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.”
And turn in repentance and in obedience with true Faith (Islamic Monotheism) to your Lord and submit to Him, (in Islam), before the torment comes upon you, then you will not be helped.
Chapter 39 Az-Zumar : Verses 53-54
The Call to repent before the Punishment comes
This Ayah is a call to all sinners, be they disbelievers or others, to repent and turn to Allah. This Ayah tells us that Allah, may He be blessed and exalted, will forgive all the sins of those who repent to Him and turn back to Him, no matter what or how many his sins are, even if they are like the foam of the sea. This cannot be interpreted as meaning that sins will be forgiven without repentance, because Shirk can only be forgiven for the one who repents from it. Al-Bukhari recorded that Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said that some of the people of Shirk killed many people and committed Zina (illegal sexual acts) to a great extent; they came to Muhammad and said, “What you are saying and calling us to is good; if only you could tell us that there is an expiation for what we have done.” Then the following Ayat were revealed:
(And those who invoke not any other god along with Allah, nor kill such person as Allah has forbidden, except for just cause, nor commit illegal sexual intercourse) (25:68).
(Except those who repent and believe, and do righteous deeds) (25:70). Imam Ahmad recorded that Asma’ bint Yazid, said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah reciting,
(Say: “O My servants who have transgressed against themselves! Despair not of the mercy of Allah, verily, Allah forgives all sins, He does not reckon him. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful).” This was also recorded by Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi. All of these Hadiths indicate that what is meant is that Allah forgives all sins provided that a person repents. Additionally, one must not despair of the mercy of Allah even if his sins are many and great, for the door of repentance and mercy is expansive. Allah says:(Know they not that Allah accepts repentance from His servants) (9:104).
(And whoever does evil or wrongs himself but afterwards seeks Allah’s forgiveness, he will find Allah Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.) (4:110). Concerning the hypocrites, Allah says:
(Verily, the hypocrites will be in the lowest depth (grade) of the Fire; no helper will you find for them. Except those who repent, and do righteous good deeds) (4:145-146). And Allah says:
(Surely, disbelievers are those who said: “Allah is the third of the three (in a Trinity).” But there is no god but One. And if they cease not from what they say, verily, a painful torment will befall on the disbelievers among them.) (5:73). Then He says
(Will they not turn in repentance to Allah and ask His forgiveness For Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.) (5:74) And Allah says:
The Two Sahihs record the Hadith of Abu Sa`id, may Allah be pleased with him, from Messenger of Allah about the man who killed ninety-nine people. Later on, he regretted it and asked a worshipper among the Children of Israel whether he could repent. He told him no, so he killed him, thus completing one hundred. Then he asked one of their scholars whether he could repent. He said, “What is stopping you from repenting” Then he told him to go to a town where Allah was worshipped. He set out for that town, but death came to him while he was on the road. The angels of mercy and the angels of punishment disputed over him, so Allah commanded them to measure the distance between the two towns; whichever he was closer to was the one to which he belonged. They found that he was closer to the town he was heading for, so the angels of mercy took him. It was said that when he was dying, he moved himself (towards that town), and Allah commanded the good town to move closer to him and the other town to move away. This is basic meaning of the Hadith. Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, commented on the Ayah:
Allah invites all to His forgiveness; those who claim that the Messiah is God, those who claim that the Messiah is the son of God, those who claim that `Uzayr is the son of God, those who claim that Allah is poor, those who claim that the Hand of Allah is tied up, and those who say that Allah is the third of three (Trinity). Allah says to all of these:
(Will they not turn in repentance to Allah and ask His forgiveness For Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.) (5:74).
Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “Anyone who makes the servants of Allah despair of His mercy after this, has rejected the Book of Allah, but a person cannot repent until Allah decrees that he should repent.” At-Tabarani recorded that Shutayr bin Shakal said, “I heard Ibn Mas`ud say, `The greatest Ayah in the Book of Allah is:
(Allah! None has the right to be worshipped but He, the Ever Living, the One Who sustains and protects all that exists)(2:255). The most comprehensive Ayah in the Qur’an concerning good and evil is:(Verily, Allah enjoins justice and Al-Ihsan) (16:90). The Ayah in the Qur’an which brings the most relief is in Surat Az-Zumar:
And the clearest Ayah in the Qur’an about reliance on Allah is:
(And whosoever has Taqwa of Allah, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty). And He will provide him from (sources) he never could imagine) (65:2-3).’ Masruq said to him; `You have spoken the truth.”’
(And turn in repentance (and in obedience with true faith) to your Lord and submit to Him) meaning, turn back to Allah and submit yourselves to Him.
(before the torment comes upon you, (and) then you will not be helped.) means, hasten to repent and do righteous deeds before His wrath comes upon you.
(And follow the best of that which is sent down to you from your Lord,) means, the Qur’an.
(before the torment comes on you suddenly while you perceive not!) means, without you realizing it.