The explanation of this hadith was translated by Abd-Allāh
16. Abu Musa Al-Ash'ari reported: The Prophet said: ”Allāh, the Exalted, will continue to stretch out His Hand in the night so that the sinners of the day may repent, and continue to stretch His Hand in the daytime so that the sinners of the night may repent, until the sun rises from the west”. [Muslim].
17. Abu Hurayrah narrated: Messenger of Allāh said, ”He who repents before the sun rises from the west, Allāh will forgive him”. [Muslim].
18. 'Abdullah b. 'Umar bin Al-Khattab reported that: The Prophet said, ”Allāh accepts a slave's repentance as long as the latter is not on his deathbed (that is, before the soul of the dying person reaches the throat)”. [Al-Tirmidhi, who categorized it as hadith hasan].
Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen says in his explanation of these ahadith:
These three ahadith which the author has mentioned, may Allāh have mercy on him, are all related to repentance.
As for the hadith of Abu Musa, it is from Allāh's generosity, glorified and exalted be He, that He accepts (one's) repentance even if it is late. So if the person commits a sin during the day, then Allāh accepts his repentance even if he repents at night. And similarly, if the person sins at night and then repents during the day, then Allāh accepts his repentance, and furthermore, He stretches His hand to receive this repentance from His believing servant.
And in this hadith there is also proof that Allāh, glorified and exalted be He, loves repentance, and we have already mentioned in the previous hadith – the story of the man who lost his camel and then found it – that Allāh is more happy with the repentance of His believing servant when he repents to Him than the man who had found his lost camel.
And from the benefits of the hadith of Abu Musa is the affirmation that Allāh has a hand. Rather, He has two hands, glorified and exalted be He, as He said: (The Jews say: “Allāh's hand is tied up.” Be their hands tied up and be they accursed for the (blasphemy) they utter. Nay, both His hands are widely outstretched) [5:64], and this hand which Allāh has affirmed for Himself- rather, the two hands- we have to believe in them, and that they are affirmed for Allāh.
However, it is not permissible for us to imagine that they are like our hands, because Allāh says in His book: (there is nothing whatever like unto Him, and He is the Hearer, the Seer) [42:11], and similarly, everything you come across from the attributes of Allāh then affirm it for Allāh, glorified and exalted be He, but without comparing it to the attributes of the creation, because there is nothing like Allāh, neither in relation to His essence nor to His attributes, glorified and exalted be He.
And also mentioned in this hadith that Allāh, glorified and exalted, accepts the repentance of the servant even if it is late, however, hastening with the repentance is obligatory, because the person does not know, and death might surprise him so he dies before repenting. So the obligation is to hasten (with repentance), but even if the repentance is delayed Allāh will still accept the repentance of His servant.
And in the hadith (of Abu Hurayrah) there is evidence that if the sun rises from the West, the (time for) acceptance of repentance is over. But one might ask, “Does the sun rise from the West? What is known is that the sun rises from the East!” So we say: Yes, this (the sun rising from the East) is what is known, and this has been the case ever since Allāh created it until this day of ours. However, towards the end of times Allāh will command the sun to go back from where it came so (its) cycle will be inverted and it will rise from the West, and when the people see it they will all believe, even the disbelievers (such as) the Jews, Christians, Buddhists, and others, they will all believe. However, the one who did not believe before the sun rises from the West, then his belief will not benefit him.
Everyone repents too, but the one who did not repent before the sun rises from the West his repentance will not be accepted, because this sign will be witnessed by everyone. And once the warning signs arrive then neither repentance nor belief shall be of any benefit!
As for the hadith of 'Abdullah b. 'Umar: “Allāh accepts a slave's repentance as long as the latter is not on his death bed (that is, before the soul of the dying person reaches the throat)”, meaning: as long as the soul has not reached the throat yet, but if the soul has reached the throat then there is no repentance, as per His saying: (And repentance is not for those who go on doing evil deeds, until when death comes to one of them, he says: Surely now I repent) [4:18]
So upon you, O my fellow Muslim, is to hasten with repentance to Allāh from the sins, and to desist from what you have been entangled with from disobedience, and to perform what you have been neglecting from the obligations, and to ask Allāh to accept your repentance.