The relationship between al-Tawheed and al-istighfaar: Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali

In his discussion of the conclusion of the month of Ramadan, Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali mentions the following points of benefit concerning the relationship between al-Tawheed and al-istighfaar (seeking Allah’s forgiveness). After mentioning some notes concerning what is conducive to freeing oneself from the hell-fire during Ramadan, he writes:

و فيه أيضا : [ فاستكثروا فيه من أربع خصال : خصلتين ترضون بها ربكم و خصلتين لا غناء لكم عنهما فأما الخصلتان اللتان ترضون بهما ربكم : شهادة أن لا إله إلا الله و الإستغفار و أما اللتان لا غناء لكم عنهما : فتسألون الله الجنة و تستعيذون به من النار ] فهذه الخصال الأربعة المذكورة في الحديث كل منها سبب العتق و المغفرة : فأما كلمة التوحيد : فإنها تهدم الذنوب و تمحوها محوا و لا تبقي ذنبا و لا يسبقها عمل و هي تعدل عتق الرقاب الذي يوجب العتق من النار و من أتى بها أربع مرار حين يصبح و حين يمسي أعتقه الله من النار و من قالها مخلصا من قلبه حرمه الله على النار

And on this topic also is, “So be prolific in four characteristics: Two characteristics by which you please your Lord, and two characteristics which you cannot do without. As for the two characteristics by which you please your Lord – they are they shahaadah that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allaah, and al-istighfaar [seeking Allah’s forgiveness]. And as for the two which you cannot do without – they are your asking Allah for al-jannah and seeking refuge in Him from the Hell-fire.” So all four of the aforementioned characteristics in this statement are causes of emancipation and forgiveness. As for the kalimah al-tawheed (i.e. the shahaadah), then verily it destroys sins and completely erases them and sin does not remain, and no action precedes it [in virtue]. It is equivalent to freeing a slave, which necessitates the freeing of one from the Fire.

 و أما كلمة الإستغفار : فمن أعظم أسباب المغفرة فإن الإستغفار دعاء بالمغفرة و دعاء الصائم مستجاب في حال صيامه و عند فطره و قد سبق حديث أبي هريرة المرفوع : [ يغفر فيه ـ يعني شهر رمضان ـ إلا لمن أبى قالوا : يا أبا هريرة و من أبى ؟ قال : من أبى أن يستغفر الله عز و جل ] قال الحسن : أكثروا من الإستغفار فإنكم لا تدرون متى تنزل الرحمة و قال لقمان لابنه : يا بني عود لسانك الإستغفار فإن لله ساعات لا يرد فيهن سائلا . و قد جمع الله بين التوحيد و الإستغفار في قوله تعالى : { فاعلم أنه لا إله إلا الله و استغفر لذنبك } و في بعض الآثار : أن إبليس قال : أهلكت الناس بالذنوب و أهلكوني بلا إله إلا الله و الإستغفار . و الإستغفار ختام الأعمال الصالحة كلها فيختم به الصلاة و الحج و قيام الليل و يختم به المجالس فإن كانت ذكرا كان كالطابع عليها و إن كانت لغوا كان كفارة لها فكذلك ينبغي أن تختم صيام رمضان بالاستغفار

And as for al-istighfaar: then it is from the greatest of causes of forgiveness, for verily al-istighfaar is a du’aa for forgiveness and the du’aa of a fasting person is answered while he is in the condition of fasting and when he breaks his fast. And the marfoo’ hadeeth of Abu Hurayrah has already proceeded, “‘He forgives therein – meaning in the month of Ramadan – [everyone] except the one who turns away.’ They said, ‘O Abu Hurayrah, who would turn away?’ He said, ‘The one who turns away from seeking the forgiveness of Allah – mighty and sublime is He.’

Al-Hasan said, “Engage is an abundance of istighfaar, for verily you do not know when rahmah descends.” And Luqman said to his son, “O my son, accustom your tongue to istighfaar, for verily there is an hour with Allah in which He does not reject the petitioner.” And Allah has joined both al-tawheed and al-istighfaar in His statement,

فَاعْلَمْ أَنَّهُ لَا إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا اللَّـهُ وَاسْتَغْفِرْ‌ لِذَنبِكَ

So know that there is no deity except Allah and ask forgiveness for your sin,” [47:19].

