[Al-Hashr 59:18] Ayatul-Muhasabah

Al-Hashr 59:18

We often find people praise us for a quality or a good deed that we did, but then there are certain characters and certain habits that we do not want people to know about. And it is out of the mercy of Allah SWT that He hides these from the eyes of the public. Still, there is a discrepancy that exists within us and therefore there is a need for us to reflect on who we truly are. This is why Allah SWT says:

O you who believe!
Fear Allah and keep your duty to Him.
And let every person look to what he has sent forth for tomorrow,
and fear Allah.
Verily, Allah is All-Aware of what you do.
[Al-Hashr 59:18]

Self-Evaluation and Taqwa must come together.
This ayah is called Ayatul-Muhasabah by scholars of tafseer, because within it is a commandment for every one of us to evaluate ourselves. “…let every person look to what he has sent forth for tomorrow.” To what extent have we prepared for the meeting with our Creator?

And notice that the commandment is sandwiched between two commandments to have taqwa of Allah, indicating that THE BEST form of self-evaluation is by having taqwa – how much have we obeyed what He SWT has ordered, and how much have we stayed away from what He SWT forbid? So it’s important to remember that the measuring stick when we do self-critique is in accordance to the Akhirah, not the Dunya, not the amount of praises we receive from people around us, nor the amount of likes and followers we gain on the social media. It’s super easy to be deluded by praises and number of ‘likes’. It’s super easy to forget our flaws when people attest our good qualities.

Don’t be deluded by Fame and Praises.
When we look at the example of the companions of Rasulallah ﷺ, we see that they had this immense level of humility – that even though Rasulallah ﷺ PRAISED and ATTESTED their good character in front of everyone in the community, even though he ﷺ said that Allah SWT has guaranteed Jannah for some of them – they still remained self-critical. They never stopped engaging in self-reflection. They never felt that they were completely safe from falling into hypocrisy, or safe from falling into sins.

And one of those companions was none other than Umar Al-Khattab RA. Everything about the life of Umar RA speaks about his ability to take himself to account. He was a person who had that beautiful equilibrium, where he was critical towards the mistakes of others, but he was even more so critical on himself. Umar RA was the enforcer, the one who distinguished between truth and falsehood right smack in public, yet people accepted his critiques because they knew that it wasn’t mean-spirited, that it came from a place of humility and for the sake of Allah SWT. One of the beautiful things that was said about Umar RA was that people used to accept his critiques because they knew that he was harder on himself than he was on them. This was a man, who if you were to tell him ‘Fear Allah’ – doesn’t matter who you are, man or woman, child or adult, what race you belong to, your economic status, whether Muslim or non-Muslim – if he heard that from you, everything for him froze, and he would immediately go into self-reflection. It was he who said:

“Hold yourself accountable before you are held accountable,
weigh yourselves before you are weighed,
and be prepared for the biggest gathering
before He Whose Knowledge encompasses your deeds.”

Now when you think of Umar RA – this strong, bold, courageous enforcer – how do you think his supplications to Allah SWT sounded like? Shidad ibn Aws reported that Umar RA said:

للَّهُمَّ إنِّي ضَعِيفٌ فَقَوِّنِي وَإِنِّي شَدِيدٌ فَلَيِّنِي وَإِنِّي بَخِيلٌ فَسَخِّنِي

“O Allah, I am weak, so make me strong,
and I am harsh, so make me more lenient / gentle,
and I am stingy, so make me generous.”

Despite the strength and the sheer size of Umar RA, did we ever find Umar RA wronging people? Despite him being the tough enforcer in public, didn’t the people still want to be around him, asked his opinions, listened to his critiques, admired him? And have we ever associate stinginess with the character of Umar RA, a man who almost DIED when his people suffered in the year of the plague, because he refused to eat while his people were incapable of eating? A man that always lived in difficult circumstances, who feared that his children had more entitlement than other children of the ummah. A man who refused to be in a situation better off than the people. Yet he still said: O Allah, I am stingy…

Subhanallah, look at Umar’s RA level of self-critique!

The things that we don’t take ourselves to account are often the things that we are praised for. Umar’s RA strength, direct critiques, and generosity were all praiseworthy, he was praised by Rasulallah ﷺ himself, and by everyone else, yet he still called himself to account for those exact things that he was praised for. Subhanallah.

