وَسَارِعُوا إِلَىٰ مَغْفِرَةٍ مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ وَجَنَّةٍ عَرْضُهَا السَّمَاوَاتُ وَالْأَرْضُ أُعِدَّتْ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ
Wa sāri’ū ilā maghfiratin min rabbikum wa jannatin ‘arduhās samāwātu wal ardu u’iddat lil muttaqīn
Hasten towards your Lord’s forgiveness and a paradise as vast as the heavens and the earth, prepared for the Godwary.
(Surat Āli ‘Imrān, Āyat 133)
One of the beautiful points that can be extracted from the above verse is that Allah is calling on believers to make the utmost use of their energy and their skills. The religion of Islam is not one that causes people and societies to be stagnant and fall behind others. Rather, Islam instils energy and zeal in the hearts of man. It inspires believers to exert efforts and tirelessly strive. While others strive towards money, pleasure, fame and other lowly and worldly goals, Allah commands us in this verse to strive towards that which is of true value and is worthy of a human being: forgiveness and paradise.
Imam ʿAlī (a) has said: A believer is eager and inclined towards that which lasts and is detached from that which perishes . . . he is away from indolence [and laziness] and is constantly active [and energetic]. (Majlisī, Bihār al-Anwār, v. 78, p. 26) What does it mean for man to hasten towards Allah’s forgiveness? Is seeking forgiveness a simple matter of uttering the words, astaghfirullāh? Such a simple matter would not require exerting effort. It would not require that Allah should command us to hasten towards it.
The reality is that seeking forgiveness is an act performed by someone who is penitent, someone who has turned their heart towards Allah, the source of all perfection. They are remorseful not only of the sins they may have committed in the past, but moreover they are remorseful when they see the lack of perfection that they have manifested. The lack of ethical traits inculcated in their heart and the lack of proximity to Allah they have saddens them. Hence, they seek to make amends for it by utilizing all their efforts in the path of Allah’s servitude. They busy themselves in learning the profound teachings of the Qur’an, serving the Muslim nation, standing up against the oppressors, doing acts of worship, and so on.
Such an internal revolution once occurred to a man named Bishr during the life of Imam Mūsā ibn Jaʿfar (a). The Imam was passing by Bishr’s house when he heard the sound of forbidden music and singing coming from within. He asked a maid who had come out from the house at that time, “Is the owner of this house a free man or a slave?” She replied, “He is a free man.” The Imam replied, “You have uttered the truth. Had he been a slave he would have feared his Master.” When the maid returned, her master Bishr al-Hāfī was sitting at a table with wine. He asked her, “Why did you return late?” She described her conversation with the Imam. Bishr ran outside barefoot and hurriedly reached the presence of the Imam. With tears in his eyes, he expressed his remorse and at the Imam’s blessed hands he repented. A spiritual transformation engulfed Bishr because of the Imam’s indirect speech, to the extent that he became one of the mystics! (Qummī, Muntahā al-Āmāl, v. 2, p. 348)
We pray to Allah the Almighty to allow us to waken up from the slumber of negligence and hasten towards His forgiveness. We ask Him to allow His speech, the Noble Qur’an, as well as the speech of His close servants to touch our hearts and evoke a transformation that causes us to rectify ourselves in what remains of our short lives.
Resources: Āyatullāh Sayyid Alī Khamenei, Tarhe Kullī-ye Andishe-ye Islamī Dar Qur’ān(Islamic Beliefs).