“O Son of Adam!”
Anas (radi Allahu anhu) said that he heard the Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) say: “Allah the Exalted said: “O son of Adam! As long as you invoke Me and plead to Me, I will forgive you whatever you have committed, and I will not make much of it. O son of Adam! If your evil deeds reach the borders of the sky, and then you ask Me for forgiveness, I will forgive you. O son of Adam! If you bring forth the earth full of errors, then you meet Me while you do not associate anything (or anyone) with Me, I will bring forth for you its full of forgiveness.”
[Sunan At-Tirmidhi - Classed as Hasan by Shaykh al-Albaani ]
This Hadith demonstrates the necessity and the high status of Tawheed (worshiping Allah). It also demonstrates the great rewards for those who believe. This Hadith encourages seeking Allah’s forgiveness and returning to Allah, the Exalted and Ever High, in repentance.
Allah, the Exalted said: “O son of Adam!”
Adam is the father of mankind. He was an honourable Prophet whom Allah chose, as He says (interpretation of the meaning): “Allah chose Adam, Nuh, the family of Ibrahim and the family of Imran above the Alamin (mankind and Jinn) (of their times). Offspring, one of the other, and Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower.” [aal-Imraan 3:33]
Allah has created Adam with His Own Hands and then blew life into him. Allah then commanded the angels to bow down and prostrate before Adam (alaihi assalam), and they all adhered to this command, as was confirmed in the Qur’an and the Sunnah.
Allah taught Adam (alaihi assalam) the names of everything: “And He taught Adam all the names (of everything), then He showed them to the angels and said: “Tell Me the names of these if you are truthful.” [al-Baqarah 2:31 (interpretation of the meaning)]
In addition, Allah mentioned Adam’s story and his encounter with Shaitaan, and how Shaitaan whispered to Adam and lured him to disobey Allah. Shaitaan first came to Adam (alaihi assalam) using cunning and fake sincerity, saying to Adam and Eve, as mentioned in the Qur’an (interpretation of the meaning): “Then Shaitaan whispered suggestions to them both in order to uncover that which was hidden from them of their private parts; he said: “Your Lord did not forbid you this tree save you should become angels or become of the immortals.” And he (Shaitaan) swore by Allah to them both.” [al-A'raf 7:20-21]
Thus, Shaitaan swore that he was sincere and truthful. Allah stated in another verse (interpretation of the meaning): “Then Shaitaan whispered to him saying: “O Adam! Shall I lead you to the Tree of Eternity and to a kingdom that will never waste away?” [Ta-Ha 20:120]
Such are the tools that Shaitaan uses to mislead mankind and to guide them away from Allah’s Path. Shaitaan depends on people’s weaknesses until he directs them to fall into the disobedience of Allah. When they fall in disobedience, Shaitaan says, as Allah stated (interpretation of the meaning): “And Shaitaan will say when the matter has been decided, “Verily, Allah promised you a promise of truth. And I too promised you, but I betrayed you. I had no authority over you except that I called you, so you responded to me. So blame me not, but blame yourselves. I cannot help you, nor can you help me. I deny your former act in associating me (Shaitaan) as a partner with Allah (by obeying me in the life of the world). Verily, there is a painful torment for the Thalimun (polytheist and wrong-doers, etc).” [Ibraheem 14:22]
This is what Shaitaan will do on the Day of Resurrection. Therefore, the slave should be aware of Shaitaan’s deceiving ways. Allah mentioned the story of Adam and Shaitaan, which teaches that when a slave commits a sin, he should go back to Allah in repentance, for He has a wide forgiveness, as the above mentioned Hadith demonstrates.
Adam and Eve went back to Allah in repentance, and Allah forgave them: “They said: “Our Lord! We have wronged ourselves. If You forgive us not, and bestow not upon us Your Mercy, we shall certainly be of the losers.” [al-Araf 7:23 (interpretation of the meaning)]
“Then his Lord chose him, and turned to him with forgiveness, and gave him guidance.” [Ta-Ha 20:122 (interpretation of the meaning)]
Thus, this Hadith reminds mankind that they are Adam’s offspring; it also reminds them of Adam’s mistake and his going back to Allah in repentance, and Allah forgiving him. Furthermore, this hadith encourages mankind to seek Allah’s forgiveness for their mistakes and errors.
Achieving Allah’s Forgiveness:
Supplications – “As long as you invoke Me…”
Du’aa in the Islamic Terminology entails invoking and pleading to Allah seeking the Khayr (everything that is good) from Him and seeking to fulfill the various needs to reach the sought goals and achievements.
