May 24, 2004

Forgivenees Is A Divine Law

  • (Friday Speech, September 22nd, 2000. Jamad Al Akhar 24th , 1421 HC)
  • Translated by: Magda El Mufti
  • Last updated: 2004-06-02
Introduction: Should we seek the Divine’s forgiveness (Istighfar) only when we need purification from a sin we have committed? Master Ali Rafea says that divine Forgiveness is a spiritual working law according to which humans are supplied with the spiritual power that leads to their transformation and elevation. And, as such, we need to seek forgiveness all the time. How can we be accessible to that law? Can we know whether we received Forgiveness or not? You will most probably find answers to these questions in this speech.
Servants of God! The Primordial Religion (Religion of Fitra)[1] has shown us the path of Forgiveness Maghfira, as well as the law of asking for forgiveness Istighfar. This is the law that governs all our life. If we had believed that there was no ground, for asking for forgiveness, we wouldn’t have been bold enough to do anything, or even move one step ahead. However, we are taught that if we commit some negative act, we will pay for it, and yet if we perform some positive act we will be repaid for it twofold. Sometimes we learn from our mistakes more than learning from our good actions. Then, we repent, return to Allah, and ask for His forgiveness

…and who can forgive sins except Allah? (HQ: 3: 135)
Say: "O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! despair not of the Mercy of Allah: for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.(HQ: 39: 53)
Allah forgiveth not that partners should be set up with Him; but He forgiveth anything else, to whom He pleaseth; to set up partners with Allah is to devise a sin most heinous indeed.(HQ: 4: 48)
Forgiveness, in that sense, and as we learn, is such a sublime truth that Allah has ascribed to Himself alone. It is not the kind of forgiveness that is limited to our mere mortal understanding, like when a person pardons another who has done him wrong. Actually, we can never ever do wrong onto God, for He is far much Greater and Self-sufficient, and can do without the whole of mankind. In fact, we are only capable of wronging ourselves.
We did them no wrong, but they were used to doing wrong to themselves.(HQ: 16: 118)
It is clear, therefore, that Forgiveness is part of the all embracing Law created by God in this Universe. Forgiveness involves the divine process of enabling one to correct one’s actions that caused damage to his own soul, and/or to others whom one has wronged. And God’ s law in that is:
Then shall anyone who has done an atom's weight of good, see it!. And anyone who has done an atom's weight of evil, shall see it.(HQ: 99: 7, 8)
Perform an act of kindness following a bad one, and the former will be got  erased  (PH)[2]
That is so because when a person remembers God, he in fact acquires spiritual support, which washes away some of the darkness that abides within him. The Prophet’s words in that concern are self explicit when he gives the parable of Prayer as a River where a human washes in five times per day, sending away any darkness within him[3], provided that he performs his Prayer with a true heart .
If a person’s Prayer does not take her/him afar from atrocity, s/he gets further and further from God. (PH)[4]
Prayer restrains from shameful and unjust deeds;(HQ: 29: 45)
When God opens a door to a person inviting him to perform an act of goodness, this is actually God’ s way of bestowing forgiveness. When God paves the way for a person, who has unjustly usurped the right of others, to restore these rights to their rightful owners – that reveals that God has blessed him with His forgiveness. Therefore, we are to realize that a person’s consistency in performing positive acts washes away all the darkness within him and purifies him from his sinful deeds.
Servants of God! We should be aware that all the wonderful potentialities, gifts and energies endowed upon us by God, are there for us to make optimum use of, armored by Istighfar and hoping that we will always be in a state of Istighfar.  By being committed to seeking forgiveness, we gain divine support that enables us to correct our path, fix our direction, reform our behavior, and to deal only with God. If we commit a bad deed, we ask for forgiveness, repent and thank God for having revealed our mistakes to us. And when we believe our deeds to be good ones, we should be grateful to God, and nonetheless ask for His Forgiveness praying to Him to save us from feeling conceited, and asking Him to uncover to us if it was only our darkness that deluded us (when we thought we did righteousness). Actually, we have to keep up a path where seeking forgiveness Istighfar, is followed by praise and gratefulness Hamd to Allah. Then, once again, Hamd is to be followed by Istighfar, continuously. We should be always in this state of awareness, observing ourselves in every move, aspiring to obtain God` s Mercy and support to be on the Righteous Path. That is what we are taught in our Prayer when we recite  the opening verse Al Fatiha during each and every Prayer, asking God devoutly:
