By Imam An-Nawawi
In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;
All the praise and thanks is due to Allāh, the Lord of al-‘ālamīn. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam is His Messenger.
Allāh, the Exalted, says:
- "And ask forgiveness for your sin..." (Muhammad, 47:19)
- "And seek the forgiveness of Allāh. Certainly, Allāh is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." (Al-Nisā’ ,4:106)
- "And declare the freedom of your Rabb from imperfection beginning with His praise, and ask His forgiveness. Verily, He is the One Who accepts the repentance and Who forgives." (Al-Nasr 110:3)
- "For Al-Muttaqun (the pious) there are Gardens (Jannah) with their Rabb, underneath which rivers flow. Therein (is their) eternal (home) and Azwajun Mutahharatun (purified mates or wives). And Allāh will be pleased with them. And Allāh is All-Seer of the (His) slaves. Those who say: 'Our Rubb! We have indeed believed, so forgive us our sins and save us from the punishment of the Fire. (They are) those who are patient, those who are true (in Faith, words, and deeds), and obedient with sincere devotion in worship to Allāh. Those who spend (give the Zakat and alms in the way of Allāh) and those who pray and beg Allāh's Pardon in the last hours of the night." (Ali- ‘Imran 3:15-17)
- "And whoever does evil or wrongs himself but afterwards seeks Allāh's forgiveness, he will find Allāh Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." (Al-Nisā’ ,4:110)
- "And Allāh would not punish them while you (Muhammad (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam)) are amongst them, nor will He punish them while they seek (Allāh's) forgiveness." (Ali- ‘Imran 8:33)
- "And those who, when they have committed Fahishah (illegal sexual intercourse) or wronged themselves with evil, remember Allāh and ask forgiveness for their sins; and none can forgive sins but Allāh - and do not persist in what (wrong) they have done, while they know." (Ali- ‘Imran 3:135)
The Qur'anic Ayat on the subject is many and well-known.
1869. Al-Agharr Al-Muzani (radiyallāhu‘anhu) said: Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, "Sometimes I perceive a veil over my heart, and I supplicate Allāh for forgiveness a hundred times in a day."
Commentary: Ghain and Ghaim are two synonyms. They signify the spreading of the clouds. It refers in this Hadith to the fact that Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) was reciting the Names of Allāh and remembering Him all the time. But sometimes due to being too busy in the affairs of the public or due to human needs, there was a pause in this eternal remembrance. Although such a pause was only momentary, this momentary pause was very much disliked by him; and considering it slackness on his part, he prayed for forgiveness from Allāh. In this there is an important lesson for us.
In spite of our many sins and negligence on our part, we do not turn to Allāh and seek forgiveness; while, although our Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) had all his past and future sins forgiven by Allāh, he sought forgiveness very often.
1870. Abu Hurairah (radiyallāhu‘anhu) said: I heard Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) saying, "I swear by Allāh that I seek Allāh's Pardon and turn to Him in repentance more than seventy times a day."
1871. Abu Hurairah (radiyallāhu‘anhu) said: Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: “By the One in Whose Hand my soul is! If you do not commit sins, Allāh would replace you with a people who would commit sins and seek forgiveness from Allāh; and Allāh will certainly forgive them.”
Commentary: This Hadith does not mean that Allāh likes disobedience. But by this way of description, the aim is to emphasize the importance of seeking forgiveness from Allāh. We know that every man commits sins. But Allāh likes those people who, after committing a sin, do not stick to it, but right away seek forgiveness for their sins from Allāh. They weep and express sorrow before Allāh. By seeking forgiveness, a relationship with Allāh is established between man and his Creator. So seeking forgiveness is a very good act.
1872. ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar (radiyallāhu’anhu) said: We counted Messenger's saying a hundred times during one single sitting: ‘Rabb ighfir li wa tubb ‘alayya innaka antat-tawwābul-rahīm’ (O Allāh, forgive me and accept my repentance, for You are the Accepter of Repentance, Most Merciful). According to another report: ‘Rabb ighfir li wa tubb ‘alayya Innaka antat-tawābul-ghafūr” (O Allāh, forgive me and accept my repentance, for You are the Acceptor of Repentance, Oft-Forgiving).
[Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidzi].
Commentary: This Hadith tells us about the etiquette of praying to Allāh. We should use the Names of Allāh befitting our prayers, i.e., the Names of Allāh signifying those Attributes of Allāh which have a special concern with the subject of our particular prayer, i.e., while seeking forgiveness, His Names concerning His Attributes of forgiveness and kindness should be used. On the other hand, while praying for worldly matters, we should mention His Qualities of charity and bestowing gifts etc.
1873. Ibn 'Abbas (radiyallāhu‘anhu) said: Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, "If anyone constantly seeks pardon (from Allāh), Allāh will appoint for him a way out of every distress and a relief from every anxiety, and will provide sustenance for him from where he expects not."
Commentary: The chain of this narration is weak. Refer to 'The Book of Weak Narrations' by Al-Albāni, Vol. I, page 142, No.705.
1874. Ibn Mas’ud (radiyallāhu‘anhu) said: Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, "He who says: 'Astaghfir ullah-alladzi la ilaha illa Huwal-Haiyul-Qayyumu, wa atubu ilaihi (I seek the forgiveness of Allāh, there is no true god except Allāh, the Ever-Living, the Self-Subsisting, and I turn to Him in repentance),' his sins will be forgiven even if he should have run away from the battlefield (while he was engaged in fighting for the Cause of Allāh)."
[Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidzi and Al-Hakim (on conditions of Al-Bukhari and Muslim for accepting Hadith)].
