Can repeated shirk be forgiven?

Yes. Allah may forgive repeated shirk.

The greatest and most grevious of sins is shirk: to associate others with Allaah in those things specific to him. Allaah said:

“Indeed idolatry is great injustice.” (31:1)

When Prophet Muhammad pbuh, was asked which sin is the greatest, he replied:

“To associate others with Allaah (thus making them a rival), while it was He Who created you.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Brief explanation of the types of shirk.

There are two types of shirk, the greater shirk and the lesser shirk.

A. The greater shirk (Major shirk شرک جلی) committing this type of shirk takes a person outside the fold of Islaam, and Allaah will never forgive it [1], as Allaah has said:

“Indeed Allaah does not forgive that one associates partner with Him, and he forgives other than that to whomever He Wills.” [4:48]

This type of shirk has four(4) subcategories:

1) shirk in worship and suppication

2) shirk in intention-desire and goal

3) shirk in obedience – which is obeying scholars in making unlawful what Allaah has made lawful or making lawful what He has made unlawful.

4) shirk in love- to love someone as Allaah should be loved.

B. The lesser shirk (Minor shirk شرک خفی) committing this type of shirk (although great) does not take one outside the fold of Islaam. An example of this type of shirk is hidden shirk which is (light) [2] showing off in one’s worship. Ar-Riya (showing off)

Examples of Lesser Shirk:

  1. Taking an oath in someone other than Allah’s Name. To swear in the Name of other than Allah.
  2. Venerating created beings, but not to the level of worshipping them.
  3. Wearing charms, talismans, and amulets for protection against the evil eye, bad luck and the like.
  4. Praying to Allah, but doing so next to a grave.
  5. Showing off (Ar-Riya) Doing worship to show-off and to earn the praise of other human beings.

There are several difference between the greater and lesser forms of shirk. Among the differences is that one who commits greater shirk is judged to be a disbeliever and will reside in the Hellfire forever, whereas one who commits lesser shirk is not judged as a disbeliever, and he will not reside in the Hellfire forever.

Another difference is the greater shirk renders all good deeds worthless, whereas lesser shirk renders worthless only that particular deed in which it is committed.

So repeated shirk i. e lesser shirk is mostly done by the slave who believes in Allah (not comitting major shirk) and if he/she repents sincerely so Allah may forgive as He is Al-Ghaffar, Al-Ghafoor the root word ‘Ghafara’ which means to cover up, shield and protect. Islamically, it means that Allah is the One who Forgives the sins, when a servant of Allah asks for forgiveness i.e., Maghfirah. Technically, forgiveness covers the sins with a covering which leaves no traits behind and no one knows about it. So Allah is Al-Ghaffar, Al-Ghafoor Al-Ghafoor is the The One who Forgives the sins no matter how huge it maybe (quality). While Al-Ghaffar refers to the One who Forgives the sins no matter how many they are (quantity). Conclusively, Al-Ghafoor can be translated as “the Oft-forgiving /Ever-forgiving” and Al-Ghaffar as “the All-Forgiving.” Every time when slave commit any sin so one should never despair of the Mercy of Allah. He must remember Allah is Al-Ghaffar and Al-Ghafoor. Whenever a servant of Allah sincerely asks for Allah’s forgiveness before death Allah (Glory be to Him) keeps on forgiving innumerably. The forgiveness is repeated as the servant repeats his Taubah.At-Tawwab: The Guide to Repentance It is Allah alone who can accept the repentance of His servants and is the true recipient of whatever is offered for His sake. Allah All-Mighty says:

“But indeed, I am the Perpetual Forgiver of whoever repents and believes and does righteousness and then continues in guidance.” (Surah at-Taha: 82)

And if someone has committed major sin too or whatever deeds one might have done in ones past, if one turns to Allah Subhanah in sincere Taubah and seeks forgiveness, Allah Subhanah has promised in the Holy Quran that He will forgive all the sins of such a repentant believer, even if one has committed the gravest sin of all: Shirk! Not only that, our Lord is so Merciful and Generous, that He not only will forgive the sins of such sincerely repentant believers, He will change their evil deeds done into good deeds!

{And those who, when they commit an immorality or wrong themselves [by transgression], remember Allah and seek forgiveness for their sins – and who can forgive sins except Allah? – And [who] do not persist in what they have done while they know. Those – their reward is forgiveness from their Lord and gardens beneath which rivers flow [in Paradise], wherein they will abide eternally; and excellent is the reward of the [righteous] workers.} [Quran 3: 135-136]

Even a righteous person may commit a grave major sin or do an immorality. Nevertheless, he immediately gives up the sin and returns to his Lord, seeking forgiveness and repentance. Remember Allah is Ever-forgiving and All-Forgiving

Consider this hadith Qudsi from the prophet where he said that Allah said:

“My slave commits sin, then he says, ‘O Allah, forgive me my sin.’ Then Allah says, ‘My slave has committed a sin, but he knows that he has a Lord Who forgives sin and takes away sin. So I forgive My slave.’ Then he commits sin again, and says, ‘O Allah, forgive me my sin.’ Then Allah says, ‘My slave has committed a sin, but he knows that he has a Lord Who forgives sin and takes away sin. So I forgive My slave.’ Then he commits sin again, and says, ‘O Allah, forgive me my sin.’ Then Allah says, ‘My slave has committed a sin, but he knows that he has a Lord Who forgives sin and takes away sin. So I forgive My slave.” Source: Bukhari (7507) / Muslim (2758)

It’s a guiding light for the slave in this story Prophet pbuh said “Amongst the men of Bani Israel there was a man who had murdered ninety-nine persons. Then he set out asking (whether his repentance could be accepted or not). He came upon a monk and asked him if his repentance could be accepted. The monk replied in the negative and so the man killed him. He kept on asking till a man advised him to go to such and such village. (So he left for it) but death overtook him on the way. While dying, he turned his chest towards that village (where he had hoped his repentance would be accepted), and so the angels of mercy and the angels of punishment quarrelled amongst themselves regarding him. Allah ordered the village (towards which he was going) to come closer to him, and ordered the village (whence he had come), to go far away, and then He ordered the angels to measure the distances between his body and the two villages. So he was found to be one span closer to the village (he was going to). So he was forgiven.” (Sahih al-Bukhari: 3470)

My Lord, indeed I have wronged myself, so Forgive me,” and He Forgave him. Indeed, He Is The Forgiving, The Merciful.} [Quran 18: 16]

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