Rebuttal to Sam Shamoun's Article "Does Allah Forgive All Sins or Doesn't He?"

By

Bassam Zawadi

 

Shamoun's article could be located over here.


 

Sam Shamoun said:

The Quran says that Allah forgives all the sins committed by his slaves.

Say: "O 'Ibadi (My slaves) who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah, verily Allah forgives ALL sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. And turn in repentance and in obedience with true Faith (Islamic Monotheism) to your Lord and submit to Him, (in Islam), before the torment comes upon you, then you will not be helped." S. 39:53-54

My Response:

It's very important to clarify that Allah forgives all sins as long as one is alive and repents for them. The passage is stating that we should not despair of the Mercy of Allah and that no matter how evil our sins there is still hope for us to be forgiven by Allah if we repent. The passage makes it clear when it states "before the torment comes upon you, then you will not be helped". So there is time to repent before we die and are judged, but once it is too late to repent then we could end up in trouble and not being forgiven.


SamShamoun said:

For instance, Allah does not forgive the apostate who turns away from faith even if s/he repents:

How shall God guide a people who have disbelieved after they believed, and bore witness that the Messenger is true, and the clear signs came to them? God guides not the people of the evildoers. Those -- their recompense is that there shall rest on them the curse of God and of the angels and of men, altogether, therein dwelling FOREVER; the chastisement shall not be lightened for them; no respite shall be given them. But those who repent THEREAFTER, and make amends -- God is All-forgiving, All-compassionate. Surely those who disbelieve after they have believed and then increase in unbelief -- their repentance shall not be accepted; those are the ones who stray. Surely those who disbelieve, AND DIE DISBELIEVING, there shall not be accepted from any one of them the whole earth full of gold, if he would ransom himself thereby; for them awaits a painful chastisement, and they shall have no helpers. S. 3:86-91 Arberry

The above passage presents one mass of confusion!

My Response:

As we shall demonstrate, the only one suffering from mass confusion is Shamoun. 

Sam Shamoun said:

First a rhetorical question is asked, "How shall Allah guide a people who ..." with the implied answer that Allah will not guide such a people. On the contrary, according to these verses Allah's curse will rest on those who believed, who were once Muslims, but who then turned away. And it is specifically added that they will "abide therein," "dwelling therein forever" (v. 88), which according to some of the Islamic exegetes refers to the disbelievers abiding in hell:

Abiding therein, that is, in the curse, or in the Fire implied by it [the curse]; the chastisement shall not be lightened for them and they shall not be reprieved, they shall [not] be given any respite. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn)

This clearly precludes any possibility of a change of their state - whether based on repentance or for any other reasons. The decision is made, they will remain in Hell forever, i.e. even if they should be repent, their repentance will not be accepted.

My Response:

The problem with Shamoun is that he is cutting up the passage into pieces and reading these individual pieces separately from one another! Verses 86-88 are making general statements about apostates and then verse 89 makes an exception and states:

Except for those who repent after that and do righteous deeds. Verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

 

Now was that so difficult? I mean how silly of an exegete or dishonest must someone be to isolate verses 86-88 from verse 89, which is clearly continuing and elaborating on what was being said?

Imam Al Qurtubi states:

 

..


It means that Allah will not guide them as long as they endure remaining upon their disbelief and oppression and not accept Islam. However, if they accept Islam and repent, then Allah would attune to that. (Abu 'Abdullah Al-Qurtubi, Tasfir al Jami' li-ahkam al-Qur'an, Commentary on Surah 3:86, Source)

 

Sam Shamoun said:

However, the passage goes on to speak of those who repent THEREAFTER (v. 89), which implies that apostates CAN repent and be forgiven after all!

My Response:

WOOOOOOOOW!!!!!! WHAT A SURPRISE!!!!!!!! Everyone clap for Shamoun for figuring that out!

Sam Shamoun said:

But then, in verse 90, the passage reverts back to saying that "NEVER will their repentance be accepted"!!!???

My Response:

Imam Al Tabari lists the opinions of the early Muslims:

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A
nd others have said that it means: Those who have disbelieved from amongst the people of the book in Muhammad after their faith in their prophets. "And then go on adding to their defiance of Faith", means their sins. "Never will their repentance be accepted", that is from their sins, while they endure upon their disbelief. A number of those have mentioned this:

Al-Muthni - Abdul Wahaab - Daawud - Rafee': "Those who reject Faith after they accepted it, and then go on adding to their defiance of Faith", that is that they added to their sins while they were disbelievers. "Never will their repentance be accepted", that is their repentance from their sins will never be accepted as long as they remain upon their disbelief and misguidance.

