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Forgiveness vs Atonement
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  1. #1
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    Forgiveness vs Atonement (OP)


    Does the justice of Allah require a sacrificial payment or an off-setting good deed to atone for sin, or can He graciously forgive sin straight away with only the sinner asking Him for forgiveness in sincere repentance?

    First to clarify the definition of 2 important words:
    Atone - to make amends or reparation, as for an offense or a crime
    Forgive - to grant pardon for or remission of (an offense, debt, etc.)

    From a Christian perspective, does Allah forgive (cancel, erase) a Christian of his sin or is his debt of sins atoned (paid, compensated) for by Jesus' Blood? One may see it as nit-picking but if a debt is forgiven then it is cancelled as a free gift without any payment from anyone. I see an atonement as a payment to offset or substitute for that debt even if the one to whom the debt is owed makes arrangement for its payment. If the debt is to Allah, then I don't see how He can pay or sacrifice Himself for something that is owed to Him. It makes more sense that out of His mercy and with a figurative sweep of His hand, then the sin debt vanishes.

    A human repents by feeling regret, asking for forgiveness and intending to not repeat the sin, but how does he make amends? In Islam we make amends or atonement for our sins by offering additional charity, fasts or prayers, but are those deeds required for forgiveness? We have the concept of offsetting sins with good deeds akin to a balancing scale of justice, but this is seen as 'earning' one's salvation. Isn't Allah able to forgive sin with only repentance or is an atonement or payment for sin debt also required?

    I personally see that Allah is merciful and forgiving along the lines of "...those who remember God and implore forgiveness for their sins if they do something shameful or wrong themselves - who forgives sins but God?..." (Qur'an, 3:135) If Allah can forgive sins, doesn't that completely negate the basic premise of Christianity - Jesus' supposed sacrifice on the cross as the only possible means of reconciliation with Allah?

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    Re: Forgiveness vs Atonement

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    Assalamu alaikum, Sister Insaanah,

    What you wrote above is exactly consistent with my understanding. I was referring to what the Christian said, "So, atonement enables us to come before God in the first place." when I was making an association with tawassul which you noted as "a means of seeking nearness to Allah". What you wrote about atonement is consistent with my understanding as well in that it is quite different from tawassul.

    What you wrote about tawassul is again consistent with my understanding and I thank you for the rebuttal of the response on SunniPath. It indeed makes me uncomfortable to make du'a through anyone who is dead as approaching shirk. To me anything that one thinks has any tint or risk of shirk should be avoided at all costs.
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    Re: Forgiveness vs Atonement

    Assalamu alaikum, Sister Insaanah,

    I appreciate the link to the download and liked it so much I ordered a hard copy today. I learned that making tawassul through other than what has been prescribed can fall under either shirk or bidah which I had not considered before. I also have a book, Tawassul-Its Types & Rulings by Shaikh Muhammad Naasiruddeen al-Albanee which says the acceptable means of tawassul are by means of 1) the Names of Allah, the Blessed and the Most High, and His Attributes, 2) a righteous action which the person who is supplicating has done, and 3) the supplication made by a righteous (living) man.
    Last edited by MustafaMc; 09-24-2012 at 04:19 AM.

  5. #203
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    Re: Forgiveness vs Atonement

    Greetings and peace be with you MustafaMc my friend;

    Lilly provided the most reasonable explanation and one that is consistent with what I remember from my early years as a Christian in that God is just and therefore requires that sin must be punished.
    I was reading one of the proverbs recently which says God’s ways are unsearchable, it seems that God has revealed enough for us to get through this life, but he has not revealed everything about himself to us.

    Lilly has provided a good explanation of justice that it requires punishment. If I steal your car, it will be a heap of junk in a hundred years, so the car will have no meaning for me or you in a centuries time. But what does that mean to God?
    God can provide you with a greater means of transport for eternity in a good life after death. If I kill my neighbour, I have robbed him of maybe 70 years life on Earth, but God can restore him to a greater good life after death, so what does killing my neighbour mean to God? Yes these crimes deserve punishment, but do they deserve eternal punishment? As atheists often point out, how can justice ever be applied to temporary finite crimes on Earth, compared to any eternal retribution, where is justice?


    Here comes this huge contradiction, as well as being just, God is also merciful and forgiving but how do you make truthful sense of justice, punishment, mercy and forgiveness, which is the greatest attribute? I believe that in Islam you are taught you have the right to demand justice, but if you are merciful and forgive, then you have chosen the greater path. Would this be because Allah also advocates mercy and forgiveness as the greater path for himself?


