The topic of the Friday sermon today was repentance and seeking forgiveness of one's sins from Allah. Huzoor(aba) recited the following verse after Tashahhud and Surah Al-Fatihah:
"And whoso does evil or wrongs his soul, and then asks forgiveness of Allah, will surely find Allah Most Forgiving, Merciful." (4:111)
Huzoor(aba) said that the human nature has been made such that he tends towards committing mistakes and faults and laziness. Such human nature does not only incite an average, materialistic, worldly person, who is neglectful of his duties towards God but also envelopes pious people and Prophets into its fold, who are also affected by the natural state of man. The Promised Messiah(as) says that even the Prophets are aware of this weakness of man; therefore they busy themselves in prayer and supplicate to God to protect them from all evils. An ordinary man who is prone to commit millions of error every day should seek forgiveness incessantly and immerse himself in doing Astaghfar day and night. It is indeed possible to protect oneself from many sins and grave dangers by doing Astaghfar. Allah is ever prepared to hear the cries of Taubah from his people. The Holy Quran repeatedly reminds us of the way of seeking forgiveness and of repenting before Allah so that we may be able to become the recipients of the favors and blessings of Allah that He has promised.
Huzoor(aba) reminded us that it is impossible for man, if he ponders on it, to fully repay the favors that Allah has bestowed on him in His infinite Graciousness and Mercy. Therefore, man should continually ask for His forgiveness and keep himself bowed in prostration before Him for His Grand favors.
Huzoor(aba) quoted a Hadith narrated by Hazrat Abu Musa Asharirz, that the Holy Prophet(saw) said: 'Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, stretches out His Hand during the night so that the people repent for the fault committed from dawn till dusk and He stretches out His Hand during the day so that the people may repent for the fault committed from dusk to dawn (He would accept repentance) before the sun rises in the west (before the Day of Resurrection).' (Muslim)
Huzoor(aba) said that the Promised Messiah(as) has explained that Astaghfar signifies asking Allah for forgiveness, to repent the sins committed in the past and to reform to such an extent that the sins are not committed again. It also means to repent against the evil encountered in the future and to seek forgiveness from the torment of the Fire. All Prophets and godly men ask for forgiveness. Not a single soul can claim that he can absolve himself of sin on his own. Only Allah's Mercy can release a man of his sins. Prophets are well aware of this fact, and therefore continually seek forgiveness of Allah.
Hazrat Abu Huraira(ra) narrates: 'I heard Allah's Apostle saying, "By Allah! I ask for forgiveness from Allah and turn to Him in repentance more than seventy times a day.' (Bukhari)
Huzoor(aba) reminded us that a mere verbal recitation of Taubah and Astaghfar is not sufficient in any way. Taubah should be such that it comes from the heart and one should repent sincerely with the best of intentions. Repetitive Taubah and Astaghfar will wash away the sins of a man to the point where his heart will be purified. Ghafoor-ur-Raheem is an intrinsic attribute of Allah and it means that Allah is The Most Forgiving, The Great Pardoner and Most Merciful.
When a man who is guilty of committing a sin repents, Allah also advances towards such a man. This Rujoo-e Ilahi (the advance of Allah towards man) does not take place once or twice, but it is unlimited. No matter how many times a man sins, then repents, Allah will turn to him. Therefore, Huzoor(aba) reminded us that Astaghfar should be a constant and persistent habit so that Allah continues to forgive us our sins. Huzoor(aba) cautioned us that this does not in any case mean that a man commits sin over and over again, repenting each time thinking that Allah has promised to forgive him any way for his repentance. Huzoor(aba) said that the intention of a person who repents should be such that he shall keep himself away from sin in the future. A Hadith by Hazrat Anas bin Malik(ra) states that the state of a person who repents of his sins is of a person who never committed that sin.
The Promised Messiah(as) said that Allah loves those who seek forgiveness and who are pure of heart. He(as) said the indications of a person who is seeking forgiveness of his sins are regret and anxiety. He(as) says that it is the truth that Taubah and Astaghfar of a sincere man wash away all his sins. Previous sins are forgiven and he enters the ranks of Awlia (friends of Allah). The Promised Messiah(as) explains that Taubah sows a seed of purity and innocence in our heart. Huzoor(aba) repeated that in the world today, there is much evil and wickedness, and we should make every effort to protect ourselves from this wickedness and remain absorbed in Taubah. We must cultivate the heart and sow the seed of innocence and purity in it. A wise farmer takes measures of prevention against the growth of weeds and unwanted wild plants in his ploughed land. Similarly, sins are the weeds of our hearts and we should rid of them, so that the seed of piety takes root and is nourished well and grows well in the heart. If a heart is cultivated such, then the attacks of Satan, who himself is spreading the seeds of sin and evil at all times, will not harm that person or at least, this person will have the tools to protect himself against such vicious aggressions. This tool is Astaghfar. Goodness will hence prevail and sin will be annihilated.
