Five essential hadiths for seeking Allah’s forgiveness in Ramadan

Jalees Ahmad, Al Hakam
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Hung Li | Unsplash

Ramadan is certainly a time when we heighten our relationship with Allah, aspiring for His mercy and closeness. No matter what one’s spiritual status may be, we all need to find a period to exercise and rejuvenate our faith in God.

It is reported that our noble Prophet Muhammadsa would engage in such extensive prayer that his feet would swell. When asked about the reason for his abundant prayers, he would respond: “Should I not be a grateful servant to Allah?” (Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab ar-riqaq, Hadith 6471)

Indeed, without a doubt or any need for dispute, we know for certain that Allah was pleased with the Holy Prophetsa. Therefore, if we desire that God be pleased with us, we have the blueprint before us—the blueprint being the noble character and qualities of Allah’s Messengersa.

It is narrated that during gatherings, the Holy Prophetsa would supplicate a hundred times, saying:

رَبّ اغْفِرْ لِي وَتُبْ عَلَىَّ إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ التَّوَّابُ الرَّحِيمُ

“My Lord, forgive me and grant me pardon; You are the Most Forgiving, the Most Merciful.” (Sunan Abi Dawud, Kitab al-witr, Hadith 1516)

During this blessed month, there are many things we will read, hear, and experience that will help our faith. However, it can be challenging to remember all those things at all times. Hence, with this in mind, here are five things to remember when seeking forgiveness from Allah this Ramadan.

1. Seek, and it shall be granted

It is narrated that Allah’s Messengersa said:

“A servant committed a sin and then said, ‘O Allah, forgive me my sins.’ Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, said, ‘My servant committed a sin and then he realised that he has a Lord Who forgives sins and holds the sinner accountable.’ He then sinned again and said, ‘My Lord, forgive me my sin.’ Allah, the Exalted and High, said, ‘My servant committed a sin and then came to realise that he has a Lord Who would forgive his sin or hold him accountable.’ He again sinned and said, ‘My Lord, forgive me for my sin.’ Allah, the Exalted and High, said, ‘My servant has committed a sin and then came to realise that he has a Lord Who forgives sins or holds him accountable. O servant, do as you wish. I have granted you forgiveness.’” (Sahih Muslim, Kitab at-tawbah, Hadith 2758a)

This highlights Allah’s boundless mercy and forgiveness for those who sincerely repent for their sins. It shows the importance of acknowledging our wrongdoings and weaknesses, seeking forgiveness, and trusting in Allah’s compassion and willingness to pardon. So, remember: seek, and it shall be granted.

2. ‘None but Thee forgives sins’

It is reported that Hazrat Abu Bakrra once asked the Holy Prophetsa for a supplication to use in his prayers. The Holy Prophetsa replied to him to pray:

اللّٰهُمَّ إِنّي ظَلَمْتُ نَفْسِي ظُلْمًا كَثِيرًا، وَلاَ يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ إِلاَّ أَنْتَ، فَاغْفِرْ لِي مِنْ عِنْدِكَ مَغْفِرَةً، إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ‏

“O Allah, I have indeed wronged myself greatly, and none but Thee forgives sins. Grant me forgiveness directly from You. You are the Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Al-Adab al-Mufrad, Kitab ad-du‘a, Hadith 706)

Not only was this prayer taught to Hazrat Abu Bakrra directly by the Holy Prophetsa, but it also holds a special message that we must remember: “none but Thee forgives sins.” In our everyday lives, we can, at times, lean towards others and make them the source of our needs. However, we must remember that everything is in the hands of Allah: our forgiveness, life, death—everything. Thus, when we seek forgiveness from Allah, we must do so with firm faith that it is only He who can forgive us our sins and rejuvenate us.

3. Continue to pray to God, for He shall ‘forgive you without hesitation’

Often, when we pray, we feel the need for an immediate answer. Those who are patient benefit, while those who remain impatient may ultimately surrender to failure. Thus, it is our task to pray and to persist in praying. And it is in the hands of Allah to answer.

It is narrated that Allah’s Messengersa said:

“Allah, Blessed is He and Most High, said: ‘O son of Adam! Indeed, as long as you invoke Me and place your hope in Me, I forgive you, regardless of what transgressions you may have committed, and I do not hold it against you. O son of Adam! Even if your sins were to reach the clouds of the sky, and then you sought forgiveness from Me, I would forgive you without hesitation. O son of Adam! If you were to bring to Me sins nearly as great as the earth itself, and you then approached Me without associating any partners with Me, I would come to you with forgiveness nearly as great as that.’” (Jami‘ at-Tirmidhi, Hadith 3540)

4. Follow this and angels shall supplicate for you

In our very limited time on Earth, we are always in need of prayers. And what better way is there than the angels who are in the command of Allah to pray for you.

Our noble Prophet Muhammadsa said: “The angels continue to seek forgiveness from Allah for any of you as long as they remain at their place of prayer [musalla] and do not break wind (hadath). They supplicate:

اللّٰهُمَّ اغْفِرْ لَهُ اللّٰهُمَّ ارْحَمْهُ

“‘O Allah! Forgive him, O Allah! Have mercy on him.’” (Sunan an-Nasa’i, Kitab al-masajid, Hadith 733)

This short yet powerful hadith of the Holy Prophetsa stresses the importance of maintaining purity and devotion during prayer, as it draws the blessings and forgiveness of Allah, as well as the intercession of angels on behalf of the worshipper. This hadith explains and teaches us the importance of remaining patient and focused in prayer while we are at the place of prayer.

Oftentimes, amidst the hustle and bustle of life, some may be conditioned to praying and leaving immediately to return to their day-to-day routine. This hadith acts as a reminder for us to set our priorities straight and understand that all success lies in patiently seeking God.

5. ‘Forgive others, and Allah will forgive you’

It is narrated that the Holy Prophetsa said: “Display mercy and you will receive mercy. Forgive, and Allah will forgive you.” (Al-Adab al-Mufrad, Kitab ar-rahmah, Hadith 380)

This short yet profound hadith carries a great lesson for us all. We read about mercy and forgiveness and the compassion we can instil within ourselves so that we too are seen with compassion by our Lord.

Imagine, never mind the entire world, if at least the Muslim world acted upon this hadith. It would create remarkable change worldwide. Too many times we indulge in matters that, if we think about it, are in fact trivial. Yet, as they escalate and ultimately lead to the cutting of ties, friendships, etc., the act of forgiving others becomes impossible for a person who feels they have been deeply wronged. Yet, we must understand that with what heart, mind and soul will we ask God for something that we are not ready to give? How can we expect God to grant us something that we are not ready to give somebody else?

Thus, the hadith stresses the importance of showing mercy and empathy towards others. And that by doing so, one will receive the same treatment from Allah. And so, remember that to be granted forgiveness, we must not only pray for it but also display it to the creation of Allah.

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