Allah has commanded us to ask Him in supplication, He said in the Qur’an (interpretation of the meaning): “And your Lord said: ‘Invoke Me, and I will respond to your (Du’aa). Verily, those who scorn My worship (i.e. do not supplicate to Me and do not believe in My Oneness) they will surely enter Hell in humiliation!” [Ghafir 40:60]
The Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “Du’aa (supplication) is worship” (and then he recited the above verse). [Sunan Abu Dawood]
He (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) also said: “He who does not ask Allah, Allah will be angry with him.” [Sunan At-Tirmidhi]
The Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) encouraged the Muslims to always invoke Allah in supplications, he said: “No Muslim will perform a Du’aa that neither entails a sin, not cutting the relations of the womb, but Allah will give him (or her) one of three: He will either give him what he asks for sooner, or He will keep it for him for the Last Life, or He will avert harm that is equal in proportion from touching him.” They (the companions (radi Allahu anhum)) said: “We will then perform it much.” He (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “Allah is even more (Gracious, Generous, Kind etc.).” [Al-Mishkat]
He (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) also said: “Allah is shy and Most Gracious, He is shy that the slave raises his hands unto Him (in Du’aa) and then return them empty.” [Sahih al-Jami]
From amongst the rules of supplication is an attentive heart that comprehends what he is saying and realises Whom he is asking. The Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “Ask Allah in Du’aa while certain of deliverance, and know that Allah does not accept Du’aa from an un-attentive, heedless heart.” [Sahih al-Jami]
Also, while asking Du’aa one should insist and repeat the Du’aa. He should show meekness and poverty to Allah, for there is no helper or refuge except Allah, He Alone is forgiving: “And none can forgive sins but Allah.” [aal-Imraan 3:135 (interpretation of the meaning)]
Allah’s Messenger (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “When one of you asks (Allah) in supplication, let him insist in Du’aa and let him not say: ‘O Allah forgive me if you will.’ For no one is able to force Allah.” [Sahih Muslim]
“…and plead to Me”
Pleading means to ask Allah’s forgiveness for one’s sins and disobedience, hoping for Allah’s Mercy along with abandoning sins. For example: when one falls into shortcomings, while having faith in Allah – he pleads to Allah to erase his mistakes. Likewise, when one performs an act of obedience, he should hope for its acceptance and plead to Allah to accept it.
As for he who indulges in sin and hopes for a pardon without quitting (the sin) and without feeling sorrow, he is in Ghurur (deceiving himself).
Anas (radi Allahu anhu) related that the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) entered on a young man who was dying, and said to him: “How are you?” He said: “I hope in Allah and fear my errors!” the Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “They (fear and hope) will not be combined in the slave’s heart in this situation, but Allah will give him what he hopes for and will grant him safety from what he fears.” [Sunan At-Tirmidhi]
Many ahadith contain Allah’s Promises and Warnings, that arouse feelings of hope and fear. Abu Hurayrah (radi Allahu anhu) narrated: “I heard the Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) say: “Allah has created the mercy, when He created it, a hundred parts, so He kept ninety-nine parts with Him and sent one part down (and spread it) between His creation. Hence, if the Kafir knew all what Allah has in Mercy, he will not feel hopeless in Paradise. And if the believer knew all what Allah has in punishment, he will never feel safe from the Fire.” [Sahih al-Bukhari]
Thus, a Muslim should have both hope and fear from His Wrath, as Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): “And they hope for His Mercy and fear His Torment.” [Al-Isra 17:57]
Hopelessness in Allah’s Mercy:
Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): “And never give up hope of Allah’s Mercy. Certainly no one despairs of Allah’s Mercy, except the people who disbelieve.” [Yusuf 12:87]
Al-Qurtubi (may Allah have mercy upon him) commented on this verse: “This proves that Al-Qunut (despairing from Allah’s Mercy) is among the major sins.”
Further, Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): “(Ibrahim (alaihi assalam) said: “And who despairs of the Mercy of his Lord except those who are astray?” [al-Hijr 15:56]
And: “Say: “O My slaves who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah, verily Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.” [az-Zumar 39:53]
“And whoever does evil or wrongs himself but afterwards seek Allah’s forgiveness, he will find Allah Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [an-Nisa 4:110]
Therefore, no slave of Allah should feel despair or hopeless in Allah’s Mercy.
