Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Does Allah Repent After All?

Exposing More of Ibn Anwar’s Lies and Deceptions

Sam Shamoun

Leading Muslim taqiyyist Ibn Anwar has again attempted to defend his god and scripture by producing a “response” to my article concerning Allah repenting and changing his mind. His recent “rebuttal” is much like his embarrassing and failed attempt of trying to explain away the fact that his god worships and prays. It is also similar to his feeble effort of seeking to convince others that the Quran doesn’t mistakenly identify Jesus’ mother with Moses’ sister.

What makes this particular “answer” rather interesting is that he fails to provide a link to my article which would allow his readers to see just how desperate and weak his reply truly is. Nor does he bother to mention the fact that I have written several articles where I take the common Muslim attack on the Biblical depiction of God “repenting” and turn it against the Islamic corpus, as well as address the feeble attempts of other Muslim apologists who, like Ibn Anwar, tried (but failed) to prove that Allah isn’t an imperfect being that repents and changes his mind just like creatures do:

The taqiyyist then goes on a tirade by attacking my character, falsely labeling me as the ring leader of Answering Islam, in order to poison the well. He further comes up with excuses why he and his fellow dawagandists choose not to engage our site, which is simply his indirect way of admitting that he is incapable of providing meaningful and cogent rebuttals to our arguments. Ibn Anwar realizes that he has to resort to this level of ad hominem in order to mask over his rather inept rebuttals, which have only gotten him in worse trouble since they provide clear evidence that this taqiyyist has no business engaging in apologetics or polemics. In fact, Ibn Anwar was doing a much better job proving that Muhammad was a false prophet, and Islam a false religion, than he has been at defending the lies of Islam, just as the following recordings show:

Ibn Anwar gets one thing right, yet is terribly wrong, AGAIN! 1/4, 2/4, 3/4, 4/4.

So when Ibn Anwar decides to apostatize from Islam again he can then return to proving that Muhammad was a deceiver who was sent to mislead people away from the true God. At least that way he will have a better chance of getting people to take his arguments seriously.

Another lie which Ibn Anwar tries to foist upon his readers is to classify my article on Allah repenting as tu quoque, thereby giving the misleading impression that instead of responding to the Muslim attacks on the Holy Bible, all I did was turn the argument around by merely attacking the Quran. That this lie is easily refuted can be seen from the fact that the article, which Ibn Anwar is supposedly responding to, was actually the second part of my reply to another Muslim taqiyyist named MENJ who runs a website called Bismikaallahuma. The first part of my rebuttal dealt extensively with MENJ’s false claim that the Biblical God is imperfect since he is said to change his mind: Does Yahweh Change His Mind and Can He Lie?

Did Ibn Anwar really think he would get away with such a boldfaced lie?

It gets a lot worse for this taqiyyist since the remainder of his article is nothing more than a textbook example of appealing to authority, as well as straw man argumentation.

He provides a list of English translations to show that none of them translated the Arabic words taba and tawwab in the manner which I did. What makes this rather ironic, if not outright comical, is that Muslims are often ranting about how the Quran can only be understood and explained on the basis of the Arabic, since that is the language which it was supposedly “revealed” in. And they never tire from reminding us that an English translation is not the Quran, nor can it be labeled a translation, since the Muslim scripture is basically untranslatable. This is why they call such translations the interpretation of the meaning of the Quran.

The fact is that these Arabic words are the very ones which denote repentance and changing one’s mind and/or course of action, just as the following lexical source confirms:

= Ta-Waw-Ba = To RETURN; REPENT; TURN ONE’S SELF IN A REPENTANT MANNER (with ila or without it), TURN with mercy (with ala), ADAPT.

