Istighfar

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Istighfar (Arabic: ٱسْتِغْفَار ʾistiġfār), is the act of seeking forgiveness from Allah, usually by saying ʾastaġfiru -llāha (Arabic: أَسْتَغْفِرُ ٱللَّٰهَ). A longer variant is ʾastaġfiru -llāha rabbī wa-ʾatūbu ʾilayhi (Arabic: أَسْتَغْفِرُ ٱللَّٰهَ رَبِّي وَأَتُوبُ إِلَيْهِ) which means "Verily, I seek the forgiveness of Allah, who is my Lord and Sustainer, and I turn to Him in repentance".[1] It is considered one of the essential parts of worship in Islam.

Etymology[edit]

'Istighfar' is derived from the Arabic root غ-ف-ر, which related the covering of a thing with that which will keep it clean.

Meaning[edit]

"Istighfar" means to pray to Allah that He may protect the supplicant from the evil consequences and poisonous influences of their transgressions and misdeeds, both in this world and the hereafter. Astaghfirullah literally translates to "I seek forgiveness in God".[2] Usually, a Muslim recites it as part of dhikr. That is to say that Allah is the greatest or that goodness comes from Allah. In popular culture, people can say this if they see something wrong or shameful.

Necessity[edit]

Islam posits that human beings were created by God, with the ability to choose their own actions; either to do good deeds and obey Allah or choose to do evil deeds and disobey (Him).[Quran 76:3] However, Allah in His immense mercy and wisdom, knowing the fact that human beings were prone to errors, and in order to prevent man from carrying the burden of his sin(s) forever, opened the door of seeking istighfar (forgiveness) for His servants who might have (mistakenly) committed sin or submitted to his desires and ignored the dictates of his conscience. Thus, istighfar is the weapon of believers against shaytan/Satan who tries to lead them into hell by inviting them to sin.

In the Qur'an[edit]

Istighfar, and some other names from the same root such as Ghafir, Al-Ghafoor, Ghaffar, occur in the Qur'an more than seventy times.[3]

Quranic verses regarding istighfar[edit]

In the Qur'an, there are numerous verses on the issue of istighfar, in which Allah commands the believers to always seek His forgiveness and turn to Him. Some examples of these verses are:

  • "And those who, when they commit an immorality or wrong themselves [by transgression], remember Allah and seek forgiveness for their sins – and who can forgive sins except Allah? – and [who] do not persist in what they have done while they know." (Al Quran 3:135) [4]
  • "Those – their reward is forgiveness from their Lord and gardens beneath which rivers flow [in Paradise], wherein they will abide eternally; and excellent is the reward of the [righteous] workers." (Al Quran 3:136) [4]
  • "Whoever commits evil or wrongs themselves then seeks Allah's forgiveness will certainly find Allah All-Forgiving, Most Merciful." (Al Quran 4:110) [5]
  • "So will they not repent to Allah and seek His forgiveness? And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful." (Al Quran 5:74) [6]
  • "And seek your Lord's forgiveness and turn to Him in repentance. He will grant you a good provision for an appointed term and graciously reward the doers of good. But if you turn away, then I truly fear for you the torment of a formidable Day." (Al Quran 11:3) [7]
  • "And return to your Lord time after time and submit to Him before there comes to you the punishment, then you shall not be helped." (Al Quran 39:54) [8]
  • "O you who have believed, repent to Allah with sincere repentance. Perhaps your Lord will remove from you your misdeeds and admit you into gardens beneath which rivers flow [on] the Day when Allah will not disgrace the Prophet and those who believed with him. Their light will proceed before them and on their right; they will say, 'Our Lord, perfect for us our light and forgive us. Indeed, You are over all things competent.'" (Al Quran 66:8) [9]

In sunnah[edit]

  • In hadith, it was reported that: "The Prophet sought the forgiveness (Istighfar) from Allah, frequently and on daily basis."
  • "The Prophet is spoken of in a hadith as saying Istighfar multiple times a day, despite his infallibility."[quote citation needed]
  • The prophet used to seek forgiveness in the morning and night.
  • The prophet said: "The more one prays for pardoning of his sins the more good deeds will be credited to his account and on the Day of Judgement his deeds will appear shining."
  • Among the sunnah of the Prophet was that: "He never got up even from the smallest meeting without reciting Istighfar."
  • Another Hadith also mentions that: "The Holy Prophet recited 'Astaghfirullah Wā tūbo ilaih' many times every day."[10]

