Reflection No. 127 on Q 3:135 – Istighfar
وَمَنْ يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ
And who forgives the sins except Allah? Sūrat Āli ‘Imrān (No. 3), Āyat 135
As we end the holy month of Ramadan 1434 we hope that we are among those whom Allah has forgiven during this month. According to the Holy Prophet (s) the person who is not forgiven in this month is unfortunate. It is testimony to the love that Allah has for the human being and how He wants us to succeed in the race towards Him, that He has allowed us to repent and seek forgiveness after we do wrong. Istighfār, i.e. pleading Allah for forgiveness, is the weapon of the believer against his nafs, against the Shaytān who is always trying to lead him astray. It is with what he fights off the waves of negligence and heedlessness that gather on the heart.
Istighfār is not only for sins committed, but also for not reaching up to one’s potential in relation to Allah. Each person has a level of understanding and awareness, knowledge and help from God. But we often don’t live up to the standards He expects of us, and that is what creates the constant need of istighfār. We require istighfār for the secret negative thoughts that cloud our mind, for the times when we distance ourselves from God, for not magnifying Allah as He deserves, for falling short in so many areas in which we could have done more . . . There is a lot that we are guilty of. It is amazing how quickly we become satisfied with the little that we do, and assume presumptuously that we are not from among the sinners so desperately in need of forgiveness.
The Holy Prophet (s) said; Increase your istighfār, for Allah the Honored and Magnificent has not taught you istighfār except because He wishes to forgive you. (MH, H. 14793). He was once talking to his companions and told them, ‘Surely Allah the Almighty forgives all the sinners except he who does not wish to be forgiven.’ The companions said [in surprise], ‘O Prophet of Allah, who does not wish to be forgiven?’ The Prophet (s) replied, ‘One who does not seek forgiveness.’ (MH, H. 14794)
God likes the believer who pleads humbly for the erasing of the sins that have accumulated and are weighing him down. In the words of Imam Zaynul ‘Ābidīn (a): I find no one but You to forgive my sins, and I see none but You to mend my brokenness! . . . If You cast me out from Your door, in whom shall I take shelter? If You repel me from Your side, in whom shall I seek refuge? (Whispered Prayer of the Repenters, SaHīfa)
May we be from those for whom the holy month leaves with a complete cleansing of all indecencies and sins, releasing them from the evil effects of the wrong they have done.
Sources: Mīzānul Hikmah, Muhammadi Rayshahrī;
SaHīfa Sajjādiyya, Imam Zaynul ‘Ābidīn (a).