15. Al-Ghaffar الغفار

Allah (SwT) has said,

“Surely I am most forgiving to whoever repents and believes and does good deeds” (Qur’an, 20:82).

Al-Ghaffar is one of Allah (SwT)’s Attributes derived from ghufr and ghufran, both nouns which convey the meaning of: veiling, hiding, concealing. Allah (SwT)’s maghifra, forgiveness, is His veiling of one’s sins, and His forgiveness by granting him His favor and mercy. Al-Ghaffar is the One Who has manifested what is beautiful and veiled what is ugly in the life of this world and Who does not inflict His penalty on him in the life hereafter. He is the One Who forgives sins, veils shortcomings, wipes out sins by accepting one’s repentance. He accepts His servants’ repentance and is pleased thereby, and the One Who forgives sins and turns them into good deeds by His great favor. He is the One Who forgives the sins though they may be great, and He veils them though they may be numerous.

The words derived from forgiveness have mostly been associated with Allah (SwT). One of them is al-Ghafir as in this verse:

“The One who forgives the sins” (Qur’an, 40:3).

The second is al-Ghafur; He has said,

“... then [if he] asks forgiveness of Allah, he shall find Allah Forgiving, Merciful” (Qur’an, 4:110).

A third is al-Ghaffar as in:

“And surely I am most Forgiving of one who repents and believes and does good deeds” (Qur’an, 20:82),

“... Seek forgiveness of your Lord; surely He is the most Forgiving” (Qur’an, 71:10), and

“... surely He is the Mighty, the great Forgiver” (Qur’an, 39:5).

It is proven, by making a reference to the Holy Qur’an, that all these Attributes, which are derived from forgiveness, are applied only to Allah (SwT), the Most Exalted One.

Having killed a Copt, Moses (‘a) implored his Lord thus:

“Lord! Surely I have harmed my own self; so, forgive me” (Qur’an, 28:16).

He first admitted his sin then sought His forgiveness. Allah (SwT) also revealed the fault of David (‘a) then said,

“So We forgave him this (lapse)” (Qur’an, 38:25).

He addressed Muhammad (S) saying,

“So that Allah may forgive your past and future faults” (Qur’an, 48:2).

Has He not in these examples exposed a sin then forgiven it? In one of his supplications, Prophet Muhammad (S) says,”Lord! I implore You to forgive me an apparent forgiveness and a concealed one, and to forgive open and secret sins.”

The meanings of maghifra, the root word of al-Ghaffar, al-Ghafir, and al-Ghafur are clear in the verse saying:

“The One Who forgives the sins and accepts the repentance, the One Who is severe in punishment, the Lord of bounty; there is no god but He; to Him is the eventual return” (Qur’an, 40:3).

Al-Ghaffar is the One Who very often veils [His servants’ sins and faults], so much so that He does not publicize one’s sins in the life of this world nor in the life hereafter. One of the companions of the Messenger of Allah (S) was asked once,”What did you hear the Messenger of Allah (S) say with regard to one’s silent supplication?” He answered by saying that he had heard the Messenger of Allah (S) say,”Allah (SwT), the most Honored, the Most Great, will touch His servant who believes in Him with His mercy by veiling his sin from the public in the life of this world, and in the life hereafter He will ask him about each and every sin and fault which he had committed.

Once he admits all of them and realizes that he is going to perish on their account, the Almighty will say, ‘I have veiled your sins in the past short life, and in this one I am going to forgive them.’ Then he will be handed the book of his good deeds. All this happens to those who believe in Him; as regarding those who do not, and the hypocrites, He will deal with them quite differently.”