Friday 1 March 2024

Don't let the Satan win

The life of believers is a severe test of test of tug of war between the good and the evil. No matter how pious a believer may be be, the Satanic enticements are so tempting and luring, that one sometimes slips and falls into the trap of evil by sinning. But remember, the Satan does not win by luring you to commit a sin, he wins when you think that Allah will not show His mercy to you and forgive you, even if you repent and seek Divine forgiveness.

In the Qur'an, and in many a Hadith attributed to Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, believers are time and again reminded not to despair if they have sinned and always seek mercy of Allah and be rest assured that Allah will forgive their sins if His mercy is invoked, for Allah is Al-Ghafur (الغفور) - The Forgiving, The Pardoner and Ar Rahim (الرحيم) - The Most Merciful.

We share today the 53rd verse from Surah 39 Az Zumar, in which Allah directs His messenger, Muhammad ﷺ, to tell the believers never to despair of Allah's mercy for He would forgive their sins no matter whatever the size or enormity, for He is Most Forgiving, Most Merciful. This verse is meant to one should not seek the support of others while losing hope in God. If they repent after confessing their sin, He will forgive even the greatest of sins.

قُلۡ يٰعِبَادِىَ الَّذِيۡنَ اَسۡرَفُوۡا عَلٰٓى اَنۡفُسِهِمۡ لَا تَقۡنَطُوۡا مِنۡ رَّحۡمَةِ اللّٰهِ​ ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰهَ يَغۡفِرُ الذُّنُوۡبَ جَمِيۡعًا​ ؕ اِنَّهٗ هُوَ الۡغَفُوۡرُ الرَّحِيۡمُ‏ 
(39:53) Tell them, (O Prophet): “My servants who have committed excesses against themselves, do not despair of Allah's Mercy. Surely Allah forgives all sins. He is Most Forgiving, Most Merciful.

The address here is to all mankind. There is no weighty argument to regard only the believers as the addressees. As has been observed by 'Allama Ibn Kathir, to address such a thing to the common men does not mean that Allah forgives all sins without repentance, but Allah Himself has explained in the following verses that sins are forgiven only when the sinner turns to Allah's worship and service and adopts obedience to the message sent down by Him. As a matter of fact, this verse brought a message of hope for those people who had committed mortal sins like murder, adultery, theft, robbery, etc. in the days of ignorance, and had despaired whether they would ever be forgiven. To them it has been said: "Do not despair of Allah's mercy: whatever you might have done in the past, if you sincerely turn to your Lord's obedience, you will be forgiven every sin." The same interpretation of this verse has been given by Ibn `Abbas, Qatadah, Mujahid and Ibn Zaid. (Ibn Jarir, Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Da'ud, Tirmidhi). For further explanation, see AI-Furqan: 70-71 and the E.N.'s thereof. 

Some commentators have given a strange interpretation to these words. They say that Allah Himself has commanded the Holy Prophet to address the people as "My servants" therefore, all men are the servants of the Holy Prophet. This interpretation is no interpretation at all but a worst distortion of the meaning of the Qur'an and indeed tampering with the Word of Allah. If this interpretation were correct, it would falsify and negate the whole Qur'an.

For the Qur'an, from the beginning to the end, establishes the concept that men are the servants of Allah alone, and its whole message revolves around the point that they should serve none but One Allah alone. The Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah's peace) himself was Allah's servant. Allah had sent him not as rabb (sustainer, providence) but as a Messenger so that he should himself serve Him and teach the other people also to serve Him alone. After all, how can a sensible person believe that the Holy Prophet might have one day stood up before the disbelieving Quraish of Makkah and made the sudden proclamation: "You are in fact the slaves of Muhammad and not of al- `Uzzah and ash-Shams." (We seek Allah's refuge from this) 

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir
Verse 53 opens with the words: قُلْ يَا عِبَادِيَ الَّذِينَ أَسْرَ‌فُوا (0 servants of Mine who have acted recklessly against their own selves, do not despair of Allah's mercy. Surely, Allah will forgive all sins.). Taba` i, Said Ibn Jubayr reports from Sayyidna Ibn ` Abbas ؓ that there were some people who had killed a lot of people unjustly and had committed a lot of shameful acts. They came to the Holy Prophet ﷺ and submitted before him, 'The religion you invite us to is, no doubt, very good, but we have a problem. We think about all those major sins we have already committed. Now if we were to become Muslims, do you hope that our repentance will be accepted?' Thereupon, Allah Ta’ ala revealed this verse to the Holy Prophet ﷺ - reported by al-Bukhari in that sense (al-Qurtubi).

Therefore, the outcome of the subject taken up in the verse comes to be that, well before death arrives, the repentance made from sins, no matter how serious, even from kufr (disbelief) and shirk (ascribing of partners to Allah), gets to be accepted. And by virtue of a genuine taubah (repentance), all sins will be forgiven, therefore, no one should lose hope in the mercy of Allah.

