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لاَ يُكَلِّفُ اللّهُ نَفْسًا إِلاَّ وُسْعَهَا لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتْ وَعَلَيْهَا مَا اكْتَسَبَتْ رَبَّنَا لاَ تُؤَاخِذْنَا إِن نَّسِينَا أَوْ أَخْطَأْنَا رَبَّنَا وَلاَ تَحْمِلْ عَلَيْنَا إِصْرًا كَمَا حَمَلْتَهُ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِنَا رَبَّنَا وَلاَ تُحَمِّلْنَا مَا لاَ طَاقَةَ لَنَا بِهِ وَاعْفُ عَنَّا وَاغْفِرْ لَنَا وَارْحَمْنَا أَنتَ مَوْلاَنَا فَانصُرْنَا عَلَى الْقَوْمِ الْكَافِرِينَ


Allâh burdens not a person beyond his scope. He gets reward for that (good) which he has earned, and he is punished for that (evil) which he has earned. “Our Lord! Punish us not if we forget or fall into error, our Lord! Lay not on us a burden like that which You did lay on those before us (Jews and Christians); our Lord! Put not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear. Pardon us and grant us Forgiveness. Have mercy on us. (1) You are our Maulâ (Patron, Supporter and Protector, etc.) and give us victory over the disbelieving people.”

(Al-Baqarah 2:286)




Shaikh Ibn Uthaymeen – rahimahullaah – says in his tafseer of Soorat al-Baqarah: (2)


ومنها: أنه ينبغي للإنسان سؤال الله العفو؛ لأن الإنسان لا يخلو من تقصير في المأمورات؛ فيسأل الله العفو عن تقصيره؛ لقوله تعالى: { واعف عنا }؛ وسؤالُ الله المغفرة من ذنوبه التي فعلها؛ لقوله تعالى: { واغفر لنا }؛ لأن الإنسان إن لم يُغفر له تراكمت عليه الذنوب، ورانت على قلبه، وربما توبقه، وتهلكه.


And from them (the points of benefit derived from this aayah): (Is) That one must ask Allaah for ‘Afw, for he is not free from shortcomings in those things which have been commanded; so he asks Allaah for ‘Afw from his shortcomings in accordance with His saying “واعف عنّا”. And asking Allaah for Maghfirah from his (the person’s) sins which he has committed is in accordance with His saying “واغفر لنا”, because a person – if he is not forgiven – (his) sins will pile up upon him, be a Raan (3) upon his heart, and perhaps destroy him.


ومن فوائد الآية: أنه ينبغي للإنسان أن يسأل الله أن يرحمه في مستقبل أمره؛ فيعفو عما مضى، ويغفر؛ ويرحم في المستقبل؛ لقوله تعالى: { وارحمنا }؛ وبه نعرف اختلاف هذه الكلمات الثلاث: طلب العفو عن التفريط في الطاعات؛ والاستغفار عن فعل المحرمات؛ والرحمة فيما يستقبله الإنسان من زمنه – أن الله يرحمه، ويوفقه لما فيه مصلحته.


And from the benefits of the aayah: (Is) That one must ask Allaah to have Rahmah on him in his future affairs; so He will ‘ya’foo’ and ‘yaghfir’ what has passed, and have Rahmah on him in what’s to come, in accordance with His saying “وارحمنا”. Through this, we learn the difference between the three words:


Asking for ‘Afw for shortcomings in acts of obedience, ‘Istighfaar (i.e. seeking Maghrifah) from committing acts of disobedience (4), and (asking for) Rahmah in that which lies ahead for one in his future – that Allaah has Rahmah on him and grants him success to (following) that which will be beneficial/have good in it for him.




