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Remembrance & Seeking Forgiveness

This article is part of a free translation of al-Iftqar ila Allāh, Lubb al-ʿUbudiyyah by Aḥmad al-Suwayan

Following on from a previous article, the central actions of remembrance and seeking forgiveness are highlighted as indicators of a true and real need that one has for Allāh.

The heart of a believing servant should remain affixed to the remembrance and praise of his Patron and Benefactor via mention of His sublime names and majestic attributes in all circumstances. Repenting and seeking forgiveness for sins and shortcomings are actions that the heart should always be engaging in. One’s heart experiences pleasure and intimacy through recitation of the Qur’ān and feels its ease and tranquillity in conversing with the Most Merciful (al-Raḥmān); Allāh says, ‘Those who believe and whose hearts find rest in the remembrance of Allāh, Verily, in the remembrance of Allāh do hearts find rest.’[1] Allāh depicts those of faith (Īmān) by saying, ‘Is one who is obedient to Allāh, prostrating himself or standing [in prayer] during the hours of the night, fearing the Hereafter and hoping for the Mercy of his Lord [like one who disbelieves]? Say, “Are those who know equal to those who know not?”.’[2] He also says,

‘Verily! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation of night and day, there are indeed signs for men of understanding, who remember Allāh standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and contemplate the creation of the heavens and the earth, [and conclude], “Our Lord! You have not created all this without purpose, glory to You! Grant us salvation from the torment of the Fire”.’[3]

Allāh commands His Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) to stay engrossed with His remembrance and seeking His forgiveness, ‘So be patient. Verily, the Promise of Allāh is true, and seek forgiveness for your fault, and glorify the praises of your Lord in the evening and morning.’[4] Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) in turn would say, ‘O people! Turn to your Lord in repentance; indeed I turn to Him in repentance one hundred times in a day.’[5] He said, ‘By Allāh, I seek forgiveness and repent to Allāh, more than seventy times a day.’[6] He also said, ‘Verily my heart becomes preoccupied, and verily I seek Allāh’s forgiveness a hundred times a day.[7]

Remaining in a loyal state of remembrance and seeking forgiveness is a manifest representation of being in need of Allāh; the slave exhorts efforts in expressing his poverty, need and powerlessness. His heart is filled with abjectness and lowliness and he raises his hands in all humility and turns back to his Deity. He remembers his Lord at all times, whether resident or travelling, entering or exiting, eating or drinking, awake or retiring, even when approaching one’s spouse. The requirement for Allāh’s help and grace is never-ending. The servant is never heedless for the length of an hour or less to seeking His assistance and turning to Him.

The implication of this is that one should not to be self-reliant, comfortable with one’s own ability and might, or sure about one’s wealth, status and health. For this reason the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) supplicated, ‘O Allāh, do not put them under my care for I would be too weak [to care for them]; do not place them under their own care for they would be incapable of that, and do not put them in the care of people for they would prefer what is best for their own selves before considering them’.[8] Abū Bakr (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) relates the Messenger as saying, ‘The supplication of one who is distressed, “O Allāh, it is Your mercy that I hope for, so do not leave me in charge of my affairs even for a blink of an eye and rectify for me all of my affairs. None has the right to be worshipped except You’.”[9] Anas relates that the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said to Fāṭimah, ‘What prevents you from listening to my advice to you? To say on the onset of every morning and evening, “O Ever Living (Ḥayy), O Self-Subsisting and Supporter of all (Qayyum), by Your mercy I seek assistance, rectify for me all of my affairs and do not leave me to myself, even for the blink of an eye”.’[10]

A consideration of the Prophet’s supplication and remembrance uncovers wonders in this regard. In the principal supplication for forgiveness (sayyid al-istighfār) as declared by the Prophet himself, the most supreme meanings of servitude are brought to light just as the most sublime senses of abjection and humility are made manifest, ‘O Allāh, You are my Lord, none has the right to be worshipped except You, You created me and I am You servant and I abide to Your covenant and promise as best I can, I take refuge in You from the evil of which I committed. I acknowledge Your favour upon me and I acknowledge my sin, so forgive me, for verily none can forgive sin except You.’[11]

Ponder the supplication of the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) and his subservience before Allāh when rising from sleep to perform night prayers and implore and converse with his Lord,

‘O Allāh, to You belongs all praise, You are the Light of the Heavens and the Earth and all that is within them. To You belongs all praise, You are the Sustainer of the Heavens and the Earth and all that is within them. To You belongs all praise. You are Lord of the Heavens and the Earth and all that is within them. To You belongs all praise and the kingdom of the Heavens and the Earth and all that is within them. To You belongs all praise, You are the King of the Heavens and the Earth and to You belongs all praise. You are The Truth, Your promise is true, Your Word is true, and the Day in which we will encounter You is true, the Garden of Paradise is true and the Fire is true, and the Prophets are true, Muḥammad (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) is true and the Final Hour is true. O Allāh, unto You I have submitted, and upon You I have relied, and in You I have believed, and to You I have turned in repentance, and over You I have disputed, and to You I have turned for judgment. So forgive me for what has come to pass, and what I have hidden and what I have made public. You are the one who puts forward and favours (al-Muqaddim) and defers and hold backs (al-Mu’akhhir). None has the right to be worshipped except You, You are my Deity, none has the right to be worshipped except You.’[12]

Praising and thanking Allāh, the Most High, and extolling Him in a manner befitting whilst recognising one’s flaws and frailty infuses the heart with light and grants it tranquillity and happiness. Ibn al-Qayyim’s words are quite exceptional in this regard,

‘There is within the heart a void and poverty that cannot ever be filled but by the remembrance of Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā). If remembrance becomes the temperament of the heart in that it remembers Allāh instinctively and the tongue follows suit, this will for sure be the remembrance that fills that void and replaces that poverty with prosperity; such a person would be rich without wealth, powerful without kinsfolk, and venerable without reign. Being neglectful of Allāh’s remembrance results in the opposite; he will remain poor with the great amount of wealth he possesses, feeble with any authority he commands, and paltry with the many kinsfolk he has.’[13]

In the next article we will examine another indicator: the apprehension we should have, of our actions being accepted by Allāh.

