Monday, June 05, 2006

The Whispered Prayer of the Penitent

Peace, one and all...
In my first post for about a week, I wanted to discuss a topic of immense importance: repentance. Tauba in Islamic parlance means to turn back to God in repentance for a sin committed. As God knows, sin is a part of human nature (it's certainly a part of mine, at any rate). We need to constantly turn back to God. O Allah! Forgive me my Lord. Help me and turn to me in Your mercy.
There are many beautiful prayers from the Islamic tradition which focus on tauba. Here's one such example, from Imam Zayn al-`Abideen Ali ibn al-Husayn ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib. The link above will take you to the appropriate home page. It's well worth checking out. It's worth noting that this is a Shia site. Now, for me personally, this isn't problematic in the slightest. After all, even for Sunnis (and I am one), Imam Zayn al-`Abideen is an exalted figure and worthy of respect. And, in any case, the Imam is the great-grandson of Prophet Muhammad (saw) and so as a member of the Ahl al-Bait shares the blood of his exalted forefather.
In any event, repentance is so crucial, please enjoy the du'a...

My God, offenses have clothed me in the garment of my lowliness, separation from Thee has wrapped me in the clothing of my misery! My dreadful crimes have deadened my heart, so bring it to life by a repentance from Thee! O my hope and my aim! O my wish and my want! By Thy might, I find no one but Thee to forgive my sins and I see none but Thee to mend my brokenness! I have subjected myself to Thee in repeated turning, I have humbled myself to Thee in abasement. If Thou castest me out from Thy door, in whom shall I take shelter? If Thou repellest me from Thy side, in whom shall I seek refuge? O my grief at my ignominy and disgrace! O my sorrow at my evil works and what I have committed!
I ask Thee, O Forgiver of great sins, O Mender of broken bones, to overlook my ruinous misdeeds and cover my disgraceful secret thoughts! At the witnessing place of the Resurrection, empty me not of the coolness of Thy pardon and forgiveness, and strip me not of Thy beautiful forbearance and covering!
My God, let the cloud of Thy mercy cast its shadow upon my sins and send the billow of Thy clemency flowing over my faults!
Verse 4 translation missing in original book!
My God, if remorse for sins is a repentance,
I - by Thy might - am one of the remorseful! If praying forgiveness for offenses is an alleviation, I am one of those who pray forgiveness! To Thee I return that Thou may be well pleased!
My God, through Thy power over me, turn toward me, through Thy clemency toward me, pardon me, and through Thy knowledge of me, be gentle toward me!
My God, Thou art He who hast opened a door to Thy pardon and named it 'repentance', for Thou said, Repent to God with unswerving repentance.
What is the excuse of him who remains heedless of entering the door after its opening?
My God, though the sins of Thy servant are ugly, Thy pardon is beautiful.
My God, I am not the first to have disobeyed Thee, and Thou turned toward him, or to have sought to attain Thy favour, and Thou wert munificent toward him. O Responder to the distressed! O Remover of injury! O Great in goodness! O Knower of everything secret! O Beautiful through covering over! I seek Thy munificence and Thy generosity to intercede with Thee, I seek Thy side and Thy showing mercy to mediate with Thee, so grant my supplication, disappoint not my hope in Thee, accept my repentance, and hide my offense, through Thy kindness and mercy, O Most Merciful of the merciful!
(The Whispered Prayer of the Repenters, Imam Zayn al-`Abideen Ali ibn al-Husayn)

Subhan Allah! What a beautiful prayer. Ya Allah! I make the same prayer to You and I too ask You for Your beautiful forgiveness. Astaghfiruka wa atubu ilaik.
Ma'as salama,
Abdur Rahman
(a penitent 'Servant of the the Most Merciful')


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