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|The Secret Behind Asking Forgiveness After Prayer|
|01/06/05 at 21:41:34|
The Secret Behind Asking Forgiveness After the Prayers
by Al-'Allâmah Muhammad Jamalu-Dîn al-Qasîmî
(d. 1332 AH / n/a CE)
With the Name of Allâh, the All-Merciful, the Most Merciful,
All praise and thanks are due to Allâh, the Lord of the Worlds, peace and
blessings be upon our Master, Muhammad and all his family.
This is a monograph concerning the reason behind asking forgiveness after
the prayers which I felt impelled to write after some students pointed out
to me that one of the Legal Jurists had said, 'it is not permissible for the
one praying that he say "astaghfirullâh" after completion of the prayer
because Allâh, Glorious is He, says,
" Allâh only accept repentance from those who do evil in ignorance and
then quickly seek repentance after it." [an-Nisa' (4): 17]
So I say: The scholars of hadîth have agreed upon narrating the seeking of
forgiveness after the prayer from the Prophet (SAW) and the Imams have
agreed upon the recommendation of this action without a single objecting
voice being raised. It is not possible to reject the meaning of the ahadîth
that occur concerning this just so that one can support mere opinion, this
because of them being explicit in the meaning they carry and propound, a
meaning that can be clearly understood by both Arab and non-Arab, the
intelligent and the foolish. These ahadîth fulfil the requirements of being
Moreover, it is stranger still that this person sought proof for his stance
from the verse when it was the one to whom this verse was revealed (SAW) who
legislated this action after the prayers, both by statement and action!
So here follows a clarification of the ahadîth concerning this, having been
recorded by the Imams of the Sunnah in their Sahîhs, Sunâns and Musnâds:
1) Imam Muslim said in his Sahîh, in the chapter entitled, 'the
recommendation of performing dhikr after the prayer and an explanation of
Dawûd bin Rushayd narrated to us; al-Walîd narrated to us; from al-Awzâ'i;
from Abu 'Ammâr – whose name is Shaddâd bin 'Abdullah; from Abu Asma'; from
Thawbân who said,
The Messenger of Allâh (SAW), when he had completed the prayer, would ask
for forgiveness three times and then say, "O Allâh! Your are the Perfect
Peace, from you emanates peace, blessed are You, the Possessor of Majesty
I asked al-Awzâ'i, 'how does one ask forgiveness?' He replied, 'you say
astaghfirullâh, astaghfirullâh '
2) Ibn Abi Shaybâh records with a sahîh isnâd on the authority of Zadhan who
said; a man from amongst the Ansâr narrated to me that,
I heard the Messenger of Allâh (SAW) saying at the end of the prayer,'O
Allâh! Forgive me and turn to me, you indeed are the Oft-Returning, the
All-Forgiving' – one hundred times.
3) 'Abdur-Razzâq records on the authority of Mu'âdh bin Jabal who said,
Whoever, after prayer, says, 'I ask Allâh's forgiveness, besides whom
there is none worthy of worship, the Ever-Living, the Self-Sustaining; and I
turn to Him [in repentance]' three times, Allâh will expiate his sins even
if that sin be his running away from the advance of the enemy army. [theisnâd is da'if]
4) Ibn as-Sunni and ibn an-Najjâr record from Mu'âdh that the Prophet (SAW)
Whoever says, three times after Fajr prayer and three times after 'Asr
prayer, 'I ask Allâh's forgiveness besides whom there is none worthy of
worship, the Ever-Living, the Self-Sustaining; and I turn to Him [inrepentance]', his sins will be expiated, even if they be the extent of the
foam on the ocean. [the isnâd is da'if]
5) Ad-Daylâmi records on the authority of Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet
Whoever asks Allâh's, Mighty and Magnificent is He, forgiveness seventy
times after every prayer, all the sins he committed will be forgiven him.
6) Al-Khâtib records that the Prophet (SAW) said,
Any servant who prays an obligatory prayer and then asks Allâh's
forgiveness ten times will not stand from his place except that his sins
will have been forgiven him.
[al-Khâtib, Tarikh Baghdâd [12/424] after which he says, 'munkar jiddan']
The ahâdith and narrations concerning this topic are many and what we have
mentioned is sufficient proof for the fair-minded person.
It is clear to whoever considers many of the individual actions of worship
that the Truth, Exalted is He, has legislated the asking of forgiveness and
repentance after their completion. He has legislated this after the
completion of Hajj and the night prayer; Allah, Exalted is He, ordered His
Messenger (SAW) to ask forgiveness after his having completed his duty of
conveying the Message, after having fought Jihad in His path and after the
people had started entering the religion in droves. This conveyance was an
action of worship whose duty he (SAW) had fully undertaken and perfected,
yet it was still legislated that he ask for forgiveness after his having
Al-Hafidh ibn Kathir says in commentary to the verse,
"then press on from where people press on and ask Allâh's forgiveness"
[al-Baqarah (2): 199] –
Frequently does Allah order that His dhikr be performed after the completion
of actions of worship, this is why it is established in Sahîh Muslim that
the Messenger of Allâh (SAW) would ask for forgiveness three times after
having completed the prayer.