Al-Muthni - Ibn Abi 'Adi - Daawud - Aba Al-'Aaliyah said in regards to the passage "Those who reject Faith after they accepted it, and then go on adding to their defiance of Faith, - never will their repentance be accepted;" that it is referring to those Christians and Jews who disbelieved and then increased in their disbelief with sins that they committed and they repent from those sins while they are still disbelievers.

Al-Muthni - 'Abd Al-'Ala - Daawud - Aba Al-'Aaliyah said in regards to the passage "Those who reject Faith after they accepted it, and then go on adding to their defiance of Faith, - never will their repentance be accepted for they are those who have gone astray", this is referring to the Jews, Christians and Magians. They committed sins while they were upon their disbelief. They wanted to repent from those sins, but never repented from their disbelief, don't you see that He says "for they are those who have gone astray"? 

Muhammad bin Bashaar - Abu 'Aasim - Sufyan - Daawud - Abi Al-'Aaliyah said in regards to "Never will their repentance be accepted" they repented from some (i.e. of their sins), but never from the foundation (i.e. never got their theology straightened out). (Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Jami' al-bayan fi ta'wil al-Qur'an, Commentary on Surah 3:90, Source)  

 

Al-Qurtubi has it in his commentary:

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And it said that "Never will their repentance be accepted" means that if they repent from one disbelief to another. Their repentance will only be accepted if they repent and accept Islam. Qutrub said that this verse was revealed regarding a group of people form Mecca who said: "We believe in Muhammad but with doubts. If it appears to us that we should return, we shall return to our people." So Allah revealed "Those who reject Faith after they accepted it, and then go on adding to their defiance of Faith, - never will their repentance be accepted;" That is that their repentance will not be accepted while they endure upon disbelief. So He called it unacceptable repentance because the determination of the people was not valid. Allah All Mighty only accepts repentance if the determination is made right. (Abu 'Abdullah Al-Qurtubi, Tasfir al Jami' li-ahkam al-Qur'an, Commentary on Surah 3:90, Source)  

 

Sam Shamoun said:

As if it couldn't get any more confusing, the text speaks of people repenting after they have entered into hell and says that Allah will not accept ransom from anyone who dies disbelieving even if s/he were to bring an earth full of gold. Here is another translation which helps bring this out more clearly:

How shall God Guide those who reject Faith after they accepted it and bore witness that the Apostle was true and that Clear Signs had come unto them? but God guides not a people unjust. Of such the reward is that on them (rests) the curse of God, of His angels, and of all mankind; - In that will they dwell; nor will their penalty be lightened, nor respite be (their lot); - EXCEPT FOR THOSE THAT REPENT (Even) AFTER THAT, and make amends; for verily God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. But those who reject Faith after they accepted it, and then go on adding to their defiance of Faith, - NEVER will their repentance be accepted; for they are those who have (of set purpose) gone astray. As to those who reject Faith, AND DIE REJECTING, - never would be accepted from any such as much gold as the earth contains, though they should offer it for ransom. For such is (in store) a penalty grievous, and they will find no helpers. Y. Ali

The question is how would anyone bring any ransom when s/he is dead? To say that this is rather incoherent is a wild understatement.

My Response:

The translation of Muhammad Al-Hilali & Muhsin Khan of verse 91 is better:

Verily, those who disbelieved, and died while they were disbelievers, the (whole) earth full of gold will not be accepted from anyone of them even if they offered it as a ransom. For them is a painful torment and they will have no helpers.

So EVEN IF they were to offer a whole earth full of gold as a ransom in order to save themselves, it wouldn't be accepted from them. The verse is emphasizing the fact that there is nothing one could do to escape the wrath of Allah once he is justly condemned.

Sam Shamoun said:

All in all, Allah seems not to be able to decide whether he will forgive if there is repentance or not.

My Response:

All in all, Shamoun still thinks after all these years of getting refuted that he is convincing any well informed Muslims of his shoddy arguments!

