Pearl of Wisdom
'Keep away from the sultan in order to be safe from the deception of Satan.'
Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib [as]
Bihar al-Anwar, v. 77, p. 215, no. 1
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"It may be that Allah will pardon them, and Allah is Pardoning, Forgiving" (4:99).
"Al-`Afuww" is derived from the root word "`afuw" and permits several meanings: When used as a verb, it means to go somewhere to receive something, to give without being asked, to increase, to wipe out something.
As a noun, it means the wiping out of sins in their entirety. One may supplicate and say, "Lord! I implore You to grant me `afuw and `fiya," that is, not to punish me for my sins, and to make me safe and secure with regard to Your torment. As an adjective, it means what is halal, lawful.
Al-`Afuww has removed, by His Mercy, from the souls the darkness of slipping away from the right path, and of the loneliness of forgetfulness from the hearts through His Greatness. It is also said that He removes the sins from the records and replaces loneliness with beautiful things from Him.
Al-`Afuww wipes out the traces of sins, removing them by the winds of His forgiveness. He wipes out the sins from the records kept by His guardian angels. He even wipes them out from their (angels') memory and the memory of those who committed them. He abandons punishing the sinners, Who does not remind you of your shortcomings; He is Gracious when He forgives. He protects the heart of the doer of evil against loneliness, sparing him the feeling of shame, and He does not remind him of the evil of what he had done.
We notice that in the text of the Holy Qur’an, the Attribute [indeed a Most Beautiful one] al-`Afuww occurs side by side with another Attribute which is al-Ghafoor as many as four times, and once side by side with the Attribute "al-Qadeer" as the following verses demonstrate:
... surely Allah is Pardoning, Forgiving. (4:43) It may be that Allah will pardon them, and Allah is Pardoning, Forgiving. (4:99) ... most surely Allah is Pardoning, Forgiving. (22:60, 58:2) If you do good openly or secretly or pardon an evil act, then surely Allah is Pardoning, Powerful. (4:149)
The Messenger of Allah has always enjoined us to wipe out our evil deeds with good ones, saying, "Fear Allah wherever you may be, and follow your evil deed with a good one in order to wipe out the first, and treat people in the best conduct." He addressed one of his uncles once saying, "O `Abbas, uncle of the Messenger of Allah! Plead to Allah for `afuw and `fiya in the life of this world and in the life to come."
The Commander of the Faithful Imam `Ali ibn Abu Talib called upon one of his slaves once but he did not respond. He repeated his call, and the slave again neglected to respond. Then he repeated it a third time, and no response was there either, so he stood up and looked for him and found him lying down. He asked him, "Did you hear me calling you?"
He answered, "Yes, I did." The Imam asked him, "Then what stopped you from responding?" He answered, "My confidence in your clemency and my reliance on your forgiveness," whereupon the Imam said, "Then I set you free seeking the Pleasure of Allah." The Imam did so on account of the firm conviction on the part of that slave.
One who wishes to receive a glimpse of the light inspired by this Attribute should first forgive those who have committed a wrong deed against him or dealt with him unjustly. One who remembers this Attribute ought to wipe out from his heart any ill feeling towards anyone who has wronged him, and to treat beautifully those who mistreated him.