Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The victory of Ramadhan: A time for reflection.

As we near the end of Ramadhan…We continue to seek Almighty Allah’s forgiveness.

Sunday marks the end of the Holy Month of Ramadhan. It is a victory for those who have been engaged in prayer, reading the Holy Qur'an and content with the remembrance of Allah. It is a victory for those who begin their day with the intention to fast and close the day in remembrance of Allah by stating:

“O Allah, for Thee I kept the Fast and upon Thee I have faith and I am breaking the Fast with the provisions provided by Thee.”

It is a time of healing and seeking relief by simply focusing on the favors that Almighty Allah has bestowed on humankind through his grace and turning to Him for forgiveness.

We are not perfect beings and human beings are bound to make mistakes as it says, “to err is human and to forgive is divine.”

There is not a day that goes by that we are not challenged by our satan within to fall into error, to sin, to make small or major mistakes that cause us to reel and rock in despair sometimes to the point of becoming ill with short or long term depressive behavior.

But we should not despair because the Qur’an teaches that Allah is a Judge and He also punishes, but Allah is not bound to punish. The justice of Allah, according to Qur’an is that Allah does not and will not inflict undue punishment on any person. He will not ignore the good of any person. But if He wishes to forgive any sinner, He has full freedom to do that. His mercy is unlimited and His love is infinite.

There are many verses in the Qur’an and sayings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, sallallaho alaihe wasallam -peace be upon him- on the love, mercy and forgiveness of Allah.

In one of the prayers that the Prophet taught, he said, “O Allah, You are most Forgiving One, You love to forgive, so forgive me.”(reported by al-Trimidhi and Ibn Majah). We need Allah’s mercy and forgiveness all the time.

There is a remedy for sin but you seek it by repenting, seeking forgiveness and being remorseful by turning to Him. The Promised Messiah (a.s.) says: “This means that if they do evil in conformity with the demands of their ego, or an evil thought arises in their minds and they seek remedy through repentance and seeking forgiveness, God forgives them. If they stumble repeatedly and are remorseful each time and repent, the remorse and repentance wash out the stain of their sin.”

The Holy Qur’an states: “Whoso does evil or wrongs his soul, and then asks forgiveness of Allah, will find Allah Most Forgiving, Ever Merciful.” (4:111)

Almighty Allah’s only request is that you turn to Him… seeking His forgiveness – astaghfirhu! While you sit wondering what has happened to you as a result of your own choices in life and then you sit thinking or scheming how to get out of a problem, you forget to turn towards Him. You made those mistakes, yet a loving God continues to reach out to you with a remedy. A cure for what ails you, but nothing can happen without you first accepting, understanding and turning towards God for help.

And he says in the Holy Qur'an: “O my servants who have committed excesses against their own soul; despair not of the Mercy of Allah, surely Allah forgives all sins. Verily he is Most Forgiving, Merciful.” (39:54)

Thus does the Holy Qur'an reveal to us a message of hope. A message that should lift every spirit that there is a remedy to sin and we should not despair and become despondent as we grapple with those sins in daily life. We have a wonderful loving God who says, “ (My) forgiveness is Oft-returning with mercy—( Inna-hu Kana tawwaba)

The attribute, Al-Tawwab used in the Surah, translates as: “He who is oft-returning.” This name of Allah is mentioned in the Qur’an about 11 times. Allah accepts the repentance of those who sincerely repent and turn to him. The word “tawwab” gives the sense of “oft-returning” which means that Allah again and again accepts the repentance. We make sins and mistakes then we repent, He accepts our repentance. Then again we commit sins and make mistakes and when we repent, He again very kindly accepts us and gives us another chance.

Seeking Allah’s forgiveness is paramount for anyone who is troubled by his sins and his inability to overcome the modus operandi (A method of operating or functioning). We become entrenched and isolated by our egos and embarrassed by our mistakes, misdeeds or whatever you want to call sins.

What we all have to do is to get back to the basics during the remaining days of Ramadhan. Look forward to each and every day of this fast as if it were your last day on earth – who knows it may be! Do not despair if you have made a mess of the fast, so far…turn towards Him, purify your heart and accept with a passionate belief that you are a believer who repents and seeks forgiveness from Almighty Allah.

If we say we love Allah, now is the time to reach out and call his name. Seek forgiveness from Allah. Seek His forgiveness and cry out to him, express the pain that you feel honestly and openly through prayer.

The Promised Messiah (a.s.) has given us further insight into the meaning of Istighfaar or to ask Almighty Allah in all humility and remorsefulness to cover our sins and safeguard us against natural weaknesses and bestow on us “…power from His power, and knowledge from His knowledge, and light from his light.”

As a creature created by God, He has never become separate from humankind. And we are reminded in the Holy Qur’an that it is God who has created us and “Allah is He, save Whom none is worthy of worship, the Ever-Living, the Self-Subsisting and All-Sustaining (2:256)…”

It is only God who sustains us in the good and the bad times. It is only God who we pray to five times a day as we supplicate: Iyaka na abudu wa Iyyaka nastaeen -- “Thee alone do we worship and thee alone do we implore for help.”

We should be joyful today. At the end of Ramadhan, we take a deep breath and ponder over His Grace. We should be joyful and full of hope knowing that our Lord is Gracious, very Merciful, very Benevolent and Bountiful.

And we conclude with this prayer:

“O Lord, our devotions and actions are nothing but we have perfect faith and hope in Thee that thou will deal with us with Mercy, Grace and Favor. We pray that Thou will forgive our wrongs and make us enter the Paradise of Thy Pleasure through thy Grace. O Lord, enable us to always be Grateful and Thankful servants and praise Thee.”

Ramadhan Mubarak, Hasan

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