AL-GHAFFAR-The All- and Oft-Forgiving The Great Forgiver
Benefits of belief in these names include the following:
The One who accepts repentance and veils or forgives our faults and sins, time and time again. The One who sets us free from the guilt and shame of our own sins and faults, such that we may discover inner harmony and peace.
The One who protects us from the effects of our faults and sins, both in the present world and the future. The One who accepts repentance and sets aright our faults and sins.
The One who veils, forgives or transforms our faults and sins in such a manner that we may go on without guilt or shame. The One who can set aright, or transform, wrong deeds and change them into what become good deeds.
From the root gh-f-r which has the following classical Arabic connotations:
to cover, veil, conceal, hide
to pardon, to forgive, to set aright
to cover a thing to protect it from dirt
This name is used in the Qur’ān. For example, see 40:3
Abū Hāmid al-Ghazālī said:
Every creature is bound to have perfection and imperfection, or ugliness and beauty, so whoever overlooks the ugly and mentions only the beautiful is one who shares in this attribute.
Note that the root gh-f-r has given rise to three Beautiful Names that are all used in the Qur’ān: Ghaffār,Ghafūr and Ghāfir. However, only Ghaffār and Ghafūr were included in the list of 99 Names narrated by Tirmidhi.
In Qastalānī’s commentary on Bukhārī, it is said that the root gh-f-r means a covering or protection which is either between man and the commission of sin [protecting, or watching over], or between sin and the effects of that sin [forgiving, veiling or concealing].
In al-Nihāyah (a dictionary of hadīth), it is said that Ghāfir refers to the One who protects us from the commission of sins, and that Ghafūr refers to the One who forgives our sins and faults.
Sheikh Tosun Bayrak portrays the differences as:
… al-Ghāfir, the veiler of our faults from the eyes of other men; al-Ghafūr, who keeps the knowledge of our faults even from the angels; and al-Ghaffār who relieves us from the suffering of continual remembrance of our faults.
The Arabic word astaghfirullāh (sometimes written as astghfrallāh or estaferallah) is from this same gh-f-r root, and is an invocation of Divine Protection having a range of possible connotations that include Allāh please forgive me, Allāh please hide away my faults, Allāh please watch over me and protect me from faults.
The Arabic lexicon and commentary Tāj al-‘Arūs reminds us that truly asking for forgiveness must be by both word and deed, not by the tongue alone.
The names Ghafūr, Ghaffār and Ghāfir denote forgiving or protecting, while ‘Afūw indicates complete removal or obliteration of the condition.