Ibn Katheer – rahimahullaah – says in his tafseer of Soorat al-Baqarah: (5)


وقوله: ( وَاعْفُ عَنَّا ) أي: فيما بيننا وبينك مما تعلمه من تقصيرنا وزللنا، ( وَاغْفِرْ لَنَا ) أي: فيما بيننا وبين عبادك، فلا تظهرهم على مساوينا وأعمالنا القبيحة، ( وَارْحَمْنَا ) أي: فيما يُسْتَقبل، فلا توقعنا بتوفيقك في ذنب آخر، ولهذا قالوا: إن المذنب محتاج إلى ثلاثة أشياء: أن يعفو الله عنه فيما بينه وبينه، وأن يستره عن عباده فلا يفضحه به بينهم، وأن يعصمه فلا يوقعه في نظيره.


And His saying “واعف عنا” meaning: in that which is between us and You, which You know (about) from our shortcomings and faults/slips; “واغفر لنا” meaning: in that which is between us and Your servants, such that You do not make apparent to them our faults/vices and abominable deeds; “وارحمنا” meaning: in that which will come in the future, so do not let us fall – with Your tawfeeq (i.e. You granting us success) – in another sin. This is why it has been said: “Surely the sinner is in need of three things: that Allaah forgives him for that (the sin he committed) which is between him and Him (i.e. the sinner and Allaah), that He conceals the sin from His servants and not expose him through it (the sin) among them, and that He protects him so he doesn’t fall in its equivalent (i.e. further sin/error).”




(1) The words ‘Afw, Maghfirah, and Rahmah have been translated in the aayah (The Noble Qur’aan translation) to mean Pardon, Forgiveness, and Mercy – respectively. In Arabic, the meaning of the words is as follows:

Afw: pardon/forgiveness, but also erasing/wiping out
Maghfirah: pardon/forgiveness but also concealing/hiding
Rahmah: mercy


(2) Sh. Ibn Uthaymeen (rahimahullaah). Tafseer Soorat al-Baqarah, Part #3 – Aayah 286 – Points of Benefit #16 and 17.


(3) Raan:  a covering of sins and evil deeds, as mentioned in Soorat Al-Mutaffifin, verse 14.


(4) Note: it’s not always the case that ‘Afw relates to shortcomings in acts of obedience while Maghfirah relates to acts of disobedience. There’s a rule in Arabic that says that some words “if they unite, they separate (in meaning); and if they separate, they unite (in meaning).” [An example often given by scholars consists of the words Islaam and Eemaan: they include eachother when mentioned separately and they exclude eachother and become more specific when mentioned together, wallaahu ‘Alam.] Therefore, if the words ‘Afw and Maghfirah occur together, though they mean the same thing (i.e. pardon/forgiveness), they will be “distinguished” and separated from each other in meaning (by one being more specific to one thing than the other word etc.); however, if they separate and occur in different aayaat/locations, they could be used to mean the same thing (i.e. forgiveness) be it for shortcomings in good deeds or for doing bad deeds.  Shaikh Ibn Uthaymeen – rahimahullah – says in the tafseer of aayah 218 of Soorat al-Baqarah:

قوله تعالى: { والله غفور رحيم }؛ قد يقول قائل: ما محل ذكر اسم الله «الغفور» هنا مع أن هؤلاء قاموا بأعمال صالحة؟ الجواب أن القائم بالأعمال الصالحة قد يحصل منه شيء من التفريط، والتقصير؛ ولذلك شرع للمصلي أن يستغفر الله ثلاثاً بعد السلام؛

(Concerning) His (ta’aalaa’s) saying: (والله غفور رحيم); one might say: what is the reason behind mentioning the name of Allaah (الغفور) here even though those [meaning people mentioned in the verse] have done good deeds? The answer is that one who does good deeds might have some carelessness/negligence or shortcomings; this is why one it has been legislated for one who performs his salaah to say ‘Istighfaar 3 times after salaam. [End of Shaikh’s words]

Here, Maghfirah is used to refer to shortcomings in doing good deeds.  And Allaah knows best.


(4) Tafseer Ibn Katheer. One will notice how the “erasing” meaning of ‘Afw and “concealing” meaning of Maghrifah play a role in this tafseer.




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