Istighfaar: Gateway to Blessings Unlimited!
Assalamu Alaikum. Bismillah….
Today I would like to discuss on the Significance of Istighfaar and its benefits. This we need to understand because many Muslims know only one side of the benefits of Istighfaar – the forgiveness of one’s sins – and (in most cases) we Muslims do not know the other blessings that come from Istighfaar.
Meaning of ‘istighfaar’:
The word ‘istighfaar’ comes from the Arabic root ghafara which means ‘to forgive’. ‘Istaghfara’ means ‘to seek forgiveness’. Istighfaar is ‘the Islamic way of seeking forgiveness from Allah, Who is one’s Creator, Nourisher and Cherisher.
When we say ‘astaghfirullaah’ it means ‘I seek forgiveness from Allah’.
Only Allah can forgive the sins of people:
We Muslims firmly believe – and it is natural and the only right way – that it is only Allah who has the right to forgive the sins of people. No human being has any business to interfere in this matter!
Allah is Al-Ghafir, the One Who forgives.
He is Al-Ghafoor, the Most Forgiving.
He is Al-Ghaffaar, the One who is readily inclined towards forgiving.
Seeking forgiveness is enjoined upon believers:
“And seek forgiveness of Allah . Indeed, Allah is ever Forgiving and Merciful”.(Surah an-Nisaa: 106)
“So know, [O Muhammad], that there is no deity except Allah and ask forgiveness for your sin and for the believing men and believing women. And Allah knows of your movement and your resting place”. (Surah Muhammad: 19)
Accordingly, a Muslim is not only enjoined but also highly encouraged to seek forgiveness for oneself and for believing men and believing women. One must always remember one’s own parents and seek the Lord’s forgiveness for their sins and shortcomings.
How many times to seek forgiveness in a day?
According to one authentic hadith, Prophet Muihammad (sal-lal-laahu-alaihi-wa-sallam) used to seek forgiveness from Allah for more than 100 times in a day.
To put it simply: Allah’s thought at all times will motivate one to be conscious of one’s deeds. The more you fear Allah, the more number of times you turn to Him in repentance. There must not be any procrastination in seeking forgiveness. Remembering death very often is the springboard to istighfaar!
Be Quick, Compete and Overtake!
I simply love the two loving commands of Almighty Allah: Saari’oo and Saabi’qoo
“And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord and a garden as wide as the heavens and earth, prepared for the righteous” (Surah Aal-e-Imran: 133)
Saari’oo is in the imperative form which means ‘be fast’, ‘be quick’, ‘be prompt’, ‘run’, ‘hasten’ ‘dash’, ‘speed up’, ‘accelerate’!
If we adopt this attitude of ‘saari’oo’ amongst ourselves, we won’t postpone, we won’t delay, we won’t lag behind, and we won’t have second-thoughts in seeking forgiveness from Allah.
Another beautiful verse related to istighfaar is this:
“So vie with one another in seeking to attain your Lord’s forgiveness and a Garden whose width is as the width of the heaven and the earth, one which has been prepared for those who believe in Allah and His Messengers. That is Allah’s bounty which He bestows upon those whom He pleases. Allah is the Lord of abounding bounty”. (Surah al Hadeed 21)
In our life and work, we compete with each other. We compete for different things and for various reasons. Mostly, man competes for worldly gains and riches (Takathur). Allah vividly describes the contemporary reality of man when He says,
“The craving for ever-greater worldly gains and to excel others in that regard keeps you occupied until you reach your graves”. (Surah al Takathur: 1-2)
Man is busy having cut-throat competitions to pile up wealth upon wealth. Until his last breadth! And he visits his grave without taking that wealth with him!
Sensible people think of the future. That which is to be sent in advance for the preparation of Aakhirah is what the meat of the matter is!
We Muslims need to compete amongst ourselves in seeking forgiveness from Allah. One way of competing is to reduce sinful acts and increase our good deeds (al Hasanaat). After all we are created by Allah for a test: Who excels others in good deeds!
The craving to be good at all times will happen when we remember Allah more and seek His forgiveness very often.
Benefits of Istighfaar:
1) Istighfaar brings forgiveness of one’s sins
Talking about the qualities of righteous people, Allah says:
“These are the ones who, when they commit any indecency and wrong against themselves, instantly remember Allah and implore forgiveness for their sins – for who will forgive sins save Allah? – and who do not wilfully persist in the wrong they did”. (3: 135)
Here, we must note that Allah is not saying that the righteous people will never commit sin but He tells us that whenever they commit any act of evil nature they will immediately remember Allah and their guilty feeling will make them to seek His forgiveness almost immediately after committing the evil act.
Secondly, Allah is pointing towards one important aspect of forgiveness: do not persist in committing the wrong. One has to refrain committing the sin again and again. This is very much essential.
2) Istighfaar brings abundant rain:
Allah tells us some of the benefits of Istighfaar through His blessed Prophet, Nooh (peace be upon him):
“I said to them: “Ask forgiveness from your Lord; surely He is Most Forgiving”. (Surah Nooh: 10)
“He will shower upon you torrents from heaven” (Surah Nooh: 11)
Where people are conscious of their deeds and where they seek forgiveness, there will be abundant rain.
Rain is one natural resource that is essential for many a production in the world.
Sustainable rain is one of the blessings that come from Istighfaar.
3) Istighfaar brings manifold blessings:
“and will provide you with wealth and children, and will bestow upon you gardens and rivers.”
The benefits of Istighfaar, according to this verse of Surah Nooh, is that it will bring:
a) Wealth and riches: Seeking forgiveness for one’s sins from Allah will bring economic and material prosperity.
b) Children: Istighfaar will increase human resources and enhance human development.
c) Gardens: It will aid in cultivation and agriculture. It will help in maintaining balance in the environment by cutting down on deforestation. It will bless the region by maintaining its flora and fauna. It will make people love the environment so they will keep the place green.
d) Rivers: Istighfaar will not keep the people dry. There will be abundance of water, the natural source of survival. It will increase glaciers bringing pure natural water. Rivers can also mean underground treasures in the form of oil and gas.
4) Istighfaar increases the power and strength of the Community as a whole:
“O my people! Ask your Lord for forgiveness and turn to Him in repentance. He will shower abundant rains upon you from the heaven, and will add strength to your strength. Do not turn away as those given to guilt” (Surah Huud: 52)
In this ayah, there is an assurance of the enhancement of power and strength to that Qaum (nation) whose members care and are mindful of Istighfaar. Even though this was said by Prophet Huud to his nation, it is relevant to all nations as there is no change in the way of Allah.
Sometimes, I think why most Muslim nations are so powerless in terms of technology and military might. In spite of Allah blessing us with abundant riches, we are no match against the kuffaar nations in terms of power. And how can that be otherwise when we survive as mere parasites!
If we Muslims, both as individuals and as a community, want to emerge stronger then we need to do stock-taking of our actions and seek forgiveness from Allah, Who alone is the Provider of all Strength.
5) Istighfaar leads to Jannah:
In the verses quoted above (the verses starting with Saari’oo and Saabi’qoo), Allah is promising Paradise for those who adopt Istighfaar in their life.
“a Garden as wide as the heavens and earth, prepared for the righteous” (Surah aal-e-Imran: 133 and Surah al Hadeed: 21)