Saturday 20 May 2023

Allah accepts repentance soon after committing a sin - but not so late when angel of death arrives

Every maker of a machine knows what faults it inherently possesses and how these are to be rectified as faults occur in the due course of its usage. Likewise, when Lord of the universe created man, He was cognizance of the inherent weakness of His creation - falling prey to evil. And this ability was soon demonstrated when Adm and Eve disobeyed the Divine Command of not eating the fruit of a forbidden tree enticed by the Devil. 

And Allah had fixed a chip inside to instantly recognize their folly of committing a sin and immediately, not waiting a second later for one never knows when the angel of death may arrive. And so did Adam and Eve did and immediately repented and were forgiven. In the backdrop of this inherent weakness of man, Qur'an abounds in verse in which Allah promises man to repent their sins no sooner these are committed and seek Divine forgiveness, so that they may be forgiven. Many of these verses are shared under the heading: Forgiveness/Repentance in our series of posts on Selected verses from Qur'an.

Today we share another verse from Qur'an, the 17th verse of Surah 4. An Nisa (The Women), with a add on verse that makes the two verses complimenting.

إِنَّمَا ٱلتَّوْبَةُ عَلَى ٱللَّهِ لِلَّذِينَ يَعْمَلُونَ ٱلسُّوٓءَ بِجَهَـٰلَةٍ ثُمَّ يَتُوبُونَ مِن قَرِيبٍ فَأُو۟لَـٰٓئِكَ يَتُوبُ ٱللَّهُ عَلَيْهِمْ ۗ وَكَانَ ٱللَّهُ عَلِيمًا حَكِيمًا
(4:17) Allah accepts only the repentance of those who do evil in ignorance and foolishness and repent soon afterwards; it is they to whom Allah will forgive and Allah is Ever All-Knower, All-Wise.

Muhammad Asad is of the view that the expression min qarib, which here implies nearness in time, could also be rendered as "soon", i.e., soon after having committed the evil deed; most of the classical commentators however, hold that in this context it denotes the time before the actual approach of death. This interpretation is borne out by the next verse.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi explains that the actual word is: جَهَالَة. Though it also means “ignorance” it is predominantly used to mean committing a sin or some mischief while being overwhelmed by emotions. Thus, in Arabic it generally occurs as an opposite of self-control (ḥilm) instead of knowledge (‘ilm).

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir: (Repentance is accepted until one faces death)

Allah states that He accepts repentance of the servant who commits an error in ignorance and then repents, even just before he sees the angel who captures the soul, before his soul reaches his throat. Mujahid and others said, "Every person who disobeys Allah by mistake, or intentionally is ignorant, until he refrains from sin.' Qatadah said that Abu Al-`Aliyah narrated that the Companions of the Messenger of Allah used to say, "Every sin that the servant commits, he commits out of ignorance.' `Abdur-Razzaq narrated that, Ma`mar said that Qatadah said that, the Companions of the Messenger of Allah agreed that every sin that is committed by intention or otherwise, is committed in ignorance.' Ibn Jurayj said, "Abdullah bin Kathir narrated to me that Mujahid said, `Every person who disobeys Allah (even willfully), is ignorant while committing the act of disobedience.'' Ibn Jurayj said, "`Ata' bin Abi Rabah told me something similar.' Abu Salih said that Ibn `Abbas commented, "It is because of one's ignorance that he commits the error.' 
`Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas said about the Ayah, (ثُمَّ يَتُوبُونَ مِن قَرِيبٍ and repent soon (afterwards)), "Until just before he (or she) looks at the angel of death.''
Ad-Dahhak said, "Everything before death is `soon (afterwards).'''
Al-Hasan Al-Basri said about the Ayah, (ثُمَّ يَتُوبُونَ مِن قَرِيبٍ and repent soon afterwards), "Just before his last breath leaves his throat.'' `Ikrimah said, "All of this life is `soon (afterwards).''

 Imam Ahmad recorded that Ibn `Umar said that the Messenger said, (إِنَّ اللهَ يَقْبَلُ تَوْبَةَ الْعَبْدِمَالَمْ يُغَرْغِر Allah accepts the repentance of the servant as long as the soul does not reach the throat.) This Hadith was also collected by At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah, and At-Tirmidhi said, "Hasan Gharib''. By mistake, Ibn Majah mentioned that this Hadith was narrated through `Abdullah bin `Amr. 