    God has the power to say your sins are forgiven, and they would be forgiven, there is no need for any atonement, again this is beyond my understanding because God gave us Christian scriptures saying Christ died so that my sins might be forgiven.

    I guess teachers can give us advice from the comfort of their armchair, but how can they pass on a teaching about mercy and forgiveness; if it appears that they themselves have little to be merciful or forgive in their lives. It seems that if anyone was to teach me about forgiveness, it is done in a greater way by life situations that they have experienced themselves. Jesus said many things about mercy and forgiving, but the one teaching that stays with people is Jesus saying on the cross, ‘forgive them Father’ does that include forgiving the people who condemned him to death and those who nailed him to the cross?


    The ways of God are beyond my understanding and they keep me searching, I can only say how these scriptures affect me.

    In the spirit of striving to me merciful and forgive.

    Eric
    Forgiveness vs Atonement

    You will never look into the eyes of anyone who does not matter to God.

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    Re: Forgiveness vs Atonement

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric H View Post
    Greetings and peace be with you MustafaMc my friend;
    Peace, the blessings of God and His mercy be upon you, my brother in humanity, Eric. I thank you for your reply.
    I was reading one of the proverbs recently which says God’s ways are unsearchable, it seems that God has revealed enough for us to get through this life, but he has not revealed everything about himself to us.
    I agree with you. I have recently been pondering over the Names and Attributes of Allah (swt) as revealed in the Qur'an as to whether they have a literal or metaphorical meaning. A literal interpretation ultimately leads to anthropomorphism, or attribution of human characteristics to God, while a metaphorical interpretation ultimately leads to a denial of His attributes to the point one may even start to question God's very existence. I choose to take the middle road between these extremes by accepting the Attributes without understanding the 'how'.
    Lilly has provided a good explanation of justice that it requires punishment.
    I see that sin is ultimately against our own souls, but they are manifest as trangressions against other people or God's creatures, or they are against God. I believe I am correct in understanding that if we transgress against someone in this life by word or deed and they do not forgive us, then he will personally exact retribution against us on Judgement Day. If we transgress against God by lack of faith, joining partners with Him, or being disobedient, then He can either forgive or punish us. I believe that the Qur'an says Allah will not forgive those who die in a state of unbelief (kufr) or of attributing partners to Him (shirk). I believe that if a person dies with belief in One God, that depending on his deeds and intentions he will either go directly to Paradise, to Hell, or to the Heights in between. If a believer is sent to Hell, I believe he will eventually be taken out, but the kafir or mushrik will not be. This is how I understand the justice part, but I do not deny Allah's (swt) ability to have mercy on whomsoever He pleases, even to the point of forgiveness because a person gave a thirsty dog some water.
    Here comes this huge contradiction, as well as being just, God is also merciful and forgiving but how do you make truthful sense of justice, punishment, mercy and forgiveness, which is the greatest attribute? I believe that in Islam you are taught you have the right to demand justice, but if you are merciful and forgive, then you have chosen the greater path. Would this be because Allah also advocates mercy and forgiveness as the greater path for himself?
    This brought to mind this hadith, Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, "When Allah created the Creation, He wrote in His Book--and He wrote (that) about Himself, and it is placed with Him on the Throne--'Verily My mercy overcomes My Anger.'"
    God has the power to say your sins are forgiven, and they would be forgiven, there is no need for any atonement, again this is beyond my understanding because God gave us Christian scriptures saying Christ died so that my sins might be forgiven.
    I understand how Christians accept the Bible as God's inspired Word, but do the scriptures quote Jesus saying this? It brings to mind a lecture I heard by a Christian, Les Feldick, about 'Paul's Gospel'. He pretty much reiterated what William Newell wrote over 50 years ago. I can't remember if I have referred this to you before, but you may be interested in reading his writing at http://www.middletownbiblechurch.org/dispen/newell.htm
    It seems that if anyone was to teach me about forgiveness, it is done in a greater way by life situations that they have experienced themselves. The ways of God are beyond my understanding and they keep me searching, I can only say how these scriptures affect me.
    I agree that there is much beyond our understanding. I find that my interactions here helps me to grow as I consider the perspective of others, particularly Christians. Likewise, I am hopeful that our interactions have been beneficial to you in understanding my faith.

    I am reminded of Qur'an 5:82 Verily, you will find the strongest among men in enmity to the believers (Muslims) the Jews and those who are Al-Mushrikun and you will find the nearest in love to the believers (Muslims) those who say: "We are Christians." That is because amongst them are priests and monks, and they are not proud.
    Last edited by MustafaMc; 09-25-2012 at 01:26 AM.

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