بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Ustadh used to say, ‘Astaghfirullah wa atoobu ilayh, that’s all a Muslim has to say’ in a rhyme so that children and new Muslims learn it easily. He used to say it out loud especially if things weren’t going right. He also used to say it when he used to forget something or if he only briefly realized that he had forgotten something. Sometimes if he used to make even a minor mistake in narrating something I thought was trivial, he used to quickly say Astaghfirullah. He did it so regularly that we got in the habit too eventually. I was shocked by his memory mashaa’Allah for he had memorized books upon books, poetry upon poetry and yet he was going strong. May Allah SWT have mercy on him and his family. Ameen!
We learn from the stories of ‘Ulema, one I heard primarily of Imam ash-Shaafi’ee (R) that he used to be teaching a lesson and if he forgot something, he would immediately abandon teaching and would make Istighfaar or offer 2 Raka’h beseeching Allah SWT to forgive him in order that he remembers the piece of knowledge he forgot. I’m sure there are similar incidents recorded by students of Imam Ahmad, Imam Maalik and Imam Abu Hanifa – may Allah SWT have mercy upon them all. Some Fuqaha are reported to have done Istighfaar several times while going through the Quraan when looking for a ruling.
We also know the famous incident in which Imam Ash-Shafi’ee complained of his memory to his Shaykh Al Waki’ee who said (and the gist of the poetry is) that the knowledge of Allah SWT is light and that light is not given to a sinner so abandon sinning. The salaf used to blame themselves and thus their sins if their ride wasn’t yielding or if they had trouble with their wives. SubhanAllah!
Shaykh ash-Shinqitee, if you listen to his different pieces of advice, majority of them highlight the concept of turning to Allah SWT and doing repentance.
An Imam offered consultation to one of his students and was helping him plan his life. Upon the student revealing to his Shaykh that things were not working out despite that he only wanted to gain the knowledge and mercy of Allah SWT through his life’s goals, the Shaykh said that you will not achieve anything in life unless you do constant Istighfaar.
And the Shaykh of all Shaykhs and the Imam of all Imams, Rasulalah salalahu ‘alayhi wasalam has been reported to have done Istighfaar abundantly (70 or 100 is just a number to indicate abundance) in his daily life.
These are all examples of successful Muslims who surpassed our limited mentality of what ‘Ibadah is really like. For the majority of us their stories of accomplishment, their height of Tawakul and their level of Istiqamah seem shocking but in their stories and examples lie all the secret answers.
If you can’t read as much of the Quraan as you want, do Istighfaar and avoid future sins.
If you can’t maintain patience, do Istighfaar and avoid future sins.
If your life’s not working out in any way or form, do Istighfaar and avoid future sins.
If you feel down most of the time, do Istighfaar and avoid future sins.
If you have memory issues while studying, do Istighfaar and avoid future sins.
Increase your Rizq through Istighfaar!
Increase your capacity of righteousness this Ramadan through Istighfaar!
Use sticky notes, reminders on your cellphone or anywhere at all to do Istighfaar regularly every day. Who knows this one act may be so beloved to Allah SWT that He adds special barakah to your life?
And to Allah SWT belongs Taufeeq and we turn to Him for all our needs.
[We all know facts but this is just an attempt to rekindle the belief which may have lost its spark. A gentle reminder for myself first and then others.]