Prof. Dr. Mahmud Es'ad COAN

AKRA FM Friday Discourse

May 5, 2000

DEEDS LEADING TO FORGIVENESS

As-salaamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

May Allah's peace, mercy, bounty, grace, and blessings be with you in this world and in the world to come. May Almighty Allah bless you with all good things and happiness in this world and in the hereafter.

a. Benefits of Attending the Mosque

Today's first hadith is about attending the congregation in the masjid for prayers. It is reported by 'Uqbatubnu 'Abd, and recorded by Ahmad ibn-i Hanbal and Ibn-i Hibban. Our beloved Prophet SAS said:

RE. 385/1 (Ma min abdin yakhruju min beytihî ilâ ghuduwwin aw rawâhin ilal-masjid, il-lâ kânet khutàhu khatwatan kaffâreten wa khatwatan haseneh.)

(Ma min abdin) "There is no believing servant who (yakhruju min beytihî ilâ ghuduwwin aw rawâhin ilal-masjid) leaves his home in the morning or in the evening to go to the masjid, (il-lâ kânet khutàhu) unless his steps becomes (khatwatan kaffâreten) expiation for his sins (wa khatwatan haseneh) and rewarding deeds." That is, if a person goes to the masjid for prayer in the morning or in the evening, for every step he walks, one of his misdeeds is erased and one haseneh (reward) will be given. The person will be forgiven before entering the mosque for going to mosque to attend prayers.

Being aware of such rewards, every believer, every Muslim must perform formal prayers, for the salat is the pillar of Islam. Every Muslim man should perform the prayer at the mosque if he is healthy enough to go to the mosque. The excuse for not going to the mosque cannot be an ordinary excuse such as "feeling tired" or "not feeling like going outside." It has to be a real one such as "not being able to walk" or "presence of a danger, such as flood, in the way."

Prayers performed in the masjid are rewarded multiply. For instance, if it is a neighborhood masjid, the prayers are rewarded twenty-seven folds. If it is a bigger mosque in which the Friday Prayers are held, they are rewarded fifty times more. In addition to these many-fold rewards, a person receives forgiveness and one hasana for every step he takes to the mosque. A hasana is a gift from Allah SWT, a great reward described with the Mountain of Uhud.

In addition to the individual spiritual earnings, a person can benefit from the presence of blessed servants in the congregation. When a person performs the prayer individually at home, his prayer may not be acceptable because of his faults in the prayer. But, if he performs the prayer with the congregation, Allah SWT accepts the prayer despite the shortcomings of the person.

There are many more spiritual and physical benefits of attending the mosque. Our late teacher, Mehmed Zahid Kotku--may Allah be pleased with him and illuminate his abode--used to say that when people make tight lines shoulder to shoulder, some kind of electricity passes through them. This electricity regulates the electrical system of the body and cures the pains and aches. The person becomes healthier by attending the mosque.

We have to pay attention to attending the mosque. It is a place for Muslims to gather and meet one another. After performing the prayer, we shall tend to the issues concerning the congregation and community. We need to inquire about brothers who are absent. We should turn the masjid into an activity center for the community. The charitable activities should be planned there.

I admire the architecture of the historical mosques in Bursa. For instance, Yesil Cami ("Green Mosque") is my favorite. There are others like that. There are two sections before the entrance. I am not sure for what purpose these sections were used. As you enter the mosque, you find a small and cute pool and fountain which can be used for making ablution. Then, there are places on the left and on the right, some are open some are closed like rooms with domes. The rooms have fireplaces; which means that they are reserved for guests or for study sessions. The congregation area is elevated six-to-seven steps. There is the mihrab on the qibla direction and the minber on the right. In other words, the masjid is not thought of as a place that Muslims come, pray and leave. On the contrary, it was designed to be an activity center with rooms, fireplaces, and other facilities.

