Spiritual Purification With the Divine

Al-‘Afuww in the Qur’an

;lkjA’isha radi Allahu `anha (may Allah be pleased with her) asked the Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him), “If I knew which night is Laylat al-Qadr (the Night of Power), what should I say during it?” The Prophet ﷺ told her to say:

Allahumma innaka ‘afuwwun tuhibul ‘afwa fa’fu ‘anni.

“O Allah, indeed You are the Pardoner, You love to Pardon, so Pardon me.” [Tirmidhi]

From all of the du`a’ of the Qur’an and Sunnah, the Prophet ﷺ specified this du`a’ for the last 10 nights, showing us how profound it is.

One of Allah’s beautiful names, al-‘Afuww (the Pardoner), appears five times in the Qur’an; four times with al-Ghafoor (the Most Forgiving) and once with al-Qadeer (the Creator). Al-‘Afuww comes from the root ‘afw, which means to hide, obliterate, or remove something. This meaning connotes ‘pardoning’, which is when one looks over a another’s error and does not take them to account for it. Technically, it means Allah’s protection from trials and  sicknesses for the believers (i.e., aafiyah, safety, and well-being).

Difference between ‘Afuww and Ghafoor

On the Day of Judgment, we may find that many sins we committed are not in our record; this is ‘afw, which is when Allah completely removes your sins from your record as if you never committed them. When it comes to ‘afw, Allah (swt) says:

وَيَعْفُ عَن كَثِيرٍ

And He pardons much. (42:34)

Al-‘Afuww pardons His Servants by not calling them to account for their sins and erasing their sins from their records. Not only does Allah pardon and remove our sins, but He (swt) loves to Pardon, as is implied in the du`a’ above.

Imam Al-Qurtubi indicates that this quality also indicates Allah’s mercy and ease  on His creation.

Shaykh ibn Uthaymeen rahimahullah (may Allah have mercy on him) states, “Al Afuww’ is the One who has always been and always will be known for His Pardoning. He effaces the sins of His slaves, relinquishing the punishment of the deserving thereof.”

Al-Ghafoor comes from the root ghafar, which means to cover, conceal, and shield. When Allah (swt) forgives a sin, it means that He covers it and conceals it. Al-Ghafoor is the One who does not expose the sins of His Slaves. He shields and protects His Slaves from the consequences of their sins and still forgives even though He is All-Aware of the wrong they committed.

When it comes to Al-Ghafoor, He will forgive the sins but they will appear in your record. Allah (swt) says:

إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَغْفِرُ أَن يُشْرَكَ بِهِ وَيَغْفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَ‌ٰلِكَ لِمَن يَشَاءُ

“Allah forgives not that partners should be set up with Him; but He forgives anything else, to whom He pleases.” (4:48)

Al-Ghafoor is the One who forgives any sin regardless of the size as long as one seeks sincere repentance. Al-Ghafoor even forgives sins when we don’t seek repentance; it is out of His Mercy that when a Muslim does certain acts, these acts will automatically have some or all of their sins forgiven.

The sins that Allah did not erase will appear in our record, but al-Ghafoor can still forgive them. The Prophet ﷺ said, “There would come people amongst the Muslims on the Day of Resurrection with sins as heavy as a mountain, and Allah would forgive them.” [Muslim]

When al-‘Afuww and al-Ghafoor are paired together, it shows how Merciful and Compassionate Allah is. He Pardons much, and for those sins He does not Pardon, He will forgive and conceal if He Wills.

Relation between al-Afuww and al-Qadeer

Al-Qadeer means the One Who has perfect, complete Power and Ability. Why would Allah mention He is the All-Capable and pair it with the All-Forgiving?

When you think about the act of pardoning, it becomes more difficult each time. Pardoning someone once may be easy, but after a few times, we will become annoyed and frustrated. It is the nature of humans that we are revengeful and want to have the upper hand. Rather, and Allah is the Highest Example, it is the One who is All Capable, The Perfect One, Compassionate, Loving, and Merciful who can constantly and consistently pardon. He does not want His Slaves to enter the Hell-Fire, and His Mercy encompasses all things. This is why al-Afuww and al-Qadeer are paired; it is only al-Qadeer who is able to pardon over and over again and can love doing so.

Why do we make this du`a’ during the last 10 nights? The scholars say that if this du`a’ is answered, we will insha’Allah (if Allah wills) come on the Day of Judgment with our sins completely erased from our records. Ramadan is the month of mercy and forgiveness, so how successful will we be if we not only have our sins forgiven but also have them completely erased!

Allahumma innaka ‘afuwwun tuhibul ‘afwa fa’fu ‘anni.

“O Allah, indeed You are the Pardoner, You love to Pardon, so Pardon me.” [Tirmidhi]

About the author



Amatullah is a student of the Qur’an and its language. She completed the 2007 Ta’leem program at Al-Huda Institute in Canada and studied Qur’an, Tajweed (science of recitation) and Arabic in Cairo. Through her writings, she hopes to share the practical guidance taught to us by Allah and His Messenger and how to make spirituality an active part of our lives. She has completed her undergraduate degree in Social Work and will be completing a Masters program in 2014. Her experiences include working with immigrant seniors, refugee settlement, and accessibility for people with disabilities.


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