Repentance and Forgiveness

Many times in life, you come across certain individuals who persistently commit sins and do not seek the forgiveness of Allah, they believe with full certainty that they will not receive His mercy and consequently choose to increase in evil deeds. This is a grave mistake and misunderstanding. Allah assures us in the Quran that no matter what sin we commit, He subhanahu wa ta’ala will forgive. For example, most of us grew up knowing that shirk (associating partners in worship with Allah) is an unforgivable sin, we don’t actually know that it is only unforgivable if we die having commited shirk without repenting, if we commit even this sin, Allah can forgive us as long as we repent.

“And those who, when they have committed Fahishah (illegal sexual intercourse) or wronged themselves with evil, remember Allah and ask forgiveness for their sins; – and none can forgive sins but Allah – and do not persist in what (wrong) they have done, while they know.” (3:135)

During this month especially, it is paramount that we constantly repent to Allah and seek His forgiveness. There are numerous ways in which we can do that, feom simply uttering words of forgiveness on our tongues, to praying two.

Shaddad bin Aus (May Allah be pleased with him) said: The Prophet (PBUH) said, “The best supplication for seeking forgiveness (Syed-ul-Istighfar) is to say: `Allahumma Anta Rabbi, la ilaha illa Anta, khalaqtani wa ana `abduka, wa ana `ala `ahdika wa wa`dika mastata`tu, a`udhu bika min sharri ma sana`tu, abu’u laka bini`matika `alayya, wa abu’u bidhanbi faghfir li, fa innahu la yaghfirudh-dhunuba illa Anta. (O Allah! You are my Rubb. There is no true god except You. You have created me, and I am Your slave, and I hold to Your Covenant as far as I can. I seek refuge in You from the evil of what I have done. I acknowledge the favours that You have bestowed upon me, and I confess my sins. Pardon me, for none but You has the power to pardon).’ He who supplicates in these terms during the day with firm belief in it and dies on the same day (before the evening), he will be one of the dwellers of Jannah; and if anyone supplicates in these terms during the night with firm belief in it and dies before the morning, he will be one of the dwellers of Jannah.” [Al-Bukhari].

Throughout the year we all fall short and drown in sins, constantly disobeying our Creator and transgressing the limits of Islam. If He has blessed you to witness another ramadhan, He is giving you the opportunity to repent, seize it! Know with full certainty that Allah swt is full of Mercy and Compassion towards His servants, life is short and we must use our time wisely to grow towards Him. Allah swt knows that we are a people who sin, so do not feel shy to repent to your Creator. Do not allow shaytan to delude you into thinking that Allah swt will not forgive you as this is simply not true, and remember to always keep this hadith in mind:
Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) said:

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “By the One in Whose Hand my soul is! If you do not commit sins, Allah would replace you with a people who would commit sins and seek forgiveness from Allah; and Allah will certainly forgive them.” [Bukhari]
Now, the same way we love that Allah should forgive us, we must also get into the habbit of forgiving others. Humans are imperfect by nature, we all fall into mistakes, to look past somebody’s mistake and to forgive them is something very noble and important to do. It is a gift only a few possess.

Forgiving someone can be very difficult to do when you are fuming with anger. It can be that this person has hurt you in a profound and unimaginable way through words or actions. Perhaps this invidual has been abusive. Nonetheless, life is too short to not forgive. In our lives, surely we’ve made mistakes, and do we not appreciate it when people accept our apologies? It is also important to take into consideration that by forgiving someone, even if they’re not concerned by your act of forgiveness, you are actually helping yourself. To hold grudges and sustain ressentment hurts nobody else but you, we know this from our religion, but it is also something emphasized by psychologist. To forgive is to heal your wound by yourself, not depending on someone to do it for you. So in shaa Allah (by the will of Allah) let us strive to forgive one another and accept that we are all flawed and can commit mistakes. Let us also strive to repent to our Lord and often as possible, especially before the inevitable comes.

Tahajjud: its excellence and benefits

Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the prophet sallallahu alayhi wasalam said: “The best month for observing fast after Ramadhan is muharram, and the best salah after the prescribed salah is salah at night”

As servants of Allah, we should be always seeking ways of getting closer our Lord, and Islam teaches us that one of the easiest ways in which we can ignite a connection with Allah and grow closer to Him, is through the night prayer. When is the last time any of us left our beds for the sake of Allah, and stood in the depths of the night to pray? Last Ramadhan? Before an exam? Maybe there hasn’t even been a first time, and yet it is a beautiful act of worship with a huge amount of reward.