In parallel to the growth of the Ottomans, the small divisions and rooms in the mosques of Bursa were designed as separate buildings for the mosques of Istanbul so that they can serve a greater number of people. Around the mosques one can find a kitchen producing hot meals for the poor, a hospital, a madrasa (school), a library, and other buildings for accommodation and shopping. For instance, Suleymaniye mosque and the surroundings resemble a small town. This is a sign that our forefathers had understood Islam well; it was not just performing prayers five times a day. Muslims have social responsibilities and activities to strengthen the love among them.

The mosque should be a place for brotherly conversations, a forum for discussing community matters and finding solutions. The mosque should be built with such facilities for such activities. For the new mosque constructions, the blueprints should be prepared similar to Orhan Camii or Yesil Camii in Bursa. In many localities, the mosque is considered as a place, a room which is only for five daily prayers. If you study the mosques in Bursa, you will see that there are many sections and each section is built for a unique purpose and use. We realize the need now. Nowadays in many localities, the elderly sit on a log in the yard of the mosque. They do not have a proper place to sit. A reading room should have been built in the mosque.

It is improper to consider the mosque as only a room with a dome that is used five times a day. We need to remember the main function of the mosque, and turned them into centers of activity as it was during the time of the Prophet SAS. During his time, the mosque was a place of worship, a school, a university, a center for learning, a center for social activities. It was the focal point of the society. The Prophet would meet the foreign statesmen in the mosque. We must revitalize the mosques.

The vitality of a mosque does not mean that it has a strong foundation, walls, and roof, and nice decoration. If there is a congregation in the mosque, the mosque will be alive. The absence of the congregation turns a mosque into "ruins" regardless of the strength of its physical structure. We have to keep this hadith in mind and attend the mosque for the fajr prayer when the sleeping is enjoyable and for the maghrib and ish'a prayers when a person feels tired and slow to move.

There is a tendency in Ramadhan not to attend the maghrib prayer at the mosque because of dinner. That is wrong! While a person increases the prayers at night and during the day throughout the month, skipping the congregational maghrib prayer at the mosque would be a contradiction. Attending the prayer in the mosque is a strong sunnah, and the fasting is not ordained for people to neglect a strong sunnah. A person can take something to the mosque to break the fast, and go home for dinner after the prayer.

We should appreciate the value of the mosques. We must remember the original function of the mosques and restore them to their original state. We must attend the mosque even if we feel tired and sleepy. We must learn how to give up some of our comfort and sleep. We have to learn how to be patient and practice perseverance. That can elevate our spiritual rank.

b. The Reward of Asking Forgiveness Seventy Times a Day

The second hadith was related by Anas (R.A) and quoted by Daylamî, Khatib-i Baghdadi and others. In this hadith, our beloved Prophet says:

RE. 385/3 (Mâ min abdin walâ amatin istaghfarallàhi fî kulli yawmin sab'îne marraten illâ ghafarallàhu lahû sab'ami'eti dhanbin wa qad khàba abdun aw amatun amila fil-yawmi wa laylati akthara min sab'imi'eti dhanbin) .

Prophet (pbuh) gives good news in this hadith as well as making a striking warning:

(Mâ min abdin walâ amatin) "There is no male or female slave of Allah.. " Ama means jariya, i.e. "female slave" and abd means "slave." Thus, if we are male we are Allah's "abd" and if we are female we are "amatullah," His female slave. Since Allah SWT created all of us, we have devoted all our presence to Him thus we belong to Him.

"There is no male or female servant of Allah, (istaghfarallàhi fî kulli yawmin sab'îne marraten) who asks for forgiveness (istighfaar) and makes repentance seventy times a day (illâ ghafarallàhu lahû sab'amieti dhanbin) whose seven-hundred sins Allah doesn't forgive." Thus if a person says "Astaghfirullah" seventy times a day, Allah SWT forgives this person's seven hundred sins, that is ten fold. He is forgiving ten sins for each "Astaghfirullah." This is good news.