Al-Istigfar Regardless of the Enormity of the Mistakes:
“O son of Adam! If your evil deeds reach the borders of the sky, and then you ask Me for forgiveness, I will forgive you”
Istigfar literally means covering a thing with that which will preserve its purity. The forgiveness from Allah for the slave means Allah’s saving the slave from His Wrath. Istigfar also entails asking Allah for His forgiveness and to cover the slave’s mistakes, erase them and protect him or her from their danger or bad consequences.
Allah commands Istigfar from His slaves in many verses of the Qur’an: He said (interpretation of the meaning): “And seek forgiveness of Allah. Verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most-Merciful.” [al-Muzammil 73:20]
“So glorify the Praises of Your Lord, and ask for His Forgiveness. Verily, He is the one Who accepts the repentance and forgives.” [An-Nasr 110:3]
Hence, whenever the slave commits errors or sins, he is required to seek Allah’s forgiveness for his mistake.
The Virtues of Istigfar:
Allah has praised who performs Al-Istigfar. He said (interpretation of the meaning):
“For al-Muttaqun (the pious) there are gardens with their Lord, underneath which rivers flow. …. (They are) those who say: “Our Lord! We have indeed believed, so forgive us our sins and save us from the punishment of the Fire… and those who pray and beg Allah’s Pardon in the last Hour of the night.” [aal-Imraan 3:15-17]
And: “The torment will be doubled to him on the Day of Resurrection, and he will abide therein in disgrace. Except those who repent and believe and do righteous deeds, for those Allah will change their sins into good deeds, and Allah is Oft-Forgiving; Most Merciful.” [al-Furqaan 25:69-70]
He also stated: “…nor will He punish them while they seek (Allah’s) forgiveness.” [al-Anfal 8:22]
Al-Istigfar is among the reasons behind sending down the rain, and receiving an increase in strength and offspring, along with much more provision, sustenance and bounties. Allah said that Nuh (alaihi assalam), said: “I said (to them): “Ask forgiveness from your Lord; Verily, He is Oft-forgiving. He will send rain to you in abundance. And give you increase in wealth and children, and bestow on you gardens and bestow on you rivers.” [Nuh 71:10-12 (interpretation of the meaning)]
And: “And O my people! Ask forgiveness of you Lord and then repent to Him, He will send you (from the sky) abundant rain, and add strength to your strength, so do not turn away as Mujrimun (criminals, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah).” [Hud 11:52 (interpretation of the meaning)]
Al-Qurtubi commented: “These two verses testify the fact that al-Istigfar causes the sending down of the sustenance and the rain (by Allah).”
Forms and Types of Istigfar:
There are several types and forms of Al-Istigfar in the Sunnah.
Shaddad ibn Aws (radi Allahu anhu) related from the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) that he said: “The master of all Istigfar: ‘Allahumma, Anta Rabbi, La ilaha illa Anta, Khalaqtany, wa ana Abduk, wa ana ‘Ala ‘Ahdhika wa Wa’dika Mastat’at, A’uthu Bika Min Sharri ma San’at, Abu’-Laka Bini’matika ‘Alay, wa Abu’-Bithanbi, Faghfirly, Fa-innahu La Yaghfiru Ath-Thunuba Illa Anta”
[O Allah! You are my Lord, there is no deity worthy of worthy of worship except You. You have created me and I am Your slave, and I am firm on Your covenant, and (awaiting) Your Promise, as much as I can. I seek refuge with You from the evil of what I have done. I hereby affirm Your Bounty on me, and I carry the burden of my sin, so forgive me, for there is none other than You Who forgives the sins.”] If he says it when he reaches the evening and then dies, he will enter Paradise. And likewise if he says it when he reaches the day, and then dies during the day.” [Sahih al-Bukhari]
In addition, Aa’isha (radi Allahu anha) said: “Before he died, the Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) used to always say: “Sub’hanaka Allahumma Wa Bi’Hamdika, Astagfiruka wa Atibu Ilayk.” [All the praise is due to You, O Allah, and the thanks. I seek Your forgiveness and I repent to You.] [Sahih Muslim]
Also, Ibn Umar (radi Allahu anhu) said: “We used to count for the Messenger of Allah in one audience a hundred times (meaning he says): “Rabbi Igfirli wa Tub ‘Alayya Innaka Anta at-Tawwabu Ar-Raheem” [O My Lord! Forgive me and accept my repentance, for You are the Ever-Forgiving, the Ever-Merciful] [Sahih al-Jami]
Combining Al-Istigfar and at-Tawbah:
At-Tawbah means choosing to abandon a sin that one has actually committed, or which he has not yet committed, all for the sake of Allah. Hence, At-Tawbah entails abandoning sins, it is frequently mentioned with Al-Istigfar. Allah said (interpretation of the meaning): “Will they not repent to Allah and ask His Forgiveness? For Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [al-Maidah 5:74]
Conditions of at-Tawbah:
Abandoning the Sin – Allah said (interpretation of the meaning): “And those who, when they have committed Fahisah (illegal acts) or wronged themselves with evil, remember Allah and ask forgiveness for their sins; – and none can forgive sins but Allah. And do not persist in what (wrong) they have done, while they know.” [aal-Imraan 3:135]
Al-Hafidh said: “This indicates that among the conditions that ensure the acceptance of Al-Istigfar, is that Mustagfir (one who seeks Allah’s forgiveness) abandons the sin. Otherwise, performing Istigfar with the tongue while still committing the sin, is a type of joyful play. If the Tawbah is with regards to Allah’s rights, abandoning it is sufficient, along with performing al-Kaffarah (monetary fines and dues) and al-Qadha (performing abandoned acts of worship), if they are warranted.”
