When I was young and ignorant, I used to…
Following this would be a recounting of past history which might include any wrong doings or sins committed by the narrator. This is what we can equate to airing our dirty laundry out in the open. Some do it with pride, commencing it with,”Back in the days…” and some may do it to fend off any perceptions that he is too prim and proper.
If one is surrounded by good company, one would not feel compelled to do this either to fend off any perceptions that one is uptight or to reminisce on the ‘good ole days’ with pride and maybe a slight touch of melancholy. Thus surrounding oneself with good company would be one way to prevent one from revealing past sins and commit new ones, inshaallah.
As I pondered over this command that we should not reveal our sins to people, I thought of a criminal who had just been released from prison. A criminal who has served his sentence and truly repented would usually wish to start anew, and would not want to dwell on past sins that would only bring feelings of shame and regret on himself. Imagine if this past criminal was given the chance to not wear the label ‘Been in Prison’ forever. He could put the past behind him, having learned from it at least enough not to repeat the sins, and propel himself into the hopes he has for a better life.
Another thing that hit me was that if one is truly repentant, one would not even wish to recount one’s past sins, much less talk about it with pride and melancholy. It’s beautiful how Allah tells us not to reveal our sins, and that if we hide them, Allah would hide them too on the Day of Judgment. It’s beautiful how Allah gives us so many opportunities to put our bad past behind us and start anew. It’s refreshing to see how Allah presents us with so much hope for goodness.
If a person tells of his sins to others, there might be among those people who has evil intent in his heart, who might use the person’s bad past as fuel to tarnish the person’s reputation. Just think of election time. Slanders are rampant, and where they might not be true, backbiting. Revealing one’s sins also tend to promote feelings of pride in having ‘been there done that’, and this might encourage future sins. Since shaytaan is always hanging around waiting to lure us to evil, Islam has even blocked ways in which might lead to ease in Shaytaan’s tasks. Subhanallah!
Below is the supplication asking for Allah’s forgiveness and mercy, which is actually the last ayah of Surah al Mu’minoon.
My Lord! Forgive and have mercy, for You are the best of those who show mercy. (Al mu’minoon 23: 118)
In this ayah, the use of rabb, which carries the meaning of sustainer, protector, nourisher, creator, denotes a sense of calling out to someone you tell all your troubles to. It’s like calling out to your mother.No wonder then that a lot of supplications begin with rabb.
The word Ighfar means forgive, and the word mighfar, another variation, means helmet. A helmet protects, hides, covers, and in that sense, ighfar also carries on the meaning of covering or hiding of our sins, and protecting us from the evil consequences of the sins, and hiding the sins from others in this world and especially in the hereafter. Istighfar is to hide the sin, ignore, and pardon them. Like mentioned above, we shouldn’t reveal our sins, and if we hide them, Allah will also hide them on the day of resurrection. But if one blatantly reveals his sins, it might be a cause for Allah not forgiving him, nauzubillah.
The word warham means ‘have mercy’, and the word comes from Rahim which means womb. What does a womb denote? Comfort, security, just like a mother’s womb provides comfort and security for the fetus.
Humans are admitted into Jannah only by Allah’s mercy. No amount of good deeds would ever be sufficient to qualify one to enter jannah by the merit of those deeds alone. It is Allah’s mercy that allows admission, and thus we depend so much on this mercy of Allah. When we do good deeds, out intention should be to please Allah and seek His pleasure so we can attain His mercy.
Ahadeeth related to Allah’s mercy:
Abu Hurairah (radiyallaahu ‘anhu) narrated: I heard the Prophet(salallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) saying: “Allah has divided mercy into one hundred parts and He kept 99 parts with Him and sent down one part on earth for the men and jin and animals and because of that on single part, His creations are merciful to eachother, so that even the mare lifts up its hoof away from its baby animal lest it should trample on it.”(Bukhari 6000)
“When Allah created the creation, He wrote in His book(and it is placed with Him on His throne): ‘Veirly My Mercy overcomes My Anger’.”(Bukhari 7404)
From Anas, radiyallahu ‘anhu, who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah , sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, say: “Allah the Almighty has said: ‘O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me, and hope in 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 in the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I shall forgive you. O son of Adam, were you to come to Me with an earthful of sins and were you then to face Me, without having associated anything with Me, I shall grant you an earthful of pardon.’”
[Recorded by Al-Tirmidhi, who said that it is a good and sound hadith].
The first ayah of Surah Al Mu’minoon:
Muhsin Khan: Successful indeed are the believers,
with falaah as the arabic word denoting success. Success here means true success, which is to enter Jannah without first entering the Hell fire.
In this surah, if we link the first and last ayah of the surah, we can see that it is only by the mercy of Allah that we can become of the Muflihoon (the truly successful), and may we be of those Muflihoon, inshaallah. Ameen.