Then Prophet (pbuh) adds a warning to this, which is very important: (Wa qad khàba abdun aw amatun amile fil-yawmi wa lailati akthara min sab'imi'eti dhanbin) "Male or female, if a person commits more than seven-hundred sins during a day and night, then this person's situation is really bleak; hence, a looser.

Are they "sin-machines" that they commit more than seven hundred sins a day? Allah SWT forgives seven hundred sins if one says "Astaghfirullah" seventy times a day. If his sins exceed this number, shame on him! He is ruined. In the Turkish translation, the author uses the word "ruined" for khàba. He means "If one has more than seven-hundred sins on a daily basis, shame on him! He is a looser!" This is the warning.

My beloved and honored brothers and sisters, please note that if seven hundred counts of sin are divided by twenty-four hours, it yields approximately thirty counts of sin per hour. One can not commit sins during all 24 hours. He will be asleep about seven or eight hours. At least we bound to think he is not having sins at these times. But if he is committing sins twenty-four hours, then it means thirty sins per hour; hence, a sin every two minutes. Such a servant is considered to have been ruined and so spoiled that he is continuously committing sins. "Shame on him! He is ruined" says our Prophet (pbuh).

Normally a good Muslim does not commit sin except as a fault and as a result of impatience. Even then, when he says "Astaghfirullah" seventy times, Allah (S.T) will forgive his seven hundred sins.

We have several lessons and lots of fine points to be derived from this hadith. People can derive many meanings depending on their refinement and ability of comprehension. Should one bow his head, close his eyes, turn towards his heart and think deeply, he can see lots of things.

As a summary, I think, I have to emphasize that a person should repent saying "Astaghfirullah" seventy or a hundred times a day.

In other ahadith, repeating this a hundred times a day is also stated which implies that it could be more than seventy. When certain numbers are recommended in a hadith, they should be respected. But sometimes numbers greater than this number may be given in other ahadith which indicates that the more that good action is performed, the more reward it brings and that there is nothing wrong about this.

For example I would like to remind you a hadith that I talked about before: Our beloved Prophet (pbuh) says: "If a servant says 'La ilaha il-lal-lah' a hundred times a day, on the day of judgements he comes out with a face as bright as a full moon. Nobody can approach his level except those who have done this more than he did." Thus anybody who says "La ilaha il-lal-lah," more than a hundred times a day will be at a higher level. Both seventy and a hundred "Astaghfirullah" are recommended in different ahadith; thus we may prefer to do it a hundred times.

"Forgive me my Lord! I want to be a good servant but I am having faults knowingly and unknowingly. Sometimes I am overcome by my nafs (ego, self) and sometimes tricked by the Satan. Unaware and unknowingly and sometimes because of my weakness I sink into sin. Oh Lord! Forgive me, save me, make your guidance a companion for me! Let me not follow the Satan and the nafs!" One should pray and ask for forgiveness like that. One of the important duties is this.

Another way to get rid of the sins is to do good deeds that would sweep them away. We see this fact in the first hadith. As a person walks towards the mosque, each of his steps becomes a compensation for his sins. One step becomes atonement for his sins while another step brings reward.

Let us remember the things that would lead to forgiveness. For instance, if one repents from his sins with a sincere regret, then Allah SWT forgives him because repentance is a good feeling coming from within. Allah forgives a person when he says, "Why did I do this, I wish I had not done so. What a pity!" Also, sins are washed away during ablution with running water while the face, hands and feet are washed.

