Al-Afuww (The Effacer of sins)

In the name of Allah, The All-Merciful, The Ever-Merciful, all praises be to Allah, Lord of the worlds.  All Prayers and Blessings of Allah be upon the Messenger of Allah (SAWS[1]).
Today’s episode is related to the Night of Determination, as it deals with the beautiful Name of Allah, Al-Afuww (The Effacer of sins).  The Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) taught Lady Aisha that the best supplication to repeat on this night is, “O Allah, You are The Effacer of sins and You love effacing sins, so efface mine.”  This Name, The Effacer of sins, was repeated in the Qur’an five times; four of them together with the name Al-Ghafour (The Ever-Forgiving) and once with the name Al-Qadeer (The Omnipotent).
Today’s episode is divided into four main points:
  1. The meaning of Allah’s name The Effacer of sins;
  2. the difference between The Effacer of sins, The Ever-Forgiving and the rest of the beautiful Names of Allah related to the same meaning;
  3. how The Effacer of sins is associated with the Night of Determination; and
  4. how to live with this Name.
Linguistically, the word ‘afa has two meanings.  The first meaning is to give willingly without being asked and then to be satisfied.  The other meaning is the effacing and the removal.  Thus, The Effacer of sins first removes the traces of sins.  He is then satisfied and finally He gives you without being asked.
What is the difference between effacing sins and forgiveness?  Effacing sins is more comprehensive than forgiveness.  When Allah forgives you, He does not expose you, either in this world or in the hereafter.  He does not punish you.  However, your sins are still written and you will still be questioned about them.  The Effacer of sins, on the other hand, treats you as if you had never committed that sin.  It is effaced with no trace of it.  How does Allah efface the sin?  He makes you forget it and He makes the angels forget it.  It is not written in the scrolls anymore and you are not questioned about it on the Day of Judgment.  He not only effaces minor sins, but grave and heinous sins as well, the same way the wind effaces the trace of trenches made by bedouins in the desert.  What if Allah effaces all the sins you ever committed in your life?  You are resurrected, free of all sins as if you had done nothing wrong in your life.  On the Day of Judgment, Allah tells you to wish whatever you want, as He is satisfied with you, and tells you to enter jannah (paradise).  Why does Allah do all this?  It is because He loves man.  It is because man is the most precious creature to Him and because He is Generous.  Do you not feel ashamed?  Allah does not want to punish you; He wants to forgive you and efface your sins.  However, you still disobey Him!
The Name, The Effacer of sins, has two implications; a positive one and a negative one.  The negative meaning implies elimination and getting rid (of sins) whereas the positive meaning implies satisfaction and giving.  The Effacer of sins does three things.  He erases your sins, He becomes satisfied with you and then He gives you more, even if you have not asked Him for that which he gave you.  Therefore, this night is the night of these three things.  O Effacer of sins, wipe away my sins, You are the Effacer of sins and I need this purge.
Al-Fudail Ibn-Ayyad, one of the followers, kept praying on the day of Arafat that Allah efface his sins.  At the end of the day, he started crying.  While everybody wondered why he was crying, he told them that he was ashamed of Allah, The Generous, as He had surely answered his prayers and effaced his sins.  Sufyan Ath-Thawrey, another one of the followers, said that he likes to say the supplication taught by the Prophet (SAWS) on the Night of Determination more than any other form of worship.
What is the relation between this Name and the Night of Determination?  To elaborate, we should first clarify the relation between this Name and His Name, Al-Tawwab (The Superbly Relenting).  Imagine a situation where you sin and follow it with repentance.  Then you commit the same sin followed by a renewed repentance.  Again you  commit the same sin and repent and this is repeated ten times until you cannot repent anymore because slowly, you feel there is a gap between you and Allah.  You repented ten times but you still returned to the same sin, hence you thought that Allah will not forgive you.  Nevertheless, Allah wants you.  He loves you so how can you plug this gap?  This will happen in a great way; a gift He grants you.  It is the Night of Determination in which all your sins are effaced and the gap is filled up.  The Effacer of sins then shows you the way to The Superbly Relenting.
The Prophet (SAWS) asks those who have many sins to start anew in this night; a new beginning.  If you pray during this night and supplicate, “O Allah, You are The Effacer of sins and You love effacing sins, so efface mine,” whatever your sin was will be erased, and the gap will be filled up.  Your book of bad deeds will be void of sins; a clean slate.
Notice that this name is associated with great calamities.  When the Israelites worshipped the Calf, Allah says what can be translated as, “And (remember) as We appointed with M‍ûsa (Moses) forty nights; thereafter you took to yourselves the Calf even after him and you were unjust.  Thereafter We were clement towards you even after that, that possibly you would thank (Us). [TMQ[2], 2:51-52].
 
