Tuesday 8 November 2022

The Divine Call to repent before the Punishment comes

Man is born to err, and so did Adam when he was enticed by the Devil and violated the Divine Commandment. But there is always a way back if one pleads to his Lord, the Master of the Entire Universe, in repentance, asking for forgiveness of his sins and wrongdoings. The Lord, Who is Ever Merciful and Forgiving, promises His servants that He will accept their repentance and forgive them. 

However, there is a condition laid out: Repent before the Punishment comes!! That is one must repent before the final countdown begins to click and one knows that the end has come, for seeing the death knocking at the door will not then save a sinner from the punishment. Even Pharoah, when he was drowning, cried out that he believed in God. But God replied that then it was too late to repent. 
(Surah 10 Yusuf (Jospeh):90) And We led the Children of Israel across the sea. Then Pharaoh and his hosts pursued them in iniquity and transgression until Pharaoh cried out while he was drowning: 'I believe that there is no god but Allah in Whom the Children of Israel believe, and I am also one of those who submit to Allah.

(10:91) (Thereupon came the response): 'Now you believe, although you disobeyed earlier and were one of the mischief-makers. (10:92) We shall now save your corpse that you may serve as a sign of warning for all posterity, although many men are heedless of Our signs.

This is just one example from Qur'an which shows importance of seeking repentance before one's time runs out. The verse we have selected in our series of posts on repentance and seeking forgiveness is the 53rd verse from Surah 39 Az Zumar (The Troops) in which Divine Call is made to repent before the dreadful punishment arrives for those who sinned and did not felt remorse over their actions, like Pharoah, and did not repent. In fact, verses 53-63 are meant for those who have transgressed against their souls and have been promised by Allah that they should not despair of Allah's mercy, they should repent while they can so that they should be forgiven:

قُلۡ يٰعِبَادِىَ الَّذِيۡنَ اَسۡرَفُوۡا عَلٰٓى اَنۡفُسِهِمۡ لَا تَقۡنَطُوۡا مِنۡ رَّحۡمَةِ اللّٰهِ​ ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰهَ يَغۡفِرُ الذُّنُوۡبَ جَمِيۡعًا​ ؕ اِنَّهٗ هُوَ الۡغَفُوۡرُ الرَّحِيۡمُ‏ 
(39:53) Say: "O My servants who have transgressed against themselves! Despair not of the mercy of Allah, verily, Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.'
The address here is to all mankind. There is no weighty argument to regard only the believers as the addressees. As has been observed by 'Allama Ibn Kathir, to address such a thing to the common men does not mean that Allah forgives all sins without repentance, but Allah Himself has explained in the following verses that sins are forgiven only when the sinner turns to Allah's worship and service and adopts obedience to the message sent down by Him. As a matter of fact, this verse brought a message of hope for those people who had committed mortal sins like murder, adultery, theft, robbery, etc. in the days of ignorance, and had despaired whether they would ever be forgiven. To them it has been said: "Do not despair of Allah's mercy: whatever you might have done in the past, if you sincerely turn to your Lord's obedience, you will be forgiven every sin." The same interpretation of this verse has been given by Ibn `Abbas, Qatadah, Mujahid and Ibn Zaid. (Ibn Jarir, Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Da'ud, Tirmidhi). For further explanation, see AI-Furqan: 70-71 and the E.N.'s thereof. 
The next two Ayats/verses supplement the Divine Call for repentance in which our Lord says: (39:54) Turn to your Lord and surrender yourselves to Him before the chastisement overtakes you; for then you will receive no help, and

(39:55) Follow the best of what has been revealed to you from your Lord before the chastisement suddenly comes upon you without you even being aware of it.

Ta:fsir Ibn-Kathir 
This Ayah is a call to all sinners, be they disbelievers or others, to repent and turn to Allah. This Ayah tells us that Allah, may He be blessed and exalted, will forgive all the sins of those who repent to Him and turn back to Him, no matter what or how many his sins are, even if they are like the foam of the sea. This cannot be interpreted as meaning that sins will be forgiven without repentance, because Shirk can only be forgiven for the one who repents from it. Al-Bukhari recorded that Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said that some of the people of Shirk killed many people and committed Zina (illegal sexual acts) to a great extent; they came to Muhammad and said, "What you are saying and calling us to is good; if only you could tell us that there is an expiation for what we have done.'' 
Then the following Ayat were revealed: (And those who invoke not any other god along with Allah, nor kill such person as Allah has forbidden, except for just cause, nor commit illegal sexual intercourse) (25:68).
What is meant by the first Ayah (25:68) is: (Except those who repent and believe, and do righteous deeds) (25:70). 

