This post is personal on so many levels. I have not been the holiest or most pious person. In fact, it's only been a few years since I set on the path of reclaiming myself and becoming a better Muslim. Life throws you a curve ball and you do things you cannot be proud of. We all have those moments; the ones we want to keep buried in the past.
Most times we all do things and end up with so much regret. We wonder if Allah 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 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 months I have learnt to never cut myself off from the mercies of my Rabb. 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 the whale. What most people do not know is the full story as to why he got in the belly of the whale to begin with. Yunus was tasked with teaching his people to worship Allah and shun idol worshipping. But these people would not leave their traditional way. They all ignored him despite his best efforts. He warned them of Allah's punishment all to no avail. At this point Prophet Yunus (PBUH) was dishearted and left the town.
"Remember Dhun-Nun (Jonah), when he went off in anger, and imagined that We shall not punish him (the calamities which had befallen him)...." - Q21:87
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 will 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." - Q21:87
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 manner. 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 Yusus 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. 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." - Q37:139-148
Allah Almighty saw the sincere repentance of Prophet Yusus 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 Yusus to recover and forgave him. 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.
Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said: “I swear by Him in whose hand is my soul, if you were a people who did not commit sin, Allah would take you away and replace you with a people who would sin and then seek Allah’s forgiveness so He could forgive them.” - Muslim