"If the servant acknowledges his sin and repents, then Allah accepts his repentance." [Reported by Muslim]
Then his saying at the end of the hadeeth of Shaddaad ibn Aws, "None forgives sins except You," is an acknowledgement that Allah Alone is the One who forgives sins, and that He is the One who accepts repentance from His servants. Therefore the servant turns - in repentance, obedience, seeking forgiveness and pardon - to Allah Alone, since none forgives sins except Him.
Amongst the benefits to be obtained from the explanation and clarification of this hadeeth is that it makes apparent to us the fact that it contains two affairs: Tawheed and al-Istighfaar (seeking forgiveness). These two are the greatest and most important of affairs and they are similarly combined in many texts of the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Prophet (Peace be upon him). From these texts is the saying of Allah, the Most High:
“Then know that none deserves nor has the right to be worshipped except Allah, and ask for forgiveness for your sins and also for believing men and believing women, for Allah knows well your actions whilst awake and whilst in your places of sleep.” [Surah Muhammad (47):19]
Likewise Allah mentions what Dhun-Noon said, calling out through the depths of the darkness:
“None has the right to be worshipped but You, far removed are You from imperfection! I have been one of those who have wronged themselves!” [Surah al-Anbiyaa (21):87]
There is also the Saying of Allah, the Most High:
“So make your worship purely for Allah and seek His forgiveness for your sins.” [Surah Fussilat (41):6]
So, in these aayaat, the Tawheed of Allah and the seeking of His forgiveness for sin are mentioned together and there are many texts like these that combine the two matters, as they are combined in this tremendous hadeeth - the hadeeth of the most excellent manner of seeking forgiveness.
To summarize briefly, this tremendous hadeeth comprises:
(i) Acknowledgement of Allah's Divinity and sole right to be worshipped
(ii) Acknowledgement that He is the Creator
(iii) Acknowledgement of the Covenant that Allah has taken from His servants
(iv) The hope for that which He has promised them
(v) Seeking refuge from having transgressed against ones soul
(vi) Attribution of all blessings to the One who gave and granted them and that is Allah Alone
(vii) Attribution of sins and commission of mistakes to one’s own self
(viii) And it contains the servant's desire for forgiveness and his acknowledgement that none can forgive except Allah, the One free of all imperfections.
May Allah guide me and you to every good and grant us success in attaining it - we say of this mighty hadeeth, that comprises all these very great matters and all these excellent, comprehensive and beneficial meanings, that it fully deserves to bear the title, "The most excellent manner of seeking forgiveness."
It is therefore befitting that we give it the importance and attention that it deserves - that we memorise its wording and make it one of our adhkaar in the morning, after the Fajr prayer and in the evening, either before or after sunset.
The most excellent manner of seeking forgiveness is that the servant says:
“O Allah, You are my Lord. None has the right to be worshipped except You. You created me, and I am Your slave/worshipper. And I am faithful to my covenant and my promise as far as I am able. I seek Your refuge from the evil of what I have done. I acknowledge before You all the favours that You have bestowed upon me. And I confess all my sins to You. So forgive me, since none can forgive sins except You.”
I ask Allah, the Noble and Generous, the Lord of the tremendous Throne, by His perfect Names and by His lofty and sublime attributes, that He provides us with His aid in establishing this and every dhikr and every act of obedience to Him.
Allah knows best, and may He extol and send blessings of peace and security, and bless the slave of Allah and His Messenger-our Prophet Muhammad. Our final call is that all praise is for Allah, the Lord of all creation.
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