An-Nahj al-Asma Fii Sharh Asma Allahu al-Husna by Shaikh Muhammad an-Najdi
The Name At-Tawwaab is mentioned eleven times in the Noble Qur’an. Of these verses are the following:
Allaah’s (Ta’ala) Statement in Surat al-Baqarah (2:37):
“Then Adam received from his Lord, Words (Our Lord we wronged ourselves, if You forgive us not, and bestow not upon us Your Mercy, we shall certainly be of the losers). And his Lord pardoned him (accepted his repentance). Verily, He is the One Who forgives, the Most Merciful.”
Allaah (Ta’ala) also says in Surat al-Baqarah (2:160):
“Except those who repent and do righteous deeds, and openly declare (the Truth which they concealed). Those, I will accept their repentance. And I am the One Who accepts repentance, the Most Merciful.”
Allaah (Ta’ala) says in Surat at-Tawbah (9:104):
“Know they not that Allaah accepts repentance from His slaves and takes the Sadaqaat (alms, charities) and that Allaah Alone is the One Who forgives and accepts repentance, Most Merciful.”
In Surat an-Noor (24:10), Allaah (Ta’ala) says:
“And had it not been for the Grace of Allaah and His Mercy on you (He would have hastened the punishment upon you)! And that Allaah is the One Who accepts repentance, the All-Wise.”
And He (Ta’ala) says in Surat an-Nasr (110:3):
“So glorify the Praises of your Lord, and ask for His Forgiveness. Verily, He is the One Who accepts the repentance and forgives.”
The Meaning of this Noble Name:
Qatadah said: “‘And that Allaah Alone is the One Who forgives and accepts repentance, Most Merciful,’ means that Allaah is the One Who bestows upon His servants, the return to His obedience, the One Who guides them to what He loves and is pleased with.” [Jami’ul-Bayan]
Abu Ubaidah said: “‘Verily, He is At-Tawwaab, Who accepts the repentance,’ means that He is the One Who pardons and accepts the repentance of the servants. And the repentant among the people is the one who quits the sin and returns to Allaah in repentance.” [Majaaz al-Qur’an]
Ibn Jarir (Rahimahullaah) said: “’Verily, He is the One Who forgives, the Most Merciful,’ means that Allaah, the Exalted, is At-Tawwaab Who accepts the repentance of those who return to Him in repentance from among His sinful slaves. He Who abandons (waives) punishing them (for their sins) because of their return to His obedience after having disobeyed Him.
The meaning of Tawbah with regard to the slave means his return to his Lord by returning to His obedience and to what He (Ta’ala) is pleased with, and abandoning what displeases Him of matters that he used to commit and that are detestable to his Lord.
However, the Tawbah of Allaah for His slave implies His guidance to that (the repentance) and accepting it from Him, being pleased with him (the slave) after being angry with him and forgiving and pardoning him after punishing him.”[Jami’-ul-Bayan]
Az-Zajjaj said: “Allaah (Ta’ala) says in Surat Ghaafir (40:3):
“The Forgiver of sin, the Acceptor of repentance.”
Meaning: He is the One Who accepts the return of His slave to Him (in repentance). Therefore, it is said that Tawbah is return to obedience and abandonment of the act of disobedience.” [Tafseer Asma’- Allaah]
Al-Khattabi said: “At-Tawwaab is the One Who guides His slave to repentance. As Allaah (Ta’ala) says in Surat at-Tawbah (9:118):
“Then, He guided them to their repentance that they might repent (unto their Lord).”
As the repentance is repeated, the acceptance of the repentance is also repeated.” [Sha’n ad-Du’a]
Al-Haleemi said: “At-Tawwaab is the One Who returns (gives back) the grace of His Mercy to His slave if he (the slave) returns to His obedience, remorseful for his sins. And He (Ta’ala) will not render his (the slave’s) good deeds fruitless, nor deny him what He has promised His obedient slaves of Ihsaan (Benevolence and Grace).” [Al-Minhaaj]
In the book “Al-Maqsad al-Asna,” the author said: “At-Tawwaab is the One Who facilitates the means of repentance for His servants time after time; and that is by showing them His signs, sending them warnings, making them see His threats which cause them to fear Him. Such that if they realize the gravity and evil consequences of their sins, they will feel fear when they hear His warnings and will return to Him in repentance; and then, He will return to them with His grace by accepting their repentance.”
The Impact of Belief in this Noble Name
1- Allaah, the Blessed, the Most High, is At-Tawwaab Who is ever accepting of the repentant ones; He forgives the sins of those who return to Him (in repentance and obedience).
So, everyone who truly returns to Allaah in repentance, Allaah will accept his repentance and forgive him.
He (Ta’ala) is the One Who first guides them to repent and makes their hearts approach Him and turn to Him. He (Ta’ala) then accepts their repentance and forgives them their sins.” [Tayseer al-Kareem]
He (Subhaanahu wa Ta’ala) guides His slaves to repentance, accepts that from them and rewards them for it. Glory be to Him, At-Tawwaab, the Most Merciful.
