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Repentance and Committing the Same Sin

Adil Salahi

Arab News, 5/8/o4

Q. When a person commits a sin and repents, declaring that he would not go back to it again, he expects to be forgiven by God. What would be his position if despite his repentance, he commits the same sin again? Should this happen several times, does it mean that his repentance is not accepted by God? What if the sin in question is one of the gravest type, such as adultery?

A. Ali

A. Several are the Qur’anic verses that speak of God’s forgiveness being so very generous that it could include all sins, no matter how grave they may be, provided that the person concerned believes in God’s oneness and does not associate partners with Him. This is summed up in the Qur’anic verse that says: “For a certainty, God does not forgive that partners should be associated with Him, but He forgives any lesser sin to whomever He wills. He who associates partners with God has indeed gone far astray.” (4: 116)

What is needed to earn forgiveness is a genuine repentance, which means that one really and genuinely regrets having committed the sin in question, and a strong resolve not to repeat it in future. If a person fulfils these two conditions and earnestly prays to God for forgiveness, then God will forgive him, if He so wills, provided that He knows him to be honest in both his regret and his resolve. Should he, nevertheless, yield to temptation and commit the same sin again, he is back in the same position and needs to repent. God will forgive him again when his repentance is sincere and genuine.

This applies as many times as the same person yields to temptation, and subsequently repents, provided that each time, his repentance is sincere. God certainly knows our intentions and our inmost thoughts. We cannot hide anything from him. If He knows that a person who is saying to him, ‘I repent’, is not sincere, but harbors at the same time thoughts that he would still commit the same sin again if a chance arises, then God will not accept his verbal repentance because it is neither sincere nor genuine. We cannot deceive God. When we repent, we must make sure that our resolve to refrain from sin is strong and genuine. If a person fails in his resistance to temptation, despite his earlier genuine resolve, the earlier sin remains forgiven, and the new one may be forgiven when a new, sincere attempt at repentance is made.

All this applies to all types of sin, minor or major, provided always that we do not try to deceive God or deceive ourselves.

God or Allah

Q. I have noticed that you use the word God in reference to Allah. May I ask why you do not stick to the name Allah, which is the Islamic one?

M. Abd Al-Mannan, Alkhobar

A. The Arabic word is God’s name in Arabic, while the English word also refers to Him in that language. Since we write in English, we use the English word. God says in the Qur’an: “Never have We sent a messenger otherwise than speaking the language of his own people, so that he might make (the truth) clear to them.” (14: 4)

This means that every prophet used the name of God used in his own language. This is only natural, because he needed to explain things to his people in complete clarity.

If a prophet advocated belief in God’s oneness and used a different name of God, that would be confusing to the addressees.

If we insist on using the Arabic name, people who are not very familiar with Islam would think that we believe in a special God whom we call Allah. In order not to create such confusion, we use the English name of God.



Earth, a planet hungry for peace


The Israeli apartheid (security) wall around Palestinian population centers (Ran Cohen, pmc, 5/24/03).


The Israeli apartheid (security) wall around Palestinian population centers in the West Bank, like a Python. (Alquds,10/25/03).

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