Sam Shamoun said:

The Quran claims that Allah will only accept the repentance of a person who sins out of ignorance or foolishness, provided that the individual repents soon after he has committed any evil deed since Allah does not accept the repentance which takes place when a person is about to die:

Allah accepts ONLY the repentance of those who do evil IN IGNORANCE AND FOOLISHNESS and repent SOON afterwards; it is they to whom Allah will forgive and Allah is Ever All Knower, All Wise. And of no effect is the repentance of those who continue to do evil deeds until death faces one of them and he says: "Now I repent;" NOR of those WHO DIE while they are disbelievers. For them We have prepared a painful torment. S. 4:17-18

My Response:

Shamoun seems to misunderstand the verse when it says "in ignorance", for the early Muslims and the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) understood that ALL SIN regardless of whether it was committed intentionally or not is done in ignorance and that the sinner is ignorant while committing the sin. (Refer to Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Jami' al-bayan fi ta'wil al-Qur'an, Commentary on Surah 4:17, Source). Hence, "ignorance" is not a qualifier here, but rather a necessarily inherent description of the sin in and of itself. I am not aware of any Muslim scholar who has understood this passage to be saying that Allah does not accept the repentance of one who sincerely repents after willfully and knowingly committing a sin. 

Sam Shamoun said:

Allah will also not forgive a person who intentionally murders a believer:

O believers, consume not your goods between you in vanity, except there be trading, by your agreeing together. And kill not one another. Surely God is compassionate to you. But whosoever does that in transgression and wrongfully, him We shall certainly roast at a Fire; and that for God is an easy matter. If you avoid the heinous sins that are forbidden you, We will acquit you of your evil deeds, and admit you by the gate of honour. S. 4:29-31 Arberry

It is quite instructive that in this passage Allah says that he will forgive the evil deeds of a person provided s/he avoids committing those sins which are considered heinous or major. What this basically means is that Allah does not forgive major sins such as murder, adultery, idolatry etc. And:

And whoever kills a believer intentionally, his recompense is Hell to abide therein, and the Wrath and the Curse of Allah are upon him, and a great punishment is prepared for him. S. 4:93

 

My Response:

Surah 25:68-70

And those who invoke not any other ilah (god) along with Allah, nor kill such life as Allah has forbidden, except for just cause, nor commit illegal sexual intercourse and whoever does this shall receive the punishment. The torment will be doubled to him on the Day of Resurrection, and he will abide therein in disgrace; Except those who repent and believe (in Islamic Monotheism), and do righteous deeds, for those, Allah will change their sins into good deeds, and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

 

Sam Shamoun said:

Another sin that Allah will never forgive is shirk, i.e. associating or setting up partners or other gods with Allah:

Verily! Allah forgives not (the sin of) setting up partners in worship with Him, but He forgives whom he pleases sins other than that, and whoever sets up partners in worship with Allah, has indeed strayed far away. They (all those who worship others than Allah) invoke nothing but female deities besides Him (Allah), and they invoke nothing but Shaitan (Satan), a persistent rebel! S. 4:116-117

My Response:

Yes and it has already been clarified that this refers to those who don't repent on time.

Sam Shamoun said:

To make matters worse the Quran further says that Allah will also forgive those who intentionally murder a person unlawfully!

And those who invoke not any other ilah (god) along with Allah, nor kill such life as Allah has forbidden, except for just cause, nor commit illegal sexual intercourse and whoever does this shall receive the punishment. The torment will be doubled to him on the Day of Resurrection, and he will abide therein in disgrace; Except those who repent and believe (in Islamic Monotheism), and do righteous deeds, for those, Allah will change their sins into good deeds, and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. And whosoever repents and does righteous good deeds, then verily, he repents towards Allah with true repentance. S. 25:68-71

Astonishingly, this passage doesn't only say that Allah forgives but that he also actually changes a person's sins into good deeds, i.e. Allah will reckon every transgression committed by an individual as a good deed. This means that Allah will actually reward a person for all the crimes s/he has committed!

My Response:

For some to interpret this passage as saying that Allah will actually reward a person for the crimes he committed just goes to show his evil and insincere one's heart is.

The passage states:

Except those who repent and believe (in Islamic Monotheism), and do righteous deeds, for those, Allah will change their sins into good deeds,

One should not take this out of context. Allah is not 'rewarding' people for their sins. The bad deeds are 'changed into' good when three conditions are met, as the verse indicates:

1. Offering of True repentance, ( )

2. Expressing of Sincere belief, ()

3. Performance of righteous deeds. ( )

 

These actions remedy the bad deeds by wiping them off, because Allah indeed is the forgiver of sins () and changes them into good ones because of his being Merciful to them ().

This grace of Allah on his true righteous repenting worshippers is the expression of His forgiveness, mercy and acceptance of repentance, as the following verse immediately emphasizes this benevolence:  

And whosoever repents and does righteous good deeds, then verily, he repents towards Allah with true repentance

One could raise questions about immorality in scenarios where Allah is changing people's bad deeds into good ones without their being any true repentance from them, or in the absence of sincere belief followed with performance of righteous deeds. However, this is certainly not the case here.

 

 

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