What are the differences between al-Ghufran (الغفران) and al-Maghfirah (المغفرة)?
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
Al-Quran is a book of miracles revealed by Allah SWT to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH through Gabriel AS. It also contains 1001 secrets for those who tadabbur (contemplate and ponder) on it. One of them is the virtue of the selection of words itself.
Addressing the above question, this series of Irsyad al-Hadith will explain the differences between al-Ghufran (الغفران) and al-Maghfirah (المغفرة) in the Quran. Before we go further, Imam al-Raghib al-Ashbahani stated that both al-Ghufran and al-Maghfirah mean Allah’s protection upon His servants from the Hellfire. [Refer: Mufradat Alfaz al-Quran, 609]. Besides, the phrase al-Ghufran (الغفران) is only mentioned once in the Quran which is in Surah al-Baqarah.
Allah SWT state:
وَقَالُوا سَمِعْنَا وَأَطَعْنَا ۖ غُفْرَانَكَ رَبَّنَا وَإِلَيْكَ الْمَصِيرُ
And they say, "We hear and we obey. [We seek] Your forgiveness, our Lord, and to You is the [final] destination."
Surah al-Baqarah (285)
While, the phrase al-Maghfirah (المغفرة) is mentioned 28 times in the Quran. Among them are:
وَاللَّـهُ يَدْعُو إِلَى الْجَنَّةِ وَالْمَغْفِرَةِ بِإِذْنِهِ
“…but Allah invites to Paradise and to forgiveness, by His permission,”
Surah al-Baqarah (221)
According to Dr Fadhil Soleh al-Samira’iy in his book, he mentioned the differences between the two words even if both of them means forgiveness. There are two differences mentioned on this matter, which are: [Refer: Min Asrar al-Bayan al-Qur’ani, 19]
- First: The phrase al-Ghufran is used in asking for forgiveness, which is during supplication, while the phrase al-Maghfirah is not used in supplicating.
- Second: The phrase al-Ghufran is solely owned by Allah. While, the phrase al-Maghfirah is more general which includes everything that comes from Allah or from other than Him. It can be seen through the saying of Allah SWT:
وَاللَّـهُ يَعِدُكُم مَّغْفِرَةً مِّنْهُ وَفَضْلًا
“While Allah promises you forgiveness from Him and bounty,”
Surah al-Baqarah (268)
This verse shows that forgiveness comes from Allah SWT. Meanwhile, in the next verses, it shows that forgiveness also comes from other than Him SWT.
The saying of Allah SWT in the Quran:
قَوْلٌ مَّعْرُوفٌ وَمَغْفِرَةٌ خَيْرٌ مِّن صَدَقَةٍ يَتْبَعُهَا أَذًى
“Kind speech and forgiveness are better than charity followed by injury.”
Surah al-Baqarah (263)
Hence, both phrases mean the same which is forgiveness. However, in terms of usage, the phrase al-Maghfirah is more general, not only limited to Allah SWT, but is also used by other than Allah SWT.
In conclusion, there are many miracles and secrets in the Quran as it is the words of Allah SWT. The reason is, each and every words or phrase used contain their own virtues and only those who truly tadabbur on them will get to know the essence of it. Lastly, may Allah SWT make us be among the ahl al-Quran and those who always love as well as practice its teaching in their daily life. Ameen.