Astronomers at the Sharjah Planetarium announced today that the first day of Ramadan for this year will be on Monday, September 1, InshaAllah.
Most of us Muslims take advantage of the blessings of Ramadan to refresh our relationship with Allah. We intend to and make great efforts to get ourselves spiritually closer to Him. We assess our lives, reflect on it, and make good changes. We work towards becoming a better person. And most importantly, we focus on pleasing Allah by worshiping Him, and seeking forgiveness for our sins.
But shouldn’t we cleanse our souls even before the advent of Ramadan itself?
We are inherently weak and helpless before Allah, and are therefore prone to committing mistakes every now and then. We are given the capability to determine the right from wrong, yet we are made susceptible to committing sins. Regarding this human nature, Allah says in the Qur’an:
“If Allah were to punish men according to what they deserve, He would not leave on the surface of the earth one single living creature: but He gives them respite for a stated term.” [35:45]
Allah doesn’t expect His believers to be free from fault and sins. Rather, He expects us to realize our mistakes, feel sorry for them, and seek forgiveness from Allah.
We pray five times a day. That in itself is a great way to ask for forgiveness for any mistake that we may have committed, whether intentionally or unintentionally, during the course of the day.
But we need to cleanse our souls; that’s where repentance comes in.
Tawbah or Repentance means seeking refuge in Allah for one’s sins. It’s an absolute commitment to refrain from committing the same mistake ever again.
“O my servants who have transgressed against their souls! Do not despair of the Mercy of Allah: for Allah forgives all sins; for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. Turn to your Lord (in repentance) and bow to His Will, before the Penalty comes upon you; after that you shall not be helped.” [39:53-54]
Repentance, however, doesn’t necessarily guarantee that a person will indeed never commit the same mistake ever again. But Allah is Most Merciful, and He has given us an entire lifetime to repent for our sins. As mentioned in the above verse from the Qur’an, a person is stripped off his privilege to repent after death.
For repentance to be accepted by Allah, one has to follow these stages:
1. Feeling of deep remorse for the sins committed; being humble enough to accept that one has wronged.
2. Abstaining not only from committing the sin again, but also from the circumstances that have lead towards committing such a sin.
3. Firmly resolving never to sin again, and making efforts to do good deeds to make up for the sin.
4. Forgiving those who provokes him/her; not blaming anyone else, but taking responsibility for own deed.
5. Surrendering to Allah and sincerely seeking for His forgiveness.
Let us repent for our mistakes and cleanse our souls, so that we may welcome the Holy month of Ramadan with pure hearts and minds. Remember also that repentance is the most noble and beloved form of obedience in the eyes of Allah. We don’t have to suffer an entire lifetime of guilt over something we have done in the past.
Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) said:
“Allah 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 on Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds in the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I shall forgive you.” [Al Tirmidhi]