Even in the Battle of Uhud, when the companions were with the Prophet, it was a severe sin to leave the Prophet during the battle and go away.  Allah says what can be translated as, “Surely the ones of you who turned away the day the two gatherings encountered, surely it was only that Ash-shaytan (The ever-vicious, i.e., the Devil) made them slide back for some of that which they had earned; and Allah has indeed already been clement towards them…“[TMQ, 3:155].  What is the solution for the great number of sins other than effacement?  Severe calamities and sins have no solution but effacement from Allah (TWT)[3].
The Effacer of sins has another association with the Night of Determination.  Why was this night named so?  It is because during this night the destinies of people are determined and conveyed to angels who spread them to the whole world.  The greatness of the effacement of your sins during this night will determine your status for the next year. Why is this taking place?  Why have we been sent to earth?  We have been sent to reform it and reform needs renewed spirits.  Those who live within themselves end up being tired.  A revival can start again during the Night of Determination so that the ummah (Muslim nation) renews its vitality.  It is for this reason that this episode is very important.  O Allah, efface our sins so that the destiny of the ummah will be positive in the next year.
The Prophet (SAWS) narrates that everyday the sea asks Allah to allow it to drown man because man lives with His blessings and does not worship Him.  Similarly, the earth asks Allah to allow it to swallow man because man lives with His blessings and does not worship Him.  Heaven asks Allah to allow it to fall upon man because man lives with His blessings and does not worship Him.  However, Allah refuses and tells the sea, earth and heavens to leave them, for if they had created man, they would have had mercy upon him.  Are you ready for the Night of Determination?
The last point is how we can live with this Name.  The answer is in one thing; efface people’s mistakes in order to have your sins effaced.
When Abu-Bakr’s daughter, Aisha, was accused of adultery, it was her cousin Mosteh who accused her.  Abu-Bakr, who was sustaining Mosteh, decided not to do so anymore after Mosteh’s accusation.  However Allah says what can be translated as, “And let not the ones endowed with the Grace (of Allah) and affluence swear off bringing (charity) to near of kin (Literally: endowed with kinship) and the indigent and to the ones emigrating in the way of Allah; and let them be clement and let them pardon. Do you not love that Allah should forgive you? And Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Ever-Merciful. [TMQ, 24:22]
 
After this ayah, Abu-Bakr swore not to stop sustaining him anymore.  Therefore, The Effacer of sins is the One who brings His worshippers together.  Forgive all people this night so that Allah forgives you and effaces all your sins.


[1] Salla Allah alayhe Wa Salam [All Prayers and Blessings of Allah be upon him].
[2] TMQ=Translation of the Meaning of the Qur’an.  This translation is for the realized meaning, so far, of the stated (Surah:Ayah) of the Qur’an.  Reading the translated meaning of the Qur’an can never replace reading it in Arabic, the language in which it was revealed
[3] Tabaraka Wa Ta`ala [Blessed and Exalted be He].
Amr Khaled
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About theCall

“Invite to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious..”
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