness, for He is the Only One who veils our sins and  forgives our misdeeds and sins such that they are not seen by anyone else, not even the angels.

We Muslims have been often asked to keep asking forgiveness of our sins by reciting "Astaghfirullāh" which is from this same gh-f-r root, and is an invocation of Divine Protection having a range of possible connotations that include Allāh please forgive me, Allāh please hide away my faults, Allāh please watch over me and protect me from faults.

So do not ever lose hope and be in state of despair when you err or sin. Be quick to repent and earnestly ask Allah, the Al-Ghafūr for forgiveness. And rest assured you will be forgiven if your are true in your faith.

You may refer to our post "99 Attributes of Allah" for complete list of 99 attributes of Allah Almighty with meaning and explanation.

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