Short Answer: God is merciful and at the same time He’s just. If we err against other human beings, we have to repair that wrong ourselves. If we commit a sin against God, then it’s within God’s prerogative to just simply forgive us. He does not require payment from anyone.
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Dr. Shabir Ally addresses this question in the video below:
Aisha Khaja: So, Dr. Shabir, the question that I have is how can God simply forgive with other payments being required?
Dr. Shabir Ally: Well in the Islamic understanding, God is merciful and at the same time He’s just.
His justice might seem to require that He takes the payment from somebody.
But that could occur if we’re looking at justice between individuals.
One individual’s got to pay for the wrong that they’ve done to another one. But too, at the same time, God has all kinds of resources and He can compensate a victim for the loss that they suffered.
And in that case, He can forgive the perpetrator as well.
Especially if the perpetrator has shown remorse and he wants to be forgiven and wants to repair and do the right things.
So, what we understand in the Islamic tradition is that if we err against other human beings, we have to repair that wrong ourselves by paying whatever penalty or something.
But if it so happens that we didn’t get around to it, we couldn’t have. Then we passed away, left the world not able to do it anymore, God can forgive us and He can compensate the victim.
Now if we err against God, a sin against God, then it’s within God’s prerogative to just simply forgive us.
He does not have to require the payment from anyone. And in fact, we think that for Him to require the payment would be contrary to forgiveness.
Forgiveness means really that nobody pays. And so, we understand God forgives us freely.
And to gain His forgiveness the best way is for us to repent and to repair our deeds to the best of our abilities.
I hope this helps answer your question. Please keep in touch.
(From Ask About Islam archives)
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