Jul 27, 2012

Nullification of Sins and Ramadan

By Umm Adil

Everyone is talking about Ramadan. It was barely two months away and people were so excited. But something inside you is not letting you share their happiness....What could it be?... Guilt....Years and years of sins piled on top of one another. Hoping for change every Ramadan, but not quite getting there. You almost feel like you don’t deserve to be blessed by this beautiful month.

First, let us all realize that we are the sons & daughters of Adam and each of us commit sins.

“On the authority of Anas, who said: I heard the messenger of Allah say: Allah the Almighty has said: “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 nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as its.” (Al-Tirmidhi, Book 48, Hadith no. 3463)

Once we realize that we have sinned, the next step is repentance, along with a firm resolve not to do it again.

Mercy of Allah
Allah’s Mercy is much too vast for our limited minds to comprehend. There are so many ahadith which talk about the immense Mercy of Allah subhaana wa ta'aala in this month, but these should convince us.

Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: “When there comes the month of Ramadan, the gates of mercy are opened, and the gates of Hell are locked and the devils are chained” (Sahih Muslim, Book 6, Hadith no. 2361)

Don’t we all feel it? Don’t we feel that our inclination to commit sins are much less in Ramadan than other times. That should be proof of hoping for the Mercy promised to us.

And here’s the perfect hadith that should remove all doubt from your mind that if you truly want to be forgiven, just ask Him.

“Whoever fasts during Ramadan with faith and seeking his reward (from Allah) all his past sins will be forgiven. Whoever prays during the night in Ramadan with faith seeking his reward (from Allah) all his past sins will be forgiven. And whoever passes Lailat-ul-Qadr in prayer with faith and seeking his reward (from Allah the Most Exalted) all his past sins will be forgiven.” (Sahih Bukhari, Book 32, Hadith no. 231)

The scholars have said that these refer to the minor sins. For the major sins, we must acknowledge them and seek sincere repentance and InshaAllah we will be forgiven.

Now, this isn’t going to be of much help if we repent for our old sins and keep adding new ones. Yes, we all occasionally slip, but we should sincerely try not to. Even if we do, we should not lose hope of Allah’s Mercy and immediately turn to repentance. A hadith says that the best among the sinners are those who repent.

Haven’t you always wanted more time to devote to Islam? So, every Ramadan try to kick an evil habit, like watching movies or listening to music. Once you do, you’ll have more time for things your soul has been pleading you to do for years- like joining a Qur’an memorization or Arabic class, or reading the volumes of Tafseer ibn Kathir which have been decorating your shelf for years.

Special Times for Making Dua
Ramadan is a special time for making dua, compared to other months and within this month there are specific times which are recommended for making dua. So we should try to utilise them as best we can.

‘Three men whose dua is never rejected (by Allah) are: when a fasting person breaks fast (in another narration, the fasting person until he breaks his fast), the just ruler and the one who is oppressed.’ (Tirmidhi)

So, don’t spend all your time before iftar slaving away in the kitchen. Try to finish work earlier, so you could spend the last moments making dua, before breaking your fast. Try to get the whole family involved, so everyone gets into the habit of making dua before iftar.

We all know the recommendation of dua in the last third of the night, because the Lord descends to the lowest heavens and wants us to ask Him. Combine this with the most powerful night of the year-Laylatul Qadr-the night which has the power of 1000 months - a once in a year opportunity not to be missed.

Another hadith speaks about the three parts Ramadan is divided into. The first ten days are for Mercy, the middle are for Forgiveness and the last are for freedom from the Fire. They all relate to the nullification of sins and forgiveness. So, let’s utilise each part appropriately and make dua.

Duas from the Qur’an
The Qur’an has many beautiful duas and what better way to beg your Lord than by using the very same words revealed by Him?

