Istighfar

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Istighfar (Arabic: ٱسْتِغْفَارʾistiġfār), is the act of seeking forgiveness from God, usually by saying ʾastaġfiru -llāha (Arabic: أَسْتَغْفِرُ ٱللَّٰهَ‎). A longer variant is ʾastaġfiru -llāha rabbī wa-ʾatūbu ʾilayhi (Arabic: أَسْتَغْفِرُ ٱللَّٰهَ رَبِّي وَأَتُوبُ إِلَيْهِ‎). 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". In a religious way, people can recite it during meditation or say it to others to show humility. That is to say that Allah is the greater or that goodness comes from Allah. In popular culture, people can say this if they see something wrong or shameful.[citation needed]

Necessity of Istighfar[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 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.[1]

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 indecency or do injustice to their souls remember Allah and ask forgiveness for their faults; and who forgives the faults but Allah. And (who) do not knowingly persist in what they have done. (As for) these their reward is forgiveness from their Lord, and gardens beneath which rivers flow, to abide in them, and excellent is the reward of the labourers".[Quran 3:135-136]
  • O you who believe! Turn to Allah (a Tawba of Nasūh) sincere turning; maybe your Lord will remove from you your evil and cause you to enter gardens beneath which rivers flow".[Quran 66:8]
  • "And whoever does evil or acts unjustly to his soul, then asks forgiveness of Allah, he shall find Allah Forgiving, Merciful".[Quran 4:110]
  • "Will they not then turn to Allah and ask His forgiveness? And Allah is Forgiving, Merciful". "Will they not then turn to Allah and ask His forgiveness? And Allah is Forgiving, Merciful".[Quran 5:74]
  • "And you that ask forgiveness of your Lord, then turn to Him; He will provide you with a goodly provision to an appointed term and bestow His grace on every one endowed with grace, and if you turn back, then surely I fear for you the chastisement of a great day".[Quran 11:3]
  • "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".[Quran 39:54]

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 a hundred times a day, despite his infallibility".
  • 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 25 times".
  • Another Hadith also mentions that: "The Holy Prophet recited ‘Astaghfirullah Wā tūbo ilaih’ seventy times every day."[2]

Significance of Istighfar[edit]

  • Istighfar (seeking forgiveness) safeguards the Supplicant against the evil consequences of his/her sins.
  • Istighfar (seeking forgiveness) increases the blessings of Allah (both material and spiritual).
  • Istighfar (seeking forgiveness) 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 (seeking forgiveness) 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".

Conditions for Istighfar[edit]

Seeking forgiveness (Istighfar) has 3 conditions with an additional 4th one if the sin involves the violation another person's right:

  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 of Istighfar[edit]

Among the etiquette of seeking forgiveness (Istighfar) are:

  • Istighfar (seeking forgiveness) during the dawn (sahar سَحَر - the late time of night before the daylight - time before daybreak).
  • Istighfar (seeking forgiveness) on Thursday night, the eve before Jumu'ah.
  • Confession to one's mistakes.
  • Testimony of faith and submission to God.
  • Stop the sin, regret the sin, intend to never do it again.

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.[Quran 3:118],[Quran 42:5]

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! Indeed we have faith. So forgive us our sins, and save us from the punishment of the Fire.

— Quran, Surah Al Imran (3), Ayah 16[Quran 3:16]

سُبْحَانَكَ تُبْتُ إِلَيْكَ وَأَنَا۠ أَوَّلُ ٱلْمُؤْمِنِينَ


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

Immaculate are You! I turn to You in penitence, and I am the first of the faithful.

— Quran, Surah Al-A'raf (7), Ayah 143[Quran 7:143]

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


Allāhumma inn-ī ʾasʾalu-ka yā llāhu bi-ʾanna-ka l-Wāḥidu l-ʾAḥadu ṣ-Ṣamadu l-laḏī lam yalid wa-lam yūlad wa-lam yakun la-hu kufuwan ʾaḥadun, an taghfira lī ḏunūb-ī ʾinna-ka ʾAnta l-Ġafūru r-Raḥīmu.

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.

— Sunan an-Nasa'i, The Book of Forgetfulness in Prayer, Hadith #123[3]

ٱللَّٰهُمَّ ٱغْفِرْ لِي وَٱرْحَمْنِي وَعَافِنِي وَٱهْدِنِي وَٱرْزُقْنِي


Allāhumma ġfir lī, wa-rḥam-nī, wa-hdi-nī, wa ʿāfi-nī, wa-rzuq-nī.

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

— Riyadh as-Saaliheen, The Book of Du'a (Supplications), Hadith #5[4]

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.

— Sahih Al-Bukhari, Book 80, Hadith #3. [5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Forgiveness and Repentance in Islam - IslamiCity". www.islamicity.org. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
  2. ^ https://myislam.org/astaghfirullah-wa-atubu-ilaih/
  3. ^ https://sunnah.com/nasai/13#123
  4. ^ https://sunnah.com/riyadussaliheen/17/5
  5. ^ https://myislam.org/sayyidul-istighfar/