Imam Ahmad recorded that Asma' bint Yazid, said, "I heard the Messenger of Allah reciting, (verily, his work is unrighteous) (11:46). And I heard him say: (قُلْ يَاعِبَادِي الَّذِينَ أَسْرَفُوا عَلَى أَنْفُسِهِمْ لَا تَقْنَطُوا مِنْ رَحْمَةِ اللهِ إِنَّ اللهَ يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ جَمِيعًا وَلَا يُبَالِي إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ) (Say: "O My servants who have transgressed against themselves! Despair not of the mercy of Allah, verily, Allah forgives all sins He does not reckon him Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful).'' This was also recorded by Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi. All of these Hadiths indicate that what is meant is that Allah forgives all sins provided that a person repents. Additionally, one must not despair of the mercy of Allah even if his sins are many and great, for the door of repentance and mercy is expansive. 

Allah says:
(Know they not that Allah accepts repentance from His servants) (9:104).
(And whoever does evil or wrongs himself but afterwards seeks Allah's forgiveness, he will find Allah Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.) (4:110). 
Concerning the hypocrites, Allah says: (Verily, the hypocrites will be in the lowest depth (grade) of the Fire; no helper will you find for them. Except those who repent, and do righteous good deeds) (4:145-146). And Allah says:

(Surely, disbelievers are those who said: "Allah is the third of the three (in a Trinity).'' But there is no god but One. And if they cease not from what they say, verily, a painful torment will befall on the disbelievers among them.) (5:73). 

Then He says:(Will they not turn in repentance to Allah and ask His forgiveness For Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.) (5:74) 

And Allah says: (Verily, those who put into trial the believing men and believing women (by torturing them), and then do not turn in repentance (to Allah)) (85: 10). Al-Hasan Al-Basri, may Allah have mercy on him, said, "Look at this generosity and kindness! They killed His close friends but He still called them to repentance and forgiveness.'' There are many Ayat on this topic. The Two Sahihs record the Hadith of Abu Sa`id, may Allah be pleased with him, from Messenger of Allah about the man who killed ninety-nine people. Later on, he regretted it and asked a worshipper among the Children of Israel whether he could repent. He told him no, so he killed him, thus completing one hundred. Then he asked one of their scholars whether he could repent. He said, "What is stopping you from repenting'' Then he told him to go to a town where Allah was worshipped. He set out for that town, but death came to him while he was on the road. The angels of mercy and the angels of punishment disputed over him, so Allah commanded them to measure the distance between the two towns; whichever he was closer to was the one to which he belonged. They found that he was closer to the town he was heading for, so the angels of mercy took him. It was said that when he was dying, he moved himself (towards that town), and Allah commanded the good town to move closer to him and the other town to move away. This is basic meaning of the Hadith; we have quoted it in full elsewhere. 

`Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, commented on the Ayah: (Say: "O My servants who have transgressed against themselves! Despair not of the mercy of Allah, verily, Allah forgives all sins...'') Allah invites all to His forgiveness; those who claim that the Messiah is God, those who claim that the Messiah is the son of God, those who claim that `Uzayr is the son of God, those who claim that Allah is poor, those who claim that the Hand of Allah is tied up, and those who say that Allah is the third of three ﴿Trinity﴾. 

Allah says to all of these: (Will they not turn in repentance to Allah and ask His forgiveness For Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.) (5:74). And He calls to repentance the one who says something even worse than that, the one who says, `I am your Lord most high,' and says, ("I know not that you have a god other than me.'') (28:38). Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said, "Anyone who makes the servants of Allah despair of His mercy after this, has rejected the Book of Allah, but a person cannot repent until Allah decrees that he should repent.'' 

