A Beautiful Prayer for Forgiveness
Taken from the book “Prayers for Forgiveness” which includes a collection of 70 prayers for forgiveness by Imam Hasan Al-Basri.
“Though we spend time routinely cleaning up our machines, we often do so while neglecting our hearts, which are far more worthy of our careful attention since theybecome spiritually malnourished and deadened by the overwhelming burden of sin.
The Companion Abu Hurayra RA relates that the Messenger of Allah SAW said, “When a believer commits a sin, a black dot appears on his heart. If he repents and seeks forgiveness, his heart becomes purified. If he advances in sin, the black dots increase until they overcome his heart. These black dots constitute the encrusted pollution [ra’n] that God Almighty refers to in the verse: “No, indeed! But, encrusted over their hearts is what they have earned.”‘(Al-Qur’an 83:14) [(Sunan al-Tirmidhi)]
If one allows sins to accumulate on his or her heart in the form of this inner rust, the heart gradually becomes blind and unreceptive to spiritual realities.
One can easily observe this inner lack of spiritual cognition when, for example, a person yawns at the mention of the Hellfire and its severity, whereas another faints upon hearing of the same. We are thus in need of a reliable method and rigid routine for cleansing our hearts of the pollution they accumulate from frequent sinning.
Cleansing the heart is achieved through the remembrance of Allah [dhikr], repentance [tawba], seeking forgiveness [istighfar], and humbly turning to Him in penitence [inaba]. The Messenger of Allah SAW did this 70 to 100 times a day, despite being inerrant and guarded from sin [ma’sum]. He SAW also said,
“Every descendant of Adam is a sinner, and the best of the sinners are those who repent”
When a person makes sincere repentance [tawba nasuh] for his sins, no matter how severe they may be, Allah purifies his heart and treats him as if he never committed them.
Why is it such a bounty that we are able to turn to the Almighty and seek His forgiveness? Turning to Allah in repentance and seeking His forgiveness provide us the release we need when feeling overwhelmed by the burden of sin. They give us a way out, another chance, a sense of lightheartedness, hope, and inspiration needed to turn a new page in life and start afresh.
It is through forgiveness that we gain so much hope in our religion that there remains no reason whatsoever for us to despair of Allah’s mercy.”
Here’s one of the prayers in the book that resonated very deeply with me:
“O Allah, I seek your forgiveness for every sin for which I presented my repentance before You; and regarding which I stood before You swearing an oath in Your name and called Your friends from among Your servants to be my witnesses – that I would never return to disobeying You.
But when Satan with his cunning tempted me to return to it; and Your forsaking me [due to Your anger over my impiety] caused me to [despairingly] waver toward it; and my lower self invited me to disobey You once more; I hid myself in shame from Your servants, but openly and daringly committed sins before You, though I knew full well that no covering nor any closed door could conceal me from You and no veil could hide me from Your sight.
I still defied You by disobediently doing what You had prohibited to me; but [despite my iniquity], You did not remove Your covering from me, but rather treated me equal to Your pious servants, as though I had always been an obedient servant and swift to fulfill Your every command and fearful of Your warnings.
I remained obscure in front of Your servants, and none besides You knew my secret. You did not single me out from Your servants with a mark of disgrace, but instead showered upon me blessings like theirs; and with this You distinguished me over them as though I were, in Your sight, of a status like theirs. All this was owing only of Your forbearance and abundant blessings – generous grace from You to me. For You then, O my Lord, belongs all praise.
I ask from You, O Allah, just as You have covered my evil deeds in this world, that You do not humiliate me with them on the Day of Judgment. Forgive my sins, O Most Merciful of the merciful!”