We are in the midst of the nights of seeking forgiveness and turning to Allah … so difficult to choose a few verses to write about from the hundreds about forgiveness – captured by the names of Allah – al-Ghafur, at-Tawab and al-‘Afuw.
Istighfar is to pursue the covering of Allah, Tawba to continuously turn and return to Him, and ‘Afwa is when He turns away from our mistakes. Of the most repeated Divine attributes mentioned alongside each other and deeply connected are “Ghafur Raheem” … The Forgiving and The Compassionate. Almost all of the blessed du’as by which we learn how to call on Allah from the Qur’an include a plea for forgiveness.
The forgiveness of Allah is vast –
“Indeed, your Lord is vast in forgiveness.” (53:32)
He forgives anything except for when we see other than One –
“Surely Allah does not forgive shirk to Him, and forgives what is besides that to whomsoever He pleases … ” (4:48)
Seeking forgiveness is dhikr and it is one of the dearest and most intimate forms for the people of abundant remembrance because the aspirants of forgiveness are asking to be covered by Allah and for Allah to turn to them.
“And those who, having done something to be ashamed of or wronged their own souls, earnestly remember Allah and ask for forgiveness for their sins,- and who can forgive sins except Allah? – and are never obstinate in persisting knowingly in what they have done.”(3:135)
“Allah does wish to Turn to you, but the wish of those who follow their desires is that you should turn away, far, far away.” (4:27)
Allah has given human beings the capacity to forgive, an emotion and act He loves
“…and let them pardon and overlook. Would you not love that Allah should forgive you? And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful” (24:22)
“… but what is with Allah is better and more lasting for those who have believed and upon their Lord rely, and those who avoid the major sins and immoralities, and when they are angry, they forgive.” (42:36-37)
“But indeed if any show patience and forgive, that would truly be a matter of courage.” (42:43)
In the beautiful verse describing men and women who seek to walk the path to Him, Allah says “for them He has prepared forgiveness and a great reward” (33:34). The notion of Allah preparing something for us is so poignant – it touches the soul … it speaks of God’s Forgiveness as a labour of love, which in turn indicates the highest levels of care, attention and adab (refined ettiquette) with which we should approach seeking His Merciful Forgiveness … Allah inspires us in such ways, for example –
“The patient, the true, the devout, those who spend and those who seek forgiveness in the hours before dawn.” (3:17)
“Oh you who have believed, turn to Allah with sincere repentance” (66:8)
“And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord …”(3:133)
May Allah grasp us in His Mercy as we turn to Him (tawba), grant us His Forgiveness (maghfira) and turn away from our shortcomings (afwa).