taba vb. (1)

perfect active state: [2:37, 2:54, 2:160, 2:187, 2:279, 3:89, 4:16, 4:18, 4:146, 5:34, 5:39, 5:71, 6:54, 7:143, 7:153, 9:3, 9:5, 9:11, 9:117 (x2), 9:118, 11:112, 16:119, 19:60, 20:82, 20:122, 24:5, 25:70, 25:71, 28:67, 40:7, 46:15, 58:13, 73:20]

imperfect active state - [2:160, 3:128, 4:17 (x2), 4:26, 4:27, 5:39, 5:74, 9:15, 9:27, 9:74, 9:102, 9:106, 9:118, 9:126, 25:71, 33:24, 33:73, 49:11, 66:4, 85:10]

imperative state - [2:54, 2:128, 11:3, 11:52, 11:61, 11:90, 24:31, 66:8, noun verb - 3:90, 4:17, 4:18, 4:92, 9:104, 40:3, 42:25, 66:8, participle active - 9:112, 66:5]

matab, noun masculine - [13:30, 25:71]

tawwab, noun masculine - [2:37, 2:54, 2:128, 2:160, 2:222, 4:16, 4:64, 9:104, 9:118, 24:10, 49:12, 110:3]

Lane's Lexicon, Volume 1, page: 358 (Project Root List; capital emphasis ours)

All that the readers have to do is to simply go over the list of passages to see that the Quran uses these terms to describe turning away from something and/or turning towards something else. The only time when these words are often translated by Muslims to mean something other than repenting or changing one’s mind/actions is when they are used in relation to Allah!   

This brings me to my next point. The taqiyyist cites translations which prefer to render these Arabic terms with words such as relenting or turning, as if this somehow refutes the fact that Allah actually repents according to the Quran!

Doesn’t this dawagandist realize that to speak of Allah relenting or turning away from and/or towards someone implies that Allah changed his mind and/or his course of action?

In fact, some of the very translations, which the taqiyyist quoted only partially, confirm that this is precisely what these terms mean whenever the Quran speaks of Allah relenting or turning:

And when Moses said unto his people, o my people, verily ye have injured your own souls, by your taking the calf [for your God]; therefore be TURNED unto your Creator, and slay those among you [who have been guilty of that crime]; this will be better for you in the sight of your Creator; and [thereupon] he TURNED unto you, for he is easy to be reconciled, and merciful. S. 2:54 Sale

And remember when Moses said to his people, "O my people! verily ye - have sinned to your own hurt, by your taking the calf to worship it: Be TURNED then to your creator, and slay the guilty among you; this will be best for you with your creator:" Then TURNED He unto you, for He is the one who turneth, the Merciful: Rodwell

Do the readers see how the word “turn(ed)” is applied to both Allah and creatures in the same context of Allah demanding individuals to repent or turn away from their wickedness, and to turn to him in belief? Would anyone deny that this act of turning is a clear act of repentance?

Here are a few more versions:

And when Musa said to his people, ´My people, You wronged yourselves by adopting the Calf so TURN towards your Maker and kill yourselves. That is the best thing for you in your Maker´s sight.´ And He TURNED towards you. He is the Ever-Returning, the Most Merciful. Aisha Bewley

The above reads the same way as the previous two versions. And:

And [recall] when Moses said to his people, ‘O my people! You have indeed wronged yourselves by taking up the Calf [for worship]. Now TURN PENITENTLY to your Maker, and slay [the guilty among] your folks. That will be better for you with your Maker.’ Then He TURNED to you CLEMENTLY. Indeed He is the All-clement, the All-merciful. Ali Quli Qara’i

Notice, once again, that these translations speak of both Allah and creatures turning, with the latter doing so in penitence and recognition of their sins, while the former doing it in clemency. This implies that, much like those who turned from their sins had to have had a change of mind and course of action in order to do so, in a similar fashion Allah must have also changed his mind and the course of action that he intended to take against those who were sinning against him. There is simply no way around this.


Remember, Moses said: "My people, by taking this calf you have done yourselves harm, so now TURN to your Creator in repentance, and kill your pride, which is better with your Lord." And (the Lord) SOFTENED towards you, for He is all-forgiving and merciful. Ahmed Ali

Again, the fact that Allah is said to have become softened towards those who repented to him implies a change of emotion and action. It shows that Allah went from a state of not being soft to becoming so, i.e. Allah went from being angry towards these folks to being compassionate and merciful.

The foregoing versions were taken from this link.

The dawagandist gets even more desperate when he cites authorities who claim that taba and tawwab actually mean that Allah is forgiving and accepts the repentance of his creatures!

