How Can Allah Be All-Forgiving and All-Just at the Same Time?
Answered by Shaykh Mohammed Tayssir Safi
Question: Assalamu alaykum
How can Allah be All-Forgiving and All-Just at the same time?
An example will be of a Man who rapes a women and later becomes truly religious. And does not repeat any of his sins.
Answer: Assalamu alaykum
Allah, Exalted is He, is indeed الغفور, the Forgiving, and العدل, the Just. As Allah says in His Generous and Exquisite Book, “The Most Excellent Names belong to God: use them to call on Him,” [Koran 7:180]. The answer to your question lies in understanding certain elements pertaining to Allah’s names and attributes as well as understanding what Allah has told us concerning how we will be judged and held accountable in the next life.
As for Allah being, the Forgiving, that does not mean He forgives all things completely without condition. This is clear and evident in revelation. For example, Allah tells us about the fate of Abu Lahab and his wife, “he will burn in the Flaming Fire–– and so will his wife, the firewood-carrier,” [Koran 111:3-4]. Had Allah intended for us to understand from revelation that He will in actuality forgive everything without condition then these verses would contradict that meaning. But there is no contradiction for Allah’s forgiveness is based upon His Will. He forgives whomever He Wills. He forgives things we are aware of and things we are not. He is indeed the Forgiving.
As for judgement and being held accountable, Allah has informed us through reports from our beloved and noble Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) that His forgiveness for those who repent does not remove the obligation to right the wrongs committed against others. In other words, while Allah does indeed forgive those who repent He has informed us that those who harm others must first right the wrong they have committed until the one harmed has forgiven them before they can be forgiven for that sin before God. This is what Allah has informed us about His Forgiveness and His Justice.
Given all the above if in the theoretical scenario you posed the woman has not forgiven the man in this life then he will not be forgiven for his crime in this life. However, in the next life, should Allah Will to do so, He will give the woman compensation for the crime committed against her until she is pleased and accepts to forgive the man in question. The man will not be forgiven for the crime until the woman is compensated and agrees to what Allah has given her in compensation and is pleased with the outcome.Of course we do not know what will occur and the reality of such things is left up to Allah. We are merely attempting to answer the question based upon revelation and how the ulema have understood revelation in our tradition.
Finally, the case of our master the Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) is different. The killing of the man was a mistake and not intentional. The noble Prophet was trying to stop the aggression and in the process accidentally killed the man in question. In the Sacred Law one is not held accountable for such mistakes.
And Allah knows best,
[Shaykh] Mohammed Tayssir Safi