Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine


 JAMADI-AWWAL / JAMADI THANI
JUNE 2004
Volume 17-06 No : 210

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Our Dialogue


Repentance and Committing the Same Sin
Overdue Share of Inheritance
God or Allah

Repentance and Committing the Same Sin

Question: When a person commits a sin and repents, declaring that he would not go back to it again, he expects to be forgiven by God. What would be his position if despite his repentance, he commits the same sin again? Should this happen several times, does it mean that his repentance is not accepted by God? WHat if the sin in question is one of the gravest type, such as adultery?

Commentary by Adil Salahi

A. Several are the Qur’anic verses that speak of God’s forgiveness being so very generous that it could include all sins, no matter how grave they may be, provided that the person concerned believes in God’s oneness and does not associate partners with Him. This is summed up in the Qur’anic verse that says: “For a certainty, God does not forgive that partners should be associated with Him, but He forgives any lesser sin to whomever He wills. He who associates partners with God has indeed gone far astray.” (4: 116).

What is needed to earn forgiveness is a genuine repentance, which means that one really and genuinely regrets having committed the sin in question, and a strong resolve not to repeat it in future. If a person fulfils these two conditions and earnestly prays to God for forgiveness, then God will forgive him, if He so wills, provided that He knows him to be honest in both his regret and his resolve. Should he, nevertheless, yield to temptation and commit the same sin again, he is back in the same position and needs to repent. God will forgive him again when his repentance is sincere and genuine.

This applies as many times as the same person yields to temptation, and subsequently repents, provided that each time, his repentance is sincere. God certainly knows our intentions and our inmost thoughts. We cannot hide anything from him. If He knows that a person who is saying to him, ‘I repent’, is not sincere, but harbors at the same time thoughts that he would still commit the same sin again if a chance arises, then God will not accept his verbal repentance because it is neither sincere nor genuine. We cannot deceive God. When we repent, we must make sure that our resolve to refrain from sin is strong and genuine. If a person fails in his resistance to temptation, despite his earlier genuine resolve, the earlier sin remains forgiven, and the new one may be forgiven when a new, sincere attempt at repentance is made.

All this applies to all types of sin, minor or major, provided always that we do not try to deceive God or deceive ourselves.

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Overdue Share of Inheritance

Question: My mother died when i was one year old, and my share of her inheritance was kept by my father. Although he should have paid it to me when i came of age, he did not until he died. Now, his other heirs insist that i could only get my mother's inheritance in the same amount it was when she died, rupee for rupee, although the rupee is now worth one-fiftieth of its value at the time. My inheritance also included shares in companies that are now out of business. What happens to this?

My maternal grandfather, who inherited from my mother, died only last year, but I was told that I inherit nothing from him, not even my mother's share. Is this true? Please comment.

A. What is important to realise in questions of inheritance is that God has apportioned the share of every heir, in all fairness and justice to all. It is up to people to see to it that what God has legislated is implemented. When they do not, they do wrong to themselves and others. They incur God's displeasure and they leave themselves liable to His punishment. The reader's father took his son's inheritance and should have invested it for him. He should have paid it out to him when he came of age. But he did not. Now, the reader is entitled to it in full, with any profits made by the father, if he had invested it in any way.

The claims of his father's other heirs that he is entitled to the nominal amount as was at the time of his mother's death is insupportable. In our modern times, currencies cannot be treated in absolute terms, because their value changes. Such changes are at times very drastic. Take the case of Lebanon during the civil war, or Iraq during the last 13 years. Their currencies retained only their names, but their values were unrecognizable. Before the civil war, one US dollar was worth 2.5 Lebanese liras, and at the end of it 1500 liras.

Why should anyone keep his son's inheritance for 33 years? There may be a case to do so if the father was very poor and needed the money to survive with his son, but I take it that this is not so in this case.

The father was well off, as the mother was. Hence, he could have either invested the money in some scheme, or in his own business. If the latter, the son is entitled to the profits made in this period. If it was invested in a scheme, the son is entitled to all the proceeds. Had the father bought his son an apartment or a shop and offered it for rent, the son would have had the rent all those years and the price of the property would have risen by more than the rate of inflation or the change in the value of the currency.

However, if the father did not invest it, but used it for his own needs, it remains a debt he owed to his son. The least the son should be paid now is the value of his inheritance as it was at the time. So, if he inherited 1000 rupees and they were worth $500 at that time, he should be paid now at least $500, even though this may be worth 30,000 rupees today. In this way, he would get back the principal amount of his loan which his father took. To give him anything less is to defraud him of his right.

As for the shares, I suppose he should claim any dividends or profits his father collected on his behalf during the period the companies were functioning. The principal amount, or the value of the shares, he should count as a dead loss because the companies concerned have gone out of business.

According to the major schools of Islamic thought, a grandchild does not inherit from his grandfather if the latter has children of his own. If a father survives any of his own children, the children of that deceased son or daughter do not inherit from their grandfather, if he leaves behind other sons. The grandfather should bequeath to those grandchildren a portion of his estate. However, a number of Muslim countries, such as Syria and Egypt, apply the principle of the compulsory will in this case, which considers that in such cases where the grandfather does not make such bequests, a compulsory will is deemed to exist. This gives the grandchildren concerned the lesser of the two amounts: either their parents' share had he or she survived, or one-third of the grandfather's property. I heard once that this is applicable in Pakistan. It may be so, but I may be wrong.

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God or Allah

Q: I have noticed that you use the word God in reference to Allah. May I ask why you do not stick to the name Allah, which is the Islamic one?

A. The Arabic word is Allah name in Arabic, while the English word also refers to Him in that language. Since we write in English, we use the English word. God says in the Qur’an: “Never have We sent a messenger otherwise than speaking the language of his own people, so that he might make (the truth) clear to them.” (14: 4) This means that every prophet used the name of God used in his own language.

This is only natural, because he needed to explain things to his people in complete clarity. If a prophet advocated belief in God’s oneness and used a different name of God, that would be confusing to the addressees.

If we insist on using the Arabic name, people who are not very familiar with Islam would think that we believe in a special God whom we call Allah. In order not to create such confusion, we use the English name of God.

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