There are two major problems with this argument. First, these very same authorities candidly admit that these words do in fact mean repentance:

The Christian scholar of the Arabic language Edward William Lane in his lexical entry has the following comprehensive explanation:

“(M.)- تاب الله عليه God RETURNED to forgiveness towards him; BECAME AGAIN forgiving to him: (T: ) or disposed, or adapted, him to repentance, or RETURNING FROM sin or disobedience: (S, K: ) or REVERTED FROM severity to mildness towards him: or RETURNED to him with his favour, or grace, and his acceptance, or approbation; BECAME AGAIN propitious to him: (A, K: ) all these meanings are correct: (TA: ) or God forgave him, and saved him from acts of disobedience: (Msb: ) or accepted his repentance: (Jel in ii. 35&c. : ) or RETURNED TOWARDS him with mercy, and acceptance of repentance. (Bd ibid.)

تواب, applied to a man, [One who REPENTS much or often;] RETURNING FROM disobedience to obedience [to God] (M, K, TA) much or often. (TA.) – And applied to God, One WHO RETURNS [MUCH OR OFTEN] to forgiveness towards his servant who returns unto Him: (T: ) or who [often] disposes, or adapts, to repentance, or RETURNING FROM sin or disobedience; or REVERTS FROM severity to mildness; or RETURNS with his favour or grace, &c. : (A, K : [see 1, last sentence: ]) or who forgives much, and saves from acts of disobedience. (Msb.)” [34] (Capital emphasis ours)


The foremost German Arabic scholar Hahns [sic] Wehr has the following definition:

“(توب) تاب taba u (توب taub, توبة tauba, متاب matab) TO REPENT, BE PENITENT, do penance; with عن: TO TURN FROM (sin), BE CONVERTED FROM, renounce, forswear; (said of God) to restore to His grace, forgive (على s.o.) |…” [35] (bold emphasis added) (Capital emphasis ours)


Abu Ja’far said regarding the explanation of Allah’s saying (Indeed He is Most Forgiving and Most Merciful) means that Allah is the Goid [sic] who is Most Forgiving to those who wish to repent to Him by giving full obedience to Him and avoid rebellion against Him. This is the meaning of THE TAWBAH OF A SERVANT to his Lord. Whilst the meaning of ALLAH’S TAWBAH upon His servant is that He forgives him and protects/preserves him from His wrath/punishment.”(Capital emphasis ours)

Notice how Ibn Anwar’s own sources candidly admit that the Arabic words in question do mean to repent, to return, to revert, to turn from, be converted from etc., even when they are applied to Allah, and that both Allah and creatures do in fact perform tawbah! And yet some of these authorities want us to actually believe that these very words all of a sudden mean something different when they are applied to Allah, without providing any solid explanation or exegetical reasons why we should.

It is obvious that such assertions are based on nothing more than circular reasoning since the authorities assume a view of Allah, i.e. that he is unchanging and perfect in his knowledge, which they proceed to then read back into the Quran in order to explain away the fact that the Islamic scripture unambiguously describes him as an imperfect and capricious being.

Second, there are other words which could have been used if the point of these verses was to simply highlight the fact that Allah is a forgiving god who accepts the repentance of his servants. Here is a list of just some of these terms:   

Al-Ghâfir, Al-Ghafûr; Al-Ghaffar: The Forgiving, The Ever-Forgiving,
The Endlessly Forgiving

Al-Ghafir who pardons a particular sin; Al-Ghafur who is in the habit of forgiving sins and covering them up; Al-Ghaffar is the One who does not cease to pardon them, one after the other. Ghafr, in the root, means to cover, veil, so to make hidden (unlike 'afw, to efface), not to punish, to cause them to be undisclosed. The One who covers and forgives the sins of His servants.

Al-Ghafur and Al-Ghaffur are two of the Ninety-Nine Names…

As-Sâtir, As-Sattâr: The Veiler

The One who often veils sins, also leaves them unpunished; the Protector

In hadith, "Allah is Living and Veiling and loves the protective veil.”…

Al-'Afuw: The All-Pardoning

He who makes disappear, effaces; also has the meaning of fadl, superfluous and so it is resembles Al-Wahhab and Al-Jawad. He forgives much. He passes over wrong actions and pardons faults. More far-reaching than Al-Ghafur, which is veiling. 'Afw is effacing.

