Al-Ghafur (The Forgiver)

Al-Ghafur means the one who forgives a lot, covers up sins a lot and pardons mistakes. Allah Almighty is Ghafur. He forgives sins, covers up mistakes and pardons His slave. What distinguishes this name from the name al-Afuww (the Pardoner) is as follows: The name al-Afuww also forgives sins but the mistakes and sins are shown; the slave becomes embarrassed. The name al-Ghafur forgives sins but does not show sins and does not embarrass the slave. We can understand the difference better through the following example:    

Suppose that a shopkeeper gives the key to his safe to an employee. The employee gives in to temptation and steals some money from the safe he is entrusted. The shopkeeper catches him red-handed. The shopkeeper can do three different things to the employee.

The first one is as follows: He scolds the employee, takes him to the police and sends him to jail. This is the act of punishing. The shopkeeper punishes his employee.  

The second one can be as follows: The shopkeeper starts to talk to his employees. He starts to list his favors to him: “Did I not do you many favors? Did I not give you more money than your wages? Did I not look after you when you were in need? How did you do it despite all of the things that I did for you? Do you not have a heart? Do you not feel ashamed?” He utters many similar sentences like these ones and humiliates him. He taunts him and reminds him his favors. After that, he says, “I will not take you to the police. I will not punish you. This disgrace is enough for you. I forgive you.” This is the act of forgiving. With this act, the shopkeeper shows the reflection of Allah's name al-Afuww.  

The third act of the shopkeeper can be as follows: He sees and knows about the theft of his employee but he does not tell him about it. He does not question him; he acts as if he does not know about it. He does not humiliate him. This act is not called pardoning (afw) but mercy. With this act, the shopkeeper shows the reflection of Allah's name al-Ghafur.  

Allah Almighty treats His slaves in three different ways as it is described in the examples above. Sometimes, He punishes His slaves due to their sins and disobedience. This is the act of punishment by Allah. Sometimes, He does not punish His slaves both in this world and the hereafter due to his sins. However, He reminds His slaves of his sins on the Day of Judgment. He makes his eyes, ears and other organs speak and humiliates him. He humiliates him so much that the slave even wants to go to Hell to get rid of this humiliation as it is stated in the hadith.

The following is reported from Jabir Ibn Abdullah: The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, “On the Day of Judgment, man is humiliated and embarrassed so much in the presence of Allah that he wants to be sent to Hell in order to get rid of the humiliation and embarrassment.” (Suyuti, Durrul Mansur: 2/411)

Yes, Allah Almighty will embarrass and humiliate some of His slaves so much; then, He will send some of them to Hell and punish them; He will pardon some of them and send them to Paradise. This is called pardoning. That is, He does not punish him by sending him to Hell but humiliates and embarrasses him by reminding him of his sins. The third treatment of Allah Almighty is as follows: He does not remind His slave of his sins. He even makes His slave forget his sins so that he will not be embarrassed in His presence and he will not be sad. This is the manifestation of the name al-Ghafur. The slave is made forget his sins and the sins are overlooked. 

Therefore, when we read the last verses of the chapter of al-Baqara after the night prayer, we pray  وَاعْفُعَنَّاوَاغْفِرْلَنَا (Vaghfu anna, Vaghfir lana) “Blot out our sins and grant us forgiveness” and ask for forgiveness and mercy from Allah. For, only forgiveness is not enough; we also need mercy so that we will not be humiliated and embarrassed. This mercy, which we want, is the manifestation of the name al-Ghafur and bears a meaning beyond pardoning.

What we need to learn from this divine name is as follows: We should act as if we are blind when we see the mistakes of people. We should not humiliate and embarrass people due to their sins. We should pity them and try to improve them. A person who does so becomes a mirror of Allah's name al-Ghafur, which is a great virtue.   

Read the nice words of Hz. Isa (Jesus) regarding the issue: “Overlook the mistakes of people as if you are their Lord. You are a slave; see your own mistakes.”

May Allah Almighty make us a mirror of His name al-Ghafur! May He cover up our sins and may He not embarrass us! May he become manifest with His name al-Ghafur for us! Amin!

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