Huzoor(aba) then quoted a Hadith narrated by Hazrat Al-Bara' ibn Azibrz: Hazrat Muhammad(saw) said: What is your opinion about the delight of a person whose camel loaded with the provisions of food and drink is lost and that moves about with its nose-string trailing upon the waterless desert in which there is neither food nor drink, and he wanders about in search of that until he is completely exhausted and then accidentally it happens to pass by the trunk of a tree and its nose-string gets entangled in that and he finds it entangled therein? We said (in response to the question of the Prophet): Allah's Apostle (peace be upon him) he would feel highly delighted. Thereupon Allah's Apostle (peace be upon him) said: By Allah, Allah is more delighted at the repentance of His servant than that person (as he finds his lost) camel. (Muslim)
In light of this Hadith, Huzoor(aba) reminded us that Allah loves us and cares for us so much, so we must love Him and follow the teachings of His Prophets and the Holy Quran. May Allah enable us to do so, Ameen.
Huzoor(aba) warned us against those people who doubt the Power and Supremacy of Allah and pass a judgment that so and so shall never be forgiven. Allah says to these people in return: 'Who shall put limits on my Power? I will surely forgive so and so of his sins and will transfer his sins to those who doubted Me.' Huzoor(aba) said that one should never despair of Allah's Mercy because it is indeed His judgment to forgive whom He pleases.
Huzoor(aba) recounted the incident of a man who had committed 99 murders. He wanted to seek forgiveness, and sought after the advice of a wise man. He asked this wise man if Allah would accept the forgiveness of a man who had committed 99 murders. The wise man told him that the forgiveness of such a man would never be accepted. On hearing this, the murderer killed this wise man and now had 100 murders on his head. He felt remorseful again, and sought the advice of another wise man, who told him that true repentance would gain him forgiveness. The murderer was happy to hear this, but the wise man advised him to go to a place far away, where he would find himself among pious people who were the beloved of Allah and by going to that place, he would distance himself of the company of criminals who belonged to the hometown where he resided. The murdered paid heed to the advice and set off on this journey. Before he could reach his destination, he met with death. The Angels of goodness wanted his soul to be taken to Paradise, whereas the Angels of Punishment wanted his soul to be put in HellFire on account of the murders he had committed. In the meanwhile, another angel appeared in the form of a human being, who advised them to measure the distance the man had traveled. If he was closer to his destination, then his soul should be given to the Angels of goodness, and if he was closer to the point where he started from, his soul will belong to the Angels of Punishment. When the distance was measured, indeed, this man was closer to his destination and was pardoned for his sins as he had sought forgiveness.
Huzoor(aba) reminded us that if we proceed towards Allah, He shall surely proceed towards us. He(aba) reminded us of the Hadith which says that when a man takes one step towards Allah, He takes ten steps, and when he walks towards Allah, He runs towards him.
In another tradition narrated by Hazrat Abu Hurairarz, we learn that the angels of Allah roam the earth and search for groups of pious people who are busy in the remembrance of Allah. The angels then sit in the company of such men and cover them with their wings. When the group dissipates, the angels ascend towards Heaven and Allah asks them where they are coming from (although He is All-Knowing). The angels tell them that they were party to a group of men who remember Allah much, worship Him and supplicate to Him. Allah asks the angels: What do these men want? The angels reply: O Allah! They want your Paradise. Allah asks them: Have they seen my Paradise? The angles reply in the negative. Then Allah says: What do they know of this Paradise? Then the angels say: O Allah! They seek protection from Your HellFire. Allah asks again: Have they seen my HellFire? No, say the angels. Then Allah says: What do they know of this Hellfire? Then the angels say: O Allah! They want your forgiveness. And Allah says: I forgive them. I pardon them. The angels say: There was a sinful man in company of these pious men as well who sat in their group while he was passing by. Then Allah, out of His infinite Mercy pardons the sinful man also.
Huzoor(aba) said that we should try as much as possible to participate in the activities at the local Mosque so that we are party to such pious gatherings and Allah may forgive us our sins. We should not miss Jumma prayers for the sake of work. We should strive in all those works that gain nearness of Allah. The Promised Messiah(as) has repeatedly said that Astaghfar is the way to attain spiritual nearness to Allah. He(as) has also said that Astaghfar is a remedy against all hardships. When people would ask him for prayers to alleviate their debt, he would ask them to recite Astaghfar. He(as) would tell them not to repeat it with their tongue for the sake of repeating it, but would encourage them to understand the meaning of Astaghfar, only then would it benefit them. For those people who could not have children, he recommended the same formula: repeating Astaghfar. This way the sins will be pardoned and Allah will bless them with children as well. But along with Astghfar it is incumbent upon man to have faith (Iman), without which the Astaghfar will have no significance.
