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The one who forgives all sins

Everyone is in dire need for forgiveness. Allah has placed in every human’s fitrah, or innate nature, the feeling of guilt when we do something wrong. Sometimes the guilt can be counterproductive and paralyzing. This type of guilt stops the believer from moving forward, whether it is in worship or in worldly affairs that must be done.

This type of guilt is not healthy, and we would not suffer from it if we fully understood two of Allah’ beautiful name and attributes: Al-Ghafoor and Al-Ghaffar.

Linguistically, Al-Ghafoor and Al-Ghaffar come from the root word Ghafara which means to cover up, shield, and protect. Its meaning in the Islamic tradition is that Allah is the One who forgives the sins. When a servant asks for Allah’s forgiveness, he/she is asking for maghfira or forgiveness from Allah.

A soldier’s helmet in Arabic is called a mighfar that which provides protection and is a covering to oneself. So how can this symbolism be used to understand the meaning of maghfirah or forgiveness in Islam?

Technically, forgiveness covers the sins with a covering which leaves no traits behind and no one knows about it.

Although these two names of Allah both have the same concept of forgiveness, there is a fine difference between them. The only difference between these two names is the difference in quality and size. Al-Ghafoor is the One who forgives the sins no matter how huge they may be (quality). While Al-Ghaffar refers to the One who forgives the sins no matter how many they are (quantity).

Conclusively, Al-Ghafoor can be translated as “the Ever-forgiving” and Al-Ghaffar as “the All-Forgiving.”

Whenever a servant of Allah sincerely asks for Allah’s forgiveness before death, Allah (Glory be to Him) keeps on forgiving innumerably. The forgiveness is granted again and again as the servant renews his repentance.

Allah, the Almighty says in the Holy Qur’an,
{But indeed, I am the Perpetual Forgiver of whoever repents and believes and does righteousness and then continues in guidance.} (Chapter 20, verse 82)

Dear reader; let me give you another story related by our dear Prophet (peace be upon him).

It is narrated by Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Amongst the men of Bani Israel there was a man who had murdered ninety-nine persons. Then he set out asking [whether his repentance could be accepted or not]. He came upon a monk and asked him if his repentance could be accepted. The monk replied in the negative and so the man killed the monk. He kept on asking until a man advised him to go to such and such village. [So he left for it] but death overtook him on the way. While dying, he turned his chest towards that village [where he had hoped his repentance would be accepted], and so the angels of mercy and the angels of punishment quarrelled amongst themselves regarding him. Allah ordered the village (towards which he was going) to come closer to him, and ordered the village (whence he had come), to go far away, and then He ordered the angels to measure the distances between his body and the two villages. So he was found to be one span closer to the village he was going to. So he was forgiven.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari: 3470)

Surely, reading the above Hadith gives us all a renewed sense of hope. The two beautiful names of Allah, Al-Ghafoor and Al-Ghaffar instill hope in us all. However, the hope should not make us over-confident or lazy in our repentance.

Allah says in another verse in the Holy Qur’an, {…Indeed, Allah loves those who are constantly repentant and loves those who purify themselves.} (Chapter 2, verse 222)

Always keep these two beautiful names of Allah in mind. Their impact is far-reaching, and their influence should reach deep into our souls. The next time you err, remember Allah; Al-Ghaffar, Al-Ghafoor is waiting for you, no matter how many times you trip, or how great the error is. He is waiting, His doors are open. We only need to take the first step.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Allah, Blessed and Exalted is He, says, ‘O son of Adam, as long as you call on Me, I shall forgive you of what you have done, and think nothing of it. O son of Adam, even if your sins were to reach up to the clouds in the sky, and then you were to ask for My forgiveness, I would forgive you and think nothing of it. O son of Adam, even if you were to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth, and then you were to meet Me after death, not worshipping anything besides Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as the earth.’” (Tirmidhi)

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