Sincerity – Shunning the sin should be for the sake of Allah Alone. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): “And they were commanded not, but that they should worship Allah, and worship none but Him Alone with sincerity.” [al-Bayyinah 98:5]
Also, the Prophet of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “The actions are only tied to the intentions and every person will earn that which he intended.” [Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim]
Returning the Rights of the Oppressed – The Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “He who has a right he has to pay back (retribution), whether with regards to honor, or anything else, let him pay it back today before there will be no Dinar no Dirham (types of currency) (i.e. on the Day of Judgment): if he has good works, it (the other people’s right) will be taken from him, what is equal to the injustice. If he has no good deeds then some of his foe’s sins will be taken from him, and he (the unjust person) will be burdened with them.” [Sahih al-Bukhari]
If the sin is connected to other individuals, then he should return the wrong to its rightful owner if it is a material wrong, such as taking somebody’s wealth or violating a right. However, if the wrong committed against someone is not material, such as backbiting or tale-carrying then he should ask for his pardon, and if he is unable to, then he should seek forgiveness for him and make Du’aa for him plentifully.
Hastening – One should hasten in performing Tawbah, since repentance is accepted before one faces death. The Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “Allah, the Exalted and Ever-High, accepts the Tawbah from the slave as long as he did not ‘Yugharghir’ (when his soul reaches his throat at the time of death).” [Sharh Muslim]
Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): “And of no effect is the repentance of those who continue to do evil until death faces one of them and he says: ‘Now I repent.’” [an-Nisaa 4:18]
He (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) also said: “He who performs at-Tawbah before the sun rises from where it sets down, Allah will forgive him.” [Sahih Muslim]
One should also race towards righteous actions. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): “And verily, I am indeed forgiving to him who repents, believes, and does righteous deeds and then remains constant in doing them.” [Ta-Ha 20:82]
Regret and Remorse of the heart – Repentance should be with sincerity and Sincere Tawbah involves feeling sorrow in the heart (for the mistake), performing Istigfar with the tongue, abandoning the sin, and firmly intending that it will not be repeated.
Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): “O you who believe! Turn to Allah with sincere repentance.” [Tahrim 66:8]
Thus, whoever makes a resolve to repent and seeks forgiveness, then he should cease committing the sin and abandon its habit, and have the regret of what he has done in regard to Allah’s rights from violating His prohibitions and transgressing His limits, and he should make a firm resolve with his heart to never return to it.
“O son of Adam! If you bring forth the earth full of errors, then you meet Me while you do not associate anything with Me, I will bring forth for you its full of forgiveness.”
Allah has emphasised His Tawheed (Oneness) in this statement. He has laid down the fundamental condition of Forgiveness , it being the Belief in His Oneness i.e. Tawheed because Tawheed is the fundamental basis for all righteous actions.
Belief in the Lordship of Allah – Tawheed ar-Ruboobeyyah:
This category deals with the fundamental concept that Allah Alone is the “Rabb” – Rabb is the One who Creates, Sustains and Commands. We believe that, Allah Alone caused all things to exist, He Sustains and Maintains the creation in accordance with His Knowledge and Power, as and how He Wills without any need from it or for it.
