One of the „99 most beautiful names of Allah“ in the Qu’ran is also the name: Al-Ghaffar (the one who forgives a lot – 93 times in the Qu’ran) and Al-Ghafur (the forgiving one – 91 times in the Qu’ran). „Forgiveness“ is an important topic in the Qu’ran. In this context, it uses the same terms as in the Arabic Bible. Although clear differences in the understanding of forgiveness must be taken into account in sight of their context.

 

Forgiveness for the believers

In the first place, it seems to be man’s behaviour that is decisive for the Qu’ran: That is, because the believers can hope on the forgiveness of Allah (sura 57,28), the pious, the righteous, the patient and the humble [ones] (33,35). Whosoever believes and does good, attains forgiveness (29,7). Allah does not forgive the unbelievers (47,34; 9,80; 4,168f). Thus forgiveness or the refusal of forgiveness seems to be an aspect of the retaliating, e.g. the rewarding or punishing action of God.

It is unthinkable in Islam that God loves the sinners and that he himself provides an ‚advance concession‘ to free them from their guilt. The reason for this is: “God does not love the unbelievers” (sura 3,32).

 

Forgiveness – “if God wants to”

As much as the retaliating action of God is underlined in the Islam: in the context of guilt and forgiveness God’s justice is not an issue in the end: is it possible for God to let sin go unpunished and still be compatible with his justice. He can forgive whoever (whenever) he. Thus it can say in the Qu’ran: “Allah forgives whomsoever he wants to forgive” – without any preconditions (sura 48,14; 2,284; 5,18). The forgiveness is subject to God’s omnipotence.

With regard to this, the Bible highlights that guilt has been wiped out (1.Peter 2,24), by his death in the place of the sinner, Jesus Christ endured the punishment for sin – death (Isaiah 53,5; 1.Corinthians 15,3) – and that God is “faithful and just” when He, based on this sacrifice, forgives the sin of every person who confesses his sin (1.John 1,9).

 

Assurance of forgiveness?

Forgiveness in Islam depends, partly, on the human behaviour, if he appears to be worthy or unworthy, but in the end it depends on the unpredictable will of God; therefore no man can know in his lifetime if he will be granted forgiveness on the day of judgement and, by consequence, he will be granted access to the gardens of paradise, or, if he will be thrown into the fire of hell. – Assurance of forgiveness and the entry into paradise is only promised to those who, as Muslims, are killed while fighting “on the way of God” (47,4-6; 3,157 and 169-171).

According to the biblical testimony, believers can know that their sins are forgiven. Since the sin has been paid for “legitimately” God offers forgiveness and eternal life to everyone who believes in Jesus Christ.

 

Forgiveness and reconciliation

According to the Islamic view, man harms himself by sin. Therefore Adam said after the Fall: “Our lord, we have done ourselves injustice. And if you do not forgive us and show mercy to us, certainly, we will be amongst the losers.” (7,23) This is of general validity for the Qu’ran: “Whosoever acquires a sin, acquires it to his own harm.” (4,111) Reversely, it can say: “Whosoever engages, engages for his own benefit. God is not dependent on the inhabitants of the earth “ (29,6). Man’s sin does not really concern God. Men are his servants, who owe him obedience; he will reward or punish their deeds – or forgive. The basic relationship between God and man is not influenced by the human action – except for the sin of the “schirk”, e.g. to put other (selfmade) gods next to the one and only God. This sin is rebellion, comparable to the crime of high treason in the political area, and there is no forgiveness for this one (4,48).