One of Allah’s greatest names is Al-Ghafuwr (الغَفُور). 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.
Linguistic Meaning: The root of Al-Ghaffuwr and Al-Ghaffar is the verb is ghafara (غَفَرَ), which does NOT mean “to forgive”; rather, it means to shield and protect and cover. Like a helmet, which, in Arabic, is called a “mighfaar.”
Islamic Meaning: Islamically, Allah (سبحانه وتعالى), Al-Ghaffuwr is the one who shields and protects YOU from 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 his. That’s what Al-Ghaffuwr is—the one who does the concept of ghafara to a higher level. Even if it’s a large quantity—a HUGE sin—Al-Ghafuwr will cover it up. It’s a QUALITY of covering.
غَفَّارً۬ا – Oft Forgiving
Allah says in Surah Imran 3: 147
رَبَّنَا ٱغۡفِرۡ لَنَا ذُنُوبَنَا
Our Lord! Forgive us our sins
In contrast to Al-Ghaffuwr, 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 (سبحانه وتعالى) forgives you REGARDLESS of how many times you sin—again and again, he gives you continuous forgiveness. It’s a QUANTITY forgiveness.
Al Ghafur – the One who hides the sins even how big it is
Al Ghaffar – the One who continuously forgive the sins regardless how many times you sin
This great name of Allah (سبحانه وتعالى), Al-Ghafuwr, is mentioned in combination with several other names of Allah.
Ar-Raheem: 72 times, Allah mentions Al-Ghafuwr with Ar-Raheem, one of the most common sets of pairs of Allah’s names—signifying that he COVERS these sins because he’s merciful to us. We have learned about ar Rahim. Let’s refresh it HERE.
Al-Haleem: 6 times, Allah pairs Al-Ghafuwr with Al-Haleem—and Al-Haleem means the one who is able to restrain his anger after being justifiably angry. He is capable of being angry with us, but he restrains and forgives us.
Al-’Afuww: 4 times, Allah pairs Al-Ghaffuwr with Al-’Affuw, meaning he is the one who covers our sins, and also wipes them out, utterly obliterates them, with his forgiveness.
Ash-Shakuwr: 3 times, he pairs this with As-Shakuwr (الشكور), the one who appreciates what you’ve done and rewards you with more then you deserve. Pairing this with Al-Ghafuwr, you get the one who forgives you, and gives you more then you deserve for your good deeds. And Suratush-Shuraa, the people of Jannah say: “we made it because Allah is Ghafuwr and Shakuwr—He forgave us, and gave us more then we deserve.”
Al-Aziz: 2 times, Allah pairs Al-Ghafuwr with Al-Aziz (العزيز), and Al-Aziz is, the one who has honour and power, and the one who has power in himself so he cannot be harmed, and the all-powerful. These are the meanings of Aziz. By combining with Al-Ghafuwr, Allah is saying, “I’m forgiving you DESPITE the fact that I’m all-powerful.” Because if a bully comes and hits you, you might forgive him, because there’s nothing you can do—you’re weak and incapable—but Allah says “no, I forgive even though I am Al-Aziz.” And that is the HEIGHT of forgiveness. We have done Al Aziz. Let’s see how we can connect the meaning HERE
Al-Waduwd: 1 time, Allah pairs Al-Ghafuwr with Al-Waduwd (الوَدُود)–the one who shows extra love, the caring type of love (Arabic has over 10 verbs to describe different types of love). And Al-Waduwd has connotations of caring and loving and protecting. Allah is saying “I forgive you because I love you with that type of love”–best described as a parent’s love (wudd) for her child.