Al-‘Aqleeshi said: “Allaah (Ta’ala) called Himself Tawwaab because He is the Creator of the repentance in the hearts of His servants; Who facilitates and makes easy for them, the means of repentance. And He is the One Who takes them from the path which He dislikes to the Path that is pleasing to Him.
He (Ta’ala) also called Himself Tawwaab because He accepts the repentance of whoever returns to Him (in repentance).
An evidence for the first category is His Statement in Surat at-Tawbah (9:118):
“Then, He guided them to their repentance that they might repent (unto their Lord).”
An evidence for the second category is His Statement in Surat al-Ma’idah (5:39):
“But whosoever repents after his crime and does righteous good deeds (by obeying Allaah), then verily, Allaah will pardon him (accept his repentance).”
By the above two categories He called Himself Tawwaab.
The Mu’tazilah sect ignored this reality and denied the first category, which is the creation of the repentance in the heart of the slave. Their hearts are really sealed and defaced from (seeing) the right path.
Since the servants commit sins frequently, the Name (At-Tawwaab) has come in the exaggerative form to meet (in return) the major and big sins with vast repentance.” [Al-Kitab al-Asna]
Ibn al-Hassaar said: “Allaah, the Most Great, says in Surat at-Tawbah (9:117):
“Allaah has forgiven the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), the emigrants (who left their homes and came to al-Madinah) and al-Ansaar (Muslims of al-Madinah) who followed him (the Prophet Muhammad Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) in the time of distress,”
Then He (Ta’ala) says:
من بعد ما كاد يزيغ قلوب فريق منهم
“After the hearts of a party of them had nearly deviated (from the right path).”
This assures His acceptance of repentance in general for all those who committed a sin or who opposed and disobeyed.
Allaah’s Tawbah for His slave implies renewing the repentance and its succession upon him (i.e. the slave should repeatedly renew his repentance).
As He (Ta’ala) says in Surat an-Nisaa’ (4:136):
“O you who believe! Believe in Allaah and His Messenger (Muhammad Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), and the Book which He has sent down to his Messenger and the Scripture which He sent down before.”
This means, renew your belief and stay firm on it. And this is also what is meant by His Statement in Surat al-Fatihah (1:6)
“Guide us to the Right Path.”
He (Ta’ala) described His Noble Self as being Tawwaab, in exaggerative form, to indicate the great number of those whom He (Ta’ala) accepts repentance from and to indicate the frequent occurrence of that for the individual till the end of his life.
Accordingly, attributing Allaah (Ta’ala) with At-Tawwaab means His creation of Tawbah in the slave and accepting that from him, as He (Ta’ala) says in Surat ash-Shura (42:25):
“And He it is Who accepts repentance from His slaves.”
i.e. He accepts their repentance.” [Al-Kitab al-Asna]
2- Allaah (Ta’ala) Alone is the One Who accepts the repentance of the repentant among His servants. No one among His creation joins or shares with Him in that, nor does anyone forgive sins except Him. Al-Qurtubi said, after mentioning the statement of al-Aqleeshi and Ibn al-Hussaar: “If that is affirmed, then you should know that none has the ability to create the Tawbah in the heart of anyone, because He (Ta’ala) Alone creates the actions, contrary to what the Mu’tazilah and those who agree with their claim, say.
Also no one has the right to accept the repentance of whosoever transgressed against himself, nor can he pardon him.
Ibn al-Hassaar said: “The Jews and Christians have disbelieved in this great foundation (Principle) of religion. They took their rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides Allaah. They made the sinner go to the priest or rabbi and give him something, in order to have their sins forgiven!! This is what was called an “Indulgence Paper”!
“Inventing a lie against Allaah. They have indeed gone astray and were not guided.” [Al-An’aam 6:140]
This is one of their many misguidances with which they misguided people and devoured their wealth for ages (a long time). As He (Ta’ala) says in Surat at-Tawbah (9:34):
“O you who believe! Verily, there are many of the (Jewish) rabbis and the (Christians) monks who devour the wealth of mankind in falsehood and hinder (them) from the Way of Allaah (i.e. Allaah’s Religion of Islamic Monotheism).”
None among Allaah’s creation, whether he is an angel or a messenger, has the power to remit sins or conceal them or receive the confession of sins except the Lord, At-Tawwaab (Ta’ala); not even the intercessors to whom Allaah gives permission from those that He wills and pleases of His servants.
Allaah (Ta’ala) confirms this in Surat Aal-‘Imran (3:135):
“And those who when they have committed illegal sexual intercourse or wronged themselves with evil, remember Allaah and ask forgiveness for their sins; and who can forgive sins except Allaah?”
