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.

Hijab: trends or Islam?

One of the most beautiful things legislated in Islam for Muslim women is hijab. Contrary to what many people believe, the hijab is not merely a piece of cloth that we drape over ourselves as a symbol of oppression. It is not something we wear because we are forced to by male guardians, or because we have no rights. The hijab is worn because Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) has commanded us to wear it, it a reflection of our inner faith, and manifestation of our Islamic identity.

For many of us young women, wearing the appropriate hijab is a struggle. Sadly, we are not replicating the attitude of the female companions, who instantly wore it upon having the ayah of Quran revealed to them: “And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and guard their modesty, and not to display their adornment except that which appears ordinarily thereof, and to draw their veils over their necks and bosoms…”. Rather, the hijab has become a kind of fashion statement for us. Many Muslim women observe it in a way that completely contradicts its intended modest purpose. Scholars (may Allah have mercy upon them) have written at length concerning hijab and how it should be worn, we have no excuses nor are we deprived of the knowledge; rather we are purposely making the choice and jumping into the bandwagon of trends, allowing societal standards to corrupt our Islamic identities. We have become ashamed of being distinguished, modest women.

Knowing Allah, and understanding some of the wisdom behind laws in Islam is essential if we want carry out the actions commanded by Allah. When you learn more about hijab, its revelation and benefits, you will be drawn to wear it always and proudly.

Observing the hijab enables us to become closer to Allah, we are performing a good deed by wearing it for His sake, and Allah loves that His slaves obey Him. Hijab symbolises liberation and freedom, we distinguish ourselves from other women. We don’t abide by fashion trends which other humans have decided, nor do we feel the need to copy or imitate. We are proud to wear that which the Creator has ordained, and not the creation.

By wearing hijab, we are judged by our intelligence and intellect because our beauty is shielded. In a society that is so fixated on ensuring that women look good, and judges you by your appearance, we are an exception to rule. People have no choice but judge us based on our conduct and speech, and not appearance.

Hijab is a type of shield and barrier against evil. We do not put ourselves in a vulnerable position by wearing immodest clothing and displaying too much of our body, thereupon looking appealing to men, being looked at or worse than that. We treat our bodies like jewels concealed in treasure boxes, they are not displayed whatsoever.

Another benefit is that our Islamic identities, which we should be very proud of, are manifested. Anyone can distinguish a doctor or policeman for example, because of the outfit they wear. Likewise, people can distinguish Muslim women based on their hijab. I once read a quote that goes as follows: “So what if their beauty is a topic in magazines? yours is a topic in the Quran!”, subhanAllah! If we understood the Greatness of Allah, and valued Islam as it should be valued, we would strive to expose our Islamic identities as ordained in the Quran and sunnah. We would not be afraid nor embarrassed about wearing other than what fashion commands, knowing that our brand is straight from the sunnah.

And so I remind myself, and my sisters to take care about Hijab and how we treat it, as mentioned above it is not merely a piece of cloth which we drape upon ourselves, it is a command from our lord. An outfit decided by Allah Himself, we should take care to wear it exactly as He wants, and encourage other women in the ummah to do so as well.

Hardship

No matter where you are in the world, Allah might test you with a situation where you will experience that which is stressful. A lot of people can feel hopeless during certain situations, for example: not having enough money, getting bad grades or losing a loved one. But there is one thing that most people forget to do, and that is to be patient and trust in their Lord. Many of us forget to do this during times of hardship because we are so eager to get things done, and try and to fix things, when it doesn’t necessarily need fixing. Dua is more powerful than we think.

“Remember that there is much good in bearing with patience that which you dislike, and that victory comes with patience, and that with hardship comes a way out and with difficulty comes ease.”(Narrated by Ahmad)

There may come a time in your life where you might question why Allah is putting you in a certain position, the truth is that Allah gives every person that which they can handle, even if they do not realize that they are capable of handling it.