However, what is correct is that `Abdullah bin `Umar bin Al-Khattab was the narrator. Allah said, (فَأُوْلَـئِكَ يَتُوبُ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِمْ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ عَلِيماً حَكِيماً It is they to whom Allah will forgive and Allah is Ever All-Knower, All-Wise.) Surely, when hope in continued living diminishes, the angel of death comes forth and the soul reaches the throat, approaches the chest and arrives at the state where it is being gradually pulled out, then there is no accepted repentance, nor a way out of that certain end. 

Hence Allah's statements (the 18th verse): 

وَلَيْسَتِ التَّوْبَةُ لِلَّذِينَ يَعْمَلُونَ السَّيِّئَـتِ حَتَّى إِذَا حَضَرَ أَحَدَهُمُ الْمَوْتُ قَالَ إِنِّى تُبْتُ الاٌّنَ
(And of no effect is the repentance of those who continue to do evil deeds until death faces one of them and he says: "Now I repent,'') 
As also:
فَلَمَّا رَأَوْاْ بَأْسَنَا قَالُواْ ءَامَنَّا بِاللَّهِ وَحْدَهُ
(So, when they saw Our punishment, they said: "We believe in Allah Alone...'') [40:84]
Allah decided that repentance shall not be accepted from the people of the earth when the sun rises from the west, as Allah said,

يَوْمَ يَأْتِى بَعْضُ ءَايَـتِ رَبِّكَ لاَ يَنفَعُ نَفْسًا إِيمَانُهَا لَمْ تَكُنْ ءَامَنَتْ مِن قَبْلُ أَوْ كَسَبَتْ فِى إِيمَـنِهَا خَيْرًا
(The day that some of the signs of your Lord do come, no good will it do to a person to believe then, if he believed not before, nor earned good through his faith.) [6:158] 
Allah said, (وَلاَ الَّذِينَ يَمُوتُونَ وَهُمْ كُفَّارٌ nor of those who die while they are disbelievers.) Consequently, when the disbeliever dies while still a disbeliever and polytheist, his sorrow and repentance shall not avail him. If he were to ransom himself, even with the earth's fill of gold, it would not be accepted by him.
Ibn `Abbas, Abu Al-`Aliyah and Ar-Rabi` bin Anas said that the Ayah: (وَلاَ الَّذِينَ يَمُوتُونَ وَهُمْ كُفَّارٌ nor of those who die while they are disbelievers), was revealed about the people of Shirk. 
Imam Ahmad recorded that Usamah bin Salman said that Abu Dharr said that the Messenger of Allah said, (إِنَّ اللهَ يَقْبَلُ تَوْبَةَ عَبْدِهِ أَوْ يَغْفِرُ لِعَبْدِهِ مَالَمْ يَقَعِ الْحِجَاب Allah accepts the repentance of His servant, or forgives His servant, as long as the veil does not drop.) They asked, "And what does the drop of the veil mean '' He said, (أَنْ تَخْرُجَ النَّفْسُ وَهِيَ مُشْرِكَة When the soul is removed while one is a polytheist.) 
Allah then said, (أُوْلَـئِكَ أَعْتَدْنَا لَهُمْ عَذَاباً أَلِيماً (For them We have prepared a painful torment), torment that is severe, eternal and enormous.

The purpose of sharing the 17th and the 18th verses of Surah An Nisa is to stress upon the need of committing a sin, and then repenting AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE for no one knows when his time is up in this world. The warning is stern that when when the time of death arrives then no repentance shall be accepted and from then on one will plunge into darkness and finally the hellfire. 
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

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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Allah the Glorious...is all merciful and forgiving...
Has created and offered an opportunity to sinner's to seek HIS mercy and forgiveness .....for sin's committed through repentance.... Earlier the better because of the uncertainty of life duration ....
After confession.... one may have to....assure the approving authority....one's deepness of shame for sin's committed.....so it's better not to defer...it for some time....later ...because life duration is absolutely uncertain
Bilal brother...dua hai Allah aap sey razi ho aur aap ko sehat aur khushian dey....I appreciate it's beautifully explained.....
Asim jelani

Sorry...I spelled wrongly..it's Jalal Bhatti.....not Bilal...
My apologies...
Asim jelani

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