Quarterly: Issue No 68
SEEKING ALLAH’S FORGIVENESS
All Praise is due to Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala), our only Sustainer and Creator. And Blessings and Peace be upon His beloved Messenger Muhammad, his family and all his companions.
We bear witness that there is none worthy of worship but Allah Alone, and we bear witness that Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) is His servant and the Seal of all His Messengers.
Allah (Glorified be He, the Most High) says: “Say, "O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful. ” (Surah Al-Zumar: Chapter 39: Verses 53)
Allah refers to humanity in a beautiful manner in this verse by calling unto them: “O My servants who have transgressed against themselves …”. In other words, He is not referring to angels, who can do no wrong – rather, the focus of His call are those of us that have sinned. He is reminding us here that no matter how small nor how big the sin is – there is always HOPE. No matter how major or how many their sins are, they are commanded to HOPE – and never to despair of Allah’s Mercy. Imam al-Ghazzali (ra) records in his Ihya-ul-Uloom (Volume 4 - Fear and Hope) that the Caliph Ali (RA) once saw a man much despaired on account of his sins. He said to that man: “Your despair of Allah’s Mercy is a greater sin than any which you have committed.” Allah’s Mercy is boundless – and by restricting it and assuming that we cannot ever attain it due to our sins, we are misunderstanding His Infinite Mercy. In doing so, we think wrongly of our Creator and Sustainer (Rabb) and miss the true meaning of the statement of Allah: “My Mercy encompasses all things.” (7: 156) and His saying: “My Mercy overcomes My Anger.” (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4, Hadith 416)
More important than committing the sin itself is what we do after these sins are committed. Do we despair of Allah’s Mercy? Do we wallow in self-pity? Do we go about our day as if we have done nothing wrong? Allah wants us to turn to Him in repentance after the sin: “And return [in repentance] to your Lord and submit to Him before the punishment comes upon you; then you will not be helped.” (Surah Al-Zumar: Chapter 39: Verses 53). Because we have wronged our own souls, we are told to correct that wrong by sincerely seeking Allah’s Forgiveness. This is the perfect lesson of life, the foundation of our relationship with our Rabb – true and sincere repentance for our sins.
We must recognise that to sin is human. In fact, even our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) testified to this in a Hadith when he mentioned, “All of the Children of Adam (humanity) are sinners, but the best of the sinners are those who turn often in repentance to Allah.” (Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah). As Muslims, we do our best to avoid sins and those things, which Allah has prohibited in order to draw nearer to Him and increase our reward in the next life. However, as humans, we are prone to sin. Our problem is not that we have slipped up, but our lack in turning to Allah in Repentance after slipping up. The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: “If you did not commit sins, Allah would create people who would sin so that He could forgive them.” (Muslim, Tirmidhi, Imam Ahmad). Allah loves to forgive sins – we simply have to ask for that forgiveness. We have to recognise our reliance upon Allah and know that no matter what we have done in the past, He is able to Forgive all sins. This is our charter as human beings – to seek Allah’s forgiveness and repent often to Him. In doing so, we will not only lift the heavy emotional burden upon us and relieve ourselves of Despair, but will actually draw ourselves closer to our Rabb in this process.
The Scholars of Islam (Ulama) have identified a simple 3-step process of making repentance to Allah:
1 – Consciously acknowledge our sin(s) or transgression(s). This requires a certain amount of self-reflection and self-consciousness. At many times, we look for ways to justify our wrong actions. Drawing closer to Allah, however, is to know one’s own self. The path to Jannah is paved with self-reflection and in piety before Allah -both in public as well as in private.
2 – Repent to Allah for the sin(s). Ultimately, there is no special formula for Repentance, other than it being sincere. This can be done through sajdah (prostration), salaah (worship) or sincere dua (prayer). The Prophet (peace and blessings of God be upon him) mentioned that the closest he felt to Allah was in the prostrations of salaah.
3 – Resolve to not commit the sin(s) again. This does not mean that one may not fall into the sin again, just that his or her intention is not to do so again. In Islam, our deeds are judged based on our intentions. We must make the sincere intention not to disobey Allah again in order to grow on the spiritual path to Him.
Note: Many scholars add a fourth step in the case of someone who has wronged another person: to go and ask for forgiveness from that individual. However, this is often left to one’s discretion, based on whether revealing the sin to the individual would cause more harm or strain in that relationship.