Allah sees your struggles.
That’s an example that we should follow, and one of things about the entire process of self-critique is that it has to start off with YOU YOURSELF – YOU want to purify yourself, YOU want to be pleasing in the sight of your Rabb, no matter what others say about you. What that means is that, if you know that what you’re doing is right in the sight of your Rabb, then it should not matter to you if other people think otherwise. And if you are developing good qualities that people might not recognize, it should not matter either. And Allah SWT emphasizes that by saying at the end of the ayah:

“…Verily, Allah is All-Aware of what you do.”
[Al-Hashr 59:18]

He SWT is All-Aware of every single thing that you do. Meaning for all the good deeds that you do privately, for all the inner struggles and personal endeavours you have exerted in becoming a better person – even if nobody in this entire world will ever see or understand it – then know that Allah does, and He will reward you for it, so keep on going.

If people praise us, telling us that we have certain good qualities that we know we have not yet acquired, we STILL should not be swayed or deluded from our actual pursuit to develop those qualities. And even if we do have those qualities, we should still keep on aspiring and asking Allah SWT for it, because the ceiling of having husnul khuluq (beautiful manners) is of Rasulallah ﷺ – and we’re not going to get there in our lifetime. The standard that we should set for ourselves is the one that was set for us by the Divine, not by people.

We are on a one-way journey to our Creator.
Remember that when we stand before our Rabb on the Day of Judgment, we are free from both praises and criticisms of people. We are free of our titles. We will stand before Allah SWT alone, and He knows who we truly are. When we stand in front of Him, it will all be laid bare.

“If I continue to remain as I am right now, and if I were to die today,
then would I be pleased with my condition when I meet my Creator?”

All of us must undergo an honest self-evaluation pertaining to our journey back to Allah. When we think about it, we’re really just made of number of days. And when an hour passes by, we lose our capital. We lose an hour from our asset. As the day passes, we’re one day closer to our destination – our death, and our standing before Allah.

May Allah allow us to engage in a self-criticism that would purify us, and not one that would cause us to despair of His mercy. May Allah forgive us and protect us from hypocrisy, from arrogance and self-righteousness, but instill in us husnul khuluq. May Allah SWT make our private lives better than our public lives. May He SWT help us to become more pleasing in His sight than we are in the sight of the people. Allahumma ameen.

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Allah is More Pleased With the Repentance of His Slave

Allah Is More Pleased With The Repentance Of His Slave

Imagine you’re driving alone to somewhere remote and unfamiliar. It’s time for salah, so you stop at the next, yet abandoned petrol station, lock your car, and go inside for salah. When you step outside…

Your car is gone. All your belongings – your wallet, mobile phone, laptop – are inside that car, and now they’re all gone. There is no one else around, and the next town is too far to travel by foot.

How would you react? Most of us would probably go into panic-mode as that sense of fear and hopelessness sink in.

With that in mind:

“Verily, Allah is more pleased with the repentance of His slave
than a person who has lost his camel in a waterless desert,
carrying his provision of food and drink and it is lost.
He, having lost all hopes, lies down in shade and is disappointed about his camel;
when all of a sudden he finds that camel standing before him.
He takes hold of its reins, and then out of boundless joy blurts out:
‘O Allah, You are my slave and I am Your Rabb’.
He commits this mistake out of extreme joy”.
[Sahih Muslim]

This hadith shows an imagery of a man, who having traveled in the desert on his camel, finds a shade and falls asleep. When he wakes up, his camel – on which are all of his sustenance and livelihood – is gone. In comparison to the scenario mentioned earlier before the hadith, this man is in a barren desert! There is no one around as the eyes can see, nor shops to stop by to rest and drink. There is no shelter whatsoever from the intense weather and other dangerous threats.

Imagine this man trying so hard looking for his camel in that scorching, empty desert, until he reaches to a point where he completely loses all hope. He returns to his shade, overcome by tiredness, thinking that he is going to die there, and closes his eyes. When he wakes up, he sees his camel standing just near him.

How would he feel now? Just a moment ago, he thought that he was going to die! If we want to comprehend the depth of this hadith, we need to understand how extremely relieved this man must have felt.