Significance[edit]

  • Istighfar safeguards the supplicant against the evil consequences of his/her sins.
  • Istighfar increases the blessings of Allah (both material and spiritual).
  • Istighfar is one of the ways of finding inner peace and tranquillity.
  • Istighfar purifies ones from the physiological results of sins.
  • Istighfar turns evil deeds to good deeds.
  • Istighfar paves way for the acceptance of prayer.
  • Allah forgives those who sincerely seek forgiveness unconditionally.
  • The Prophet said: "Whoever makes Istighfar frequently, Allah will provide a way for him out of every distress and provide for him from sources he could never expect". powerful-duas-for-forgiveness

Conditions for istighfar[edit]

Seeking forgiveness has three conditions, with an additional fourth one if the sin involves the violation of another person's rights:

  1. To discontinue the sin
  2. To regret having committed it
  3. To resolve to never return to the sin
  4. To restore the rights of the person that has been wronged.

Etiquette[edit]

Among the etiquette of seeking forgiveness are:

  • Istighfar during the dawn (sahar سَحَر – the late time of night before the daylight – time before daybreak).
  • Istighfar the eve before or during Jumu'ah.
  • To recognize one has wronged.
  • Confession (to God) of one's mistakes. (If necessary confession to the person involved)
  • Testimony of faith and submission to God.
  • Stop the sin, regret the sin, repent and intend to never do it again.


Note: Istighfar can be done at any time, above mentioned are a few Sunnahs followed by Prophet Muhammed's teachings.

Istighfar of prophets[edit]

The Istighfar of an ordinary man was not a special case since they are not infallible. But in the case of the prophets and angels, such an act may be interpreted otherwise, because naturally, it contradicts the attributes of infallibility in them (prophets). Though, there is some relevant evidence showing the fact that prophets and the angels were also engaged in asking for divine forgiveness.

"The heavens nearly burst, one above the other, ˹in awe of Him˺. And the angels glorify the praises of their Lord, and seek forgiveness for those on earth. Surely Allah alone is the All-Forgiving, Most Merciful." (Al Quran 442:5) [11]

Related invocations[edit]

رَبَّنَا إِنَّنَا آمَنَّا فَٱغْفِرْ لَنَا ذُنُوبَنَا وَقِنَا عَذَابَ ٱلنَّارِ

Rabba-nā inna-nā Ãman-nā fa-ʾaghfir la-nā ḏunūba-nā wa-qinā ʿaḏāba -n-nār.

Our Lord! We have believed, so forgive our sins and protect us from the torment of the Fire.

— Mustafa Khattab, The Clear Quran[12]

سُبْحَانَكَ تُبْتُ إِلَيْكَ وَأَنَا۠ أَوَّلُ ٱلْمُؤْمِنِينَ

Subḥāna-ka tub-tu ilay-ka wa-ana awwalu -l-muʾminīn.

Glory be to You! I turn to You in repentance and I am the first of the believers.

— Mustafa Khattab, The Clear Quran[13]

ٱللَّٰهُمَّ إنِّي أسْأَلُكَ يَا ٱللَّٰهُ بِأَنَّكَ ٱلْوَاحِدُ ٱلأَحَدُ ٱلصَّمَدُ ٱلَّذِي لَمْ يَلِدْ وَلَمْ يُولَدْ وَلَمْ يَكُنْ لَهُ كُفُوًا أَحَدٌ أَنْ تَغْفِرَ لِي ذُنُوبِي إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ ٱلْغَفُورُ ٱلَّرَحِيمُ

Allahumma inni as'aluka ya Allah! Bi-annakal-Wahidul-Ahad us-Samad, alladhi lam yalid wa lam yowled, wa lam yakun lahu kufuwan ahad, an taghfirali dhunubi, innaka antal-Ghafurur-Rahim.

O Allah! I ask You, O Allah, You are the One, the Only, Self Sufficient Master, who was not begotten and begets not and none is equal to Him. Forgive me my sins, surely you are Forgiving, Merciful.

