Anyone who looks around modern society will quickly notice the many blessings of technology and scientific advancement. As Muslims we recognize that these are blessings from our beloved Creator who provided us with the means to achieve success. We also see, as a result of people straying from God and His message, the ugly side of modernity. Without divine guidance, the evils of seeking power and open indulgence in our desires have led to major individual as well as societal corruption. A true believer realizes that he or she is in need of detailed guidance as well as the forgiveness of God to protect himself from his own ego and carnal desires. As a result of this humility and awareness of God, the believers say,
“Our Lord, avert from us the punishment of Hell. Indeed its punishment is ever adhering.” (Qur’an, 25:65)
This supplication embodies deep spiritual humility. The believers do not assume themselves saved from their sins and holding a free ticket to heaven. Indeed they realize that they live in a test where they must prove their devotion and loyalty to their Creator. They recognize the need to make their spiritual consciousness overcome their ego and material desires. This takes a strong effort in self-discipline, but even more than that it requires divine support, as nothing is possible without the will of Almighty God. So the true believers are in a state of trying to please God by following His guidance and when they slip up the slightest bit, they are seeking His forgiveness.
Here we see the value of seeking Allah’s forgiveness. Throughout the Qur’an and Sunnah we find many benefits that seeking Allah’s forgiveness brings to us. In addition to forgiveness, seeking forgiveness brings wealth, children, rain, strength, comfort and it also repels misfortune. Our beloved Prophet ﷺ, who was sinless, sought the forgiveness of Allah (swt) seventy times a day. This was both to teach us and as an act of his humility in that he did feel guilty when he felt he could have done better, when he made human error and when he saw the sins of others.
Similarly, we seek Allah’s (swt) forgiveness after every prayer. Although we just prayed, our prayers are not perfect and we could have done better so we need God to overlook that. I pray we can all leave this article, not just with theoretical guidance but a practical set of tools by which we may become the servants of The Merciful. The master remembrance for seeking forgiveness (sayid al-Istighfaar) is something we should never leave, as the Prophet ﷺ taught in a well known authentic hadith that whoever said this remembrance with certainty in the morning and died before night would go to heaven, and whoever would recite it at night and died before dawn would also go to Heaven.
اللهم أنت ربي لا إله إلا أنت ، خلقتني وأنا عبدك ، وأنا على عهدك ووعدك ما استطعت ، أعوذ بك من شر ما صنعت ، أبوء لك بنعمتك علي وأبوء لك بذنبي فاغفر لي ، فإنه لا يغفر الذنوب إلا أنت
“Dear God, you are my Lord. There is no God but You. You created me and I am your servant. I am trying to fulfill my covenant with you and prepare for Your promise of the Hereafter to the best of my ability. I seek refuge from the evil that I have done. I admit to You that I recognize your blessings upon me. I admit my sins to you and I seek your forgiveness because no one forgives sins except you.” (Bukhari)