The phrase ‘Astaghfirullah’ which literally means ‘I seek forgiveness of Allah’ is taught to every Muslim child early in his life but have you ever pondered what it means and why is it of immense significance in Islam? Human being is a mannequin of sin and it is because of our evil acts that we drift away from the blessings of our Creator. To earn the pleasure of Allah, it is necessary to purify our souls from sins and this is where Istaghfaar plays an important role.
WHAT IS ISTAGHFAAR?
Istaghfaar is an act of seeking forgiveness from Allah and is of the most significant acts of worship in Islam. The repetition of the phrase ‘Astaghfirullah’ helps a Muslim to get rid of his sins and become a step closer to his ultimate goal of paradise. It is a powerful supplication that earns innumerable blessings and is a way of seeking Allah’s pleasure.
WHAT DOES QURAN SAY?
Allah has 99 names out of which one is ‘Al-Ghaffar’ which means ‘The Forgiver’. What else can be a proof of His benevolence when His name itself says that He is going to forgive the sins of His slaves whenever they turn to Him? Many a times, the superiority of this supplication is mentioned in Quran, a few of the verses are quoted here for better understanding.
“Seek the forgiveness of your Lord, and turn to Him in repentance, that He may grant you good enjoyment, for a term appointed, and bestow His abounding Grace to every owner of grace (i.e. the one who helps and serves needy and deserving, physically and with his wealth, and even with good words). But if you turn away, then I fear for you the torment of a Great Day (i.e. the Day of Resurrection).” (11:3)
Surah Al-Nahl clearly testifies of Allah’s forgiving nature.
“Then verily! Your Lord for those who do evil (commit sins and are disobedient to Allah) in ignorance and afterward repent and do righteous deeds, verily, your Lord thereafter, (to such) is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”(16:110)
Need more examples? Go through the Holy Quran and you’ll find hundreds of them, indicating that repentance is a noble act that accounts for Allah’s benisons.
THE CHIEF PRAYER FOR REPENTANCE
Although the phrase ‘Astaghfirullah’ is an easy and effective way to ask for forgiveness, Prophet Muhammad PBUH taught his followers a chief supplication for repentance which is as follows.
Translation: “O Allah! You are my Lord! None has the right to be worshipped but You. You created me and I am Your slave, and I am faithful to my covenant and my promise as much as I can. I seek refuge with You from all the evil I have done. I acknowledge before You all the blessings You have bestowed upon me, and I confess to You all my sins. So I entreat You to forgive my sins, for nobody can forgive sins except You.”
According to the Prophet,
“If person recites this during the day with strong faith in it and dies on the same day before the sunset, he will be among the people of Paradise and if somebody recites it at night with strong faith in it and dies before sunrise he will be among the people of Paradise.”
(Sahih al-Bukhari; 8, 75,318, at-Tirmidhi; 3393, an-Nasa’i; 5522, Ahmad; 16662)
THE POWER OF REPENTANCE
- Istaghfaar is the gateway to peace and happiness. Reciting it in hardships is guaranteed to relief one from anxiety and distress.
- A repenter’s prayers are accepted and all his supplications are answered.
- Repentance is a key to sustenance and well-being.
- It opens the doors of knowledge, success and productivity.
- The person who asks for Allah’s forgiveness is bestowed with His mercy and blessings.
- It makes a person devoid of worldly tensions and calms the soul.
- Istaghfaar is the best supplication to get rid of depression and low mood.
- Istaghfaar is a constant reminder that Allah is watching every act of ours and thus it keeps us away from evil acts.
- A repenter never suffers from poverty and is blessed with contentment and prosperity from Allah.
Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) highlights the momentousness of repentance in his Hadith,
“If anyone constantly seeks pardon (from Allah), Allah 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.”
(Abu Dawud; Book 20, hadith 1873)
In another Hadith, Allah’s prophet says,
“The one who seeks forgiveness for Muslim males and females from Allah Ta’aala twenty six or twenty five times every day, Allah Ta’ala will count that person among those whose Du’a is accepted, and through the barakah of whom those on earth gain Rizq (sustenance).”
A MOVING TALE
This incident is engraved in the books of Islamic history with gold because of its utmost impact on the readers and the lesson it imparts. A man once came to Al-Hasan Al-Basri and complained of drought due to lack of rain. He was advised to ask for Allah’s forgiveness. Another man came later with complain of poverty. Al-Hasan Al-Basri again offered him to repent for his sins. A third man presented with complains of his wife who cannot bear children. He was asked to recite Astaghfirullah regularly.
The companions present there were utterly amazed and asked him as to how can three different problems have the same solution. To this, Al-Hasan Al-Basri made his colleagues acquainted with the promise of Allah that He did to His creation in Surah Nuh.
“Ask forgiveness of your Lord. Truly He is Oft-Forgiving. He will send rain to you in abundance; increase you in wealth and children; grant you gardens and bestow on you rivers.” (71:10-12)
Repentance is the only thing that can save a man from the punishment of Allah and thus one should never leave this safety net to engulf in the sea of sins.
THE FINAL WORD ON THE MATTER
In light of the above knowledge, we should make a mental note of reciting Astaghfirullah at least 100 times a day as per the Sunnah of our Prophet. The virtue of repentance is clearly highlighted and it is an efficient tool to increase one’s inner strength. Regular act of repentance repels harm, facilitates the affairs of life and increases wealth both in this world and hereafter.
Do not be hesitant to accept the fact that you have sinned and have gone astray the right path. Allah is the most merciful and asking Him for forgiveness would never go in vain. The doors of repentance are open until ten minutes before death so don’t delay it in hope of tomorrow because life is unpredictable. Make it a habit to recite Istaghfaar on a daily basis so you don’t have to worry about your sins when your soul departs from your body. May Allah give us all the courage and will power to follow the path of righteousness. Ameen!
May Allah SWT bless all Muslim brothers and sisters with happiness in their family life!
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