Repentance: Commentary on Surah Al Nisa – Part 2

Repentance: Commentary on Surah Al Nisa

Contributed by Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tabataba’i commonly known as Allameh Tabataba’i, was one of the most prominent thinkers of philosophy and contemporary Shia Islam. He is famous for Tafsir al-Mizan, a twenty-seven-volume work of Quranic exegesis, which he worked on from 1954 until 1972.


Repentance In Its Full Significance


oreover, that merciful divine turning sometimes takes place even without the servant’s repentance, as we have earlier inferred from the divine words: nor (for) those who die while they are unbelievers. It has also been explained that granting intercession for sinner servant on the Day of Resurrection is an example of turning mercifully to him. The following verse points to that connotation:

“And Allah desires that He should turn to you (mercifully), and those who follow (their) lusts desire that you should deviate (with) a great deviation” (4:27).

Nearness and remoteness are relative terms. Therefore, it is quite possible that within circle of nearness
some areas would be remoter than the others. In this way, ‘repentance’ may be used for even those good servants who are nearer to Allah, when they rise to a station that is even higher and nearer than their previous place. This phenomenon is seen in the verses where Allah mentions ‘repentance’ of the prophets even though they are sinless as other verses clearly say. For example:

“Then Adam received (some) words from his Lord, so He turned to Him mercifully” (2:37).

“And when Ibrahim and Ismail raised the foundations of the House: Our Lord! accept from us;
surely Thou art the Hearing, the Knowing” (2:127).

“Our Lord! and make us both submissive to Thee and (raise) from our offspring a nation
submitting to Thee, and show us our ways of devotion and turn to us (mercifully), surely Thou art
the Oft-returning (to mercy), the Merciful” (2:128).

“He [Musa] said: “Glory be to Thee, I turn to Thee, and I am the first of the believers” (7:143).

“Therefore be patient [O Prophet!]; surely the promise of Allah is true; and seek pardon for your
fault and sing the praise of your Lord in the evening and the morning” (40:55).

“Certainly Allah has turned (mercifully) to the Prophet and those who fled (their homes) and the
helpers who followed him in the hour of straitness…” (9:117).

This is the general ‘return’ of Allah which is referred to by many Qur’anic verses, as for example:?
“The Forgiver of the faults and the Accepter of repentance…” (40:3).

“And He it is Who accepts repentance from His servants…” (42:25).

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