Before moving on to this week’s Name, I wanted to make a request: I’d like you to read over and reflect on the other Names that we went through so far. Our purpose is to know Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He); when we know Allah (swt) this life is easier to understand and Islam is more beautiful to live by. We then realize how Allah (swt) is truly with us, every step of the way, even when we are unaware of Him.
Today’s Name is at-Tawwab. Taaba in Arabic means to return. And at-Tawwab is the One who accepts all those who return to Him. And how many of us need to return to Him?
“And it is He who accepts repentance from his servants and pardons misdeeds, and He knows what you do.” [Qur’an, 42:25]
Despite knowing all that we do, He accepts our turning back to Him. Human beings, even our own parents sometimes, get tired of us. When we’ve ignored them for a while or have done something they dislike, they may reject us. But Allah (swt) reminds us:
“Do they not know that it is Allah who accepts repentance from His servants and receives charities and that it is Allah who is the Accepting of repentance, the Merciful?” [Qur’an, 9:104]
That is why He has named Himself at-Tawwab: so we know that whatever level we are at, He will accept us if we return to Him sincerely. Allah (swt) makes it clear who He has addressed to return to Him:
“[...] And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed.” [Qur’an, 24:31]
As the verse tells us, tawba (repentence) is for everyone because we all need to return. It does not simply have to be from a hideous sin. It can be because we are far, so we need to return. It can be because we have slipped here and there, so we need to return. It can be because we want to take that step to get closer to Allah (swt), so we need to return. That is the essence of tawba.
Dr. Ratib an-Nabulsi states that in order to understand tawba, we need to understand Allah’s Mercy. His (swt) being at-Tawwab is because He is the Most-Merciful towards us. He invites us to return to Him. In a beautiful hadith (narration) of the Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him), we are told:
“Indeed, Allah extends His Hand in the night to forgive the one who sins in the day, and He extends His Hand in the day to forgive the one who sins at night, and this continues until the sun rises from the west.” [Muslim]
Allah (swt) also gives us signs that push us to return to Him. Al-Ghazali states:
“Al-Tawwab makes reference to facilitating the causes of repentance in His servants time and again by making manifest some of His signs, conveying His counsel to them, and disclosing His deterrents and warnings to them.”
Whatever causes you return to Him—whether it is an ayah (verse) in the Qur’an, an article, a friend who reminds you, or even the realization of a sin you committed—is only because He wants to accept your repentance. Then you come within the realm of at-Tawwabeen: those who constantly return.