Thus, even in seeking forgiveness and repentance, Allah has made the process as easy as possible for us. Allah comforts us in the Noble Quran, telling us not to despair of His Mercy. He even teaches us how to seek that forgiveness i.e.
“Our Lord, we have wronged ourselves, and if You forgive us not, nor have mercy upon us, we shall certainly be losers.” (Surah Al-A’raaf, Verse 23)
“And it is He Who accepts repentance from His servants and pardons the evil deeds and He knows what you do; And He answers those who believe and do good deeds, and gives them more out of His Grace….” (Surah Al-Shura, Chapter 42: Verse 25 - 26)
EACH BELIEVER (MU’MIN) IS VALUABLE
The Prophet (SAW) was merciful to all the Muslims, in obedience to Allah's command. Allah, The Most Exalted, says:
“And lower your wing for the believers (be courteous to the fellow-believers)”
(Surah Al-Hijr: Chapter 15: Verse 88)
“And lower your wing to those who follow you of the believers.” (Surah Al-Shu’araa: Chapter 26: Verse215)
He did not distinguish between races, poverty, nor class. If a Muslim caused him harm, he forgave him. If he needed help, he assisted. His character reflected the Qur’an, and was an integral part of the Da’wah he spread, for Allah said:
“So by mercy from Allah (O Prophet), you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude (in speech) and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah. Indeed, Allah loves those who rely (upon Him).” (Surah Aal Imraan: Chapter 3: Verse 159)
His kind treatment of others was a cause for many to turn to Islam. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) is also reported to have said:
“The believers in their mutual kindness, compassion and sympathy are just like one body. When one of the limbs suffers, the whole body responds to it with wakefulness and fever”. (Bukhari and Muslim).
Allah's Messenger (SAW) also said: “There is in Paradise an apartment, the exterior of which can be seen from its interior, and the interior of which can be seen from its exterior. Such apartments have been prepared for those who are polite in speech, provide food (to the needy), fast frequently and observe the Tahajjud prayer when the people are asleep.” (Tirmidhi)
The Prophet (SAW) said: “Do not be envious of other Muslims; do not overbid at auctions against another Muslim; do not have malice against a Muslim; do not go against a Muslim and forsake him; do not make an offering during a pending transaction. O servants of Allah, be like brothers with each other. A Muslim is the brother of another Muslim; do not hurt him, or look down upon him or bring shame on him. Piety is a matter of heart (and he repeated this thrice). It is enough evil for a person to look down upon his Muslim brother. The blood, property and honour of a Muslim is inviolable to a Muslim.” (Muslim)
There is only ONE way to achieve this quality of brotherhood in the Muslim Ummah, and that is the way of following the Sunnah of Muhammad (SAW). This was the method used by the Companions of Allah’s Messenger (May Allah be pleased with them) and the Muslim scholars during 13 centuries of Muslim rule of this world. One may say that everyone follows Qur’an but we are still disunited. That is true. The dispute is not in the Qur’an. The dispute lies with those scholars and their followers who interpret Qur’an based upon their own conservative beliefs and ignore consensus (IJMA) of Islamic scholars. Muslims must return to the consensus of Islamic scholars which did exist from the period of SAHABAH (Companions of Allah's Messenger) till the fall of Khilaafat-e-Islamiyyah just one century ago. Muslims must think as one nation and must overcome the linguistic, geographical, regional and ethnic differences. The agents of colonial empires have seeded the linguistic and regional nationalism among Muslims. Muslims must leave linguistic and regional nationalism behind and become one body.
The local nationalism was never preferred over the worldwide Islamic brotherhood. Imam Muslim, Imam Bukhari, Imam Tirmidhi and many other Imams and scholars of Islam were non Arabs. But no one felt that they were from non-Arab parts of the world. Every Muslim knew only one criteria of brotherhood, which was the love and the following of Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him). With all the differences Muslims were united and very faithful to their religion. Muslims were the superpower of the world. Muslims were the leaders in setting up the standards for the rest of the world. Muslims were educators, scientists, doctors, engineers, commanders, etc. Intellectually, morally, economically, politically and spiritually Muslims were the leaders and model for other communities and nations. Muslims knew and practiced the Prophet’s teaching that “a Muslim is a person from whose hands and tongue the other Muslims are safe.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari).
O Allah! Your Forgiveness is far greater than my sins and I have more hope in Your Mercy than in my own deeds.
Requesting your humble duas!
Abdul Haq Abdul Kadir
Kyalami Glen, Gauteng
Johannesburg, South Africa