The hadith mentioned that the man was soooooooooooo deliriously happy that he shouted: Ya Allah! You are my slave and I am your Rabb! He was extremely joyful that he didn’t even realize what he uttered.

And yet – and here is the gem – Allah s.w.t. is MORE PLEASED with the repentance of His slave than this man! This is absolutely mind-blowing because we know that Allah s.w.t. does not need us. Does not need every single one of us. AT ALL.

Subhanallah. Allah s.w.t. is At-Tawwab, the Granter of Repentance, the Acceptor of Repentance. Allah s.w.t. loves to forgive, and loves those who make tawbah. This is why we see the Name At-Tawwab is often mentioned alongside Ar-Rahim in the Qur’an.

This hadith is meant to motivate us into action, to start abandoning our bad habits and bad lifestyle because after knowing this hadith, we should WANT to please Allah s.w.t.! There is nothing that should be more desirable for a believer than this! There is nothing more relieved, more joyful than to find that the Rabb of the heavens and the earth, and everything in between, is pleased with us.

And indeed, Allah s.w.t. says:

Truly, Allah loves those who oft-repent (at-tawwabin)
and loves those who oft-purify themselves (al-mutatohhirin).
[Al-Baqarah 2:222]

May we all return to Allah s.w.t. sincerely, out of fear of Him, and out of immense love for Him.

[Ghafir 40:7,9] The Angels Who Bear The Throne of Allah Make Du’a For Us Too!

Some of my favourite ayat in the Qur’an are where Allah s.w.t describes how even the angels who bear the ‘Arsh of Allah ask for our forgiveness:

“Our Rabb! You comprehend all things in mercy and knowledge,
so forgive those who repent and follow Your Way,
and save them from the torment of the blazing Fire!”

“And save them from (the punishment because of what they did of) the sins,
and whomsoever You save from the sins that Day,
him verily, You have taken into mercy.
And that is the supreme success.”
[Ghafir 40:7, 9]

Rasulallah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:
“I have been permitted to tell about one of Allah’s angels who bears the Throne, that the distance between the lobe of his ear and his shoulder is a journey of seven hundred years.” [Sunan Abu Dawood]

The fact that such supreme creations of Allah would even bother to ask for our forgiveness is a sign of how extremely Merciful and Loving Allah is to us. We sin and fall into mistakes, time and time again, but He is willing to forgive all of them, willing to give us so many chances, if we just return back to Him sincerely.

Truly, Allah is full of Bounty to mankind, yet most of mankind give no thanks.
[Ghafir 40:61]

Allahumma, forgive our transgressions, make us not those who are ungrateful to You. Help us to remember You, to be grateful to You, and to worship You in the best of manner.

The 9 Characteristics of ‘Ibad-ur Rahman (6/10) – Not Committing Shirk, Murder, and Fornication

A Project in collaboration with The Ideal Muslimah.
Articles authored for The Ideal Muslimah are available here.

To read the series in chronological order, please click the links below:
Pg 1 | Pg 2 | Pg 3Pg 4 | Pg 5 | Pg 6 | Pg 7 | Pg 8 | Pg 9Pg 10

———- 🌺 ———-

ibadur-rahman-6

بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم

And those who invoke not any other god along with Allah,
nor kill such person as Allah has forbidden except for just cause,
nor commit illegal sexual intercourse
– and whoever does this shall receive the punishment.

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.

And whosoever repents and does righteous good deeds,
then verily, he repents towards Allah with true repentance.
[Surah Al-Furqan 25:68-71]

🌸 Sixth Characteristic: They do not commit shirk, murder, and zina (adultery)

The ayah that we will be discussing today is another characteristic of ‘Ibad-ur Rahman. It also talks about the absolutely immense virtue of those who sincerely repent – who may have fallen into so many sins, but they regret for committing them, and they desist from committing them, and they firmly decide not to commit them ever again.

Notice that all of the sins mentioned in this ayah are major sins: shirk, murder, and zina. Similarly, there is a hadith that speaks about these same types of sins:

Narrated ‘Abdullah: I asked the Prophet ﷺ, “What is the greatest sin in the Sight of Allah?”
He said, “That you set up a rival unto Allah though He Alone created you.”
I said, “That is indeed a great sin.” Then asked, “What is next?”
He said, “To kill your son lest he should share your food with you.”
I asked, “What is next?”
He said, “To commit illegal sexual intercourse with the wife of your neighbor.”
[Sahih Bukhari]

The above hadith teaches us that some of the greatest sins in the sight of Allah are three: Shirk, Murder, Zina. All of these major sins destroy something in one way or another: shirk is a sin that destroys one’s Deen, murder is a sin that destroys a soul, and zina is a sin that destroys honor.