He is the sole Master of the universe and its habitants and the Hereafter without any rivals in His sovereignty (dominion, kingdom). The Grantor of kindness and goodness to them, the One who takes charge of their provision and is fully aware of both their secrets and that which they openly manifest. None shares with Him any of these qualities.
“Surely, His is the Creation and the Commandment” [Al-A'raf 7:54 (interpretation of the meaning)]
“Allah created all things and He is the Wakeel (Trustee, Disposer of affairs, Guardian) of all things” [az-Zumar 39:62 (interpretation of the meaning)]
“Such is your Lord, His is the Kingdom. And those whom you invoke or call upon own not even a Qitmir (the membrane of the date-stone)” [Faatir 35:13]
“No calamity strikes except by Allah’s permission” [at-Taghabun 64: 11]
Belief in the Worship of Allah – Tawheed al-Eebadah:
This category includes believing that Allah, the One free from all defects, is the only true deity deserving of worship, as opposed to anything else that is worshiped. Allah Alone is worthy of all forms of worship oral, fiscal and of body. “Worship Allah! You have no god besides Him.” [al-Muminun 23:23 (interpretation of the meaning)]
“Say (O Muhammad (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam)): “Verily, my Salat (prayer), my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.” [An'am 6:162]
“And your Lord is One Lord, there is none who has right to be worshipped but He, the Most Beneficient, the Most Merciful.” [al-Baqarah 2:163]
Worship includes every form of worship, as for instance, prayers and actions in prayers, such as standing with folded arms, bowing down, prostration. Offering charity, sacrifice, circumbulation (as of Kaaba) retreat (Itikaaf) and supplication, seeking help and protection, seeking pleasure, trust and reliance, fear and love. Every form of the above mentioned acts of worship should be for Allah Alone. If a single form of worship is performed for any other except Allah it would amount to polytheism in worship.
Belief in the Names and Attributes of Allah Tawheed al-Asma wa Sifaat:
Narrated Abu Hurayrah (radi Allahu anhu): “Allah has ninety-nine names and whoever believers in their meanings and acts accordingly, will enter Paradise…” . [Sahih al-Bukhari]
The Names and Attributes should be affirmed according to what Allah has affirmed for Himself in His Noble Book and what His Messenger Muhammad (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) in the authentic Sunnah, without any Tahreef (Alteration in the words or meaning), Ta’teel (Rejection or denial of the attributes), Takyeef (Asking how?) or Tamtheel (Resembling Allah to His creation).
These three categories are inseparable. Omission of any of these leads to the opposite: SHIRK – Polytheism.
A Warning Against SHIRK!
Shirk is the biggest injustice and disobedience to Allah. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): “And (remember) when Luqman (alaihi assalam) said to his son when he was advising him: “O my son! Join not in worship others with Allah. Verily, joining others in worship with Allah is great Thulm (wrong) indeed.” [Luqman 31:13]
The end result of this type of Thulm is certainly enormous, humiliating, misery and defeat in this life, and Allah’s wrath and punishment in the Hereafter.
Allah does not forgive Shirk. “Verily! Allah forgives not setting up partners in worship with Him, but He forgives whom He pleases sins other than that.” [an-Nisaa 4:116]
Allah has prohibited Paradise for those who associate partners with Him: “Verily, whosoever sets up partners in worship with Allah, then Allah has forbidden Paradise for him, and the Fire will be his abode. And for the Thalimun (polytheist and wrongdoers) there are no helpers.” [al-Madiah 5:72 (interpretation of the meaning)]
Shirk is behind the rejection and invalidation of good deeds. Allah said (interpretation of the meaning): “And it has been revealed to you (O Muhammad (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) as it was to those (Allah’s Messengers) before you: “ If you join others in worship with Allah (then) surely (all) your deeds will be in vain, and you will certainly be among the losers.” [az-Zumar 39:65]
Therefore, Tawheed is a condition for the acceptance of one’s good deeds. Good Deeds are not accepted from the Mushriks. Even giving aid to the religion and speaking the truth will not save one from the Fire, if he was a Mushrik. Abu Talib, the uncle of Allah’ Messenger (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) – He aided the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) and defended him. He used to agree that Islam was the best of religions. Yet this did not save him from the Fire! He will be in the shallow place in the Fire, with Fire reaching his ankles and causing his brain to boil.
Thus, the slave is required to be aware of associating partners or rivals with Allah, the Exalted and save himself from the Blazing Fire of Hell through believing in His Oneness, asking forgiveness of Allah and hastening towards righteous deeds.
And Allah knows best!