Ibn al-Qayyim, Tariq al-Hijratayn, says,
When the time for the obligatory prayer came, he would hasten towards
performing it in the most perfect and complete of ways, showing utmost
sincerity to His Lord – the sincerity of deed that is displayed by one who
has true love for his beloved when the beloved asks something of him. Such a
person expends all his energy and effort in doing that action well,
completely and perfectly so that he may have a standing in the sight of his
beloved, attain his pleasure and draw close to him.
Has the servant no shame before his Lord, Master and object of worship, such
that he has no concern to make his actions of this quality? He sees the
lovers devote themselves to their created objects of love, he sees how they
strive in doing actions for them in the best and most perfect ways, indeed
he experiences this same thing in himself towards those created objects he
loves, so surely he should at the very least display this to his Lord as
well! Whoever is just and true to himself, whoever truly knows the worth of
his deeds, will feel embarrassed to direct such actions to Allâh and be
content with them for his Lord when he knows that were some person he loves
to ask him to do something, he would do it with the utmost sincerity and
expend all of his efforts in doing it in the best of ways!
So this is the state of this servant with his Lord with respect to all of
his deeds, he knows he has not fulfilled his duty as it deserves so he is
always asking Allâh's forgiveness after the completion of every action. When
the Prophet (SAW) had said the salâm to complete the prayer, he would ask
Allâh's forgiveness three times. Allâh, Exalted is He, says, "The part of
the night they spent asleep was small and they would seek forgiveness before
the dawn." [adh-Dhariyat (51): 17-18] So he informed us that they would ask
forgiveness after having performed the night prayer; al-Hasan said, 'they
would pray until the dawn and then sit asking their Lords forgiveness.'
Allâh, Exalted is He says, "Then press on from where people press on and ask
Allâh's forgiveness, Allâh is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful." [al-Baqarah(2): 199] So He, glorious is He, ordered us to ask for forgiveness after
having stood at 'Arafâh and al-Muzdalifâh. It is legislated for the one
making ritual ablution to say upon its completion, "O Allâh! Make me of the
penitent and make of those who purify themselves."
So repentance is legislated after ritual ablution, after Hajj, after prayer
and after the night prayer. The worshipper is in dire need of repentance and
asking forgiveness as has become clear, so he is always repenting to his
Lord and asking His forgiveness. As his actions of worship increase, so too
does his repentance.
He, may Allâh have mercy upon him, later went on to say,
It is asked: Why do the Angels experience fear when they are sinless, sins
being the cause for fear? What was the reason for the extreme fear of the
Prophet (SAW) despite his knowing that Allâh had forgiven his past and
future sins and that he was the closest of creation to Allâh?
There are four answers given to this:
This fear arises in proportion to ones closeness to Allâh and ranking in His
Sight. The closer the servant is to his Lord, the greater his fear because
he is now required to do [additional and better] worship that others are not
required to. It becomes necessary for him to carefully scrutinise the
dictates of his ranking and fulfil its rights and duties, the level of
scrutiny that he must apply, and level of fulfilment of the deed, being
greater than that required from others. The truth of this is witnessed in
what we see around us, the one who is close to kings lives in a greater
state of fear of them then those distant from them, he is required to serve
his king and fulfil this service to a far greater extent than others, and
hence he has more cause to fear than others who are distant from that king.
Whoever understands this well will understand his (SAW) saying, "I am the
most knowledgeable of you concerning Allâh and I have the most fear of Him."
He will also come to understand the hadîth recorded by Abu Dawûd and others
on the authority of Zayd bin Thabit that the Prophet (SAW) said, "Were Allâh
to punish the inhabitants of the heavens and the earth, He could do so with
having oppressed them in any way. Were Allâh to show mercy to them, His
mercy would be better than their deeds."
The hadîth has been mentioned by way of praising Allâh and showing the
greatness of Allâh's right upon His servants, that were Allâh to punish
mankind, He would punish them because of His right over them and their
deserving it. This is because His right over His servants is many many times
greater than what they actually fulfil of it.
This is why he (SAW) said, "were Allâh to show mercy to them, His mercy
would be better than their deeds", i.e. the mercy He shows them is not in
proportion to their deeds, especially since their actions could not repay
even a few of his favours and blessings! So were Allâh to punish His
servants for their not thanking him and their not fulfilling His right as is
befitting, He could do so and He would be oppressing anyone.
Now if someone were to ask: if one does all he can in displaying gratitude
to Him and showing servitude to Him, how can it still be good to punish him?