What we learn from this ayah, together with the context of the above hadith, are the following:

  1. Shirk, Murder, and Zina are 3 major sins that are very heavy in the sight of Allah s.w.t.
  2. The ‘Ibad-ur Rahman are those who avoid these 3 major sins.
  3. The ‘Ibad-ur Rahman may also include those who have actually committed these sins in the past, but they have sincerely repented to Allah (we will discuss about sincere repentance at the end of this article).

Severe Penalty: ‘Athama’ and Doubled Torment
Allah s.w.t. next gives us a severe warning to those who commit these sins:

And those who invoke not any other god along with Allah,
nor kill such person as Allah has forbidden except for just cause,
nor commit illegal sexual intercourse
– and whoever does this shall receive the punishment [athama].
[Surah Al-Furqan 25:68]

Scholars said that [athama] is:
(1) a valley in Hell; or
(2) a valley in Hell exclusively for those who commit unlawful sexual acts where they will be punished; or
(3) punishment.

The passage continues:

The torment will be doubled to him on the Day of Resurrection,
and he will abide therein in disgrace.
[Surah Al-Furqan 25:69]

How can a Muslim do shirk, murder, or zina, when it is already clear in this Deen that all these three things are forbidden? How can a Muslim know all of these, yet still does it? Those who commit these sins will be punished heavily, severely. Their torments will be doubled on the Day of Resurrection, meaning that their torments will be repetitive and will be intensified. These people will be thrown into Jahannam in disgrace and humiliation. They will constantly be humiliated because shirk, murder, and zina are themselves humiliating crimes – they take away the dignity of a human being one way or another.

Subhanallah. May Allah protect us from these torments.

Allah s.w.t. is extremely angry at these people. He has given us a very intense warning so that we steer clear from these three major sins. This harsh warning is actually a Mercy of Allah s.w.t.; He is informing us in advance of the consequences of committing these sins. Indeed, the wise Muslims will take heed of the warnings of their Rabb.

Making Sincere Repentance
What if one of us had committed these sins in the past?
What about those who have truly regretted, and have abandoned the sins completely?
My dear brothers and sisters in Islam, do not despair the Mercy of Allah, for He s.w.t. says immediately in the next ayah:

Except those who repent, and believe,
and do righteous deeds [‘amila ‘amalan solihan]…
[Surah Al-Furqan 25:70]

Allah s.w.t. says that those who did shirk, or murdered someone, or did zina – or all three of them – but after that, they do the three conditions, Allah s.w.t. will forgive all of their sins. Those three conditions mentioned in this ayah are: Repent, Believe, and Do Righteous Deeds:

Condition #1: Make repentance
When someone fell into shirk, murder, and zina, he or she must repent sincerely [tawbatun nasuha] to Allah s.w.t. from those sins. Allah s.w.t. says in another surah:

O you who believe! Turn to Allah with sincere repentance [tawbatun nasuha]…
[Surah At-Tahrim 66:8]

[Tawbah] means to return or to turn to Allah, i.e. to repent, while [Nasuha] means sincere or true. Therefore, [tawbatun nasuha] means sincere repentance. According to Imam Al-Nawawi rahimahullah, there are 3 conditions of tawbatun nasuha:

1. One must give up the sin
2. One must regret having done it
3. One must resolve never to go back to it.

If one of these three is missing, then the repentance is not sincere. If the sin has to do with the rights of another person, then there are 4 conditions: the three mentioned above and restoring the rights of that person.

Do you still remember the definition of the word [‘Ibad] from our first post? [‘Ibad] means slaves of Allah s.w.t. who do sin, who do make mistakes, but they always repent to Allah whenever they fall into sins, and have a strong desire to constantly rectify themselves in becoming a better slave of Allah. Indeed, even ‘Ibad-ur Rahman make mistakes. But what sets them apart is that they do not take any of their sin lightly.

