Ar-Rahman, Ar- Rahim
This post is personal on so many levels and has been in the works for a while. I haven't been the holiest or most righteous Muslim. In fact, it's only been a few years since I set on the path of reclaiming myself and becoming a better Muslim. In my life, I have had some moments I can't help but be proud of. But on the flip side; I, like all of us reading this have those moments we want to keep in our past. The not so proud of moments. We all do things and wonder if God could or would ever forgive us. For so long, I have always had it at the back of my head, would Allah forgive me for this or that? Would He see how sincerely sorry I am? Would He consider the fact that I have realized how terrible some of the things I have done are and I'm trying so hard no to ever do them again. And I thought to myself there has to be some proof of Allah's mercy and forgiveness to even the worst of sinners. After all He is The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful and The Most Generous to name a few. Over the last couple of years I have learnt to never cut myself off from the mercies of my Lord. And today I would share a couple of points as to why we all should never think we can't be forgiven and given a clean slate by Allah.
Prophet Yunus (PBUH) is a very popular prophet mainly due to the story of him being swallowed by a giant whale. What most people do not know is how he got in the belly of the whale. Prophet Yunus (PBUH) was tasked with stopping the people of a town called Nineveh from idol worshiping. Despite his best efforts, the people would not leave their traditional way. He warned them of Allah's punishment and they instead of fearing Allah, they even boasted and jeered Him. At this point Prophet Yunus (PBUH) was dishearten and left the town.
"Remember Dhan Nun (Yunus), when he went off in anger, and imagined that We shall not punish him (the calamities which had befallen him)!" - Q21V87
The Quran tells us that Prophet Yunus boarded a ship in calm waters and later that night, a storm brewed and in an attempt to lighten the load on board the crew decided to throw at least one person overboard. They had a draw and guess who's name came up thrice? The Prophet knowing this was Allah's act threw himself into the ocean while calling and asking for forgiveness. The biggest of whales on Allah's command swallowed Prophet Yunus (PBUH) and dove to the bottom of the sea. Three layers of darkness enveloped him, one above the other; the darkness of the whale's stomach, the darkness of the bottom of the sea, the darkness of the night. His heart was moved by remembering Allah. His tongue released soon after saying:
"La ilaha illa Anta (none has the right to be worshipped but You (O Allah), Glorified (and Exalted) be You (above all that evil they associate with You), Truly, I have been of the wrong doers." - Q21V87
Prophet Yunus continued praying to Allah, repeating this invocation. Fishes, whales, seaweeds, and all the creatures that lived in the sea heard his voice praying, heard the celebration of Allah's praises issuing from the whale's stomach. All these creatures gathered around the whale and began to celebrate the praises of Allah in their turn, each in its own way and in its own language. We are told even the whale took part on this praise knowing fully well that it had just swallowed the Prophet of Allah.
"So also was Yunus among those sent (by Us). When he ran away (like a slave from captivity) to the ship (fully) laden, He (agreed to) cast lots, and he was condemned: Then the big Fish did swallow him, and he had done acts worthy of blame. Had it not been that he (repented and) glorified Allah, He would certainly have remained inside the Fish till the Day of Resurrection." - Q37 V139-144
Allah Almighty saw the sincere repentance of Prophet Yunus and heard his invocation in the whale's stomach. The whale ejected him onto a remote island. His body was inflamed because of the acids inside the whale's stomach. He was ill, and when the sun rose, its ray burned his inflamed body so that he was on the verge of screaming for the pain. However, he endured the pain and continued to repeat his invocation to Allah. Almighty Allah caused a vine to grow to considerable length over him for protection. Then Allah caused Prophet Yunus to recover and forgave him.
"But We cast him forth on the naked shore in a state of sickness, And We caused to grow, over him, a spreading plant of the gourd kind. And We sent him (on a mission) to a hundred thousand (men) or more. And they believed; so We permitted them to enjoy (their life) for a while." - Q37 V144-148
Gradually he regained his strength and found his way to his hometown. The entire population turned out to welcome him and informed him that they had turned to believe in Allah.
"O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you."- hadith Qudsi
Shaqiq said, "Weeping over past misdeeds, being afraid of perpetrating a sin again, forsaking the company of evildoers, and adhering to the company of the righteous- these are the hallmarks of a sincere repentance."
Talq bin Habib said, "Indeed, the rights of Allah are too great for His slaves to be able to fulfill them. And indeed, His favors and blessings are too many for them to be able to enumerate them. Then [the only way to safety] is for you to wake up every morning and repent for your sins, and go to bed every night and repent for your sins."
Ibn Mas'ud narrated that the Prophet (SAW) said:
“Indeed, Allah is more happy with the repentance of His slave than a man who stops in a barren, desolate land; with him he has his riding animal. He then goes to sleep. When he wakes up, [he realizes that] his mount is gone. He searches for it until he is on the verge of dying. He then says, ‘I will return to the place wherein I lost it, and I will die there.’ He went to that place, and he was then overcome by sleep. When he woke up, his mount was [standing] right beside his head: on it was his food, his drink, his provisions, and the things he neded. Allah is more happy with the repentance of his believing slave than the aforementioned man when he finds his mount and his provisions.” - [al-Bukhaari: 6308 ; Muslim: 2744]
This hadith clearly illustrates that no one should become so hopeless that he refrains from repenting to Allah. Glad tidings, then, to every Muslim who constantly and consistently hastens to repent to Allah and to ask for his forgiveness.
Rabbana innana amanna, faghfir lana, dhunobana wa-qinna 'adhaaban-naar
Our Lord! we have indeed believed: forgive us, then, our sins, and save us from the agony of the Fire - Q3 V16