Allah is The Pardoner

Clouds and sun rays

Reprinted from Al-Jumuah Magazine

 

In a recent Khutbah, I heard Allah’s divine name, Al-Afoo, The Pardoner, and a very touching qudsi hadeeth that exemplified it:

“A servant [of Allah’s] committed a sin and said: “O Allah! Forgive me my sin.” Allah said: “My servant has committed a sin and acknowledged he has a Lord who forgives sins and punishes them.” Then the man sinned again and said: “O Lord! Forgive me my sin.’ And Allah said: “My servant has committed a sin and acknowledged he has a Lord who forgives sins and punishes them.” Then the man sinned again and said: “O Lord! Forgive me my sin.” And Allah said: “My servant has committed a sin and acknowledged he has a Lord who forgives sins and punishes them. [My slave!] Do what you wish, for I have forgiven you!” (Bukhari and Muslim)

This is no free ticket to sin as you please. But it did make me realize we should always have hope that Allah will forgive our sins and guide us to become better Muslims.

How many times have we sat down to count our mistakes and recognized we have sinned so much we can’t even keep track anymore? We think that there’s no way Allah can forgive us now. To our minds, we don’t even deserve forgiveness.

This hadith shows the extent of Allah’s mercy, which no human mind can even imagine.

“And do not despair of Allah’s mercy. For, most surely, none despairs of Allah’s mercy except the disbelieving people.” [Quran 12:87]

Take note. Hope is no luxury to make our lives better. It is a Muslim obligation, part and parcel of faith.

Let Go of Grudges, for Your Own Sake

Sunrise over the prairie

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

“Pardon them and overlook – Allah loves those who do good.” (Qur’an 5:13)

If we hold grudges, our spirits get stuck like trapped birds. We can’t fly the way we’re supposed to, because our own resentments bind us and hold us down. When you hate someone, they don’t feel it. Only you do. It affects only your own heart, until your heart hardens and your vision narrows, and life loses its joy and zest.

We must forgive each other and forgive ourselves. Let go of resentments from the past. Do it for your own sake, because letting go and forgiving is the only way to be happy.

Whatever others have done against you, let it go. Consign it to Allah, then forgive. Whatever you have done against others, apologize and ask forgiveness, and ask Allah’s forgiveness as well.

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was seated in a gathering with the sahabah (his companions) 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 masjid where they were seated. One sahabi was curious as to why the Prophet had said such a thing about this man, so he followed the man to his house. The sahabi told the man of Paradise that he was a traveler, and was invited to stay as a guest. For three days the sahabi watched the man of Paradise, but he saw nothing unusual in the man’s character or worship. Finally he told the man what the Prophet had said and asked him what was so special about him. 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.”

Mr. Evatt

I went to high school in Saudi Arabia, and I had an American teacher who I really liked. He was my English teacher for two years and his name was Mr. Evatt. He was from Georgia and had long hair and a heavy Southern drawl. He lived in an old neighborhood of Riyadh that was situated on a dusty, rocky hilltop. Every morning our school bus would pick him up, and I always found it amusing when we’d pull up and he’d be standing in the dirt road, smoking a cigarette, his shirt already plastered with sweat at 7 am , and a herd of goats climbing on the rocks all around him. He used to call us students, “wallets”, which was his version of “walad“, which means boy in Arabic. He’d come into the classroom and shout, “Siddown, little wallets!” But was a good teacher and I respected him.

Sometime during the second year, I was passing by the teacher’s lounge and the door was open. I heard a few of the teachers talking about Arabs. I paused outside the door to listen, and I heard Mr. Evatt refer to his students as “sand-ni****s.” I was very hurt. I think it also fueled the beginning of a deep resentment and intolerance in me that lasted for many years. I returned to the USA for college, and for a long time, if I ever found out that one of my non-Muslim friends harbored the least bit of bigotry against Muslims or Arabs, I would cut that person off forever. I had no patience for it.

I also had an increasing sense that I did not belong in American society. I had always been proud of being an American, but while I loved America, America did not seem to love me back. I was turned down for a job because of my religion, openly mocked on a few occasions, visited at home by the FBI, stopped at the airport for questioning and invasive searches… I became restless and unsatisfied with life in America. None of that had anything to do with Mr. Evatt of course, but that insult that he cast on us students represented my first awareness of bigotry; it became, in my mind, a symbol of racism.

My most satisfying times were my trips abroad to Mexico or Costa Rica. Finally I left the USA and emigrated to Panama.

I was happy in Panama. It was a peaceful, beautiful place. The people there had no preconceptions about Arabs and Muslims. I think I was able to finally relax, and breathe easily. I came back to the USA in late 2008 for family reasons, but I’ve realized that somewhere along the road, I let go of the grudges I was holding. I’m more easy going with people now. I have a martial arts teacher who has some anti-Arab ideas, but I am patient with him. Who knows, maybe his interactions with me will help to dispel his stereotypical beliefs. People need to be educated, not condemned. It’s the only way forward. “Pardon them and overlook – Allah loves those who do good.”

It’s so much simpler to extend love to people, and show them the way, rather than react with anger. And it’s better for my own soul. I feel calm now, and balanced. Alhamdulillah. If I could see Mr. Evatt now, I would thank him for being a good teacher. He must have cared about us, or he would not have made the effort. And maybe I would ask him about the statement he made. But I wouldn’t blame him or get angry. I wish him well.

Forgive Yourself

This is important. Forgiveness needs to extend in all directions, even to yourself. Whatever you’ve done against yourself, forgive yourself. Don’t hold grudges against yourself. We humans all make mistakes. “Pardon them and overlook – Allah loves those who do good.”