And in one of the traditions, “Verily Iblis said, ‘I destroy mankind with sins, and they destroy me with laa ilaaha illAllaah and istighfaar.'”

And al-istighfaar is the seal of all righteous deeds, for it is used to conclude the salaah, the Hajj, qiyaam al-lail, and it is used to conclude gatherings for verily it is a remembrance which is like a stamp upon good deeds. If you erred then it is an expiation for that, so likewise one should conclude the fasting of Ramadan with istighfaar.

 و كتب عمر بن عبد العزيز إلى الأمصار يأمرهم بختم رمضان بالاستغفار و صدقة الفطر فإن الفطر طهرة للصائم من اللغو و الرفث و الإستغفار يرقع ما تخرق من الصيام باللغو و الرفث و لهذا قال بعض العلماء المتقدمين : إن صدقة الفطر للصائم كسجدتي السهو للصلاة

‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Azeez wrote to the major cities commanding them to finish Ramadan with istighfaar and charity, i.e. sadaqah al-fitr. For verily the sadaqah al-fitr is a purification for the fasting person from vile language and actions, and the istighfaar mends whatever was torn from the fast by vile language and actions. And it was for this reason that some of the early people said: verily the sadaqah al-fitr is to the fasting person as the prostration of forgetfulness is to the prayer.

و قال عمر بن عبد العزيز في كتابه قولوا كما قال أبوكم آدم : { ربنا ظلمنا أنفسنا و إن لم تغفر لنا و ترحمنا لنكونن من الخاسرين } و قولوا كما قال نوح عليه السلام : { و إلا تغفر لي و ترحمني أكن من الخاسرين } و قولوا كما قال موسى عليه السلام : { رب إني ظلمت نفسي فاغفر لي } و قولوا كما قال ذو النون عليه السلام : { سبحانك إني كنت من الظالمين } ـ

And ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Azeez said in his letter, “Say as your father Adam said, ‘Our Lord, we have wronged ourselves, and if You do not forgive us and have mercy upon us, we will surely be among the losers,‘ [7:23] and say as Nuh (‘alaihis salaam) said, ‘My Lord, I seek refuge in You from asking that of which I have no knowledge. And unless You forgive me and have mercy upon me, I will be among the losers,‘ [11:47] and say as Moosaa (‘alaihis salaam) said, ‘My Lord, indeed I have wronged myself, so forgive me‘ [28:16] and say as Yunus (‘alaihis salaam) said, ‘Exalted are You. Indeed, I have been of the wrongdoers‘ [21:87].

 و يروى عن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه قال : الغيبة تخرق الصيام و الإستغفار يرقعه فمن استطاع منكم أن يجيء بصوم مرقع فليفعل و عن ابن المنكدر معنى ذلك : الصيام جنة من النار ما لم يخرقها و الكلام السيء يخرق هذه الجنة و الاستغفار يرقع ما تخرق منها فصيامنا هذا يحتاج إلى استغفار نافع و عمل صالح له شافع . كم نخرق صيامنا بسهام الكلام ثم نرقعه و قد اتسع الخرق على الراقع كم نرفو خروقه بمخيط الحسنات ثم نقطعه بحسام السيئات القاطع كان بعض السلف إذا صلى صلاة استغفر من تقصيره فيها كما يستغفر المذنب من ذنبه إذا كان هذا حال المحسنين في عباداتهم فكيف حال المسيئين مثلنا في عباداتهم ارحموا من حسناته كلها سيئات و طاعاته كلها غفلات

And it was relayed that Abu Hurayrah (raadiAllaahu ‘anhu) said, “Back-biting tears the fast and istighfaar repairs it. So whoever is able to come with a repaired fast, then let him do so.” Ibn Munkadir explained this to mean, “Fasting is a shield from the fire so long as it is not torn, and vile speech tears this shield while istighfaar repairs what was torn of it. So this fasting of ours is in need of genuine istighfaar and righteous good deeds to intercede for it. How often do we tear our fasting by using harsh words and then mend it while the tear has already expanded beyond the patch? And how often do we mend the tears with the stitching of good deeds and then cut it with a blow from the sword of sins? Some of the salaf, when they would make al-salaah, used to ask for forgiveness for their shortcomings in it just as the sinner would seek forgiveness for his sins. If this was the condition of the muhsineen regarding their worship, then what about the condition of the sinners like ourselves regarding our worship? Have mercy on the one whose good deeds are all sins, and whose acts of obedience are all heedlessness.”

