Allah forgives all sins except Shirk? Qur’an 4:48 explained.

“Indeed, Allah does not forgive association with Him, but He forgives what is less than that for whom He wills.” (Qur’an 4:48)

Say, “O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.” (Qur’an 39:53)

“Turn to your Lord ˹in repentance˺, and ˹fully˺ submit to Him before the punishment reaches you, ˹for˺ then you can no longer be helped (Quran 39:54).

So are these text in contradiction with one another or are these text addressing two different audiences?

It is not sound exegesis (tafsir) to just pick out these two verses as a contradiction without looking at the context, and who is being addressed as well as other verses in the Qur’an that address the same topic. This will allow one to have a better grasp of the subject before they reach a conclusion.

Qur’an 4:48=Transgressors among the People of the Book

O you who were given the Scripture, believe in what We have sent down, confirming that which is with you, before We obliterate faces and turn them toward their backs or curse them as We cursed the sabbath-breakers. And ever is the decree of Allah accomplished. Indeed, Allah does not forgive association with Him, but He forgives what is less than that for whom He wills. And he who associates others with Allah has certainly fabricated a tremendous sin. Have you not seen those who claim themselves to be pure? Rather, Allah purifies whom He wills, and injustice is not done to them, [even] as much as a thread [inside a date seed]. Look how they invent about Allah untruth, and sufficient is that as a manifest sin. Have you not seen those who were given a portion of the Scripture, who believe in superstition and false objects of worship and say about the disbelievers, “These are better guided than the believers as to the way”? (Qur’an 4:47-4:51)

The context is in relation to the people of the book. Some of them believed in superstition, worship of false objects etc. They deviated from the true pure monotheism as given to them in their scripture. Qur’an 4:48 is a warning to them.

Qur’an 39:53 = “my servants” (“Ibaadi”)

Say, “O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.” (Qur’an 39:53)

This verse is already addressed to those who believe in Islam.

Are quick witted brother Abu Azzan has correctly noted:

“Also I’ve seen a lot of Sunnis use this verse (Qur’an 4:48) which was revealed against “disbelievers” ….khawarij much? Anyways what are you guys trying to deduce from this? That one can do whatever non shirk sins they want and they can still be forgiven?” -Abu Azzan.

“No, it doesn’t, your understanding of this verse (Qur’an 4:48) is ignoring the verse in Zumar (Qur’an 39:53) which says, “Allah forgives **all sins** and shirk is a sin.” -Abu Azzan

Shaykh Al Khalili (hafid ullah) elaborates more here:

As for the second place, it is preceded by His saying: “If anyone contends with the Messenger even after the guidance has been plainly conveyed to him, and follows a path other than that becoming to men to faith, We shall leave him in the path He has chosen, and land him in hell. What an evil refuge!(Qura’n 4:115), So, interpreting it to mean other than what I have mentioned of its tafsir, will take it out from its context. His saying, Exalted is He: ‘Allah forgives not that partners should be set up with Him’ (Qur’an 4:48) is an affirmation carrying the meaning of being the reason for His saying; “If anyone contends with the Messenger even after the guidance has been plainly conveyed to him, and follows a path other than that becoming to men of faith, We shall leave him in the path He has chosen, and land him in hell. What an evil refuge!” And His saying , ‘and He forgives anything else, to whom He pleases‘, is a promise to those mushriks who embrace Islam of forgiveness for all their past sins, after what has preceded it of warning to those who persist in their shirk. From this, the reason clearly emerges of repeating the wording of the verse another time with no difference other than the end-rhyme. At first occurrence it is repeated by His saying, Exalted is He!

The second is that His saying ‘and He forgives anything else, to whom He pleases, (Qur’an 4:48) does not in any way indicate forgiveness of the people who commit major sins other than shirk, irrespective of their persistence in them.  This verse has come in two places in al-Nisa’ in the context of specifying the entering into Islam of those who did not accept Islam. In the first place it is preceded by His saying: “Exalted Is He: “O People of the Book, believe in what We have revealed confirming what was with you, before We destroy the countenances so as to confound or to curse them as We cursed the Sabbath-breakers. And the decision of Allah must be carried out. (Qur’an 4:47) Then it is followed by His saying: ‘Allah does not forgive that partners be set up with Him’ and He forgives anything else, to whom He pleases.’ (Qur’an 4:48). It is understood from this context that the meaning of the verse is that Allah does not forgive whomever remains in his shirk, not turning from it to tawhid, even if he repents from the rest of his sins.  For the repentance of the mushrik is not otherwise than by tawhid which is the basis of all good deeds, the axis of all virtue, just as shirk is the matrix of sinning. And His saying, ‘and He forgives anything else, to whom He pleases’. i.e. whatever is other than shirk, that is, all the disobediences of the mushriks other than their shirk, for whoever He wills to guide to repentance from his shirk. That is because…..

To read more and to be upon the truth in your creed (aqidah) we invite you to read:

My comments:

Just as brother Abu Azzan (May Allah reward him) pointed out those of our brothers among the Sunni say that we take the verse of unbelievers and apply to the believers but what are they doing with (Qur’an 4:48) ?

QUESTIONS FOR SUNNI MUSLIMS.

Also, you (Sunni) saying that if a Muslim commits shirk than there is absolutely no chance of forgiveness? That is harsh!

That goes against, “Allah forgives all sins.(Qur’an 4:48) This will also certainly fly in the face of “do not despair of the mercy of Allah.” How do you expect one not to despair of Allah’s mercy since they won’t be forgiven?

Also, unforgivable sin is another Christian concept!

Jesus said, “I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this life or in the life to come(Matthew 12:31-32)

Or,

Are we to believe that you Sunni understand this verse as you can do any sin imaginable and even if you do not repent Allah (swt) will still forgive you (by spending a little time in hellfire) unless it is shirk and than you are sealed forever?

Safwan ibn ‘Assal reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Verily, towards the Western sun is an open gate the length of which is seventy years of travel, It will continue to be open for repentance until the sun rises from there. When the sun rises from there, the faith of any soul will not benefit it had it not had faith earlier or earned goodness from its faith.

Source: Sunan Ibn Mājah 4070

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Whoever repents before the sun rises from the west, Allah will accept his repentance.

Source: Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2703

Grade: Sahih (authentic) according to Muslim

REPENTENCE:

“And of no effect is the repentance of those who continue to do evil deeds until death faces one of them and he says: “Now I repent;” nor of those who die while they are ungrateful disbelievers. For them We have prepared a painful torment.” (Qur’an 4:18)

My “ibaadi” are…those who never invoke another god alongside Allah…whoever does these things will face a penalty that will be multiplied for him on the Day of Resurrection, and he will remain in humiliation forever, except those who repent, believe and do righteous work, [in that case] Allah will replace their evil deeds with good ones for Allah is ever-forgiving and Merciful-to-all.” (Quran 25:63–71)

For further reading:


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