Salah, in general, is one of the most important actions a servant must perform in our religion, we know, it is the second pillar of Islam after the shahada (testimony), and this highlights its significance. Tahajjud is one of the supererogatory prayers we are constantly advised to perform, it is one of those actions that, when performed, enables us to become amongst the individuals mentioned in this beautiful qudsi hadith: Narrated on the authority of Abu Dhar: Allah’s Messenger said that Allah said: “He who comes with a good deed, its reward will be ten like that or even more. And he who comes with vice, his reward will be only one like that, or I can forgive him. He who draws close to Me a hand’s span, I will draw close to him an arm’s length. And whoever draws near Me an arm’s length, I will draw near him a fathom’s length. And whoever comes to Me walking, I will go to him running. And whoever faces Me with sins nearly as great as the earth, I will meet him with forgiveness nearly as great as that, provided he does not worship something with me.” [Muslim]

This act is a beautiful deed which Allah swt loves. Just imagine, during the night when the world has settled and people are caught up in their sleep, you arise and begin to pray, you’re one of the very few servants of Allah who do this. Calmness and serenity settles within you because you are alone with Allah, you worship Him, remember Him, make dua to Him. Due to the night’s calm atmosphere and silence, you genuinely feel a sense of comfort. The Prophet (sallAllahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “The Lord descends every night to the lowest heaven when one-third of the night remains and says: ‘Who will call upon Me, that I may answer Him? Who will ask of Me, that I may give him? Who will seek My forgiveness, that I may forgive him?”. What an incredible hadith subhanAllah! It is sad to think that so many of us miss this amazing opportunity because we choose sleep over prayer, and contrary to what Muslims believe, this act of worship is not tiring or difficult in anyway, in fact once it becomes a habit, it will be something you will find difficult to live without.

Praying tahajud is also one of the most excellent ways of manifesting your gratitude towards Allah swt and the uncountable blessings He has bestowed in your life. One of the best hadith that illustrates this is the one that follows: Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) kept standing (in prayer) so long that the skin of his feet would crack. I asked him: “Why do you do this, while you have been forgiven of your former and latter sins?” He said, “Should I not be a grateful slave of Allah?” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim] This hadith teaches us so much, the prophet sallallahu alayhi wasalam, despite not possessing much, acknowledged the blessings of Allah swt upon Him, and stood in prayer until his skin got affected to show his gratitude to His lord, what excuse do we have? Our blessings are so much that it is impossible to count them,  “If you were to count Allah’s favors, you would not be able to number them; most surely humanity is very unjust, very ungrateful.” [Sūrah Ibrāhīm: 34] this verse should soften our hearts, and make us feel ashamed when we compare our ungrateful attitude towards Allah’s generosity towards us. Even though it would realistically impossible to thank Allah for all His blessings, let us implement the action of the prophet sallallahu alayhi wasalam, and pray tahajud as way of showing some gratitude towards Allah.

Staying away from Music

Music. Something that the youth is freely hearing these days, sometimes we come up with excuses like: “it is just a song” or “what is the big deal?”, ignoring the fact that it’s haram without exception in Islam.

Growing up in Saudi Arabia, I’ve noticed that Music is something which both adults and youth listen to, which is a shame considering Saudi is a Muslim country.

I’ve spoken to people who talk about Allah and the Quran, prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings he upon him) but at the same time they’ll say things like “I’m not sure why when I was growing up my teacher would say Music is haram” eventhough Islam provides a clear explanation for this issue.

The point is, as Muslims we have to try our best to obey the rules of Islam, not taking the ones we agree with and leaving the ones we disagree with. It is not a matter of opinion, but it is what Allah has told us to do.

So if you are somewhere or with someone, and music is being played, do not be afraid to say: “can you please turn that down” or “can you please turn that off” and explain why you are making this request. Dawah is something we are obligated to do, and it is not solely for non-muslims, we too are in need of the remembrance. Do not feel embarrassed or awkward, and do not feel concerned about them judging you, we are here to worship Allah swt, and we should continuously strive enjoin the good and forbid the evil regardless of the situation we are in.

We should encourage ourselves to develop a relationship with the Quran, as when we have the words of Allah with us, we will find that they suffice and we need nothing more.

This is an Ayah that always sticks with me when I am thinking or talking about this subject –

﴿شَهِدَ عَلَيْهِمْ سَمْعُهُمْ وَأَبْصَـرُهُمْ وَجُلُودُهُم بِمَا كَانُواْ يَعْمَلُونَ﴾
(their hearing (ears) and their eyes and their skins will testify against them as to what they used to do.) means, all their deeds, earlier and later; not a single letter will be concealed.

