106. Does God ever repent?

In Genesis chapter 6 verse 6 it states: ‘And it repented the Lord that he had made man on earth and it grieved Him at His heart (KJV).’ The sinfulness of mankind upset God deeply.

The Qur’an quotes many instances of Allâh changing His mind. ‘Then Adam received commandments from his Lord, and his Lord repented (fataba) towards him; for He is Oft-Repenting (huwa al-tawwabu), Most Merciful.’ Refer to Surah Al Baqarah 2 ayah 37. Further on in the same Surah 2, Al Baqarah, ayah 37 it states: ‘Our Lord! And make us submissive unto you and of our seed a nation submissive unto you, and show us our ways of worship, and repent (watub) toward us. Lo! You are the Repenting (anta al-tawwabu), the merciful.’ (Surah Al Baqarah 2 ayah 128).

Then in ayah 160 it states: ‘Except those who repent (taboo) and make amends and openly declare: To them I repent (atoobu); for I am Oft-Repenting (wa ana al-tawwabu), Most Merciful.’ In Surah 9 Al Tawbah ayah 104 we read: ‘Do they not know that Allâh accepts repentance (al-tawbata) from his servants and takes the alms, and that Allâh is the Oft-returning (huwa al-tawwabu), the Merciful?’

‘And to the three who were left behind, until the earth became strait to them notwithstanding its spaciousness and their souls were also straightened to them; and they knew it for certain that there was no refuge from Allâh but in Him; then He repented (taba) to them that they might repent (liyatooboo); surely Allâh is the Oft-repenting (huwa al-tawwabu), the Merciful.’ (Surah 9 Al Tawbah ayah 118).

‘And remember, We appointed forty nights for Moses, and in his absence ye took the calf (for worship), and ye did grievous wrong. Even then, We did forgive you; there was a chance for you to be grateful. And remember We gave Moses the Scripture and the Criterion (Between right and wrong): There was a chance for you to be guided aright. And remember Moses said to his people: ‘O my people! Ye have indeed wronged yourselves by your worship of the calf: So turn (in repentance) (fataboo) to your Maker, and slay yourselves (the wrong-doers); that will be better for you in the sight of your Maker.’ Then He turned (fataba) towards you (in forgiveness): For He is Oft-Returning (huwa al-tawwabu), Most Merciful.’ (Surah 2 Al Baqarah ayat 51-54 – Y. Ali)