وأطيعوا الله والرسول لعلكم ترحمون
“And obey Allaah and the Messenger so that you may receive mercy.”
وسارعوا إلى مغفرة من ربكم وجنة عرضها السموات والأرض أعدت للمتقين
“And rush to forgiveness from your Lord and a Paradise whose width is that of the heavens and the earth; prepared for al-muttaqeen (those who fear Allaah and keep away from all that He has forbidden).”
والذين إذا فعلوا فاحشة أو ظلموا أنفسهم ذكروا الله فاستغفروا لذنوبهم ومن يغفر الذنوب إلا الله ولم يصر على ما فعلوا وهم يعلمون
“And those who, when they commit an indecency or wrong themselves, remember Allaah and seek forgiveness for their sins – and who forgives sins except Allaah? – and those who do not knowingly continue doing (the wrong that) they had done.”
In the previous aayaat, it is mentioned that Paradise is for al-muttaqeen, the pious and god-fearing who are known for spending their wealth in the Cause of Allaah, for controlling their anger, for pardoning men, in treating even their enemies with kindness. And other good qualities have also been mentioned.
In this aayah, Allaah (s.w.t.) says that these people, although they are pious and devoted, they are not ma’soom or infallible or sinless. They too commit errors and sins, but the difference lies in the fact that if due to neglect, forgetfulness, or emotion they commit a sin they then become restless and ask forgiveness from Allaah. They acknowledge their mistake before Allaah with all humility, not merely asking forgiveness with their tongues. And they are not among those who continue in their sins after they have outwardly repented from them. They know perfectly well that such shallow repentance is worthless and in fact itself needs further repentance! They always keep in their minds the saying of the Prophet (s.a.w.):
التائب من الذنب كمن لا ذنب له
“The one who repents from a sin is like the one who has not sinned at all.”
Allah (s.w.t.) says:
“Those who spend…”
That is, they spend freely of their wealth in the Cause of Allaah, whether they are well-off or in financial difficulty.
The pious man, the muttaqee, is not necessarily perfect. At times, his behaviour is described as:
والذين إذا فعلوا فاحشة أو ظلموا أنفسهم
“And those who, when they commit an indecency or wrong themselves…”
Therefore, sometimes they commit evil acts, or they are unjust to themselves. But they immediately repent if they do commit such an act, remembering the fact that Allaah (s.w.t.) is watching them and knows what they are doing. They do not lose hope in the mercy of Allaah, and for that reason they humbly beg Allah’s forgiveness, and they resolve to improve their conduct and to try their best never to commit that sin again.
They always keep in mind the saying of the Prophet (s.a.w.) that minor sins, when repeated often, eventually turn into major sins.
The most important point to note here is that sins can be committed even by the most pious of people. This is part of human nature. But the believer is different to the disbeliever and the disobedient in that once he has committed a sin, he immediately regrets it, repents from it, and resolves never to do it again.
He asks the forgiveness of Allaah, for Allaah is al-Ghafoor, al-Raheem (the Most Forgiving, the Most Merciful). He can cleanse him of his sin just as if he had never committed it in the first place.
This point is clearly illustrated by a famous hadeeth:
كل ابن آدم خطائون وخيرا الخطائين التوابون
“Every child of Aadam is a sinner, and the best of the sinners are those who repent.”
And Allaah (s.w.t.) says:
إنما التوبة للذين يعملون السوء بجهالة ثم يتوبون قريبا فأولئك يتوب الله عليهم وكان الله غفورا رحيما
“Repentance is only for those who have done wrong in ignorance, and then they immediately turn to Allaah: it is those who’s repentance Allah will accept; and Allaah is the Most Forgiving, the Most Merciful.”
ومن تاب وعمل صالحا فإنه يتوب إلى الله متابا
“And whoever repents and does good deeds, he has indeed repented to Allaah with a true repentance.”