Thus, the ones who have sincerely repented are those who immediately desist completely from committing that sin, and regret for committing that sin, and have a strong resolute not to return to the sin ever again!

Condition #2: Strengthen our Iman
Fix our iman, become a good believer again.

Condition #3: Do Righteous Deeds that conform with the Qur’an and Sunnah.
Notice that Allah s.w.t. did not say [‘amila solihan] in this ayah, but He s.w.t. says [‘amila ‘amalan solihan] This is a grammar to emphasize the verb. What it means in simple English is that: Do not be wishy-washy, you need to be very serious and be very keen on doing righteous deeds from now on.

These are the three conditions that one must fulfill in order to attain Allah’s Forgiveness.

Replacement of Ugly Sins Into Good Deeds
The ayah continues:

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.
[Surah Al-Furqan 25:70]

Subhanallah, what an amazing promise of Allah! Not only will Allah s.w.t. accept the repentance of those who have sincerely repented, but He s.w.t. will change their sins into good deeds!

Ibn al-Jawzi rahimahullah said that scholars have differences of opinions in regard to the meaning of this ayah:

The first opinion
“Allah will change their sins into good deeds” means that Allah will replace their previous acts of shirk with iman, their previous acts of murder with refraining oneself from doing it, and their previous acts of fornication with being chaste. All of these show that the replacement of good deeds happen in the dunya. Scholars who hold this opinion are Ibn Abbas, Sa’id bin Jubair, Mujahid, Qatadah, Adh Dhohak, and Ibnu Zaid.

The second opinion
The second opinion is that the conversion of sins into good deeds will happen in the akhirah. Scholars who hold this opinion are Salman r.a., Sa’id bin Al Musayyib, and ‘Ali bin Al Husain.

Regardless of the differences of opinions, both show how truly remarkable the virtue of believers who sincerely repent to Allah.

Hence, if we did any of these three sins, we must make sincere repentance to Allah, and we must fix our faith and become good believers again, and we must take our actions very, very seriously – really keen on doing good deeds from now onwards. If we do these, Allah will not just accept our repentance, but He s.w.t. will convert those mountains of sins into mountains of good deeds – subhanallah!

Do Not Despair The Mercy of Allah
The passage continues:

And whosoever repents and does righteous good deeds,
then verily, he repents towards Allah with true repentance.
[Surah Al-Furqan 25:71]

Here, Allah s.w.t. tells us how His Mercy extends to all of His creatures, and that whoever among them sincerely repents to Him, He will accept his repentance for any sin – great or small. This offer is for all sinners! This is like the Ayat:

And whoever does evil or wrongs himself
but afterwards seeks Allah’s Forgiveness,
he will find Allah Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
[Surah An-Nisa 4:110]

Know they not that Allah accepts repentance from His slaves…
[Surah At-Tawbah 9:104]

Say: “O My slaves who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds & sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah, verily Allah forgives all sins.
Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”
[Surah Az-Zumar 39:53]

This passage of Surah Al-Furqan that we’re discussing today is so beautiful, because it tells us that at one point of time, the people who committed these major sins were the furthest away from Allah due to their transgressions. But the fact that they turn back to Allah and sincerely repent to Him, Allah s.w.t. in return will make them as those whom He calls Ibad-ur Rahman. Look at the Mercy of Allah s.w.t. to those who were once so far away, but have returned to Allah s.w.t.

My dear brothers and sisters in Islam, know that no sin is greater than Allah’s Mercy. All we need to do is return to Allah and repent sincerely. Those who sincerely repent to Allah in this world from all of sins, Allah s.w.t. says that He will accept their repentance. So never, ever despair of Allah’s Mercy, and never give up on yourselves.

But just remember one thing:
If your sins are a big deal to you, then they are small in the sight of Allah.
Allah will forgive them if you worry about your sins, take them seriously, and repent.
But if your sins are no big deal to you, then they’re a big deal to Allah.
If you don’t care about your sins, no matter how small that mistake may be, know that it will become a very big thing on the Day of Judgment.

Suffice that I end this article with the following quote:

“No sin remains minor when accompanied by persistence,
and no sin remains major when accompanied by the seeking of forgiveness.”

May Allah s.w.t. forgive all of our sins and shortcomings – Allahumma ameen.

