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Finding Hope in Allah’s Mercy and Forgiveness: Understanding the Name At-Tawwab | Blog


Published: June 7, 2024 • Updated: June 7, 2024

Author: Yaqeen Institute,

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ

In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

Have you ever found yourself feeling lost after making a wrong turn? In that moment of realization when the path ahead is unclear, what pushes you to make a shift in the right direction?
This need to course-correct, to get back on the right path, and to ultimately find safety and security is a deeply human experience. Allah, in His infinite mercy, is constantly inviting us to turn back to Him, to find that trusted and reliable place of refuge, guidance, peace, and serenity.
One of the beautiful names of Allah (SWT) is At-Tawwab, often translated as “The One who accepts repentance” or “The Ever-Relenting.” However, simple translations can’t capture the profound depth of this name. To truly understand At-Tawwab, we must delve deeper. Below are seven insights that can help.

1. Allah is constantly inviting us to turn to Him

In the Qur’an, Allah (SWT) is continuously inviting us to turn to Him. “Allah calls to Dar-As-Salaam (The House of Peace), and He guides whom He wills to a straight path” (Qur’an 10:25). This invitation is a call to leave behind all that distracts and misleads us and to find peace and security in His presence. It is an invitation to turn away from everything else and back to Him (SWT). Allah places that desire in our hearts, guiding us towards the right path. If we respond to this call by turning to Him, He responds by turning towards us. “And Allah wants to turn to you in grace, but those who follow their desires wish to see you deviate entirely from the right path” (Qur’an 4:27).

2. Allah makes it easy for us to turn to Him

At-Tawwab comes from the Arabic root (ta-waw-ba) which means to return. The name has two broad meanings, the first of which is often misunderstood. Allah (SWT) constantly, repeatedly, turns to His slaves. He facilitates our ability to repent. Think of the times you’ve felt genuine remorse for doing something wrong—that’s from At-Tawwab. Or the times Allah put someone in your life who encouraged you to do good and the moments of hardship that have reminded you to abandon certain habits and turn back to Him. These are all instances of the presence of At-Tawwab in our lives, moments that He turns to us in His mercy, reminding us that His door is always open.  

3. Repentance is a desire to right your wrongs

In the Qur’an, Allah (SWT) time and time again instructs us to turn to Him. “Oh you who believe, turn to Allah in sincere repentance” (Qur’an 66:8). Repentance involves reconciliation; it is about making things right, both with your Creator and with His creation. It involves feeling regret, a desire to be forgiven, and having a sincere intention to avoid what displeases God or is hurtful to others.
None of us is free from needing to make tawbah; it is part of our makeup as human beings that we will all slip up and inevitably make mistakes. However, the Qur’an reassures us about Allah’s readiness to accept our return to Him. In Surah Ash-Shura, Allah (SWT) says, “And it is He who accepts repentance from His servants and pardons misdeeds, and He knows what you do” (Qur’an 42:25). Allah (SWT) is intimately aware of our actions, and out of His wisdom, He facilitates our remorse and eagerly awaits our return to forgive us once again.
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4. Allah shows us how to repent and is always ready to accept our repentance

The second meaning of At-Tawwab is that Allah (SWT) accepts our repentance when we turn to Him. Consider the example of our parents Adam and Eve. When Satan whispered to them and they ate from the forbidden tree, they both immediately felt deep remorse. Allah (SWT) inspired them to feel regret. And then out of His mercy, He also taught them how to repent for their sin: “Our Lord, we have wronged ourselves, and if You do not forgive us and have mercy on us, we will surely be among the losers” (Qur’an 7:23). These words were given to them by At-Tawwab, Ar-Raheem.

5. His willingness to accept and His mercy go hand in hand

Allah’s name At-Tawwab appears in the Qur’an eleven times. Nine out of those times, it’s paired with His name Ar-Raheem, so that we know that Allah (SWT) doesn’t just turn to us, but that He’s forever most merciful to us. Returning to Him is unlike approaching someone we’ve wronged who may still hold a grudge even after we apologize. Allah doesn’t deal with us the way His creation does; He doesn’t get annoyed with us, or limit our chances to change and start over. Rather, He accepts our repentance over and over again and lovingly turns to us out of His mercy.

6. Seeking repentance doesn’t ensure immediate ease

We may have the impression that once we make tawbah, everything in our lives will immediately become easier because we’ve turned to At-Tawwab. However, Allah, out of His wisdom, may continue to test us because it may be through that test that we’ll grow and improve.  
For others, Allah knows that they’re unable to handle such a test. And thus, from His hikmah (wisdom), when you turn to Him, things do get immediately easier. Allah (SWT) is also Al-Hakeem (The All-Wise), and He knows best how to accept the tawbah of His servants. One occurrence of At-Tawwab in the Qur’an is paired with this name, Al-Hakeem, reminding us that His forgiveness is coupled with His infinite wisdom. “Were it not for the grace and mercy of Allah upon you, and had Allah not been accepting of repentance, All-Wise, you would have suffered much” (Qur’an, 24:10).

7. Tawbah is a path of continual self-purification

Allah (SWT) doesn’t just encourage or command us to turn to Him in repentance, but He also lets us know that he loves the people who repent. “Surely Allah loves those who always turn to Him in repentance and those who purify themselves” (Qur’an 2:222). Tawbah is a divine means of regular purification that wipes our slates clean. The Prophet ﷺ gave us an example of a man who went into the desert with a camel carrying all his provisions. He fell asleep, only to awake to find that his camel was gone. Panic set in, and he felt certain that death was imminent. Overcome by emotion and exhaustion, he returned to sleep, only to wake up and find his camel standing before him. Seeing it, he was ecstatic. The joy he felt in that moment is indescribable. The Prophet ﷺ teaches us that Allah (SWT) feels even more joy with the tawbah of one of His servants than this man felt at the return of his camel.    

Taking practical steps towards tawbah

Each one of us is in need of repentance. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, who was free from sin, sought Allah’s forgiveness more than a hundred times a day. He used to say, “O Allah, forgive me and accept my repentance, for You are the Oft-Returning, Most Merciful.” This practice emphasizes the importance of constantly turning back to Him.
If you feel that God is opening the door of repentance for you, seize that opportunity. Begin by asking for His forgiveness with your tongue and making a sincere effort to change your ways. Identify any persistent sins and slowly work on eliminating them. If necessary, seek support from others. Focus on fulfilling the divinely legislated obligations, like your five daily prayers, and build your day around them.
Remember, the path to true success and salvation lies in repentance. Allah assures us in the Qur’an, “And turn to your Lord and submit to Him before the punishment comes upon you; then you will not be helped” (Quran 39:54). Turning back to Allah purifies our souls and aligns our lives with the values He has prescribed. Know that Allah, At-Tawwab, is always ready to accept your repentance. No matter how far we may stray or for how long, His door is always open and His mercy knows no bounds. Seek His forgiveness, turn back to Him, and find the peace and security that only He can provide.
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