By Dr. Sonia Mohsin
Have you ever been in a situation where you find yourself giving up, letting go and just forsaking the idea of worship, or being righteous, or thinking of Allah; just because there lies upon your shoulders a heavy burden of sins? How many times have you wondered that this is it? I am just not good enough? If like all other human beings, you too have ever been on that stage where you felt that there can never be a sinner greater than you – then congratulations! You have arrived at the gates of salvation – the door to istighfaar (seeking forgiveness).
This is Allah talking to you:
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.” (39:53)
And what can get better than the fact that the month of Ramadan is here! The month of seeking forgiveness! This was the advice given by our beloved Prophet ﷺ in his sermon before Ramadan* :
“Do repent in this month to Allah for your sins, and supplicate with raised hands at the time of prayer as these are the best times, during which Allah Almighty looks at his servants with Mercy. Allah answers if they supplicate, responds if they call, grants if He is asked, and accepts if they entreat. O People! You have made your conscience the slave of your desires. Make it free by invoking Allah for forgiveness. Your back may break from the heavy load of your sins, so prostrate (sajdah) yourself before Allah, for long intervals, and make this load lighter.”
Let’s shed our excess baggage this Ramadan, because we are never too bad, never too impure, never too late to say those powerful words of repentance. Here are a few practical things that can be done to bring in istighfaar (seeking forgiveness) into our lives:
It only takes a moment. Close your eyes and think of the sins that you did today. Do it right now and utter the word “astaghfirullah” with all your heart accompanied with the thought of each sin.
Find yourself some quite time each day when there is no one to disturb you. Evaluate yourself in that time. Repentance is your cleanser. Seek Allah’s forgiveness for all the things you think you should not have done and promise yourself never to do them again. It might be just words but if delivered with emotions & commitment, it can work wonders. Try it for yourself!
When repenting remember the three tenses – past, present and future. Past: regret the time you sinned in the past and feel the remorse. Present: abandon the sin immediately. Future: Promise to never do it again.
Do the 100 Istighfaar. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ used to say astaghfirullah 100 times each day! Even though he didn’t have any sins. Make it a regular part of your routine – while going or coming back from work/school, before or after any obligatory prayer, while driving or cooking. A scholar once told us that it only takes 1 minute to say it a 100 times! Can you believe that? So little effort to gain a clean & healthy soul for the entire day.
Cater to the big ones. There is always that one big sin that bogs us down the most. Either we did it in the past or find it hard to let go of in the present. Either ways, big things require big measures. Arrange to offer the 2 rak’ah dedicated to that one big sin.
Cry your eyes out! It’s about time that something other than the sloppy soap operas and movies made us cry. It is time to shed our tears for our Lord. Prophet ﷺ said that the two eyes that shed tears for the fear of Allah will never be touched by the hellfire [al-Nasaa’i]. What more incentive do we need? When you think of your sins, think of the dominion of Allah Almighty. Think how small & insignificant you are as compared to the entire universe & galaxies that Allah owns, and yet you dared transgress? And although Allah could have crumbled you when the first time you faltered, yet He nurtured you, fed you, took care of you, why? Because of His Mercy. “When Allah created the universe, He decreed for Himself: ‘My Mercy prevails over My Wrath.’” [Sunan Ibn Majah: 4436]
Remember to never leave a bad deed without an astaghfirullah attached with it. Repent as soon as possible. We don’t know how long we will live, do we?
Make “astaghfirullah” a regular part of speech replacing it with the often used, meaningless bad words that crowd our vocabulary. So next time your shoe breaks or your car has a flat tire, what come to you should be “astaghfirullah”, implying that all bad that comes my way is the result of my own bad deeds and hence I need to repent.
Challenge yourself this Ramadan to break free from the vicious cycle of sinning. Drop those sins before they engulf your life and drown you into neglect. Make that change and move forward because life is too short to waste it on remorse. With the power of repentance – not even the sky but Jannah is the limit. No sin is too big or too small to be forgiven by the Almighty. All you need to do is ask!
*[It is reported in At-Tirmizi, An-Nisaa-i and in Mu’jam At-Tabaraani, upon the authority of ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar (ra) that Muhammad (ﷺ) said to his companions (during the last few days of Sha’baan)]