Allah says in the Quran: “…Allah does not give a soul beyond that it can bear..” Al-Baqarah: 2:286

It’s also important to note, that there’s a reason for everything. “…it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows but you do not know.” Al-Baqarah: 2:216

For example, you could be in a situation where you receive half of your wages or get a C as an exam grade, it may seem awful at first, but Allah has already planned out your life and He knows what is best for you. During that moment, it may seem difficult to accept or believe that something good could come out of such a situation, but this where tawakul (trust in Allah) comes it, we must be optmisitic and accept His decree, it is also important to make dua’a to Allah SWT, and remember that with every hardship comes ease.

“Verily with every hardship comes ease.” 94:6

“Or think you that you will enter Paradise without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They were afflicted with severe poverty, ailments and were shaken.” (Qur’an 2:214)

When sadness approaches you during times of hardship, always know that sadness is not beneficial for the heart, it will affect our mental state and even actions that we perform. Sadness is like a disease, it spreads around the body and its effects are visible. Ibn Qayyim said: “There is nothing more beloved to shaytan than a depressed believer”. This is because during times of sadness, we are weak and vulnerable, and shaytan attacks the weak believers.

Remember that this world was never meant to bring us ultimate joy, for happiness lies with Allah swt. Hardships are a form of purification and a test to see which one us will be able to have the right attitude, and accept Allah’s decree. So let us strive to be patient towards the tests of this life, and we will one day see the benefits of that patience, by the will of Allah.

Tawakul: Putting your trust in Allah

It was exam season. Anxiety was running through me, pessimistic thoughts were settling into my mind and unwanted tears were falling from my eyes. I was revising for long hours, but I convinced myself that I would fail. In a room not far away from mine, my mother’s student, then pursuing a degree, was seated. I approached her and started complaining to her about how I felt, above all the advice she could have offered me, she started talking to me about a powerful concept in Islam: Tawakul, having trust in Allah .

In a happy and optimistic tone, she explained how it is essential for a believer to fully trust in Allah, and believe that He will aid him. She mentioned some of her own experiences with tawakul, explaining how even in what appeared to be hopeless situations, she had firm belief that Allah would help her, and He did. I left the room happy and optimistic that day, allowing the seeds of tawakul to settle within my heart.

Exam day came, and the experience was awful. Due to intense stress, I could not finish the paper and had a minor panic attack. I was so disappointed, feeling as though I had been let down, but I refused to eliminate my trust in Allah, and carried on believing that something good might miraculously happen. Exam results arrived, anxiety was running through me yet again, I was afraid, but to my huge surprise, I scored the highest grade. I can’t remember a time when I was happier other than that day, the relief was overwhelming. A few weeks later, it was the student’s graduation, she had passed and obtained her degree. I went to her and thanked her for offering me this life changing advice, in the same optimistic tone, she elaborated further on what she had previously told me.

Allah SWT says in surah at-Talaq: “And He will provide him from (sources) he never imagined. And whoever puts his trust in Allah, then He will suffice him.” This beautiful ayah shows us that if we settle our affairs with Allah, believing wholeheartedly that He will aid us, then He will. Now of course, trusting Allah doesn’t entail not doing anything ourselves. Anas ibn Malik reported: A man said, “O Messenger of Allah, should I tie my camel and trust in Allah, or should I leave her untied and trust in Allah?” The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Tie her and trust in Allah”. [Source: sunan at-tirmidhi 25:17] This hadith shows us that we must do our part too, if you have an upcoming exam, do not waste your time doing nothing and think to yourself, “I put my trust in Allah He will help me.” No, you must do your part and revise. If you have a particular goal or objective in life, you work hard towards it, all the while having tawakul in your Lord. Neither of the two should be neglected as the two come hand in hand.

No matter what difficulties we face in life and what hopeless situation we find ourselves in, we must have firm conviction that Allah will help us. If you read through the lives of our beloved messenger sallallahu alayhi wasalam , the salaf or previous prophets, you will find that they were constantly tested and placed in difficult situations. Ayoub (alayhi salam) had his beloved son Yusuf taken away from him, Musa (alayhi salam) had to the face the tyrannical ruler fir’awn, Ibrahim (alayhi salam) was thrown into a fire, and these are just some of the many stories given to us in the Qur’an. In all those situations, the prophets put their trust in Allah, and were relieved from their hardship. Following their path and example, we too must do the same.

“Indeed, Allah loves those who put their trust in Him” [3:159]