( أستغفر الله من صيامي … طول زماني و من صلاتي )
( صيامنا كله خروق … و صلاته أيما صلاة )
( مستيقظ في الدجى و لكن … أحسن من يقظتي سباتي )

 

و قريب من هذا أمر النبي عليه السلام لعائشة رضي الله عنها في ليلة القدر بسؤال العفو فإن المؤمن يجتهد في شهر رمضان في صيامه و قيامه فإذا قرب فراغه و صادف ليلة القدر لم يسأل الله تعالى إلا العفو كالمسيء المقصر كان صلة بن أشيم يحي الليل ثم يقول في دعائه عند السحر : اللهم إني أسألك أن تجيرني من النار و مثلي يجترىء أن يسألك الجنة كان مطرف يقول : اللهم ارض عنا فأن لم ترض عنا فاعف عنا قال يحيى بن معاذ : ليس بعارف من لم يكن غاية أمله من الله العفو

And close to this is the command of the Prophet to ‘Aa’ishah to ask for al-‘afwa (pardon) during Laylah al-Qadr, for verily the believer exerts himself during the month of Ramadan in his fasting and his standing, so if its conclusion draws near and he encounters Laylah al-Qadr, then he should not ask Allah for anything other than al-‘afwa, as would a sinner with many deficiencies. Silah ibn Asheem used to say during his du’a on laylah al-Qadr in the pre-dawn hours, “O Allah! Indeed I ask that you protect me from the Hell-fire, and the likes of me (even) dares to ask you for al-Jannah.” Mutarrif used to say, “O Allah! Be pleased with us, and if You are not pleased with us then pardon us.” Yahya ibn Mu’adh said, “He is not aware, the one whose highest hope from Allah is not al-afwa.”

( إن كنت لا أصلح للقرب … فشأنكم عفو عن الذنب )

أنفع الاستغفار ما قارنته التوبة و هي حل عقدة الإصرار فمن استغفر بلسانه و قلبه على المعصية معقود و عزمه أن يرجع إلى المعاصي بعد الشهر و يعود فصومه عليه مردود و باب القبول عنه مسدود قال كعب : من صام رمضان و هو يحدث نفسه أنه إذا أفطر بعد رمضان أنه لا يعصي الله دخل الجنة بغير مسألة و لا حساب و من صام رمضان و هو يحدث نفسه إذا أفطر بعد رمضان عصى ربه فصيامه عليه مردود و خرجه سلمة بن شبيب

The most beneficial istighfaar is that which is paired with al-tawbah (repentance), and that is unfastening the knot of stubbornness. So whoever seeks forgiveness with his tongue and his heart for a persistent form of disobedience but resolves to return to that act of disobedience after the month (of Ramadan) and he returns to it, then his fasting is rejected, and the door of acceptance is sealed off from him. Ka’b said, “Whoever fasts Ramadan while saying to himself, ‘When I have finished the fasting of Ramadan, I will not disobey Allah’, then he will enter al-Jannah without questioning or account, and whoever fasts Ramadan while saying to himself, ‘When I have finished the fasting of Ramadan, I will disobey my Lord’, then his fasting is rejected,” and Salamah ibn Shabeeb reported this.

( و لولا التقى ثم النهى خشية الردى … لعاصيت في وقت الصبا كل واجب )
( قضى ما قضى فيما مضى ثم لا يرى … له عودة أخرى لليالي الغوائب )

[Lataa’if al-Ma’aarif pg. 382-385]

See also: Avoid the sins which prevent forgiveness and the acceptance of du’a: Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali

See also: An encouragement towards rectification in the last days of Ramadan: Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali

See also: Seek Forgiveness and Repent; He will give you a good enjoyment and abounding grace

See also: A sin may be beneficial for a person: Ibn al-Qayyim

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10 thoughts on “The relationship between al-Tawheed and al-istighfaar: Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali

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