Allah says about Himself that He is the Forgiver, the Oft Forgiving and the All Forgiving of sins. Allah says in Surah Ghafir 40: 3
The Forgiver of sin, the Acceptor of repentance, the Severe in punishment, the Bestower (of favours), Lâ ilâha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), to Him is the final return. (3)
غَافِرِ ٱلذَّنۢبِ – Forgiver of sins
Allah also said that prophet Nuh Alaihi salam address to them to seek forgiveness from your Lord in Surah Nuh 71: 10
فَقُلۡتُ ٱسۡتَغۡفِرُواْ رَبَّكُمۡ إِنَّهُ ۥ كَانَ غَفَّارً۬ا
I said (to them): ‘Ask forgiveness from your Lord; Verily, He is Oft-Forgiving;
Priests Cannot Forgive Sins
Allah Alone is the One who has the right to forgive sins
Al Imran 3: 35
And those who, when they have committed Fahishah (illegal sexual intercourse) or wronged themselves with evil, remember Allâh and ask forgiveness for their sins; – and none can forgive sins but Allâh – And do not persist in what (wrong) they have done, while they know.
Those who gave the priests the right to forgive sins have really gone astray. Forgiving sins is the right of Allah alone. he Forgives the sins of whom He wills of His slaves and He tortures whom he wills
Al fath 48: 14
And to Allâh belongs the sovereignty of the heavens and the earth, He forgives whom He wills, and punishes whom He wills.
The Sin that Allah does Not Forgive
Allah forgives all sins
Az Zumar 39: 53
قُلۡ يَـٰعِبَادِىَ ٱلَّذِينَ أَسۡرَفُواْ عَلَىٰٓ أَنفُسِهِمۡ لَا تَقۡنَطُواْ مِن رَّحۡمَةِ ٱللَّهِۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يَغۡفِرُ ٱلذُّنُوبَ جَمِيعًاۚ إِنَّهُ ۥ هُوَ ٱلۡغَفُورُ ٱلرَّحِيمُ
Say: “O ‘Ibâdî (My slaves) who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allâh, verily Allâh forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful
The only sin that is unforgivable is the association of partners with Allah and disbelief
An Nisa 4: 48
إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ لَا يَغۡفِرُ أَن يُشۡرَكَ بِهِۦ وَيَغۡفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَٲلِكَ لِمَن يَشَآءُۚ
Verily, Allâh forgives not that partners should be set up with Him (in worship), but He forgives except that (anything else) to whom He wills
An Nisa 4: 137
نَّ ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ ثُمَّ كَفَرُواْ ثُمَّ ءَامَنُواْ ثُمَّ كَفَرُواْ ثُمَّ ٱزۡدَادُواْ كُفۡرً۬ا لَّمۡ يَكُنِ ٱللَّهُ لِيَغۡفِرَ لَهُمۡ وَلَا لِيَہۡدِيَہُمۡ سَبِيلاَۢ
Verily, those who believe, then disbelieve, then believe (again), and (again) disbelieve, and go on increasing in disbelief; Allâh will not forgive them, nor guide them on the (Right) Way
Having Sins Forgiven
1. We gain the Forgiveness from Allah by seeking His Forgiveness
Al Imran 3: 135
And those who, when they have committed Fahishah (illegal sexual intercourse) or wronged themselves with evil, remember Allâh and ask forgiveness for their sins; – and none can forgive sins but Allâh – And do not persist in what (wrong) they have done, while they know
An Nisa 4: 110
And whoever does evil or wrongs himself but afterwards seeks Allâh’s Forgiveness, he will find Allâh Oft¬Forgiving, Most Merciful.
2. The one new to Islam
Taha 20: 73
Verily! We have believed in our Lord, that He may forgive us our faults, and the magic to which you did compel us. And Allâh is better as regards reward in comparison to your [Fir’aun’s (Pharaoh)] reward, and more lasting (as regards punishment in comparison to your punishment
Amr ibn al-‘As says: “When Allah guided me to Islam, I went to the Prophet (saws) and said to him: ‘O Prophet of Allah (saws)! Stretch out your hand so that I may pledge my allegiance to you.’ The Prophet (saws) stretched out his hand to me, but I withdrew my hand. The Prophet (saws) asked: ‘O ‘Amr! What is the matter with you?’ I said: ‘I would like to stipulate a condition!’ The Prophet (saws) asked: ‘What is it?’ I said: ‘That all my past sins be forgiven!’ The Prophet (saws) said: ‘O ‘Amr! Do you not know that (acceptance of) Islam wipes off all past sins, and ‘Hijrah’ (migration for Allah’s Cause) wipes off all sins, and Hajj (Mabrur) wipes off all past sins!”‘
In this narration the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wasalam informed us that Allah forgives the previous sins of whoever embraces Islam and emigrates and perform pilgrimage.
Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Prophet of Allah (sallallahu alayhi wassallam) said: “There was a man from among a nation before you who killed ninety-nine people and then made an inquiry about the most learned person on the earth. He was directed to a monk. He came to him and told him that he had killed ninety-nine people and asked him if there was any chance for his repentance to be accepted. He replied in the negative and the man killed him also completing one hundred. He then asked about the most learned man in the earth. He was directed to a scholar. He told him that he had killed one hundred people and asked him if there was any chance for his repentance to be accepted. He replied in the affirmative and asked, `Who stands between you and repentance? Go to such and such land; there (you will find) people devoted to prayer and worship of Allah, join them in worship, and do not come back to your land because it is an evil place.’ So he went away and hardly had he covered half the distance when death overtook him; and there was a dispute between the angels of mercy and the angels of torment. The angels of mercy pleaded, ‘This man has come with a repenting heart to Allah,’ and the angels of punishment argued, ‘He never did a virtuous deed in his life.’ Then there appeared another angel in the form of a human being and the contending angels agreed to make him arbiter between them. He said, `Measure the distance between the two lands. He will be considered belonging to the land to which he is nearer.’ They measured and found him closer to the land (land of piety) where he intended to go, and so the angels of mercy collected his soul”.
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
Among the lesson you can take from this hadith
One comes to know from this Hadith that the gate of Taubah is open even for the worst of the sinners; and Allah forgives everyone provided he repents sincerely, the conditions for such repentance have already been discussed.
It is the duty of a religious scholar that while discussing a problem, he should keep in mind the psychological aspects of the questioner and adopt a policy which neither causes a change in the Injunction of Allah nor make the sinner reckless in his sins out of frustration.
Have a look at this video by Yusha Evans concerning the hadith
3. Allah forgive sins through doing good deeds as He says about givers of charity
At Taghabun 64: 17
إِن تُقۡرِضُواْ ٱللَّهَ قَرۡضًا حَسَنً۬ا يُضَـٰعِفۡهُ لَكُمۡ وَيَغۡفِرۡ لَكُمۡۚ
And that is why we must try to be easy with our money. Whenever we can give out in charity. Never underestimate the amount you give even as little as a date can also be counted big in the eyes of Allah with ikhlas.
4. Prophet salllahu alaihi wasalam informed us that the martyr who is killed for the sake of Allah while being patient and not fleeing from the battlefield will have all his sins forgiven except his debts (Al Bukhari)
5. It is also lawful to ask someone to seek forgiveness for us as long as they are still alive.
When Prophet sallahu alaihi wasalam was alive, he was definitely the best person for His Companions to ask him to ask Allah to forgive the,.
An Nisa 4:64
We sent no Messenger, but to be obeyed by Allâh’s Leave. If they (hypocrites), when they had been unjust to themselves, had come to you (Muhammad SAW) and begged Allâh’s Forgiveness, and the Messenger had begged forgiveness for them: indeed, they would have found Allâh All-Forgiving (One Who forgives and accepts repentance), Most Merciful.
Also when the evil plans of the sons of Yaqub was made clear to their father, they begged him to seek forgiveness for them
Yusuf 12: 97-98
They said: “O our father! Ask forgiveness (from Allâh) for our sins, indeed we have been sinners.” (97) He said: “I will ask my Lord for forgiveness for you, verily He! Only He is the Oft-Forgiving, the Most Merciful.” (98)
Notice that they still ask Allah for forgiveness. Forgiveness is not in the power of the creation even the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wasalam and other prophets alaihi salam too.
Allah also informed us that teh angels ask Allah’s forgiveness for the believers
As Shuara 42:5
and the angels glorify the praises of their Lord, and ask for forgiveness for those on the earth, verily, Allâh is the Oft-Forgiving, the Most Merciful. (5)
1. The perfect names of |Allah – Dr Umar S al Ashqar