Interpreting verse (Quran 4:17)
Fatwa No: 185291

Question

Assalamu Alaikum, In the Quran (4:17) , Allah says that He will accept repentance only if the sin was done in ignorance and repentance is done immediately. However other verses in Quran says that He will forgive all sins when a person repents and it is not necessarily that the repentance is done immediately. Can you please explain the correct meaning of the verse 4:17?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.

The scholars of Tafseer (interpretation of the Quran) mentioned regarding the meaning of the verse in which Allaah Says (what means): {The repentance accepted by Allaah is only for those who do wrong in ignorance [or carelessness] and then repent soon after. It is those to whom Allaah will turn in forgiveness, and Allaah is ever Knowing and Wise.}[Quran 4:17]; that what is meant by ‘soon after’ is to repent before one's soul reaches the throat and before he sees the angel of death. Contrarily, this implies that if one does not repent soon after (i.e. if he repents when his soul has reached the throat), his repentance will not be accepted. This is what the next verse after the above verse clarifies, which is the saying of Allaah (which means): {But repentance is not [accepted] of those who [continue to] do evil deeds up until, when death comes to one of them, he says, “Indeed, I have repented now,” or of those who die while they are disbelievers. For them We have prepared a painful punishment.}[Quran 4:18]

This meaning is also confirmed in the Sunnah. Ibn ‘Umar  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him   narrated that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam,  said: "Allaah accepts the repentance of His slave as long as his death-rattle has not begun." [Ahmad and At-Tirmithi]

Therefore, the above verse restricts the verses which mean that the repentance is accepted at all times.

Allaah Knows best.

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