Forgiveness in Islam

Forgiveness signifies overlooking the offence and sin of a person who has purposefully or mistakenly done you wrong, such as insulting you by his words, beating you up or exacting your property. Ignoring all these issues and not committing this wrong is called “forgiveness”.

Allah the Almighty has said: “O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as its.”

Forgiveness is of two types:

  1. We forgive someone when we are unable to take vengeance. This kind of pardon is, in fact, tantamount to patience and forbearance and not to forgiveness. In other words, it is a kind of helplessness and debility, a kind of tolerance.
  2. We forgive someone when we have the power to take revenge. The forgiveness desired by Islam and its leaders relates to his kind.

In the Holy Qur’an Allah has proclaimed the following:

  1. “Turn to forgiveness and enjoin good and turn aside from the ignorant (7:199)”.
  2. “And if a false imputation from the Shaitan afflict you, seek refuge in Allah; surely He is Hearing, Knowing (7:200)”.
  3. “Those who spend (benevolently) in ease as well as in straightness, and those who restrain (their) anger and pardon men; and Allah loves the doers of good (to others) (3:!34).”

To receive forgiveness from God there are three requirements:


  1. Recognizing the offense itself and its admission before God.
  2. Making a commitment not to repeat the offense.
  3. Asking for forgiveness from God.

If the offense was committed against another human being, or against society, a fourth condition is added:

  1. Recognizing the offense before those against whom offense was committed and before God.
  2. Committing oneself not to repeat the offense.
  3. Doing whatever needs to be done to rectify the offense (within reason) and asking pardon of the offended party.
  4. Asking God for forgiveness.

There are no particular words to say for asking forgiveness. However, Muslims are taught many phrases and words to keep repeating daily asking God’s forgiveness. For example:

  • Astaghfiru-Allah, “I ask forgiveness from Allah”
  • Subhanaka-Allah humma wa bi hamdika wa ash-hadu al la Ilaha illa Anta astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, “Glory be to You, Allah, and with You Praise (thanks) and I bear witness that there is no deity but You, I ask Your forgiveness and I return to You (in obedience)”.
“Thus it is due to mercy from Allah that you deal with them gently, and had you been rough, hardhearted, they would certainly have dispersed from around you; pardon them therefore and ask pardon, for them, and take counsel with them in the affair: so when you have decided, then place your trust in Allah; surely Allah loves those who trust (3:159)”.
“Turn to forgiveness and enjoin good and turn aside from ignorant (7; 199) “.
Allaah says:
”Whosoever desires honour, power and glory then to Allaah belong all honour, power and glory [and one can get honour, power and glory only by worshipping Allaah(Alone)]. To Him ascend (all) the goodly words i.e. and the righteous deeds exalt it (the goodly words i.e. the goodly words are not accepted by Allaah unless and until they are followed by by good deeds), but those who plot evils, -theirs will be a severe torment. And the plotting of such will perish.” (Faatir 35:10).

He also says: “And your Lord said: ‘Invoke Me, [i.e. believe in My Oneness (Islamic Monotheism)] (and ask Me for anything) I will respond to your (invocation).Verily! Those who scorn My worship [i.e. do not invoke Me, and do not believe in My Oneness, (Islamic Monotheism)] they will surely enter Hell in humiliation.” (Ghaafir 40:60).

Humbleness to and love for Allaah can only be actualised through worshipping Allaah in all aspects. Among the major acts of worship isrepentance. Even the greatest repentance which is the highest and the most compulsory act of worship is repentance from disbelief. Allaah says regarding what Prophet Hood as told his people:
”And O my people! Ask forgiveness of your Lord and then repent to Him, He will send you (from the sky) abundant rain, and add strenght to your strength, so do not turn away as Mujrimun (criminals, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah).” (Hood 11:52)

Allaah also stressed while inviting the unbelievers unto repentance:
”If they then repent, it will be better for them, but if they turn away, Allah will punish them with a painful torment in this worldly life and in the Hereafter. And there is none for them on earth as a Wali (supporter, protector) or a helper.” (At-Tawbah 9:74)

Repentance from all sins is obligatory on every adult Muslim. This is emphasized by Allaah is His saying: “And all of you beg Allah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful.” (An-Noor 24:31) The meaning of ‘ Tawbah’ is to turn back to Allaah by abandoning all major and minor sins and to repent to Allaah from all known and unknown sins. Al-Agharr Al-Muzanee narrated that the Messenger of Allaah saws said:
“O people! Repent to Allaah and seek for His forgiveness. I repent to Him in a day 100 times.” (Reported by Muslim).

A sincere repentance according to the scholars has conditions:

1. To discontinue the sin.

2. To regret over its occurrence.

3. To determine never to go back to that sin again.

4. To give back the right to whom it is due if the sin involves a man.

Likewise, in the Islamic jurisprudence, it is stated that if three people bear witness concerning the religious penance for adultery without the presence of a fourth witness, all three just witnesses will be penanced because of marring the reputation of a person without the existence of religious conditions. Beware or wishful thinking that is caused by Satan and delusions of this finite world for, death can come suddenly. Some are indeed denied repentance by their unprepared ness for death and there are others who are lucky enough to repent sincerely before their death hence they are admitted among the righteous people by their Lord.


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