Don’t call yourself names. You are not stupid, shameful, or useless. Just the opposite! You are bright, special and unique, with a special mission in this life. If you feel that you have been corrupted by sin, then the glory of Islam is that innocence can be yours again, with tawbah. We Muslims don’t believe in original sin. All human beings were created pure, on the fitrah. That is your birthright.

That’s why ‘A’isha reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as having said: “None of you should say: ‘My soul has become evil,’ but he should say: ‘My soul has become remorseless.'”

In other words, your soul has not turned into an evil thing. It is not totally lost. It is just at a point when it is not feeling remorse or sorrow for its actions. But that can be changed! The soul can be softened through prayer, dua’, dikhr (remembrance of Allah), fasting, reciting Quran, doing good to others, and other acts of worship, until your soul once again feels remorse, and can return to a state of purity. SubhanAllah!

Allah knew exactly what He was doing when He made you. If you don’t trust your own judgment, then trust Allah’s.

Tonight, let go of your grudges and sleep with a clean heart. Tomorrow the day is new, and life goes on. You have far to go and much to do. Look ahead, with a sunrise in your eyes.

If you did not commit sins

Round hay bales on a farm

By Wael Abdelgawad for IslamicSunrays.com

The Messenger of Allah (sal-Allahu alayhi wa-sallam – peace be upon him) said, “If you did not commit sins, Allah would sweep you out of existence and replace you by another people who would commit sins, ask for Allah’s forgiveness and He would forgive them.” (reported by Muslim). This may sound odd at first – does Allah want us to sin? The answer is no, He does not want us to sin, but He knows that we will, and He wants us to ask forgiveness, to return to Him, and to know that He is always there ready to welcome us back.

That’s part of Allah’s plan for us. Allah created us with a certain nature, and the essence of that nature is free will, and a consequence of that is that we commit sins, and if we are believers then we repent and return to Allah. That is the part that Allah loves: the repentance, the voluntary return.

Allah did not create us to be angels. He already had uncounted angels to do His bidding. Creatures of light, they hear and obey, perfect in their compliance because they lack free will.

But Allah wanted to bring something different into the universe: a creature of free will, submitting to Allah out of choice. Worship and faith freely given are infinitely more valuable than that which is done without volition. The flip side is that a creature of free will can commit sins; he can be destructive and rebellious. The sweet and the bitter are two inseparable expressions of human nature. The hope is that righteousness and obedience will predominate.

Allah tells us in the Quran 2:30, of the time long ago when He informed the angels that He would create humanity:

“And [mention, O Muhammad], when your Lord said to the angels, “Indeed, I will make upon the earth a khalifah (successive authority/agent/trustee).” They said, “Will You place upon it one who causes corruption therein and sheds blood, while we declare Your praise and sanctify You?” Allah said, “Indeed, I know that which you do not know.”

The scholars have said, by the way, that the jinn had already been created on earth and had caused much mischief, and that’s why the angels thought to ask the question about corruption and bloodshed.

Notice that Allah did not answer the angels by saying, “No, the humans beings will not cause trouble.” He said, “I know that which you do not know.”

In other words, yes, this khalifah might indeed fail in his duty, he might cause corruption and shed blood, but there is something special about him that warrants his creation anyway; something that justifies his existence. There’s another aspect to him, something noble and even heroic.

When a person does a terrible thing, for example murders a child, some people say, “How could God allow this to happen?” This question expresses a misunderstanding of the relationship between Allah and humanity. Allah does not want us to sin. He gives us guidance and commands us not to do evil. But if He were to physically interfere and stop human beings from hurting each other, He would effectively abolish our free will, and we would no longer be human. We would be angels, or we’d be creatures of pure physicality like trees and stars, worshiping Allah through conformity to the natural laws of the universe. To take away our free will would be to strip us of our potential for true piety, bravery and even love. Would you really want to live in a universe without love? What a terrible loss that would be.

So here we are, creatures of choice. Earnest but obstinate. We mess up. We betray ourselves and others, we do terrible things, we feel sadness, shame and regret.

What is Allah’s attitude toward this? He condemns the sins we commit, but He waits for us to repent, and when we do He welcomes us. If we go to Him crawling, He comes to us walking, and if we go to Him walking, He comes to us running, as the Prophet (pbuh) reported in a famous Hadith Qudsi:

“Allah says, ‘I am just as My servant thinks I am, and I am with him if he remembers Me. If he remembers Me in himself, I too, remember him in Myself; and if he remembers Me in a group of people, I remember him in a group that is better than them; and if he comes one span nearer to Me, I go one cubit nearer to him; and if he comes one cubit nearer to Me, I go a distance of two outstretched arms nearer to him; and if he comes to Me walking, I go to him running.’ “ [Sahih Al-Bukhâri, 9/7405 (O.P.502)].

People write to me (personally or through IslamicAnswers.com) and they say, “I have done terrible things, Allah will never forgive me, I am doomed to Hell, I feel like committing suicide.”

This way of thinking is completely wrong. Allah will forgive you. He loves to forgive. That’s why the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) used to ask Allah’s forgiveness seventy times every day even without committing any sin (SubhanAllah!). You are not doomed. You must not take your own life, for that is the ultimate irrevocable sin.

Who do you imagine Allah is speaking to when He says,

“O my servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah. Verily, Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Quran 39:53).

He is speaking to you, and to me, and to every one of us.

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, One who sincerely repents of his sin is as if he had never committed it. When Allah loves one of His servants, his sins do not harm him. Then he (the Prophet pbuh) recited the verse: ‘Assuredly, Allah loves the oft-repentant and those who always seek to purify themselves.”“

Don’t kill yourself over your past mistakes. I mean this literally and figuratively. Never think that Allah will not forgive. Allah knows that we are creatures prone to sin. He knew it even before He created Adam and Hawaa, but He had His own plan for us, and part of that plan is forgiveness.

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