The answer is from two perspectives:
The servant hardly ever does all that he is capable of doing, rather there
is always something lacking or some sort of deficiency. The actual servitude
he does display, he does not fulfil the obligation that is due it comprising
matters such as complete exaltation, glorification, sincerity and
contemplation so as to perfect the action of worship both outwardly and
inwardly. Hence deficiency is present when he leaves things and when he does
This is why when as-Siddiq asked the Prophet (SAW) for a supplication that
he could invoke in his prayer, he replied, "O Allâh! I have greatly,
frequently wronged my soul and there is none to forgive sins save You!
Forgive me with a forgiveness from Yourself and show mercy to me. You are
the All-Forgiving, Most Merciful." So after depicting himself with much sin
and stressing this, he said, "forgive me with a forgiveness from Yourself"
meaning a forgiveness that my actions do not deserve, rather are incapable
of deserving, so give me a forgiveness arising from Your beneficence and
grace, not a forgiveness that my deeds deserve or due to my asking
forgiveness. Then he said, "and show mercy to me", i.e. I have no recourse
but to Your mercy alone, so if You show mercy to me [then I would besuccessful], otherwise destruction is certain!
Let the intelligent ponder this supplication and what it contains of gnosis
and servitude. It comprises acknowledgement of the fact that were Allâh to
punish me, He would not have wronged me, and that I cannot be saved except
by virtue of his mercy and forgiveness. In a similar vein, the Prophet (SAW)
said, "none of you will be saved by virtue of your deeds [alone]." They
asked, 'what not even you O Messenger of Allâh?' He replied, "not even me,
unless Allâh were to envelop me in His mercy and beneficence."
So when actions alone cannot secure success, if Allâh were not to save a
person, He would not have detracted from anything due him or wronged him in
any way, for the servant has nothing with him that would secure success. The
deeds he has, do not repay the gratitude due for even a few of His
blessings, so how can He be oppressive were He to punish him? How can one
think that His mercy to us would be in repayment of our deeds, presuming
that deeds are the price for mercy? All of this along with the fact that
what servitude the servant does display is deficient with regards sincerity,
modesty, contemplation, love, ckncentration and presence of heart! Whoever
comes to understand this, will come to understand why one asks for
forgiveness after having performed actions of obedience.
After discussing further, he says,
All of this clarifies the reality of the situation, every single person is
in deed of Allâh's forgiveness and His mercy and there is absolutely no way
of being saved without these two things.
Whoever wishes to read the remaining responses, let him consult the above
mentioned book, may Allâh multiply manifold the reward of its author.
The teacher, the Imam, the Mufti of Egypt [Muhammad 'Abduh], may Allâh
protect him, said in exegesis to the verse,
"Our Lord, make us both Muslims submitted to You, and our descendants a
Muslim community submitted to You. Show us our rites of worship and turn
towards us. You are the Oft-Returning, the Most Merciful" [al-Baqarah (2):128] –
To turn back or return ( taba), the 'servant turned back/returned to his
Lord' because whoever commits a sin has turned away from Allâh, i.e. from
the path of His religion and that which would dictate His pleasure. One says
'Allâh turned to the servant' because tawbah from Allâh includes the meaning
of mercy, it is as if the divine mercy turns aside from the one committing a
sin due to his taking to the routes that would lead to punishment, hence
when he returns, His Lord returns to Him and once again shows him mercy.
Tawbah differs with respect to the different categories of people; a servant
will make tawbah [of the master] for leaving something he ordered to be done
or doing something he ordered to be left; a friend will make tawbah to you
and make an excuse when he falls short of doing an action that contains
benefit for you, falls short of doing what he was able to do; a son will
make tawbah to the father when he falls short of displaying proper respect.
Similarly the tawbah of the penitent to Allâh differs with respect their
gnosis and their understanding of the Shari'ah.
The generality of the believers do not know of those matters that lead to
the displeasure of Allâh, and lead to His punishment, except the sins that
the Shari'ah has stringently prohibited. Hence when they repent from bad
deeds, they are actually repenting for those sins. The elite of the
believers know that every bad deed tarnishes the soul and removes it from
its perfection; that every righteous action has an effect on the soul and
draws it closer to Allâh. So being deficient in performing righteous deeds
is, in the eyes of the elite, a sin by which the soul is lowered and
distanced from Allâh, Exalted is He. Hence if the soul is deficient in
performing righteous deeds it repents, if it actively performs them, it does
not feel secure from deficiency and shortcoming.
The level of concern that the righteous have for their souls differs with
respect to the extent to which they are familiar of its descriptions,
attributes and pitfalls; it also differs with respect to their knowledge of
the perfection of Allâh, Exalted is He, the meaning of being close to Him
and deserving His pleasure. This is why some of the Gnostics said, 'the good
deeds of the righteous ( abrar) are seen to be bad deeds by those brought
close to Allâh ( maqarrabun)' From this perspective can one understand the
meaning of tawbâh that was sought by Ibrâhim and Ismâ'il, upon them both be
|01/06/05 at 21:43:01|
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