Four Means of Attaining Allah’s Forgiveness: Imam al-Sa’di

While mentioning some of the benefits derived from the story of Moosaa and Haaroon, Imam ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di mentions the following point of clarity and great benefit:

ومنها : أن قوله تعالى :  < وَإِنِّي لَغَفَّارٌ‌ لِّمَن تَابَ وَآمَنَ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا ثُمَّ اهْتَدَىٰ > استوعب الله بها الأسباب التي تدرك بها مغفرة الله . ـ

And from the benefits is that Allah’s statement:

وَإِنِّي لَغَفَّارٌ‌ لِّمَن تَابَ وَآمَنَ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا ثُمَّ اهْتَدَىٰ

But indeed, I am the Perpetual Forgiver of whoever repents and believes and does righteousness and then continues in guidance. [20:82]

With this statement Allah comprises all of the means by which the forgiveness of Allah is reached.

أحدها: التوبة، وهو الرجوع عما يكرهه الله ظاهرا وباطنا إلى ما يحبه الله ظاهرا وباطنا، وهي تَجُبُّ ما قبلها من الذنوب صغارها وكبارها. ـ

First: al-Tawbah (repentance), and that is returning from what Allah hates – both outwardly and inwardly – back towards what Allah loves – both outwardly and inwardly. And this is in respond to what previously occurred in terms of both major and minor sins.

 الثاني: الإيمان، وهو الإقرار والتصديق الجازم العام بكل ما أخبر الله به ورسوله، الموجب لأعمال القلوب، ثم تتبعها أعمال الجوارح، ولا ريب أن ما في القلب من الإيمان بالله وكتبه ورسله واليوم الآخر الذي لا ريب فيه أصلُ الطاعات وأكبرها وأساسها، ولا ريب أنه بحسب قوته يدفع السيئات، يدفع ما لم يقع فيمنع صاحبه من وقوعه، ويدفع ما وقع بالإتيان بما ينافيه وعدم إصرار القلب عليه، فإن المؤمن ما في قلبه من الإيمان ونوره لا يجامع المعاصي. ـ

Second: al-Eemaan, and that is definitive confirmation and affirmation in general of everything that Allah and His messenger have informed us. And this necessitates actions of the heart, which is then followed by actions of the limbs. And there is no doubt that what is in the heart of eemaan in Allah, His Books, His messengers and the Last Day about which there is no doubt – that these are the foundation for acts of obedience, and the greatest of them, and their grounding. And there is no doubt that one’s eemaan repels sins according to its strength; it repels that which does not occur by preventing its possessor from engaging in it, and it deflects that which does occur by bringing about that which negates the occurrence and by not allowing the heart to persist upon it. For indeed, what is in the heart of the believer in terms of al-eemaan and light cannot be combined with disobedience.

الثالث: العمل الصالح، وهذا شامل لأعمال القلوب، وأعمال الجوارح، وأقوال اللسان، والحسنات يذهبن السيئات. ـ

Three: Righteous good deeds, and this is inclusive of deeds of the heart, actions of the limbs, and statements of the tongue. And good deeds remove bad deeds.

الرابع: الاستمرار على الإيمان والهداية والازدياد منها، فمن كمل هذه الأسباب الأربعة فَلْيُبْشر بمغفرة الله العامة الشاملة؛ ولهذا أتى فيه بوصف المبالغة فقال: <  وَإِنِّي لَغَفَّارٌ‌  > . ـ

Four: Consistency upon al-eemaan and guidance, and increasing in that.[1] So whoever perfects these four causes (of forgiveness), then let him receive glad tidings of the forgiveness of Allah which is general and inclusive. And for this reason it comes here with the maximal description of:

وَإِنِّي لَغَفَّارٌ‌

And indeed, I am the Perpetual Forgiver [20:82]

[Taysir al-Lateef al-Manaan pg. 336-337]

 [1] Translator’s Note: Imam al-Sa’di expands upon this point in his well-known tafsir by writing:

 ـ { ثُمَّ اهْتَدَى } أي: سلك الصراط المستقيم، وتابع الرسول الكريم، واقتدى بالدين القويم، فهذا يغفر الله أوزاره، ويعفو عما تقدم من ذنبه وإصراره، لأنه أتى بالسبب الأكبر، للمغفرة والرحمة، بل الأسباب كلها منحصرة في هذه الأشياء فإن التوبة تجب ما قبلها، والإيمان والإسلام يهدم ما قبله، والعمل الصالح الذي هو الحسنات، يذهب السيئات، وسلوك طرق الهداية بجميع أنواعها، من تعلم علم، وتدبر آية أو حديث، حتى يتبين له معنى من المعاني يهتدي به، ودعوة إلى دين الحق، ورد بدعة أو كفر أو ضلالة، وجهاد، وهجرة، وغير ذلك من جزئيات الهداية، كلها مكفرات للذنوب محصلات لغاية المطلوب. ـ

ثُمَّ اهْتَدَىٰ

…and then continues in guidance [20:82]

Meaning: he traverses the straight path, and is a follower of the noble Messenger, conforming to the upright deen. So for this Allah forgives his burdens (i.e. sins) and pardons what previously occurred of his sins and his persistence upon them. This is because he has brought the greatest cause of forgiveness and mercy – rather all of the things listed here are causes for these things. For indeed al-tawbah is a response to what came before it, and al-eemaan and al-islaam erase what came before them, and righteous actions which are good deeds remove bad deeds, and traversing the path of guidance in all of its forms – such as learning knowledge, contemplation an ayah or a hadeeth until one of its meanings because clear to you and you are guided by it, calling to the deen of truth, refuting bid’ah or kufr or misguidance, performing jihaad, making hijrah, and other than that from the components of guidance. All of these things are expiations of sins and desired outcomes [of guidance].

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman pg. 595]

See also: The outcomes of Taqwa and truthful speech: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: The relationship between al-Tawheed and al-istighfaar: Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali

See also: Seek Forgiveness and Repent; He will give you a good enjoyment and abounding grace

See also: Remaining eternally in the Hell-fire and its causes: Imam al-Sa’di

See also: Questions and Answers on Tawbah from ibn Taymiyah

See also: Taking the Means to Allah’s Forgiveness: Tafsir al-Sa’di

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