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Surah Nisa Verse 17 : "The repentance accepted by Allah is only for those who do wrong in ignorance [or carelessness] and then repent soon after. It is those to whom Allah will turn in forgiveness, and Allah is ever Knowing and Wise"

Hence, if a child steals in ignorance and unknowingly , but further his parents teach him that stealing is bad, and even after been warned once, if that child steals once more, then he must not be given forgiveness. No matter how much he repent afterwards, he'll never be forgived because Quran says that forgiveness is only for those who hadn't done it knowingly. Even a single sin , if committed, must not be forgiven, if the person who did it was aware of this.Right?

So, Allah's forgiveness is limited for those who committed unknowingly.But I have seen many people ( including me) who forgive people even if they did very harsh things with those intentionally .So are those humans more forgiving than God? Or what those people did was not Quran's forgiveness and they did a sin by doing so?

On this similar question : Interpretation/translation of An-Nisa 4:17 , the top answer says that all sin are in ignorant, which I strongly disagree. If all the sins are ignorance, then why the word ignorance is used . Of course, Quran is not a arabic language tutorial and this verse was not made to amend the meaning of ignorance of the previous arabic language. Or was it?

(P.S.:Of course, I should not say a non-muslim that some Quran's verses do oppose and contradict each others . So don't give a reference which opposes this verse.The reason for such a attacking accent of question is because I want a solid and convincing answer so that I can explain a non-muslim if he argue with me about this later)

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  • Can reason of downvote be explained?
    – Answer_Me
    Commented Sep 13, 2022 at 13:10

1 Answer 1

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You wrote:

Even a single sin , if committed, must not be forgiven, 
if the person who did it was aware of this. Right?

Wrong. This verse is not interpreted that way. Interpreting it like that would cause contradictions with much of the Quran and Hadith. For example, Allah says:

لا تقنطوا من رحمة الله إن الله يغفر الذنوب جميعا

Do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins.

Quran 39:53

This verse implies that one should not despair of Allah's mercy, as He can forgive all sins on repentance. If your interpretation is accepted then people should despair of His Mercy as He will only forgive those sins which were done because of unawareness, and He will not even accept repentance for anything else - so what else can such people do except despair?

Moreover, Allah says:

وتوبوا إلى الله جميعا أيه المؤمنون لعلكم تفلحون

And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed.

Quran 24:31

This implies that all the believers who repent can be successful. If your interpretation is accepted then this verse is nullified since Allah would never accept repentance except of those who were unaware.

Similarly, Allah says that He will accept the repentance of murderers (25:68-70), adulterers (4:16) , thieves (5:39) and robbers (5:34) - all of these crimes are considered wrong by human intellect and hence no sane person can be 'unaware' that they are wrong.

And Allah also forgave the apostates who repented:

كيف يهدي الله قوما كفروا بعد إيمانهم وشهدوا أن الرسول حق وجاءهم البينات ... إلا الذين تابوا من بعد ذلك وأصلحوا فإن الله غفور رحيم

How shall Allah guide a people who disbelieved after their belief and had witnessed that the Messenger is true and clear signs had come to them? ... Except for those who repent after that and correct themselves.

Quran 3:86-89

An apostate used to be a Muslim, so he at least knows that denying Islam is haram as it is a basic teaching. And further this verse says that they had witnessed the truth and signs - so obviously the apostate here is not unaware and yet his repentance is accepted.

There are many other examples, such as the repentance of the Israelites who worshiped the calf (Quran 2:54 having been informed beforehand: Quran 7:138-140) and the repentance of Ka'b bin Malik (Quran 9:118, who presented no excuse for his negligence: Bukhari and Muslim).

The correct interpretation of 4:17 is already adequately covered by the answers here Interpretation/translation of An-Nisa 4:17. You should carefully read those answers and try to understand them. The replies are based on the sayings of the Sahaba, the Tabieen and the experts of interpretation of the Quran. If you disagree with them, then it is more than likely that you lack understanding.

As mentioned in the answer, ignorance is not limited to lack of knowledge, rather the word is also used for carelessness (which is also stated in the translation quoted in your question). As an example:

قال رب السجن أحب إلي مما يدعونني إليه وإلا تصرف عني كيدهن أصب إليهن وأكن من الجاهلين

He said, "My Lord, prison is more to my liking than that to which they invite me. And if You do not avert from me their plan, I might incline toward them and [thus] be of the ignorant."

Quran 12:33

If 'ignorance' only means lack of knowledge, then why does Joseph say that he would become of the ignorant if he inclines towards them? Do you suppose that he would lose his memory? No, rather it means that he would become of those who are negligent.

