By Imam Syed Anisul Haque | 19 Jan 2024

We find ourselves in an era of immense trial and tribulation, a time where our faith and Muslim identity are tested to the limit. Perhaps it is this moment in time our beloved Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (peace be upon him) meant when he said: “A time of patience will come to people in which adhering to one’s religion is like grasping onto hot coal.”

To lead us astray and divert us from the straight path is Shaytaan. His vow to Allah the Most High is one we should never forget: “Then I will come to them from front them and from behind them and on their right and on their left, and You will not find most of them grateful [to You].” This is Shaytaan’s pledge.

However, dear brothers and sisters, amid these trials and tribulations, amidst the sins pulling us in through deception by the followers of Shaytaan from the world of man and jinn, there are those who are still holding tight onto the rope of Allah Aza Wa Jal

There are those that acknowledge their shortcomings and feel a sense of real regret when committing sins, and they are always seeking out the mercy and forgiveness of Allah for they truly understand the words of Allah transmitted through the Prophet’s ﷺ: “Verily My Mercy overcomes My Anger.”

Don’t be like the one who has lost hope in Allah’s mercy – we seek refuge in Allah from this. And rather than turning to Him after sinning, they drown themselves further and further until seeking hope and repentance become alien to them. 

It pains me deeply to see some travelling down this path. I remind them of Allah’s infinite compassion. Do not despair – despairing of Allah’s mercy is a grave sin itself. As long as we still have life, it is not too late to repent. Rush to good deeds and worship, call on your Lord, humble yourselves before Him, weep and ask forgiveness. He loves to forgive.

As Allah says in the Holy Qur’an (39:53): “Say, ʻO My servants who have transgressed against themselves: do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Surely Allah forgives all sins. It is He Who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.’”

Seeking forgiveness from Allah is central to our faith. No matter the gravity of sins committed, Allah’s mercy and forgiveness encompass all. To illustrate this truth, our beloved Prophet ﷺ told us a powerful story that gives hope to even the most disheartened soul.

He narrated the story of a man from the Children of Israel who had killed 99 people. Overcome by the burden of his sins, he set out to ask if repentance could lead to his forgiveness. He asked a monk who said “No”, so in rage the man killed him too. Still, he persisted in seeking forgiveness until someone counselled him to journey to a particular village. But before reaching there, death overtook him.

As he lay dying, the man turned his chest towards the village, still hopeful of mercy. At this point, Allah ordered the angels to measure the distance between the man and the two villages he had travelled between. Though his sins were immense, and though Allah says in the Qur’an, “Whoever kills one person unless it be for murder or spreading corruption it shall as if he killed whole of humanity”, the repentant man was forgiven by Allah because of his sincerity. 

During my sermon, I recounted numerous well-known sayings of the Prophet ﷺ and verses from the Qur’an, emphasizing the significance of seeking forgiveness regardless of the extent of our transgressions. 

Entering the sacred month of Rajab, I also reflected on its significance as the gateway to Ramadan. Though no specific mode of worship is prescribed for Rajab itself, it serves as a reminder that the blessed month of fasting and Qur’an is approaching. Rajab is a period for spiritual preparation and correction of our direction before Ramadan. 

As one scholar beautifully stated, “The year in its entirety is like a tree: during Rajab its buds sprout; during Sha‘ban it sends forth its branches; during Ramadan its fruit ripens.”

I urge you to take advantage of this month and ponder deeply about the boundless clemency of the Most Merciful! No matter our shortcomings, let us never doubt that sincere repentance and mending our ways can earn divine pardon. Rush to bow before Allah in regret for sins small and large. And uphold hope, for “…it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.” (Qur’an 39:53)

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