Al-Istighfâr (Seeking Forgiveness)

by Ibn Taymiyyah

The Messenger of Allâh, sallAllâhu `alaihi wa sallam, said:

"The master of invocations for forgiveness is that the servant says:

'Allâhumma 'anta rabbî, lâ 'ilâha 'illâ 'anta, khalaqtanî, wa 'anâ `abduka, wa 'anâ `alâ `ahdika wa wa`dika mastata`tu, 'a`outhu bika min sharri ma sana`tu, 'abű'u laka bini`matika 'alayya, wa 'abű'u bithambî, faghfirlî fa'innahu lâ yaghfiru 'aththunűba 'illâ 'anta.

O' my 'ilâh You are my Lord, there is no 'ilâh but You. You created me, and I am your bondservant, and I will stick to my covenant and promise [of faith and sincere obedience] to You, as to my ability. I seek refuge in You from the evil of what I have done, I acknowledge, to You, your bounties upon me, and I acknowledge, to You, my sin. Thus forgive me, for none forgives sins except You.

Whoever says this as he enters upon evening, then, dies that night, he would enter Paradise; and if one says this as he enters upon morning, then, dies that day, he would enter Paradise". [Al-Bukhâri]

The servant is always in the blessings of Allâh, which necessitate thankfulness, and in sinfulness, which requires seeking forgiveness. Both of these matters are required and essential for the servant at all times, as the servant does not cease to alternate between Allâh's (various) favors and blessings, and does not cease to be in need of repentance and seeking forgiveness.

This is why the Master of the Children of Adam, and the Leader of the Pious, Muhammad, sallAllâhu `alaihi wa sallam sought forgiveness in all circumstances. He said in an authentic hadîth reported by al-Bukhâri:

"O people, repent to your Lord, for verily I seek forgiveness from Allâh and repent to him more than seventy times in a day."

It is reported in Sahîh Muslim that he said:

"I seek forgiveness one hundred times in a day." [Muslim]

`Abdullah ibn `Umar said: We counted in a single sitting the Messenger of Allâh, sallAllâhu `alaihi wa sallam, saying one hundred times:

"Rabbi-ghfir-lî wa tub `alayya innaka anta-t-tawwabu-l-ghafűr." [My Lord, forgive me and accept my repentance, verily you are Acceptor of Repentance, Oft-Forgiving.] [Ahmad, Abu Dawűd, Ibn Mâjah]

This is why seeking forgiveness was legislated at the end of actions. Allâh the Exalted said:

"Those who seek forgiveness before dawn (at late night)." [Âl `Imrân (3):17]

Some of them said: "Give life to your nights by performing Prayer, and when the time of late night comes, concern yourself with seeking forgiveness."

It is related in the Sahîh that the Prophet, sallAllâhu `alaihi wa sallam, when he finished his Prayer, he would seek forgiveness three times and say:

"Allâhumma 'antas-salamu, wa minkas-salâmu, tabârakta yâ thaljalâli wal 'ikrâmi." [O' my 'ilâh You are 'As-Salâm [One free from flaws], and from You comes Salâm [peace, or safety], blessed are Thee O' haver of glory and kindness.] [Muslim]

Allâh says:

"And seek forgiveness of Allâh. Indeed, Allâh is Forgiving and Merciful." [al-Muzammil (73):20]

(Even) After the Prophet conveyed the Message, fought in the path of Allâh with true jihad, and performed what Allâh ordered more than anyone else, Allâh commanded his Prophet (to perform istighfar), as He the Exalted said:

"When the victory of Allâh has come and the conquest, and you see the people entering into the religion of Allâh in multitudes, then exalt [Him] with praise of your Lord and ask forgiveness of Him. Indeed, He is ever Accepting of repentance." [An-Nasr (110):1-3]

This is why the Dîn is established with Tawhîd and Istighfâr, as Allâh the Exalted said:

"Alif Lâm Ra. [This is] a Book whose verses are perfected an then presented in detail from [one who is] Wise and Acquainted. [Through a messenger, saying], "Do not worship except Allâh. Indeed, I am to you from Him a warner and a bringer of good tidings," and [saying], "Seek forgiveness of your Lord and repent to Him, [and] He will let you enjoy a good provision." [Hűd(11):1-3]

And Allâh says:

"So take a straight course to Him and seek His forgiveness."[Fussilat (41):6].

And He says:

"So know [O Muhammad], that there is no deity except Allâh and ask forgiveness for your sin and for the believing men and believing women." [Muhammad (47):19]

This is why it was it came in a narration: "The Shaytân said: People are destroyed with sins, and they destroy me with 'Lâ ilaha ill Allâh' and seeking forgiveness." [Reported by Ibn Abi Asim and Abu Ya`la, but its chain is a fabrication].

Yűnus, `alayhis salâm, said:

"There is no deity except You; exalted are You. Indeed, I have been of the wrongdoers." [al-Anbiyâ' (21):87]

The Prophet, sallAllâhu `alaihi wa sallam, when he would ride his mount, he would praise Allâh, then say Allâhu Akbar three times, then say:

"Lâ 'ilâha 'illa 'anta subhânaka, thalamtu nafsî, faghfirlî."

[I testify that there is no 'ilah except You, Glorified are You, I have transgressed upon myself, so forgive me] [Abu Dawűd and at-Tirmidhi, who said it is hasan sahîh]

Expiation of a gathering with which the gathering is completed is (the supplication):

"Subhânaka 'allâhumma wa bihamdika, 'ash-hadu 'an lâ 'ilâha 'illa 'anta, 'astaghfiruka wa 'atűbu 'ilayka."

[Glorified are You O' my 'ilâh and I am in Your praise, I testify that there is no 'ilah except You, I ask Your forgiveness and repent unto You.] [Abu Dawűd and At-Tirmidhî, who said it is hasansahîh]

[Majmu' al-Fatawâ 10/88-90]


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