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Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Never lose hope

'O My slaves who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah, verily Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [Soorah az-Zumar (39): 53]

Umar Ibn al-Khattab (radhi allahu anhu - may Allah be pleased with him) relates that some prisoners were brought before Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam - may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and amongst them was a woman who was frantically searching for someone in the crowd. When she found a baby amongst the prisoners, she took it in her arms, cradled it next to her chest and suckled it. So Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: "Do you think that this woman would ever throw her child into the fire?" We said: 'By Allah, Never!' So he said: "Allah is more merciful to His believing servants than that mother could ever be to her child." [Saheeh al-Bukharee (10/426) and Saheeh Muslim (18/80)]

Abu Hurayrah (radhi allahu anhu) relates that Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: "Indeed, before Allah created the creation, He decreed for Himself, 'Indeed My Mercy prevails over My Anger.” [Saheeh al-Bukharee and Saheeh Muslim (17/68)]

It is recorded in the two Saheeh, the Hadeeth of Abu Said (radhi allahu anhu) from the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) about the man who killed ninety-nine people. Later on, he regretted it and asked a worshipper among the children of Israel whether he could repent. He told him no, so he killed him, thus completing one hundred. Then he asked one of their scholars whether he could repent. The scholar said: 'What is stopping you from repenting?' Then he asked him to go to a town where Allah was worshiped. He set out for the town, but death came to him while he was on the way. The Angels of Mercy and the Angels of Punishment disputed over him, so Allah commanded them to measure the distance between the two towns; whichever he was closer to was the one to which he belonged. They found that he was closer to the town he was heading for, so the angels of mercy took him. It was said that when he was dying, he moved himself (towards the town), and Allah commanded the good town to move closer to him and the other town to move away. [See Fath al-Baree (6: 591)]

These and other numerous Ahaadeeth and Qur'aanic verses give hope to the sinful believer in the Mercy of Allah for forgiveness of his sins, for Allah is full of forgiveness, pardon and covering mistakes of people, in spite of the people’s persistence upon transgression: “And never give up hope of Allah's Mercy. Certainly, no one despairs of Allah's Mercy, except the people who disbelieve.” [Soorah Yusuf (12): 87]

However, it is important to correctly understand the concept of hope in the Mercy of Allah, for some who are mistaken in this issue rely completely upon the hope that Allah will forgive their sins without even intending to refrain from evil deeds.

Hope in the Mercy of Allah should be accompanied by regret and remorse of the heart upon the sins committed, sincerity, hastening in repentance and avoiding sins as is clearly manifest from the following verses of the Qur'aan. Allah says: “And whosoever does evil or wrongs himself but afterwards seeks Allah's forgiveness, he will find Allah Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [Soorah an-Nisa (4): 110]

“O you who believe! Turn to Allah with sincere repentance.” [Soorah Tahrim (66): 8]

“And those who, when they have committed Fahisah (illegal acts) or wronged themselves with evil, remember Allah and ask forgiveness for their sins; - and none can forgive sins but Allah. And do not persist in what (wrong) they have done, while they know.” [Soorah al-Imran (3): 135]

“And of no effect is the repentance of those who continue to do evil until death faces one of them and he says: 'Now I repent.'” [Soorah an-Nisa (4): 18]

The example of a slave's hope in Allah's Mercy and Forgiveness can be explained by the example of a farmer. If the farmer searches for fertile soil, then sows it with good and healthy seeds, giving to the seeds what they need at the appropriate time, removing from around them the weeds and anything else that may hinder or ruin their growth and then hopes in Allah for His Favor with regards to keeping away violent storms and other harmful elements, until the seeds have fully ripened and grown - then this type of expectation can truly be described as hope. However, if the farmer sows the seeds in hard and barren soil, too high up for water to reach it, and he does not take care or protect the seed from harm, and expects a good harvest, then this expectation is not called hope, it is only wishful thinking.

Similarly, if the servant sows the seeds of Eemaan (faith), and waters them with acts of obedience to Allah, and protects himself from committing sins and seeks Allah's Forgiveness, then he is truly hoping in the Mercy of Allah.

Yahyaa Ibn Muaadh said: "In my view, the worst kind of self-delusion is to greatly sin, yet hope for forgiveness without feeling any regret; and to hope to draw close to Allah - the Most High - without obedience to Him; and to await the fruits of Paradise, by planting the seeds for Hell-Fire; and to seek the abode of the obedient ones, by doing acts of disobedience; and to expect a reward, without doing any worthy action; and to hope in Allah - the Mighty and Majestic - after overstepping the bounds." "You hope for salvation but do not tread its path. A ship never sails upon dry land." [Related by Ibn Hibbaan in Rawdatul-'Uqalaa (p.284), from the poetry of Abul-'Atiyyah]

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