Alhamdulillah we have covered the sixth characteristic of ‘Ibad-ur Rahman. We will continue with the subsequent characteristics in the next posts, insya Allah.

🌸 ‘Ibad-ur Rahman Characteristics Recap 🌸

6th Characteristic

The ‘Ibad-ur Rahman are those who avoid Shirk, Murder, and Zina. They may also include those who have actually committed these sins in the past, but have sincerely repented to Allah i.e. they regret for committing them, and they desist from committing them, and they decide firmly not to commit them ever again. After making sincere tawbah, they strengthen their iman, and they become serious in doing good deeds from there on.

________________
References:
Tafsir Ibn Kathir
Tafsir Surah Al-Furqan by Dr Abdullah Yasin
Rumaysho.com
Islamqa.info
Who Gets Allah’s Mercy by Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan

The 9 Characteristics of ‘Ibad-ur Rahman (1/10) – Introduction

A Project in collaboration with The Ideal Muslimah.
Articles authored for The Ideal Muslimah are available here.

To read the series in chronological order, please click the links below:
Pg 1 | Pg 2 | Pg 3Pg 4 | Pg 5 | Pg 6 | Pg 7 | Pg 8 | Pg 9Pg 10

———- 🌺 ———-

Ibadur-Rahman 1

بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم

In the last several ayat of Surah Al-Furqan, Allah s.w.t. describes nine (9) beautiful characteristics of a special group of faithful, believing slaves called ‘Ibad-ur Rahman. Who or what is ‘Ibad-ur Rahman?

A slave of Allah s.w.t. in the Qur’an is referred to as [‘abd], and has 2 plurals: [‘Abeed – عَبِيدٌ] and [‘Ibaad – عِبَادٌ]. Both plurals in simple English translation mean “slaves (of Allah)”. However they actually carry a different meaning altogether from one another.

‘Ibaad VS ‘Abeed
The plural [‘Ibaad] refers to slaves of Allah s.w.t. who do fall into error, who do make mistakes – but they always repent to Allah for the sins they did. They have a strong desire to constantly rectify themselves, to continuously strive to be a better person than yesterday – all done solely for the sake of Allah.

Meanwhile, the plural [‘Abeed] also refers to slaves of Allah s.w.t. who err and make mistakes – but the difference is that this group do not want to rectify themselves nor want to repent. They have no desire in becoming better slaves of their Rabb.

[‘Ibaad] is what we should strive to be – slaves of Allah who are imperfect, but when fall into sin, they swiftly make tawbah and constantly want to rectify themselves.

It was narrated from Anas r.a. that Rasulallah ﷺ said:
“Every son of Adam commits sin,
and the best of those who commit sin are those who repent.”
[Sunan Ibn Majah | Grade: Hasan]

So immediately from the get-go, Allah s.w.t. is already letting us know that the people mentioned in the last few ayat of Surah Al-Furqan are special than the rest. But on top of that, not only does Allah call them [‘Ibad] – He s.w.t. also calls them ‘Ibad-ur Rahman. Think about it: Allah s.w.t. has many Beautiful Names, He could choose to call them ‘Ibadullah or ‘Ibad-ul Khaliq, yet He chooses to describe them as ‘Ibad-ur Rahman. Allah s.w.t. chooses to associate His Rahmah (Mercy) with this special group of ‘Ibad, subhanallah. And at the end of this series, we will discuss about the amazing rewards that will be granted upon these special slaves.

Every believer has aspirations to become better, and everyone has bad traits they want to get rid of. So as we go through the series, think deeply: Which of these traits that I do not have, that I have to work on? With that goal in mind, we will be discussing the 9 characteristics of ‘Ibad-ur Rahman in the next several posts, insya Allah.

May Allah s.w.t. help us all become ‘Ibad-ur Rahman.

Note: Some may have translated that there are between eight to thirteen characteristics of ‘Ibadur-Rahman mentioned in Surah Al-Furqan – these opinions do not contradict one another.

[Al-Fajr 89:27-30] Be ‘Ibaad, not ‘Abeed

fajr-27-30

A slave of Allah s.w.t. in the Qur’an is called [‘abd] and it has 2 plurals: [‘Abeed – عَبِيدٌ] and [‘Ibaad – عِبَادٌ]. Both plurals in simple English translation mean “slaves (of Allah)”. However, they actually carry an altogether different meaning from one another!

