Messenger (pbuh) asking forgiveness of a sin

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

I had often wondered on below ayahs that why Allah asks the messenger (pbuh) to ask for forgiveness  of a sin. Normally people when they do ‘asthaghfar’, they ask for forgiveness of all their sins. So, mention of ‘sin’ in singular form seemed a bit unusual in these ayahs: 

40:55  فَاصْبِرْ إِنَّ وَعْدَ اللَّهِ حَقٌّ وَاسْتَغْفِرْ لِذَنبِكَ وَسَبِّحْ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّكَ بِالْعَشِيِّ وَالْإِبْكَارِ

Thus you (messenger) be patient for the promise of Allah is true and ask forgiveness for your sin, and celebrate the praises of your Lord in the evening and in the morning.

48:2 لِّيَغْفِرَ لَكَ اللَّهُ مَا تَقَدَّمَ مِن ذَنبِكَ وَمَا تَأَخَّرَ وَيُتِمَّ نِعْمَتَهُ عَلَيْكَ وَيَهْدِيَكَ صِرَاطًا مُّسْتَقِيمًا

So that Allah may forgive you (the messenger) of what is past of your sin and that to follow; and to fulfill His favor on you ; and guide you to a straight path

47:19  فَاعْلَمْ أَنَّهُ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ وَاسْتَغْفِرْ لِذَنبِكَ وَلِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ مُتَقَلَّبَكُمْ وَمَثْوَاكُمْ

Thus know that there is no god but Allah, and ask forgiveness for your sin (O’ messenger), and for the men and women who believe, for Allah knows of your wandering abouts and destinations.

Then the realization came that what is required  of the believers is to constantly improve their characters by striving to do corrections in themselves. First step for believers is to believe in the message of Allah, leave alternative belief systems and then to recognize wrong doings they had been doing and plan to correct their past wrong doings. Through the messenger and his sunnat (practice) Allah advises the best practices to be followed by believers in correcting themselves. The reason for mentioning ‘sin’ in singular in these three ayahs with the messenger, is that Allah wants one sin to be singled out, recognized and be focused for correction at a time. Once that sin is overcome then a believer can focus on the next sin for correction. This practice is sure to be far more effective then paying lip service and saying ‘God, forgive me of all my sins’ and then doing practically nothing about corrections to be implemented in your life. Long ingrained bad attitudes are difficult to overcome all at once however, they can be targeted and corrected one by one.  You are more likely to over come your sins and your weaknesses by first identifying and prioritizing the corrections and targeting your sins for correction one by one.

The realization and plan to overcome the sins and evils within oneself cannot be procrastinated. The plan should be started as soon as possible as with procrastination they may become part of one’s psyche and then almost impossible to be gotten rid of. 

39:53-54  قُلْ يَا عِبَادِيَ الَّذِينَ أَسْرَفُوا عَلَىٰ أَنفُسِهِمْ لَا تَقْنَطُوا مِن رَّحْمَةِ اللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ جَمِيعًا ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ  وَأَنِيبُوا إِلَىٰ رَبِّكُمْ وَأَسْلِمُوا لَهُ مِن قَبْلِ أَن يَأْتِيَكُمُ الْعَذَابُ ثُمَّ لَا تُنصَرُونَ

Say. “O my servants who have transgressed against their nafs! Do’not lose hope for the mercy of Allah, for Allah forgives all sins, indeed He is Oft-Forgiving, most Merciful, and turn ye to our Lord (in repentance) and bow to His (Will), before the penalty comes to you, after that ye shall not be helped.

In the above ayat Allah says that He will forgive all sins on the condition that people submit to them and turn in repentance to him before the penalty comes to them  If they delay too much, so much so that the penalty for their sins starts then they will not be helped.  So there is definitely a time limit in the world, before which, if people don’t repent for their sins and turn to Lord with corrections, they will not be helped.

4:17 إِنَّمَا التَّوْبَةُ عَلَى اللَّهِ لِلَّذِينَ يَعْمَلُونَ السُّوءَ بِجَهَالَةٍ ثُمَّ يَتُوبُونَ مِن قَرِيبٍ فَأُولَٰئِكَ يَتُوبُ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِمْ ۗ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ عَلِيمًا حَكِيمًا

Verily, the repentance/return on Allah, is only for those who do evil in ignorance and then repent/return soon afterwards; to those people Allah returns/accept repentance  and Allah is knowledgeable, wise.

If people keep on procrastinating implementing corrective actions in themselves, then the evil would becomes part of their psyche and they will not be able to return to righteousness.

4:18  وَلَيْسَتِ التَّوْبَةُ لِلَّذِينَ يَعْمَلُونَ السَّيِّئَاتِ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا حَضَرَ أَحَدَهُمُ الْمَوْتُ قَالَ إِنِّي تُبْتُ الْآنَ وَلَا الَّذِينَ يَمُوتُونَ وَهُمْ كُفَّارٌ ۚ أُولَٰئِكَ أَعْتَدْنَا لَهُمْ عَذَابًا أَلِيمًا

There is no repentance/return for those who do evil, until death faces one of them, and he says, “Now  I repent/return indeed;” and nor of those who die being rejecters. For them We have prepared a most grievous punishment.

