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At Tawwaab is one of the Names of Allah. It is part of the 99 Names of God, by which Muslims regard God and which are traditionally maintained as described in the Qur'ān, and Sunnah, amongst other places.
The word "tawwaab" is said to come from the root t-w-b which has the following classical Arabic connotations: to return; to return to goodness, to repent; to be restored or to be repeatedly summoned or called. The Attribute, At Tawwaab, is therefore translated as "The Acceptor of Repentance".
In his book, "Al-Maqsad Al-Asna fi Sharah Asma' Allahu al-Husna" (aka The best means in explaining Allah's Beautiful Names), Imam Al Ghazali translates At Tawwaab as "He Who Constantly Turns Man to Repentance". He states that At Tawwaab is "the One Who keeps on facilitating the causes of repentance for His creatures time and time again by showing them some of His signs, by conveying to them some of His Warnings and by revealing to them some of His deterrents and cautions with the Intent that they, having been apprised of the dangers of their sins, might be filled with fear by His frightening them and subsequently turn to repentance. Through (His) accepting (the evidence of their penitence), the Favor of God Most High (once again) reverts to them."
Others try to explain this Attribute by stating that Allah is the One Who beckons for our return, the One Who forgives those who return to goodness, the One Who restores to grace those who repent and the One Who forgives those who forgive others.
It is interesting to note that the other Attributes of Allah such as Al Haleem, Al Ghaffar, Al Ghaffur and Al-Afuw give the impression that asking forgiveness for one's sin is different from seeking repentance. At Tawwaab seems to require a necessary step for forgiveness. An individual must make a sincere attempt to repent for a sin and vow not to return to it.
Occurrence in the Quran
The Attribute of At Tawwaab occurs frequently in the Quran in various ayat. For example, it can be found in the verses 2:128, 4:64, 9:104, 49:12, 110:3.
Concept of Allah's Forgiveness
When reading "one-word" translations of the Attributes or Names of Allah, one can wonder why there are certain Attributes that are very similar. For example, Al Ghaffar, Al Ghaffur, Al Haleem, Al-Afuw and At Tawwab all seem to belong to the concept of forgiveness. One may ask why there are so many Attributes that deal with one subject. This can be better understood if a person uses the analogy of color. For example, when dealing with children, a typical crayon box will have the basic fundamental colors, such as black, white, blue, green, red etc. However, a person with knowledge knows that one color can have many different shades. When taking the color "blue" into account, it can range from various shades. The child does not understand the concept of different shades of "one" color until he either learns from a teacher or experiences them. Likewise, though forgiveness can be deemed as one subject, Allah was many different "shades" of Attributes that deal with forgiveness. It is very, very important to keep in mind that one Attribute of Allah should not be deemed "inferior" to another Attribute.
When contemplating how Allah deals with an individual's forgiveness, the root definition of each of these words help a great deal. In general, an individual has sins that he is aware of and sins that he is not aware of. Al Haleem has been explained to mean that Allah is Forbearing and Clement, where He gives an individual respite, or time to ask Him for forgiveness. Allah is not in haste to punish an individual for his sins. He even at times overlooks sins due to His Attribute of Haleem. Al Ghaffur has been described as meaning Allah is "The Most Forgiving One". He forgives a particular sin, no matter how large it may be. If the person returns to the same sin, Allah is Al Ghaffar, The Very Forgiving One. Al Ghaffar gives the notion that Allah continuously and repetitively forgives an individual for his sins. If an individual returns to Allah and asks for repentance, it can be accepted due to Allah's Attribute of being Tawwab, the Acceptor of Repentance. Once Allah accepts the repentance of an individual through His Infinite Mercy, He can erase the sin altogether because of His Attribute, Affuw. It would be as though there is no sin at all. Since man is not perfect, he repetitively sins and asks for forgiveness and seeks repentance, so the cycle of Forgiveness can repeat from Allah.