Pilgrims praying at Mount Arafat (BBC News)
Say : “O you servants of Mine who have transgressed against your ownselves! Despair not of God’s mercy: behold, God forgives all sins – for, verily, He alone is much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace.” (39:53)
We all need forgiveness. No matter how infallible we think we are- how sensible, how careful, how conscientious… we make mistakes. And sometimes they’re really big ones. In just a few days, the best day of the year will be upon us.
1. Ask for forgiveness.
Something I have learned through Islam is that seeking forgiveness is a whole-body experience. It is not the flippant repentance I used to seek as a child- squeezing my eyes shut, begging for forgiveness, and bargaining with an act of goodness, only to revert to bad behavior when I felt that my penance was done. Since becoming Muslim, I’ve been caught off guard by the intensity of emotion that accompanies my prayers for forgiveness (when they are done correctly). Despite how difficult it is to accept responsibility for certain acts, I am inexplicably grateful that I now have the ability to recognize that they are mistakes. Or that I care enough to apologize for them. Or that I am humble enough to acquiesce to ALLAH’s power to forgive. Reflect on ALLAH’s boundless mercy, celebrate HIS limitless powers, and call on HIM:
“O Son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O Son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. O Son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins as great as the earth, and were you then to face Me ascribing no partners to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as it.” (Hadith Qudsi)
2. Forgive others who have wronged you.
The Quran and the legacy of the Prophet (SAW) regarding forgiveness and mercy towards others is very clear.
“Pardon them and overlook – Allah loves those who do good” (Qur’an 5:13)
“Those who control their anger and are forgiving towards people; Allah loves the good.” (Qur’an, 3: 134)
How unjustifiably haughty and unjust we would be to refuse others what we wanted for ourselves, in this case, forgiveness. Without bestowing forgiveness, we imprison ourselves to destructive emotions associated with resentment, pain, and possibly hatred. Out of spite, pride, or obstinacy, we CHOOSE to carry the baggage of our damaged souls. This is not the way of a Muslim… so let us forgive. Pray for the strength and humility to forgive as you wish to be forgiven.
“The Messenger of Allah was seated in a gathering with the Sahabah when he looked towards the entrance and said, “A man of Paradise is coming.” At that instance someone who seemed to be very ordinary entered the mosque where they were seated. A Sahabi was curious as to why the Prophet .‘ said this, so he followed the man to his house. This Sahabi told the man that he was a traveler and stayed as a guest. For three days the Sahabi saw nothing unusual, so he finally told the man what the Prophet had said and asked him what was so special. The man thought for a long time and said, ‘There might be one thing — before going to sleep every night I forgive everyone and sleep with a clean heart.’
I’ve been absent for about six months now due to a combination of things- travel, lack of enthusiasm, lack of will. I’ll write more about that later. Now, I think it’s more important to focus on these next few days. Focus on your worship. How merciful ALLAH is, that one day of sincere worship and repentance can absolve a lifetime of sins! What have we done- what are we doing- to deserve this immeasurable gift? Here’s a link to a beautiful post by Hesham Hassaballah about the Day of Arafat. It is very much worth the read.
Forgive my absence for so long. I pray that you have all been well and will wake to a clean slate and fervent celebration on Eid Day. Ameen.