You wrote:

If all the sins are ignorance, then why the word ignorance is used . 

The phrase "in ignorance" is not used a condition but news of what happens predominantly. It is valid to use such a phrase as a description without changing the meaning of the remainder of the text. To quote some other examples:

  • لا تقتلوا أولادكم من إملاق

    Do not kill your children out of poverty

    Quran 6:151

    Here "out of poverty" is not a condition but mentions what usually happens. It is understood that killing children is forbidden, even if it is not because of fear of poverty.

  • لا تكرهوا فتياتكم على البغاء إن أردن تحصنا

    Do not compel your slave girls to prostitution, if they desire chastity

    Quran 24:33

    Here "if they desire chastity" is not a condition but mentions what usually happens. It is understood that forcing anyone to prostitution is forbidden, even if they do not wish to be chaste.

  • لا تأكلوا الربا أضعافا مضاعفة

    Do not consume usury, doubled and multiplied

    Quran 3:130

    Here "doubled and multiplied" is not a condition, but mentions the usual case. It is understood that usury is forbidden even if it is less than double.

  • وإن كنتم على سفر ولم تجدوا كاتبا فرهان مقبوضة

    And if you are on a journey and cannot find a scribe, then a security deposit [should be] taken.

    Quran 2:283

    Here "if you are on a journey" is not a condition, but mentions the usual reason for not finding a scribe. It is understood that security deposit can be taken even when one is not traveling.

  • وربائبكم اللاتي في حجوركم من نسائكم اللاتي دخلتم بهن

    (Forbidden are) your step-daughters under your guardianship [born] of your wives unto whom you have gone in.

    Quran 4:23

    Here "under your guardianship" is not a condition but mentions the usual case. It is understood that step-daughters are mahrams even if you do not raise them in your house.

And there are many examples of such within the Quran.

Hence, when Allah says:

إنما التوبة على الله للذين يعملون السوء بجهالة ثم يتوبون من قريب فأولئك يتوب الله عليهم وكان الله عليما حكيما

The repentance accepted by Allah is only for those who do wrong in ignorance [or carelessness] and then repent soon after.

Quran 4:17

وليست التوبة للذين يعملون السيئات حتى إذا حضر أحدهم الموت قال إني تبت الآن ولا الذين يموتون وهم كفار أولئك أعتدنا لهم عذابا أليما

But repentance is not [accepted] of those who [continue to] do evil deeds up until, when death comes to one of them, he says, "Indeed, I have repented now," or of those who die while they are disbelievers. For them We have prepared a painful punishment.

Quran 4:18

Here "who do wrong in ignorance" is not a condition, but describes the fact that all (most) sins are done either in unawareness or in carelessness. This is evident as even the intentional sinner fails to give proper attention to the consequences, hence he is being careless, negligent and foolish - all of which are called ignorance.

The condition is that the repentance be done soon. And this is further elaborated by the next verse that soon means before death is certain. Hence, this verse means that Allah forgives all sins on repentance - the only condition is that the repentance must happen before death is certain.

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  • "but describes the fact that all (most) sins are done either in unawareness or in carelessness. This is evident as even the intentional sinner fails to give proper attention to the consequences, hence he is being careless, negligent and foolish - all of which are called ignorance " My actual question was this. Thanks very much for your detailed answer. But still I cannot understand that all sins are ignorant. Many a times we can easily figure the consequence of sin. There are rarely any sins we have committed that we don't know of consequence.
    – Answer_Me
    Commented Sep 14, 2022 at 3:55
  • I don't think that unawareness should not necessarily mean unawareness of consequences. It shall mean awareness of the sense that what is wrong and right. Can you please append your answer and explain more on this part as this part is the central confusion. Thanks for the detailed answer.
    – Answer_Me
    Commented Sep 14, 2022 at 3:57
  • It is not being unaware of the consequences, it is being negligent of the consequences. An intentional sinner disregards the consequences when he commits the sin.
    – UmH
    Commented Sep 14, 2022 at 4:46
  • Being negligent means being fearless of the consequences, right ? Also, you said that it is valid to use the word 'ignorance' without changing it's meaning, and you gave nice examples illustrating this. But, please tell that why God used extra words if he could explain it more simply? Why Won't the more concise form be written? Is there really a mystery about it or it's just like as normal poets use figures of speech, etc. to attract people about their texts? Thanks . Please reply.
    – Answer_Me
    Commented Sep 14, 2022 at 7:46

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