It is also affirmed in the Du’aa (invocation) which the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) taught to Abu Bakr (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu):
اللهُمَّ إنِّي ظَلَمْتُ نَفْسي ظُلْماً كبيراً-أو كَثيراً- ولا يَغْفِرُ الذُّنوبَ إلاَّ أنت، فاغفِرْ لي مَغْفِرَةً من عِنْدِك وارْحَمني، إنَّك أنت الغفورُ الرَّحيم
“O Allaah! I have greatly (or abundantly) wronged myself and no one forgives sins but You, so grant me forgiveness from You and have mercy on me. Surely, You are Forgiving, Merciful.”
This verse and Du’aa (invocation) are a confirmation of the Oneness of Allaah in accepting repentance, i.e. no one can do that, except Him (Azza wa jall).
3- The Name At-Tawwaab is mentioned in the Qur’an joined with the Names of Allaah Ar-Raheem and Al-‘Hakeem. Qatadah said: “’Allaah Alone is the One Who accepts repentance, Most Merciful,’ means that Allaah is the only Bestower of Inaabah to His servant, i.e. He is the One Who makes them return to Him in obedience. The guided one (among them) is the one whom Allaah loves to guide to what He is pleased with, and He is Ar-Raheem (the Most Merciful) to them by not punishing them after their repentance nor does He disgrace any one of them who intends and wills to return to Him in repentance.” [Jami’ul-Bayan]
Ibn Jarir said: “Joining Ar-Raheem with At-Tawwaab, means He is the One Who, by His Grace accepts the slave’s repentance and is merciful to him. His Mercy is shown by forgiving his sins and pardoning him, i.e. by not punishing him for his crime.” [Jami’ul-Bayan]
It is also mentioned that Allaah’s acceptance of the slave’s repentance is by His Grace and Mercy, and He is the One, Whose Mercy has preceded His anger.
In conclusion of what has been mentioned:
a- Allaah (Ta’ala) is merciful with His servants so He does not punish them after their repentance.
b- He (Ta’ala) does not disgrace anyone who repents, nor does He turn him back, no matter to what extent his sins have reached, even if they fill the heavens and the earth.
c- He (Ta’ala) shows mercy to His slaves and accepts their repentance despite His Anger, because His Mercy precedes His Anger.
d- His acceptance of the repentance of His slave is mere grace from Him to them; and this is what His Mercy entails.
As for joining His Name Al-Tawwaab with Al-‘Hakeem (the All-Wise), Ibn Jarir said regarding Allaah’s statement in Surat an-Noor (24:10):
“And had it not been from the Grace of Allaah and His Mercy on you (He would have hastened the punishment upon you), and Allaah is the One Who accepts the repentance, the All-Wise,”
The Almighty says: “Had it not been for Allaah’s Grace upon you and His Mercy with you, o people, and His turning to His slaves with His Kindness and Grace, ‘Hakeem (All-Wise) in His managing their affairs, He would hasten the punishment for your sins and expose the sins of the sinners, but He has concealed your sins for you and waived scandalizing you (in the present time), as a mercy and grace for you.
Therefore, thank Allaah for His Blessings and desist from persistence in committing what He has forbidden you from, of sins.” [Jami’ul-Bayan]
Accordingly, what can be concluded from joining the Name At-Tawwaab with Al-‘Hakeem is the following:
a- Allaah (Ta’ala) does not hasten punishment for the sinners. Rather He gives them respite and a chance to return to Him in repentance; and this is out of His Wisdom.
b- He (Ta’ala) does not expose the sinners initially, in order to give them time to repent.
c- He (Ta’ala) legislated and set limits and atonements for the slaves with which He expiates their sins and evil deeds; and the worldly torment is much easier than the torment in the Hereafter.
4- It is not suitable to call Allaah with the name at-Taa’ib, because it is not mentioned either in the Book or in the Sunnah, even though linguistically it sounds acceptable.
5- At-Tawbah (repentance) is the abandonment (quitting) of the sin in the most beautiful way, and it is the best way to apologize. There are three states of a person who makes mistakes:
a- Either the person says, “I did not do it.”
b- Or he says, “I did it for such and such a reason.”
c- Or he says, “I did it and I made a mistake and I quit it.”
The last one is the Tawbah (the repentance).
In the Shar’ (Islamic law), Tawbah is:
a- Abandonment of sin for its ugliness,
b- Remorse for what one committed,
c- Resolution to not go back to the sin,
d- Trying to mend oneself by performing good deeds.
Whenever these forms are combined, then one has fulfilled the condition required for (true) repentance.
 This does not mean that man has no will, because Allaah (Ta’ala) says in Surat al-Kahf (18:29): “And say, ‘The Truth is from your Lord.’ Then whosoever wills, let him believe, and whosoever wills, let him disbelieve.” Man in reality is doing his action, and he has the ability and choice and his ability has effect on what he does. This is indicated by the Shar’ and intellect. [Majmoo’ al-Fatawa]
- Al-Jabbar (The Compeller)
- Ar-Rabb (The Lord)
- Knowing Our Rabb (Part-2): Where is Allah?
- Al-Mubeen (The Manifest)