Al-'Afuw is one of the Ninety-Nine Names…

At-Tawwâb: The Ever-Returning

Allah TURNING to man is by pardoning him; One WHO RETURNS OFTEN to forgiveness towards His servant WHO RETURNS TO HIM, One who forgives much and saves from acts of disobedience, WHO REVERTS FROM SEVERITY TO MILDNESS OR RETURNS TO HIS FAVOUR. He returns blessings to those who turn to Him from wrong actions by pure bounty and care. He accepts the tawba of His slaves.

At-Tawwab is one of the Ninety-Nine Names…

Qâbil at-Tawb: He Who Accepts Repentance

(Aisha Bewley, Divine Names; capital emphasis ours)

Note how even this Muslim source agrees that at-tawwab describes Allah as one who turns and returns often, as well as someone who reverts!

As the above list of divine names shows, there were plenty of other words which the Muslim scripture could have used to denote the fact that Allah is a forgiving being who accepts his servants’ repentance, phrases and expressions which even appear in the Quran itself:

Except for those who repent after that and do righteous deeds. Verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving (ghafoorun), Most Merciful (raheemun). S. 3:89 Hilali-Khan 

Yet I am All-forgiving (la’ghaffarun) to him who repents (taba) and believes, and does righteousness, and at last is guided.' S. 20:82 Arberry

That is so. And if anyone inflicts an injury the same as the one done to him and then is again oppressed, Allah will come to his aid. Allah is All-Pardoning, Ever-Forgiving (Allaha la’afuwwun ghafoorun). S. 22:60 Aisha Bewley 

The Forgiver of sin (Ghafiri al-thanbi), the Accepter of repentance (wa’qabili al-tawbi), the Stern in punishment, the Bountiful. There is no God save Him. Unto Him is the journeying. S. 40:3 Pickthall

Yet, unfortunately for this taqiyyist, the Quran chose to use the words which always mean to repent, to change one’s mind/action etc, thereby depicting the Muslim god as an imperfect being who changes his mind and repents from doing what he initially wanted to do.

Examples of verses where repentance is ascribed to both Allah and creatures

We are now going to provide a few examples where the Quran uses the same words for repentance for both Allah and creatures:


Will they not turn to God (yatooboona ila Allahi) and pray His forgiveness? God is All-forgiving, All-compassionate. S. 5:74 Arberry


And will take away the wrath of their hearts. God will be turned (wa’yatoobu) unto whom He will: and God is Knowing, Wise. S. 9:15 Rodwell

then God thereafter turns (yatoobu) towards whom He will; God is All-forgiving, All-compassionate (wa’Allahu ghafoorun raheemun). S. 9:27 Arberry


And as for the two of you who are guilty thereof, punish them both. And if they repent (taba) and improve, then let them be. Lo! Allah is ever relenting, Merciful. S. 4:16 Pickthall

Save him who shall repent (taba) and believe and do right. Such will enter the Garden, and they will not be wronged in aught - S. 19:60 Pickthall


And they supposed there should be no trial; but blind they were, and deaf. Then God turned (taba) towards them; then again blind they were, many of them, and deaf; and God sees the things they do. S. 5:71

God has now turned (taba) towards the prophet and those who fled with him, and towards the helpers who followed him in the hour of difficulty, after that the hearts of a part of them had well-nigh gone amiss. Then He turned (taba) unto them; verily to them He is kind and merciful:- S. 9:117 Palmer


And He it is Who accepteth repentance (yaqbalu al-tawbata) from His bondmen, and pardoneth the evil deeds, and knoweth what ye do, S. 42:25 Pickthall


“Know they not that Allah is He Who accepteth repentance (yaqbalu al-tawbata) from His bondmen and taketh the alms, and that Allah is He Who is the Relenting (Allaha huwa al-tawwabu), the Merciful.” S. 9:104 Pickthall

And to the three also (did He turn in mercy) who were left behind, when the earth, vast as it is, was straitened for them, and their own souls were straitened for them till they bethought them that there is no refuge from Allah save toward Him. Then turned (taba) He unto them in mercy that they (too) might turn (liyatooboo) (repentant unto Him). Lo! Allah! He is the Relenting (huwa al-tawwabu), the Merciful. S. 9:118 Pickthall

These references show that Allah performs taba and tawwab, much like the way creatures do.