Show us the straight way, The way of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy Grace, those whose (portion) is not wrath, and who go not astray.(HQ: 1: 6, 7)
To sum up, our reflections today revolved around the meaning of the prayers for forgiveness Istighfar. We always need to remember, and to commemorate,  for remembrance benefits the Believers.(HQ:51: 55).
Forgiveness is actually a sacred law that God has attributed to Himself alone and created to accompany man’s actions on Earth. If this sacred law did not exist, we would all have been lost.  With the existence of the law of Istighfar, we have great hopes in Allah and our hopefulness in Him is even greater, for the law opens up the path of Mercy through Forgiveness Maghfira, and through asking for forgiveness Istighfar. Through this law we are supplied with a great spiritual power that purifies our hearts, souls and minds. We are exposed to that spiritual power the moment we feel we miss Allah gravely, need Him, seek shelter in Him, and pray to Him to give us the support of His Messenger. When we hope for His mercy, we actually hope that His gracious Messenger will pray for our forgiveness:
If they had only, when they were unjust to themselves, come unto thee and asked Allah's forgiveness, and the Messenger had asked forgiveness for them, they would have found Allah indeed Oft-Returning, Most Merciful.(HQ: 4: 64)
The Prophet teaches us the significance of Istighfar by saying:
My heart is susceptible to run after desires unless I pray to God for forgiveness a hundred times a day. (In a vision Al Shadzli asked him, "are they desires of this world's occurrences, oh Prophet?" "No, they are those of lights," he responded)[5]
The path to God is a path of ascension from one spiritual stage to a higher one ceaselessly. And what we consider to be righteous in a certain phase, may be considered errant in a later one.
It is quite possible that a sin which leads a person to a state of brokenness and humility of the spirit, is better than an act of righteousness that leads to arrogance and haughtiness".[6]
Virtues of the reverent ones might be the vices of the closest (to God).[7]
A Sheik once told his disciple, “I complain of the biting cold of acceptance and submission, just as you complain of the heat of choice and action.” The disciple then asked his Sheik, “and how is that?” The Sheik responded,  “I complain of my acceptance and sweet submission, because I am constantly fearful of being preoccupied by the fruits of sweet submission, to the point of neglecting my connection to God.”[8]
This is how we learn that we are always in a dire need, of asking for forgiveness from Allah Istighfar, resorting to Allah, and seeking the support of the “God given Mercy”[9] ceaselessly. We should always direct ourselves to the Quibla[10], namely, to the source of Life, the source of Mercy, the source of Light, and the source of spiritual energy existing on Earth: actually our Quibla, our Direction, our Home, our Ark, and our Refuge is the Messenger of God e
  1. Master Ali Rafea uses this term (Religion of Fitra) to point to the basic sum total truthful spiritual laws that Allah conveyed in all Revelations since Father Adam to prophet Muhammad. So,  Religion of Fitra is beyond any labels and religious affiliations.
  2. Mentioned by Tirmidhi
  3. It is a sound Hadith narrated by Ahmad in his Musnad: The parable of the Prayer performed five times a day is as a River that is running at one’s door  and where one washes five times per day cleansing  all his dirtiness.
  4. Narrated by Al Tabarani, Al Game’ Al Saghir of Al Siuti, P. 2., pp 181
  5. Abu Al Hassan Al Shadzli is a well known Sufi teacher (593-656 HC. His statement is sometimes used when the Hadith is mentioned
  6. A Sufi saying
  7. A Sufi Saying
  8. It was a dialogue between Sayyed Abu Al Hassan Al Shadzili and his Sheikh, Sayyed Ibn Mashish
  9. By the “ God given Mercy” , Master Ali Rafea is implicitly pointing to the Prophet. The Prophet said,  “I am nothing but a mercy given (from the Divine to humans)”. This Hadith is narrated by Ibn Sa’d, Al Hakeem, and by Al Hakim in Al Gami’ Al Saghir of Al Siuti, P 1, pp 103. Also, a verse in the Holy Qur’an addresses the Prophet  Muhammad saying, “We sent thee not, but as a mercy for all creatures”. (HQ: 21: 107)
  10. Quibla  is an Arabic word that means “the direction that one turns one’s face to”. Because Muslims turn their faces to the holy shrine of Ka’ba (the symbol of God’s Home) in their ritual Prayer, Quibla and  Holy Home are used as synonyms. However, Master Ali Rafea refers to both of them not as a mere place or a physical direction, rather Al Quibla or the Holy Home points to a symbol of God’s Light, Mercy, and Love as manifested in His Prophet. God’s Prophet is not confined to a person, rather all prophets as one and the same Truth. In that sense Master Ali Rafea highlights the need of any seeker of truth to ask for the support of  God’s Light, Mercy, and Love by being connected to His Prophet. So, the Prophet is the Quibla i.e. the source of all guidance.