‘Istighfar’ (asking for forgiveness) is also something to be pondered over. The Christians, due to their lack of knowledge and ignorance, have criticised this pure principle whereas it is a stage among the various natural stages of man.
You should know that the Holy Quran has mentioned two names of God (among so many others) – Al-Haye and Al-Qayyum. Al- Haye means He who is Himself alive and gives life to others. Al- Qayyum means He who maintains Himself and maintains others also and is really the source of the maintenance of others.
Everything that exists owes its spiritual and physical existence and maintenance to these very two attributes of God. The word Haye therefore demands that He should be worshipped as it is quite clear from the words (We worship Thee alone) which occur in the Suratul Fatiha. The word Al-Qayyum demands that we should ask for His support and this is what has been mentioned in the words (Thee alone do we ask for help).
The word Haye demands that we should worship Him because He has created us and having created He has not left us unaided as a mason who puts up a building and having done so it matters little whether he lives or passes away. But so far as man is concerned he always and in all the circumstances stands in need of God and that is the reason we should always ask Him to grant us strength. This is what really Istighfar is. Of course it has been extended to take in its sphere those also who commit sins and in that case it means that they may be saved from the evil effects of the sins – but in fact it means that man should be guarded against the human weaknesses. He who being a human being does not realise the need of Istighfar (asking for forgiveness with the connotation of this word as explained above) is a disrespectful atheist.