The plural [‘Ibaad] refers to slaves of Allah s.w.t. who err, who are sinful, who make mistakes – but they always repent to Allah, they have a strong desire to always rectify themselves, and they continuously strive to be a better person than yesterday. If they are already pious, they will struggle to become even better – and all of these are done solely for the sake of Allah s.w.t.

The plural [‘Abeed] also refers to slaves of Allah s.w.t. who err, who are sinful, make mistakes – but these people refuse to repent, they refuse to rectify themselves, and they have no desire in becoming better Muslims and better slaves of their Rabb.

There is no word in the Qur’an that refers to slaves of Allah who are sinless. With the exception of the Anbiya (prophets), every single resident of Jannah was a former sinner in this Dunya. All of us make mistakes. It was narrated from Anas r.a. that Rasulallah sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam said:

“Every son of Adam commits sin,
and the best of those who commit sin are those who repent.”
[Sunan Ibn Majah | Grade: Hasan]

Therefore, the best slaves of Allah s.w.t. are the [‘Ibaad] – those who do fall in error, but get back up quickly to make tawbah and rectify themselves. [‘Ibaad] is what we should strive to be, not [‘Abeed]. I loved how my ustadh drove this point home with the following ayat. Allah s.w.t. says:

“O (you) the one in (complete) rest and satisfaction!
Come back to your Rabb, Well-pleased and well-pleasing!
Enter you, then, among My slaves [‘Ibaadi],
and enter you My Paradise!”
[Al-Fajr 89: 27-30]

Notice that [‘Ibaad] is used, and notice its placement in the ayah:

“Enter you then among [‘Ibaadi],
and enter you My Paradise.”

There are many tafseer regarding this ayah, but the following is one of them: Before Allah s.w.t. allow us to enter His Jannah, we need to make sure we first enter, enroll, register ourselves – first and foremost – to be His [‘Ibaad]. Meaning, before we can ever dream to be invited to enter Jannah in the Akhirah, we need to rectify ourselves and persist in making tawbah while still in this Dunya. Subhanallah. It gives a whole different perspective!

Consider this hadith:

Rasulallah sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam said:
“Verily, Allah is more pleased with the repentance of His slave than a person who has his camel in a waterless desert carrying his provision of food and drink and it is lost.
He, having lost all hopes, lies down in shade and is disappointed about his camel; when all of a sudden he finds that camel standing before him. He takes hold of its reins and then out of boundless joy blurts out:
‘O Allah, You are my slave and I am Your Rabb’.
He commits this mistake out of extreme joy”.
[Sahih Muslim]

Allah s.w.t. is MORE PLEASED with the repentance of His slave than this man who found his lost camel, after he almost died out of hunger and thirst in a scorching desert! Indeed Allah s.w.t. loves to forgive, and loves those who make tawbah. Allah s.w.t. loves the [‘Ibaad] – who do make mistake, but who always return to Allah s.w.t. in humility and repentance.

May Allah s.w.t. help you and me become beloved slaves of our Rabb – Allahumma ameen.

[Madaarij us-Saalikeen] Istighfar & Tawbah

What’s the difference between Istighfar & Tawbah?

According to Ibn Al-Qayyim rahimahullah, Istighfar (seeking forgiveness) is mentioned in the Qur’an in 2 ways – either by itself, or coupled with Tawbah (repentance).

If Istighfar is mentioned by itself, then Istighfar IS Tawbah. And Istighfar is not merely covering up sins, as most people think, but it is total removal of sins. It fully removes the sin, undoes its effects and prevents its evil. The essence of istighfar is that it earns a person the prevention from the evil of that sin. It also saves one from the punishment of Allah.

When both Istighfar and Tawbah are used together (always Istighfar first, followed by Tawbah), then the first (Istighfar) means asking for safety from the evil and harm of what has occurred, and the second (Tawbah) means returning to Allah and begging for safety from the evil of what one fears in future.

So here we are concerned with two things:
– The sin that has already occurred, and Istighfar in its specific sense is to seek protection from its evil effects; and
– The repetition of the same sin in future which we fear, and Tawbah is the determination to not do it again.
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Reference:
Madaarij us-Saalikeen, by Ibn al-Qayyim rahimahullah