Hence, the Quran depicts Allah as a being who repents like creatures do, turns or changes his mind and/or course of actions like creatures do, and even prays and worships like creatures do!

The only way around these facts is to simply deny that this is what these words or verses mean on the grounds that Allah is a perfect deity who knows all things, and therefore doesn’t need to literally repent and/or change his mind. However, this method of argumentation is nothing more than question begging, as well as eisegesis, since it is reading back into the Muslim scripture the later theological formulations and assumptions of Muslim clerics concerning what the Islamic god is supposedly like. 

Now if this is the route that taqiyyists like Ibn Anwar want to take then they need to be up front with their readers by admitting the fact that they are not doing exegesis, i.e. interpreting the Quran in its own light, but twisting it in order to force it to agree with their beliefs. They need to further acknowledge that the Quran is not the eloquent masterpiece as they claim, but an unintelligible and chaotic book which depicts the Muslim deity in a very unfavorable manner.

The taqiyyist needs to face reality by accepting the fact that the Quran, as it presently exists, portrays Allah as an imperfect being, and not like the god depicted by later Islamic theology.

However, to put things in perspective, we need to reiterate the following point: The goal of our articles and rebuttals wasn’t to prove that Allah actually repents and changes his mind. Rather, our point was to show Muslims what would happen when we apply their critical reading of the Holy Bible to their own religious texts. If these dawagandists insist on reading the Holy Bible unsympathetically in order to present it in the worst possible light, then they need to be consistent and do the same for their own religious texts, especially when the very same “problems” which they imagine are there in the Holy Bible are also present within their own sources.  

Hence, if dawagandists refuse to allow biblical depictions of God “repenting,” or grieving over the wickedness committed by his creatures, to be understood in the over all context of the inspired Scriptures which affirm that God is unchangeable and perfectly knows all things, then they cannot complain when we apply the same standard and method of interpretation to the Quran. If they want to insist that such statements portray God as an imperfect being, then they must be consistent and assume the same thing for their god, especially when their own scriptures use the same language to describe the actions and knowledge of their deity. They have absolutely no grounds to whine or complain whenever we employ their own standards and criticisms to establish that the Islamic deity is an imperfect, capricious being who is constantly changing his mind and course of action.  

However, if they want non-Muslims to read such passages in light of the overall message of the Quran that Allah is perfect and does not change, then they must do the same when it comes to their reading of the Holy Bible. They need to employ the same method of exegesis to the Holy Bible that they expect others to use when it comes to interpreting the Quran. As one of the Muslims whom I debated on this issue stated in response to my method of interpreting the Islamic scripture:

I completely agree that the understanding of God of the Bible is not viewed trough [sic] literal reading of verses. I personally never took Gen 6:6 as a real issue, after all, there are many verses in the Bible where God is omniscient. So we should have a balanced view and interpret these verses in light of clear verses about God's attributes. Something that Sam doesn't want to exercise [sic] in his reading of Islamic sources. I have only objected when Sam uses Tu Quoque fallacy, trying to prove that Allah repents in the Quran, distorting the Arabic language in the process. And even then, I did not respond, but when Dr James White picked the same blunder, I felt that I should step in. I have just given them a lesson of basic Arabic.

July 8, 2011 7:27 PM (Bold emphasis ours)

It is ironic that this Muslim falsely accused me of not interpreting problematic passages of the Quran in the way that I would do so for the Holy Bible, when the whole point of my rebuttal was to get Muslims to do the same exact thing for the problematic texts in the Holy Bible! In the case of this Muslim, my approach worked since it got him to acknowledge that passages in the Holy Bible which refer to God “repenting” should not be taken literally, but interpreted in light of the clear cut texts which affirm that God is omniscient. 

In light of the foregoing, it is apparent that Ibn Anwar’s long rant is nothing more than an exercise in straw man argumentation, since my purpose was never to prove that Allah literally repents or changes his mind. Rather, the goal of my rebuttal was to give Muslims a taste of their own medicine in order to show them what would happen if we apply the same attacks and criticisms against God's inspired Word, the Holy Bible, to their respective texts. As Ibn Anwar himself could see, the results wouldn’t be so good since their god wouldn’t come out looking like the perfect, unchangeable being that they think he is.

So much for Ibn Anwar’s rebuttal.