Here are some duas of seeking forgiveness from the Qur’an:
  • رَبَّنَآ إِنَّنَآ ءَامَنَّا فَٱغْفِرْ لَنَا ذُنُوبَنَا وَقِنَا عَذَابَ ٱلنَّارِ
    "…Our Lord, indeed we have believed, so forgive us our sins and protect us from the punishment of the Fire," (3:16) 
  • رَبَّنَا لَا تُؤَاخِذْنَآ إِن نَّسِينَآ أَوْ أَخْطَأْنَا ۚ رَبَّنَا وَلَا تَحْمِلْ عَلَيْنَآ إِصْرًۭا كَمَا حَمَلْتَهُۥ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِنَا ۚ رَبَّنَا وَلَا تُحَمِّلْنَا مَا لَا طَاقَةَ لَنَا بِهِۦ ۖ وَٱعْفُ عَنَّا وَٱغْفِرْ لَنَا وَٱرْحَمْنَآ ۚ أَنتَ مَوْلَىٰنَا فَٱنصُرْنَا عَلَى ٱلْقَوْمِ ٱلْكَٰفِرِينَ
    "…Our Lord, do not impose blame upon us if we have forgotten or erred. Our Lord, and lay not upon us a burden like that which You laid upon those before us. Our Lord, and burden us not with that which we have no ability to bear. And pardon us; and forgive us; and have mercy upon us. You are our protector, so give us victory over the disbelieving people." (2:286) 
  • رَبَّنَا ظَلَمْنَآ أَنفُسَنَا وَإِن لَّمْ تَغْفِرْ لَنَا وَتَرْحَمْنَا لَنَكُونَنَّ مِنَ ٱلْخَٰسِرِينَ
    "…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) 

Duas from the Sunnah
Here are some duas for forgiveness from the Hadith:
  • اللَّهُمَّ اعْفِرْلِى ذَنْبِئ كُلَّهُ، و جِلَّهُ، وَ أوَّلَهُ وَ آخِرَهُ عَلا نِيَتَهُ وَ سِرَّهُ
    (O Allah! Forgive me all my sins, great and small, the first and the last, those that are apparent and those that are hidden) (Sahih Muslim) 
  • “Astaghfirullaah wa atoobu ilayh”
    “I seek the forgiveness of Allah and repent to Him” (Bukhari, Muslim). This dua is recommended to be recited 100 times during the day. 
  • Sayyid al-Istighfar
    Shaddad ibn Aws (radiAllahu anhu) relates that the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) said that the (Sayyid al-Istighfar) most superior way of asking for forgiveness from Allah is to say (the below du'a). That "If somebody recites it during the day with firm faith in it, and dies on the same day before the evening, he will be from the people of Paradise; and if somebody recites it at night with firm faith in it, and dies before the morning, he will be from the people of Paradise."
    اللَّهُمَّ أَنْتَ رَبِّي لا إِلَهَ إِلا أَنْتَ خَلَقْتَنِي وَأَنَا عَبْدُكَ وَأَنَا عَلَى عَهْدِكَ وَوَعْدِكَمَا اسْتَطَعْتُ أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ شَرِّ مَا صَنَعْتُ أَبُوءُ لَكَ بِنِعْمَتِكَ عَلَيَّ وَأَبُوءُ لَكَ بِذَنْبِي فَاغْفِرْ لِي فَإِنَّهُ لا يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ إِلا أَنْتَ
    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.” (Bukhari, Tirmidhi, Nasa'i, Ahmad) 

Best Dua for Laylatul Qadr
Now, what’s the perfect dua to recite on the last ten days, one of which is Laylatul Qadr? Aishah (radhiAllahu anha), said: "O Messenger of Allah! What if I knew which night Lailatul-Qadr was, then what should I say in it?" He said 'Say اَللَّهُمَّ اِنَّكَ عَفُوٌّ ، تُحِبُّ الْعَفْوَ فَاعْفُ عَنِّي . (O Allah You are The One Who pardons greatly, and loves to pardon, so pardon me.)” (At-Tirmidhi, Book 48, Hadith no. 3435)

Our Prophet salAllahu alayhi wa sallam taught this to his favourite wife. What can be a better dua on that Night? These are by no means the only dua. There are many more from the Qur’an and Sunnah that you can recite not only in Ramadan, but any other time too, and not just for forgiveness, but for virtually any problem you may have.

Let’s not miss this opportunity, for only Allah knows if we can make it to the next Ramadan. Let’s repent sincerely from the sins that make us cringe inside, and get rid of the guilt that burdens our hearts, and end the blessed month with a light and joyous soul, InshaAllah. May Allah bestow His Mercy and Forgiveness on us and the entire Ummah.


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