Chapter Two: The Cow (Al Baqara)
Verse 37........Part 2
Chapter 2, Verse 37
Then Adam received words from his Lord and He accepted his repentance: He is the All-forgiving and most merciful. (Chapter 2: Verse 37)
Scholars attempted to specify the words that Adam received from God. What were those words? We find part of the answer in following verse:
They said, ‘Our Lord, we have wronged ourselves. If you do not forgive us and have mercy on us, we will be among the lost.’ (7:23)
This verse gives us an insight that Adam and Eve did not commit sin out of arrogance, rather it was out of carelessness and weakness. They both expressed regret and humbleness. Each of them said: ‘O Lord, Your order to abstain from the tree was the truth but I was unable to bring myself to carry it'.
The words that Adam received from God may also have been: ‘O Allah, there is no deity except You, You are the exalted and to you belongs all praise, I have greatly wronged myself so grant me forgiveness. You are the forgiving One.’ or ‘accept my repentance, you are the Acceptor of repentance’ or he may have supplicated ‘exalted is God, praised is God and there is no deity except Him’. Whatever the words may have been, the important point to remember is that God inspired Adam the words by which he can obtain forgiveness and closeness to Him.
Keep in mind that God created you as an individual who has freedom of choice. You are not compelled to follow His orders. Allah wants you to turn to Him out of love, not by force or compulsion. That is why He gave you the ability to obey and disobey. And as long as you have free will, there is always a chance that you will make the wrong decision. That does not mean that you were created to make a single choice of being either absolute good or pure evil. There are good people who fall into sin every now and then; the opposite is also true. Thus, each one of us may forget and make a mistake, or be weak and get enticed into sin. It is for this very reason that Allah legislated repentance so that you do not despair from His mercy. At every turn in your life you can ask for forgiveness and be close to your creator. As the saying goes: perhaps a sin that generates humility and regret is better than obedience that provokes pride and arrogance.
Always keep in mind that Allah is the all merciful, the all forgiving. When you repent and He grants you forgiveness it is like the sin had never happened. God accepted Adam's repentance, so when Adam descended to earth to begin his mission in life, he did bear any burden or any trace of his sin. None of us bear that sin either, Allah had forgiven Adam and Eve and He wiped their slate clean. Allah, after all, was the one who reached out to Adam to teach him the words of repentance. God's forgiveness leaves no trace of sin behind.
He says: ‘He is the always forgiving, the Most Merciful’ ‘always forgiving’ indicates that God does not seize His servants over only a single sin. Moreover, 'always' indicates perpetual repetition. The emphasis in God's attribute 'the always forgiving' (at-Tawwab in Arabic) is apparent in two ways:
First: Allah may repeatedly accept the repentance and forgive the many sins of a single person, thus making Allah 'the always forgiving'. And second: He may accept the repentance and forgive few sins from a large number of people, al making Him 'the always forgiving'. Let's clarify this point with an example. You may describe a person as having an insatiable appetite for food when he eats a very large amount of food. This person may eat the normal number of meals a day, but he eats a very large amount at each meal. Or he this person may eat a normal quantity of food at each meal, but may have ten or more meals each day. Either way this person would be described as having an insatiable appetite for food.
Similarly, God almighty is always forgiving because the number of His creations is great. If each one committed a single sin then the number of all the sins put together will be enormous, thus mercy and forgiveness is enormous. But if someone commits sins repeatedly and Allah forgives him or her, then Allah is also the always forgiving. The emphasis in 'Al Tawab' ( (افتناب reflects both the number, and the perpetuity of mercy.
Once a woman came to Caliph Omar (may God be pleased with him) yelling and screaming because her son was caught red-handed stealing. She said to Omar my son has never stole before this. He replied to her: God is a far more merciful than to seize His servant the very first time he or she commits a mistake. Your son must have stolen many times before and gotten away with it.
In fact, the attribute ‘Al-Tawaab’ suggests that Allah may seize and punish after the second or the third or maybe the twentieth time a sin is repeated. So beware that if you persist in disobedience, God may stop you as you would be disregarding and abusing what ‘Al Tawaab’ means.
One of the most beautiful aspects about God's mercy and forgiveness that it is pure. Allah gives you a fresh start. He does not hold the favor of forgiveness and mercy over your head, nor does He remind you of your sin or label you for it. This is the true essence of forgiveness. You and I should take this to heart. Let's say for example that you know a person who committed a sin, such as theft, and then repented to God and to the one he or she stole from. As this person had come clean before his or her Lord, and before society, the sin is forgiven. You should never refer to this person as 'the thief,' nor should you shame him or her in public or private. Allah, our Lord, is the most merciful, the always forgiving and He is our greatest teacher.