— Narrated by Hanzalah bin 'Ali (R.A.), Sunan an-Nasa'i: The Book of Forgetfulness (In Prayer) V.2, Book 13, Hadith 123[14]

ٱللَّٰهُمَّ ٱغْفِرْ لِي وَٱرْحَمْنِي وَعَافِنِي وَٱهْدِنِي وَٱرْزُقْنِي

Allahumma-ghfir li, warhamni, wa 'afini, wahdini, warzuqni.

O Allah! Forgive me, have mercy on me, guide me, guard me against harm and provide me with sustenance and salvation.

— Narrated by Tariq bin Ashyam (R.A.), Riyad as-Salihin: The Book of Du'a (Supplications) Book 16, Hadith 5[15]

ٱللَّٰهُمَّ أَنْتَ رَبِّي لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ خَلَقْتَنِي وَأَنَا عَبْدُكَ وَأَنَا عَلَىٰ عَهْدِكَ وَوَعْدِكَ مَا ٱسْتَطَعْتُ أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ شَرِّ مَا صَنَعْتُ أَبُوءُ لَكَ بِنِعْمَتِكَ عَلَيَّ وَأَبُوءُ لَكَ بِذَنْبِي فَٱغْفِرْ لِي فَإِنَّهُ لَا يَغْفِرُ ٱلذُّنُوبَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ

Allahumma anta Rabbi la ilaha illa anta, Khalaqtani wa ana `Abduka, wa ana `ala `ahdika wa wa`dika mastata`tu, A`udhu bika min Sharri ma sana`tu, abu'u Laka bini`matika `alaiya, wa abu'u laka bidhanbi faghfir lee fa innahu la yaghfiru adhdhunuba illa anta.

O Allah! You are my Lord! None has the right to be worshipped but You. You created me and I am Your slave, and I am faithful to my covenant and my promise as much as I can. I seek refuge with You from all the evil I have done. I acknowledge before You all the blessings You have bestowed upon me, and I confess to You all my sins. So I entreat You to forgive my sins, for nobody can forgive sins except You.

— Narrated by Shaddad bin Aus (R.A.), Sahih al-Bukhari: Invocations, V.8, Book 80, Hadith 3[16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Hazrat Ali's (a.s.) Supplications". www.salmanspiritual.com. Retrieved 2021-06-21.
  2. ^ zahed (2017-04-01). "The Power of Istighfar – 'Astaghfirullah' (I seek forgiveness of Allah)". The Siasat Daily. Retrieved 2021-06-21.
  3. ^ "Forgiveness and Repentance in Islam". IslamiCity. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Surah Ali 'Imran - 1-200". quran.com. Retrieved 2021-06-21.
  5. ^ "Surah An-Nisa – 1–176". quran.com. Retrieved 2021-06-21.
  6. ^ "Surah Al-Ma'idah – 1–120". quran.com. Retrieved 2021-06-21.
  7. ^ "Surah Hud – 1-123". quran.com. Retrieved 2021-06-21.
  8. ^ "The Quranic Arabic Corpus – Translation". corpus.quran.com. Retrieved 2021-06-21.
  9. ^ "Surah At-Tahrim - 1-12". quran.com. Retrieved 2021-06-21.
  10. ^ "Astaghfirullah Wa Atubu Ilaih" [Learn About This Powerful Dhikr]. 4 September 2019.
  11. ^ "Surah Ash-Shuraa - 1-53". quran.com. Retrieved 2021-06-21.
  12. ^ "Surah Ali 'Imran – 1-200". quran.com. Retrieved 2021-06-21.
  13. ^ "Surah Al-A'raf - 1-206". quran.com. Retrieved 2021-06-21.
  14. ^ "Sunan an-Nasa'i 1301 – The Book of Forgetfulness (In Prayer) – كتاب السهو". Sunnah.com – Sayings and Teachings of Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم). Retrieved 2021-06-21.
  15. ^ "Riyad as-Salihin 1469 - The Book of Du'a (Supplications) - كتاب الدعوات - Sunnah.com - Sayings and Teachings of Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم)". sunnah.com. Retrieved 2021-06-21.
  16. ^ "Sahih al-Bukhari 6306 - Invocations - كتاب الدعوات - Sunnah.com - Sayings and Teachings of Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم)". sunnah.com. Retrieved 2021-06-21.