Example is the case of Pharoh.  He went too deep and late in his sins and evil deeds, that the door of return was closed on him and his repentance was not accepted;

10:90-91  وَجَاوَزْنَا بِبَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ الْبَحْرَ فَأَتْبَعَهُمْ فِرْعَوْنُ وَجُنُودُهُ بَغْيًا وَعَدْوًا ۖ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا أَدْرَكَهُ الْغَرَقُ قَالَ آمَنتُ أَنَّهُ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا الَّذِي آمَنَتْ بِهِ بَنُو إِسْرَائِيلَ وَأَنَا مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ  آلْآنَ وَقَدْ عَصَيْتَ قَبْلُ وَكُنتَ مِنَ الْمُفْسِدِينَ

We took the Bani Israeel across the sea: Pharaoh and his group followed them in insolence and spite. At length, when overwhelmed with the flood, he said: “I believe that there is no god except Him whom the children of Israel believe in: I am of those who are muslims/submitters. (It was said to him). “Ah now!- But before, you were in rebellion!- and you were maker of violence.

For the people doing repentance and turning to their Lords, they have to make their din/judgement pure for Allah and hold fast to Allah.

4:146  إِلَّا الَّذِينَ تَابُوا وَأَصْلَحُوا وَاعْتَصَمُوا بِاللَّهِ وَأَخْلَصُوا دِينَهُمْ لِلَّهِ فَأُولَٰئِكَ مَعَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ ۖ وَسَوْفَ يُؤْتِ اللَّهُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ أَجْرًا عَظِيمًا

Except for those who repented/returned and did right and held fast to Allah, and made their Din/judgement purely for Allah. These are the people who will be with the believers. And soon will Allah grant to the believers a mighty reward. 

The people are advised in below ayat to listen and follow the best advice in Quran, i.e follow the instructions and do’s and dont’s described in Quran. 

39:18 الَّذِينَ يَسْتَمِعُونَ الْقَوْلَ فَيَتَّبِعُونَ أَحْسَنَهُ ۚ أُولَٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ هَدَاهُمُ اللَّهُ ۖ وَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمْ أُولُو الْأَلْبَابِ

Those who listen to the Word, and follow the best in it, these are the ones whom Allah has guided, and those are the ones endued with understanding.

The believers should feel the benefits of corrections in their life. They are bound to become more tolerant and the typical sectarian hatred in their hearts should be replaced with tolerance and compassion (41:34, 3:103). They don’t blame people for any test they encounter in life and in case of being wronged leave their case to Allah for full compensation (please see previous post on Qasas’). The peace and tranquility thus achieved, in one’s heart is a great blessing indeed. 

89:27:30  يَا أَيَّتُهَا النَّفْسُ الْمُطْمَئِنَّةُ  ارْجِعِي إِلَىٰ رَبِّكِ رَاضِيَةً مَّرْضِيَّةً  فَادْخُلِي فِي عِبَادِي  وَادْخُلِي جَنَّتِي

“O you the satisfied Nafs/psyche.”Come to your Lord,- well pleased (yourself), and well-pleasing unto Him! “Enter, then, in My servants! “and, enter in My Gardens! “


3:103 وَاعْتَصِمُوا بِحَبْلِ اللَّهِ جَمِيعًا وَلَا تَفَرَّقُوا ۚ وَاذْكُرُوا نِعْمَتَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذْ كُنتُمْ أَعْدَاءً فَأَلَّفَ بَيْنَ قُلُوبِكُمْ فَأَصْبَحْتُم بِنِعْمَتِهِ إِخْوَانًا وَكُنتُمْ عَلَىٰ شَفَا حُفْرَةٍ مِّنَ النَّارِ فَأَنقَذَكُم مِّنْهَا ۗ كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ آيَاتِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ

And hold fast all together to the rope of Allah and do not be divided among yourselves, and remember the favor of Allah on you when you were enemies and He joined your hearts in love; you became brethren and you were on the brink of the pit of fire and He saved you from it. Likewise Allah make His Ayats/Signs clear to you that you may be guided.

41:34 وَلَا تَسْتَوِي الْحَسَنَةُ وَلَا السَّيِّئَةُ ۚ ادْفَعْ بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ فَإِذَا الَّذِي بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَهُ عَدَاوَةٌ كَأَنَّهُ وَلِيٌّ حَمِيمٌ

Nor is goodness and Evil equal. Repel (Evil) with what is better. Then will he between whom and thee was hatred become as it were your friend and intimate. 

The link to the post of ‘Qasas’