Sayyidna ` Abdullah Ibn ` Umar ؓ said that, out of all verses of the Qur'an, this verse brings the strongest message of hope for sinners. But, Sayyidna Ibn ` Abbas ؓ said that the strongest such verse is: إِنَّ رَ‌بَّكَ لَذُو مَغْفِرَ‌ةٍ لِّلنَّاسِ عَلَىٰ ظُلْمِهِمْ (And surely, your Lord is the lord of forgiveness for the people against their wrongdoings - Ar-Ra'd, 13:6)

Qur'an Wiki explanation:
It is divine mercy that will erase every transgression, whatever it happens to be. It is an invitation to all those who have gone far into error and led a life that has taken them far astray, telling them hope still remains available and God’s mercy and forgiveness are not far from them. God is most merciful to His servants. He knows their weaknesses and the factors that work on them, whether these are within themselves or in society. He is aware that Satan sets traps for them at every corner, using a great variety of forces, never tiring of his attempt to seduce them. Moreover, God knows that man can easily fall when he lets his bond to the truth weaken, and that his desires and aspirations can easily disturb his equilibrium, pulling him this way or that, leading him into error.

As God knows all this about man, He provides him with ample help, opening the gates of His mercy. He does not take him to task for his sin until He has facilitated for him all the ways and means to rectify his error and mend his ways. Nevertheless, when man goes deep into sin, thinking that he is totally rejected by God and that all is lost, he hears at this point of utter despair a fine address expressing the unlimited mercy available to him: “Say: [Thus speaks God]: You servants of Mine who have transgressed against their own souls! Do not despair of God’s mercy: God forgives all sins; He alone is Much-Forgiving, Merciful.” (Verse 53)

This means that despite his repeated sins, going far into disobedience of God, all he needs to receive God’s grace that revives all that is good in him is to repent. All he needs to do is turn back to God through the gate that is left wide open, without a guard, and with no need for any special permission.

Alhamdulillah, we have such a forgiving and merciful Lord. His Mercy extends to all who seek it. Even the most hardened sinner is told to never lose hope in Allah’s Infinite Mercy.
May Allāh (سبحانه و تعالى‎) help us understand Qur'ān and follow the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, which is embodiment of commandments of Allah contained in the Qur'ān. May Allah help us to be like the ones He loves and let our lives be lived helping others and not making others' lives miserable or unlivable. May all our wrong doings, whether intentional or unintentional, be forgiven before the angel of death knocks on our door. 
وَمَا عَلَيۡنَاۤ اِلَّا الۡبَلٰغُ الۡمُبِيۡنُ‏ 
(36:17) and our duty is no more than to clearly convey the Message.”
That is Our duty is only to convey to you the message that Allah has entrusted us with. Then it is for you to accept it or reject it. We have not been made responsible for making you accept it forcibly, and if you do not accept it, we shall not be seized in consequence of your disbelief, you will yourselves be answerable for your actions on Day of Resurrection.

Reading the Qur'ān should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully. It will also help the Muslims to have grasp over social issues and their answers discussed in the Qur'an and other matter related to inter faith so that they are able to discuss issues with non-Muslims with authority based on refences from Qur'an.

May Allah forgive me if my posts ever imply a piety far greater than I possess. I am most in need of guidance.

Note: When we mention God in our posts, we mean One True God, we call Allah in Islam, with no associates. Allah is the Sole Creator of all things, and that Allah is all-powerful and all-knowing. Allah has no offspring, no race, no gender, no body, and is unaffected by the characteristics of human life.

You may  read the explanation of the same verse by other scholars in one of our earlier posts 39:53. You may read more posts on similar theme in our series of posts related to: Compiled verses on specific subjects from Qur'an: Repentance and Seeking Divine Forgiveness

For more Selected Verses, please refer to our reference page: Selected Verses from the Qur'anYou may also refer to our Reference Pages  and Understanding Al Qur'an for knowing more about Islam and Qur'ān.
Photo | Tafsir References: | 1 | 2 | 3
An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Qur'ān from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that the exegesis of the chapters of the Quran is mainly based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi.  
In order to augment and add more explanation as already provided, additional input has been interjected from the following sources: 
  • Tafsir Ibn Khatir
  • Muhammad Asad Translation
  • Yusuf Ali Translation
  • Translation Javed Ahmad Ghamidi / Al Mawrid
  • Qur'an Wiki
  • Verse by Verse Qur'an Study Circle
  • Towards Understanding the Quran
In addition, references of other sources which have been explored have also been given above. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites.

Disclaimer: The material for this post has been collected from the references given above. If anyone differs with the material contained in this post, one may consult the references and their authors.  If someone has more material about the subject, he/she is most welcome to share in the comments box to make the post all encompassing.

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