At-Tabarani recorded that Shutayr bin Shakal said, "I heard Ibn Mas`ud say, 
`The greatest Ayah in the Book of Allah is: (Allah! None has the right to be worshipped but He, the Ever Living, the One Who sustains and protects all that exists) (2:255). 
The most comprehensive Ayah in the Qur'an concerning good and evil is: (Verily, Allah enjoins justice and Al-Ihsan) (16:90).
The Ayah in the Qur'an which brings the most relief is in Surat Az-Zumar: (Say: "O My servants who have transgressed against themselves! Despair not of the mercy of Allah.') 
And the clearest Ayah in the Qur'an about reliance on Allah is: (And whosoever has Taqwa of Allah, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty). And He will provide him from (sources) he never could imagine) (65:2-3).' Masruq said to him; `You have spoken the truth.'
Muhammad Asad Explanation:
"whenever the sinner repents and turns to Him": cf., for instance, 6:54 - "Your Sustainer has willed upon Himself the law of grace and mercy - so that if any of you does a bad deed out of ignorance, and thereafter repents and lives righteously, He shall be [found] much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace"; or 4:110 - "he who does evil or [otherwise] sins against himself, and thereafter prays God to forgive him, shall find God much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace".

Tafsir Qur'an Wiki:
In Ayat 10 (…and the earth of God is spacious…) there is abundant evidence that this Surah was sent down before the migration to Abyssinia. Some hadith provide the explanation that this verse was sent down in respect of Ja’far bin Abi Talib and his companions when they made up their mind to emigrate to Abyssinia.

قُلْ يَا عِبَادِ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا رَبَّكُمْ ۚ لِلَّذِينَ أَحْسَنُوا فِي هَـٰذِهِ الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةٌ ۗ وَأَرْضُ اللَّـهِ وَاسِعَةٌ ۗ إِنَّمَا يُوَفَّى الصَّابِرُونَ أَجْرَهُم بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ  "Say, "O My servants who have believed, fear your Lord. For those who do good in this world is good, and the earth of Allah is spacious. Indeed, the patient will be given their reward without account." (39:10) 

In Surah al-Ankabut (29) - there is a similar Ayat, يَا عِبَادِيَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنَّ أَرْضِي وَاسِعَةٌ فَإِيَّايَ فَاعْبُدُونِ "O My servants who have believed, indeed My earth is spacious, so worship only Me." (29:56)

Please listen to explanation of the Ayat by eminent Muslim scholar Nouman Ali Khan:
May Allāh (سبحانه و تعالى‎) help us understand Qur'ān and follow the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, which is embodiment of commandments of Allah contained in the Qur'ān. May Allah help us to be like the ones He loves and let our lives be lived helping others and not making others' lives miserable or unlivable. May all our wrong doings, whether intentional or unintentional, be forgiven before the angel of death knocks on our door. 
وَمَا عَلَيۡنَاۤ اِلَّا الۡبَلٰغُ الۡمُبِيۡنُ‏ 
(36:17) and our duty is no more than to clearly convey the Message.”
That is Our duty is only to convey to you the message that Allah has entrusted us with. Then it is for you to accept it or reject it. We have not been made responsible for making you accept it forcibly, and if you do not accept it, we shall not be seized in consequence of your disbelief, you will yourselves be answerable for your actions on Day of Resurrection.

Reading the Qur'ān should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully. It will also help the Muslims to have grasp over social issues and their answers discussed in the Qur'an and other matter related to inter faith so that they are able to discuss issues with non-Muslims with authority based on refences from Qur'an.

May Allah forgive me if my posts ever imply a piety far greater than I possess. I am most in need of guidance.

Note: When we mention God in our posts, we mean One True God, we call Allah in Islam, with no associates. Allah is the Sole Creator of all things, and that Allah is all-powerful and all-knowing. Allah has no offspring, no race, no gender, no body, and is unaffected by the characteristics of human life.

For more Selected Verses, please refer to our reference page: Selected Verses from the Qur'anYou may also refer to our Reference Pages  and Understanding Al Qur'an for knowing more about Islam and Qur'ān.
Photo | Tafsir References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Qur'ān from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that the exegesis of the chapters of the Quran is mainly based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi.  
In order to augment and add more explanation as already provided, additional input has been interjected from the following sources: 
  • Tafsir Ibn Khatir
  • Muhammad Asad Translation
  • Yusuf Ali Translation
  • Translation Javed Ahmad Ghamidi / Al Mawrid
  • Qur'an Wiki
  • Verse by Verse Qur'an Study Circle
  • Towards Understanding the Quran
In addition, references of other sources which have been explored have also been given above. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites.

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