The Noble Qur’an – Luqman 31:6

And of mankind is he who purchases idle talks (i.e. music, singing, etc.) to mislead (men) from the Path of Allah without knowledge, and takes it (the Path of Allah, the Verses of the Qur’an) by way of mockery. For such there will be a humiliating torment (in the Hell-Fire).

And this hadith:

Hadith – Bukhari 7:494

Narrated Abu ‘Amir or Abu Malik Al-Ash’ari that he heard the Prophet saaws saying,

“From among my followers there will be some people who will consider illegal sexual intercourse, the wearing of silk, the drinking of alcoholic drinks, and the use of musical instruments as lawful. And (from them), there will be some who will stay near the side of a mountain, and in the evening their shepherd will come to them with their sheep and ask them for something, but they will say to him, ‘Return to us tomorrow.’ Allah will destroy them during the night and will let the mountain fall on them, and Allah will transform the rest of them into monkeys and pigs and they will remain so till the Day of Resurrection.”

Dua: its virtue and importance

Dua (supplication to Allah) is one of the many gifts Allah swt has bestowed upon His slaves. It captures the very essence of eebadah and Tawheed, and it is an act which Our Lord loves. The prophet sallallahu alayhi wasalam said: “Nothing is more honourable to Allah the Most High than dua’a” [sahih al jami no.5268], illustrating that it is an action which holds much significance in our religion. To highlight this further, in another hadith, rasul sallallahu alayhi wasalam said: “The most excellent worship is dua’a” [sahih al-jami no.1133] and once again, this shows its importance. Like many things in Islam, the topic of dua’a is broad, it can be tackled from different angles and discussed in length. The purpose of this post is to encourage Muslims to remember this act of worship, and to make it something that we consistently perform in our day to day lives. I will discuss some of the benefits of dua’a below.

A believer is always in need of Allah. Whether we are going through hardship, or our lives are running smoothly, it is in our nature to need Allah: “O mankind! It is you who stand in need of Allah, but Allah is Rich (free of wants and needs) Worthy of All Praise”, notice that in this verse Allah is not solely addressing His slaves, but the whole of mankind, illustrating that it is the entire human race is in need of Our Creator. When we need something from Allah, we ask Him by way of dua: “Ask Allah for everything, even the lace of your shoes. If Allah does not provide, it will never be available.” [Ibn al-sunni, no.349- hassan. Supported by at-Tirmidhi and others.] SubhanAllah! The prophet sallallahu alayhi wasalam is telling us to ask for everything, even something as small as a shoelace, because Allah swt is the All Provider. At this stage in your life, there may be things which you are desperate to have, have you considered asking Allah for them? Perhaps you consider it impossible to acquire, but it is important for us to think positive about Allah. Recognize that everything is in His hands, and that He can make the impossible possible. “And He will provide for Him from places he never imagined. And whoever relies upon Allah – then He is sufficient.” [surah at-Talaq]

Dua is one of the ways through which we build our connection with Allah, it is a means by which we can grow closer to Him. A beautiful feeling settles upon a believer when he realises that Allah has responded to his request. A similar feeling should occur when Allah doesn’t respond, it could be that He is saving you from something great that you do know of or realise. Allah swt says: “And it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. And Allah knows but you do not know.” This verse brings comfort to a believer, knowing that whatever situation he finds himself in, then it is good for him. It could be, for example, that you want to marry a specific person. You ask Allah for that person but you don’t end up having them, before you become frustrated and upset at your Lord’s decree, take into consideration that He may be saving you from something great. We do not see or know what Allah swt Sees and Knows, from your perspective, this person is your dream spouse. However, Allah knows that he/she will make your life a misery if you end up with them, for example. He/she might not be able to offer you that happiness you want from them. It could be that this spouse was in fact okay, but Allahs swt has someone even better for you. A balance of patience and trust is what it takes, and do not worry because beautiful things await.

This life tires us. Some of us may not even be able to remember the last time we felt peace and tranquillity, everything from money to studies to kids stresses us. Dua’a is a relief from distress, worry and anxiety. When you make dua’a, you are settling your affairs with Allah, acknowledging that He has power over everything, and that He can make a way out of every stressful situation for you. Dua’a is an action, it is something that prophets and messenger always performed, and we see the benefit of this action as we read the Quran. They called upon Allah, He answered and helped them in unimaginable ways subhanAllah.

And so, brothers and sisters, I urge you to always make dua’a to Allah whether your life is running smoothly or you find yourself in a hard situation. Settle your affairs with him, and always remember to make dua’a for yourself, friends and family for the hereafter. When you see the Muslims being oppressed and harmed, do not feel hopeless at the fact that you cannot physically do something to help them, grant them your dua’as. Allah is in control after all, and you would be surprised the change that one dua’a can bring.