Source: www.islam21c.com


[1] Al-Qur’ān 13:28

[2] Al-Qur’ān 39:9

[3] Al-Qur’ān 3:190-191

[4] Al-Qur’ān 40:55

[5] Muslim, Book of Remembrance, No. 2702

[6] Al-Bukhāri, Book of Invocations, No. 6307

[7] Muslim, Book of Remembrance, No. 2702

[8] Aḥmad, No. 2487 and Abū Dāwūd, Book of Jihād, No 2535

[9] Aḥmad, No. 20429 and Abu Dāwūd, Book of Manners, No. 5090

[10] Ibn al-Sunni in ʿAmal al-Yawm wa al-Laylah, No. 46

[11] Al-Bukhāri, Book of Invocations, No. 6306

[12] Al-Bukhāri, Book of Jihād, No. 1120 and Muslim, Book of those Traveling, No. 769

[13] Al-Wābil al-Sayyib, pg. 139. A translation of a part of it is available: Ibn Al-Qayyim Al-Jawziyya (trans. by M. A. Fitzgerald & M. Y. Slitine), ‘The Invocation of God’ (Islamic Texts Society: Cambridge) 2000; pg. 81, sec. 38

About Sheikh Farid Haibatan

Sheikh Farid Haibatan graduated in Electronic Systems Engineering and holds a bachelors in Engineering (B.eng) from the University of Essex. After graduation he spent a number of years at the Islamic University in Madinah where he studied the Arabic Language and other religious sciences. Since his return from Madinah, he has been involved in Islamic Da’wah and has for many years taught the Arabic language and Islamic Studies. He has also translated Arabic books into the English Language some of which have become household names within the Muslim community such as Fortification of the Muslim through Remembrance and Supplication (Hisn al-Muslim). He currently serves as an Islamic studies lecturer and head of development both at MRDF and is also a Senior Advisor at the Islamic Council of Europe.


  1. jazakaAllahkhayr, a beautiful article. Any books the brothers can recommend on heart softening?

  2. Translation of book
    As salamu alaykum,

    Brother Farid do you know anything about the translation of the book by Ibnul Qayyim Wabil as Sayyib (Invocations of God)that is available by Islamic texts society? As i have heard that the translators are inclined to the sufi methodology? do you if this translation is any good?

    Jazakallaah khayr

  3. Muhammed Iqbal

    Sorry No Title
    Jazakallahokhairan Shaikh Farid,

    Addresses the issues of heart very well.Cure its ilnesses through dhikr.

  4. Another Brother

    Well Put – Continued
    ‘As I understand it, tazkiyah of the heart can only come from abiding to the shari’ah (the commandments of Allah)…’ this statement is actually very correct. Ibnul Qayyim in his book Wabil as Sayyib (Invocations of God) has a excellent passage on this point. Its quite long (1 page) so I don’t want to post it here but it can be found at the bottom of page 5 under the section ‘Love of God and Respect for His Commandments’. Please have a read…

  5. Jzk
    Jazakallahu khairan for enlightening us on a topic which has great significance but to which many zealous muslims (including myself) unfortunately have not paid enough attention to, due to whatever reasons they may be.
    We ask Allah to make us of the Dhaakireen.Ameen

  6. Umar Al Farikhi

    well put!
    As I understand it, tazkiyah of the heart can only come from abiding to the shari’ah (the commandments of Allah), and the way we implement shari’ah is reliant upon the method of the salaf (the earlier generations of Islam). They were either the closest to the prophet or came very soon after him, and were experts in shari’ah and tazkiyyah (tasawuf). We as Muslims must adhere to their method – whether its this website or another.

    So, again to your question: (I think that) this website is of the ahlus sunnah wal jama’ah, clear on matters of aqidah and established upon the different schools of thought while clinging to the Qur’an and sunnah…

  7. re Confused
    al-salam ‘alaykum Br Abu Abdir Rahman,
    No this is not a sufi website. Tasawwuf carries a number of connotations – some undesirable. If you are referring to matters of purification of the soul, then it is better to use the terminology found within the Shar’iah such as ‘tazkiyah’.
    There is no problem in discussing matters of tazkiyah and shariah…? The commands of our Lord address both the inner and outer and this website does not restrict it to any one side. They are inseperable anyhow!
    As for the claim to refer to the Salaf (early generations of Muslims), then again there is no difficulty here…? I cannot sense any contradiction you may be trying to refer to…
    Obviously, a claim is only that – a claim! So, we seek Allah’s grace and favour in helping us realise that.

  8. Abu Abdir Rahman

    Sorry to be partisan, is this a sufi website? It seems to discuss matters of Tasawwuf AND Shari’ah, but claim to refer to the salaf. I don’t know, anybody…?

  9. Thank You
    We offer our appreciation for the translation of this piece of work. Very beneficial indeed…

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