The Promised Messiah(as) says: Sin is like a germ that runs in the blood of man and the remedy for it is Astaghfar. What is Astaghfar? It simply means that Allah the Exalted may protect you from the evil consequences of the sins that you have committed and the sins that you have not yet committed but are capable of committing and that such propensities may be consumed and burnt to ashes without ever finding an opportunity to become manifest in deeds. The Promised Messiah(as) also says that one should not hesitate from doing Astaghfar in his own language. That supplication is most effective that comes deep from the heart. He(as) says: Occupy yourself in Taubah and Astaghfar and keep examining your self. People of all religions and nations and the People of the Book believe that charity and almsgiving can avert the wrath [of Allah] only before it strikes. But when it has descended then it cannot be averted. Therefore, now is the time to repent and entreat forgiveness for your sins so that Allah the Exalted may take you under His protection and His wrath may spare you.
The Promised Messiah(as) says: Just as a fly has two wings, one wing containing cure and the other poison, likewise, a human being has two 'wings' - one of sin and the other of shame, repentance and a deep concern [over his own misdeeds]. The question here arises as to why the poison was created? The answer to this is that the poison itself becomes the antidote after it has been made to undergo certain changes. The poisonous elements having been removed, it becomes an elixir.
When the Innocent Prophet [the Holy Prophet Muhammad(saw) of Islam] asked for repentance seventy times daily, then what should we do? It is only the person who is happy with sin, who does not repent from sin. He who knows sin to be sin will ultimately abandon it.
In a Hadith, it is stated that when a person repeatedly weeps before Allah, asking for forgiveness, ultimately, Allah says: 'I have forgiven you. You can now do whatever you wish.' This means that his heart has been changed and now sin would be naturally as repugnant to him as when a person sees sheep eating grass, he does not desire to do the same. Likewise the person who has been forgiven by God will not indulge in sin. Muslims develop a natural aversion to eating pig flesh whereas they indulge in all kinds of other acts that have been forbidden. The wisdom of such an aversion is this that it sets an example of repugnance to make people understand how they should hate sinfulness.
Huzoor(aba) then mentioned the complaints he receives against some youth and other members who do not follow the system of Nizam-e-Jama'at or who are engrossed in watching dirty movies. He(aba) said that once we have performed Bai'at there should be no contradiction between our words and our practices. Those people who watch dirty movies should remember that not only are they indulging in immoral activities, but are also incurring financial losses upon themselves because such activities cost significant amounts of money. Taubah and Astaghfar should be such that we do not even think of indulging ourselves into these activities. Astaghfar and Durood are remedies against lowly desires of the self. One should remain steadfast in offering Astaghfar and Salat, and a time will come, when such a person shall observe a transformation in his heart. The Promised Messiah(as) repeatedly admonished us that we should constantly pray to Allah that He creates a vast distance between our sins and us. We should not be impatient because a righteous man is never impatient. A farmer does not harvest the crop right after planting the seeds. A person should not stop after digging down to twenty feet, because he might find the water that he was digging for had he dug another foot deeper. Be steadfast and patient. Happiness comes after sorrow. If all blessings were achieved easily and without any effort, then man would not know the value of those blessings.
Huzoor(aba) elaborated upon the current world situation. He(aba) said that the world is in great peril. A new crisis develops every single day. We as Ahmadi Muslims are responsible to save the world, and we need to concentrate on our supplications and occupy ourselves in Astaghfar. May Allah enable us to comprehend and follow His guidelines, Ameen.
The Holy Quran extensively reminds us to ask forgiveness. Allah loves those who seek repentance, but those who do not, they shall surely be punished. May Allah accept our humble efforts, Ameen. The Promised Messiah(as) has said that Taubah is like incurring a death upon yourself. After Taubah, one should feel that he is reborn and a new existence has taken birth in him. All others should be witness that this man is a changed man after his Taubah.
Huzoor(aba) also reminded us that we should be mindful of our duties towards our siblings, our neighbors and to our society. We should purify our heart and protect ourselves from the social vices that surround us. He(aba) specifically pointed towards young boys and girls who are influenced by their peers to start cigarette smoking, and then they are led towards other addictive drugs, and eventually, these kids become agents or drug-dealers themselves. Parents are cautioned to be watchful over their children.
In the end, Huzoor(aba) reminded us of the words of the Promised Messiah(as) who says that Astaghfar is the fountainhead of blessings. It takes us closer to the ranks of the Awliya, and takes us further away from sin, closer to God, till we become the beloved of Allah. Astaghfar averts difficulties and hardships. He(as) says: Get up and perform Taubah and seek the pleasure of your Lord. Please your God before the frightful day dawns when the plague shall fall upon you. Allah is Most Merciful. Do not say that Taubah is not accepted by Him. Remember that it is not your deeds but the Mercy and Blessings of Allah that shall be your salvation.
At the end of the sermon, Huzoor(aba) requested the Jama'at members to pray for his successful trip to Europe.