Among the deeds that lead the forgiveness are the following: The daily prayers, attending the mosque for prayers especially for fajr and for maghrib and ish'a, attending Friday prayers, fasting in Ramadan, and performing Hajj. Thus Allah SWT has bestowed opportunities to be forgiven, purified and saved from the sins.

c. Rewards for Charity

Now I am reading the third hadith as we intended. It is better to read less so that everyone can pay attention more; otherwise, one's attention is distracted. The Prophet SAS said:

RE. 385/8 (Mâ min abdin tesaddaqa bisadaqatin yebtaghî bihâ wajhallàhi il-lâ qàlallàhu lahû yawmal-qyâmah: Abdî rajawtenî walan uhakkiraka haramtu jasadaka alan-nâri wadkhul min ay-yi ebwâbil-jannata shi'te)

This hadith is also giving as a good news. Prophet SAS, said: (Mâ min abdin)"There is no believer (tesaddaqa bisadaqatin) who gave some charity to a poor person, to an orphan, a widow or a charitable organization..." What about this believer? For what reason did he give the charity? (Yebtaghî bihâ wajhallàhi) "... with an intention of pleasing Allah SWT and becoming a favorite servant to Allah SWT that (il-lâ qàlallàhu lahû yawmal-qyâmah), on the day of judgment, Allah SWT does not say to this believer: (Abdî) 'O My servant!, (rajawtenî) You expected something from Me! ...'" It is an honor for someone when Allah speaks to him in this way.

"O My servant you expected some rewards from Me, and you gave this charity with that intention. You did this good deed to please me; (walan uhakkiraka ) therefore, I will not consider this an insignificant act or disappoint you! (Haramtu jasadaka ) I made your body haram , (alan-nâri) to hell fire! I will not put you to hell fire! (wadkhul min ay-yi ebwâbil-jannata shi'te) You can enter to paradise from whichever gate you wish."

[The meaning of the hadith may be parapharesed as follows: "If a person gives some charity with an intention of receiving rewards from Allah, Allah will tell him to enter paradise from any gate the person wishes."]

The paradise has different types of gates according to our beloved Prophet SAS. For example, those who fast will enter from a gate called rayyan. Those who were very fond of the formal prayer will enter from another gate. Those who fought for the sake of Allah will enter from another gate. People will enter to paradise from different gates based on their level of good deeds.

One day Abu Bakr RA, asked to the Prophet SAS, "O Prophet of Allah! If a person did many good deeds such as fighting for the sake of Allah, giving sadaqa, and fasting, from which gate this person will enter the paradise? What is going to happen then? Is he going to enter through each gate?"

The Prophet SAS said, "Yes, he will enter through each gate. I am hoping that you are one of them o Abu Bakr!" So, the Prophet SAS gave a good news to Abu Bakr RA. May Allah SWT make him an intercessor for us on the day of Judgement. It will be a great status to be able to enter the paradise through all gates.

Having heard of this hadith, what do we have to do my dearest brothers and sisters? We should try to give sadaqa for the sake of Allah. Why do we work and earn money? To feed our dependants with halal sustenance, not to be in need to others. We are earning halal money to get the necessary goods. We should also help others who are in need. We should try to make them happy, too.

On spending for others, Yunus Emre said: "Work, earn, eat and feed. And win someone's heart." This means, "Motivate yourself, work hard and earn halal sustenance. Spend for your needs and for others who are in need. Make someone happy and win his heart."

Making someone happy is very rewarding like repairing the Ka'bah. To hurt someone is a sin like destroying the Ka'bah. A Muslim must avoid all kinds of sins. A Muslim should not hurt another Muslim's feelings, for it is more important than Ka'bah. He has to be very careful on this. If a Muslim does not pay attention to this issue, he has not understand Islam well.

We should earn for the sake of Allah, and be generous while giving charity. We should feed friends and get gifts for them. We should spend our life by doing always good deeds. We should have good behaviors and disseminate goodness to others around us. Then we should have a good end in this life and incur the pleasure and mercy of Allah for the hereafter.

May Allah make us learn details of Islam and apply them to our lives. May Allah make us spend our life according to His wish. May He give us His paradise. May Allah make us reach the highest level of paradise. May He give us infinite happiness.

As Salamu Alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu

05. 05. 2000 --Australia