Hilal bin Yāsir bin Zaid (radiyallāhu`anhu), the freed slave of the Prophet reported that his grandfather told him that Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: “He who says: ‘Astaghfir ullāh-[al ‘adzīm, alladzi] lā ilāha illā, huwal-Hayyul-Qayyum, wa atūbu ilaīh (I seek the forgiveness of Allāh – [Devoid of imperfection, with whose name] There is no true god except Allāh, He, The Ever Living One The Self-Existing One, and I turn to Him in repentance), (three times); His sins will be forgiven even if he should have run away from the battlefield (while he was engaged in fighting for the Cause of Allāh)’.”
[Abu Dawud: Hasan, At-Tirmidzi: Hasan Gharib and Al-Hakim].
Commentary: When we say that this narration fulfills the conditions of Al-Bukhari and Muslim; it means that its narrators are the narrators of Al-Bukhari and Muslim. Secondly, in this selection those conditions have also been kept in view, which are the landmark of Al-Bukhari and Muslim.
1875. Shaddad bin Aus (radiyallāhu‘anhu) said: Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, "The best supplication for seeking forgiveness (Sayyid-ul-Istighfar) is to say: 'Allāhumma 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 Allāh! You are my Rabb. 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."
1876. Thauban (radiyallāhu‘anhu) reported: Whenever Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) finished his Solat (prayer), he would beg forgiveness three times [by saying, 'Astaghfirullah' (3 times)] and then he would say: "Allāhumma Antas-Salamu, wa minkas-Salamu, tabarakta ya Dhal-Jalali wal-Ikram. (O Allāh! You are the Bestower of security and security comes from You; Blessed are You. O Possessor of glory and honour)." Imām Al-Awza'ie (one of the subnarrators) of this Hadith was asked: "How forgiveness should be sought?" He replied: "I say: Astaghfirullah, Astaghfirullah (I seek forgiveness from Allāh. I seek forgiveness from Allāh)."
Commentary: This Du'a' was a Sunnah of Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), and it is highly recommended to recite it after Solat.
1877. ‘Aishah (radiyallāhu‘anha) reported: Prior to his demise, Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) used to supplicate frequently: Subhan Allāhi wa bihamdihi; Astaghfirullaha wa atubu ilaihi (Allāh is free from imperfection, and I begin with praising Him. I beg forgiveness from Allāh and I turn to Him in repentance."
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Commentary: In general, asking of forgiveness all the time is necessary and commendable. But during the old age and the last days of one's life it is particularly very essential. In this way, the Sunnah of Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) would also be followed.
1878. Anas (radiyallāhu‘anhu) said: I heard Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) saying, "Allāh, the Exalted, has said: 'O son of Adam! I shall go on forgiving you so long as you pray to Me and aspire for My forgiveness whatever may be your sins. O son of Adam! I do not care even if your sins should pile up to the sky and should you beg pardon of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Adam! If you come to Me with an earthful of sins and meet Me, not associating anything with Me in worship, I will certainly grant you as much pardon as will fill the earth."'
Commentary: In this narration, there is good news for the sinners who do not stick to sins but rather repent and ask forgiveness from Allāh. However numerous their sins may be, Allāh will forgive all their sins. But there is a condition which they should fulfill, namely that they do not persist in what wrong they have done (3:135), as with persistence and repeatedly committing the sin, the act of seeking forgiveness becomes a futile act.
1879. Ibn 'Umar (radiyallāhu‘anhu) said: Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, "O women folk! You should give charity and be diligent in seeking Allāh's forgiveness because I have seen (i.e., on the Night of the Ascension to the highest heavens) that dwellers of the Hell are women." A woman amongst them said: "Why is it that the majority of the dwellers of Hell are women?" Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) replied, "You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. In spite of your lacking in wisdom and failing in religion, you are depriving the wisest of men of their intelligence." Upon this the woman asked: "What is the deficiency in our wisdom and in our religion?" Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) replied, "Your lack of wisdom can be well judged from the fact that the evidence of two women is equal to that one man. You do not offer Solat (prayer) for some days and you do not fast (the whole of) Ramadhān sometimes, it is a deficiency in religion."
1. In this narration, certain weaknesses of the female sex have been pointed out, which are natural and pertain to the woman's biology, psychology and embryology.
According to biologists, during and before menstruation, a female's thought process is affected. Similarly, her pulse and blood pressure are also altered. Females are also more prone to hysteria. For these reasons, the Qur'an has declared that when you have to appoint or choose witnesses among women, you should choose two in place of one man. Modern researches have proved this rule to be correct on the basis of biology, psychology and embryology.
Again we know that physically speaking, the female has been named as the weaker sex. For these reasons, females have been excused from earning their livelihood. For earning livelihood, one may have to go out and work hard. Women have been exempted from this duty because of their biological differences and other considerations of Shari'ah. Present-day women who are ignorant of Islam and modern researches are not prepared to accept these scientifically and religiously proved facts. The West claims equality between the sexes. But this equality has not been established so far. Today all the important posts are occupied by males and all the international policies are framed by them alone. Even matters pertaining to women are decided by them. They have mostly relegated them to the posts of workers, secretaries and stenographers for their sexual satisfaction and enjoyment. After a struggle for hundred years, their condition today proves that they are the weaker sex.
So, it is both beneficial and more respectful for her to limit herself to the sphere of action suggested for her by Islam. If she oversteps her sphere, she will certainly lose her female dignity and prestige, as has happened in the West. Her state and condition there is an eye opener for all.
2. Women should request forgiveness from Allāh very often and be generous in charity. They should not show ungratefulness to their husbands and should avoid backbiting and cursing others so that they may save themselves from Hell.
And Allāh Almighty knows best.
[Via the Guided Ways, The Book of Forgiveness Chapter 371, Riyad-Us-Saliheen ,Compiled, By Al-Imam Abu Zakariya Yahya bin Sharaf An-Nawawi Ad-Dimashqi]