Humans are weak. Being on this planet, we need to constantly be reminded of our duty towards Allah (swt). We’re also prone to making mistakes and committing sins. Many do sins out of ignorance of the laws set by Allah (swt) while there are others who maybe blessed with knowledge but commit sins out of desires and emotions. Many times the person in the second group will feel extreme guilt knowing and realizing he/she has done something wrong. If not dealt with in the correct manner, these feelings of guilt can greatly affect one’s self-esteem, may weigh the person down and drive the iman rush feeling into the ground.
Fortunately, one of the many treasures of Islam, is that Allah (swt) doesn’t leave His servants to rot in their remorse and guilt, once they realize their sin. Allah (swt) is Al-Ghafoor which means the Most Forgiving. This attribute of His is mentioned in the Qur’an more than 90 times. Allah (swt). In Surah al-Zumar, Allah (swt) says,
“Say, ‘O My servants who have transgressed against themselves (by sinning), do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful’.”
The name Al-Ghafoor has such beautiful roots in the Arabic language. It comes from the root “ghafara” which means to cover, conceal, and shield. Some of us may have committed an insurmountable amount of sins while many others of us may have committed a sin that is too shameful to even think about. But when Allah (swt) forgives a sin, He covers it and conceals it. Al-Ghafoor is the One who does not expose the sins of His servants. He protects His servants from the consequences of their sins, screens them and forgives them even though He is All-Knowing of the wrong they committed.
The Prophet (saw) in a Hadith Qudsi said,
“Allah the Exalted said: ‘O son of Adam, if you call upon me and place your hope in me, I will forgive you without any reservation. O son of Adam, if you have sins piling up to the clouds and then ask for my forgiveness, I will forgive you without any reservation. O son of Adam, if you come to me with enough sins to fill the earth and you meet me without associating a partner with me, I will come to you with enough forgiveness to fill the earth’.”
For the one with a soft and pure heart who believes in the unlimited mercy of Al-Ghafoor, guilt can be a powerful way to direct his/her heart back to the one whose doors of tawbah (forgiveness) are always open. Allah (swt) says in Surah al-Tahrim,
“O you who have believed, repent to Allah with sincere repentance. Perhaps your Lord will remove from you your misdeeds and admit you into gardens beneath which rivers flow…”
Surah al-Tahrim, Ayah 8
Umar ibn Abdul Aziz said: “O people, whoever commits sin, let him seek the forgiveness of Allah and repent. If he does it again, let him seek the forgiveness of Allah and repent, and if he does it again, let him seek the forgiveness of Allah and repent. For it is sin, which hangs around a person’s neck, and doom comes from persisting in sin.”
Knowing that Allah (swt) forgives should give us hope. However, we should balance fear and hope so that we do not purposefully disobey Him and say that we will repent later. We need to stop doing wrong deliberately and rush to repent from the greatest sins which are kufr (disbelief), shirk and munafiqat (hypocrisy), as well as sins like neglecting religious duties like salah, sadaqah, obedience to parents, spreading the message of Islam and also for sins like backbiting, slander, envy, suspicion, cheating and wasting time in useless things.
Without a doubt Allah (swt) is the Most Merciful and Most Forgiving. He forgives even the worst of sinners so that they may realize their mistakes and turn back to Him. The only way to safety and relief is for us to wake up from our sinful slumber and repent sincerely to Al-Ghafoor every opportunity we get. And Allah (swt) knows best.