Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Difference between Taubah and Istighfar

Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah (751H):

There are two types of Istighfar;
1. Istaghfar that is mentioned alone.
2. Istaghfar that is mentioned with Taubah.

The Istaghfar that is mentioned alone is found in the words of Nuh (peace and blessings be upon him):

I said (to them): ‘Ask forgiveness from your Lord; Verily, He is Oft-Forgiving; ‘He will send rain to you in abundance [Nuh: 10-11]

and in the words of Saalih (peace and blessings be upon him) :
“Why seek you not the Forgiveness of Allah, that you may receive mercy?” [An-Naml 46]

Allaah also said:
“…and ask Allah for His Forgiveness. Truly, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most-Merciful. [Al-Baqarah: 199]

And Allaah would not punish them while you (Muhammad) are amongst them, nor will He punish them while they seek (Allaah’s) Forgiveness.” [Al-Anfaal 33]

Istaghfar mentioned with Taubah is found in the following verses from the Most Merciful’s speech.
Seek the forgiveness of your Lord, and turn to Him in repentance, that He may grant you good enjoyment, for a term appointed, and bestow His abounding Grace to every owner of grace” [Huud: 3]

Ask forgiveness of your Lord and then repent to Him, He will send you (from the sky) abundant rain.” [Huud: 52] .

Also Prophet Saalih’s words to his people have Taubah and Istaghfar mentioned together:
He brought you forth from the earth and settled you therein, then ask forgiveness of Him and turn to Him in repentance.” [Huud: 61]

and Shuaib’s speech as well has these two actions joined together.
And ask forgiveness of your Lord and turn unto Him in repentance. Verily, my Lord is Most Merciful, Most Loving.” [Huud: 90]

Al-Istaghfar is like Taubah and in reality it is. Contained in Istaghfar is the request of Allah’s forgiveness. Allah’s forgiveness is the removal of the sin, its affect and protection from the sin’s harm…

Al-Istaghfar contains At-Taubah and vice versa. Both of these actions are included in each other. Whenever both of these words are mentioned together Al-Istaghfar is protection from the consequence of any previous evil. At-Taubah on the other hand is to return to Allah obediently and the search of His protection from the sin’s effect in the future.

There are two sins. The sin that was committed. Hence a person does Al-Istaghfar- seeking protection from its harm and evil. And then there is the second sin which is the one that is feared to occur in the future.

At-Taubah is the resolution to avoid the sin and penitence to Allah. Penitence to Allah holds two things. The first is the act of returning to Allah in order to be protected from the result of previous sin and evil. The second thing held in At-Taubah is the search for protection against evil that might befall you in the future resulting from the evil of yourself and deeds.

The sinner is like a driver who takes a road that leads to his death. That road doesn’t take him where he intended to go. He is ordered to take alternative route and travel the road that leads to his safety. That alternative route takes him where he wanted to go and as a result he is successful.

Therefore in this instance there are two things that are necessary;
  1. Separation from something
  2. Recourse to a different way
At-Taubah is the recourse and Al-Istaghfar is the separation. Whenever these words are mentioned separately one is included in the other. Allah knows best, but that’s why He said,

And ask forgiveness of your Lord and turn unto Him in repentance“  [Huud: 90]

This is the recourse to the path of truth after separation from the path of falsehood.

In conclusion, Al-Istaghfar is from the chapter of the removal of harm. And At-Taubah is from the chapter of requesting a good outcome. Therefore Al-Maghfirah is protection against sin’s evil and At-Taubah is the obtainment of good after the protection is sought. Each one is included in the other when mentioned alone. Allah knows best.
  • Transcribed from: Madarajus Sallikeen, Ibn Qayyim | Translated by Abu Aaliyah Abdullah ibn Dwight Battle

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