Now we begin our article with the special supplication of this day: “O Allah! Adorn me this day with modesty and chastity, and cover me in it with the garments of contentment and sufficiency! Urge me therein toward justice and fairness, and grant me security in it from all that I fear; with Your protection, O Preserver of the frightened!”
Today is the day when God Almighty revealed the Evangel to Prophet Jesus (PBUH). As we said in one of our earlier programmes, it was in the blessed month of Ramadhan that the heavenly scriptures were revealed to many of the Prophets. In verse 2, chapter 4 of the Book of Saint Mathew we read that Jesus (PBUH) was commissioned formally in his office as the Preacher of the Word of God after a period of fasting. Thus, there is justification in the Almighty’s special grant of forgiveness and bestowing of favours to obedient Muslims, who fast as per His command for the whole month consecutively. As you might recall, we had presented to you a hadith from Imam Ja’far as-Sadeq (AS), the 6thInfallible Heir of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) saying: “The Torah was sent down on the 6th of Ramadhan, the Evangel on the 12th, the Book of Psalms on the 18th, and the Furqan (the Qur’an) on the Grand Night.” When we speak of the Evangel of Jesus we refer to the purely monotheistic scripture that God had sent, and not the present distorted versions of the bible in circulation among the Christians. Currently, there are countless and contradictory versions of the Gospel among the various Christian sects, whose beliefs are against what Prophet actually preached. For instance, Jesus has been wrongly turned into a godson, while passages pertaining to the advent of Islam and the mission of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA), called “Ahmad” in the original Evangel, have been removed.
Let us read a wise statement from Imam Ali (AS) the first Infallible Successor of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA):
“Don’t be like the one who wishes a prosperous hereafter but does not work for it. Don’t be like those who know the path they have adopted is wrong and should to turn back but they delay their decision. Don’t be like the one who likes the pious but does not act like them, or the one who does not like the sinful but in practice he is one of them.”
What a wonderful statement indeed. These words stimulate our thoughts. It is proof of the fact that God has bestowed human beings with different capabilities, in order to use them properly so as to reach perfection; or to misuse them to go astray. The human being is constantly placed between goodness and evilness. At the same time, he is naturally inclined to turn away from evilness and has an inner tendency towards virtue and honesty. However, what keeps man away from guidance is the unnatural instinct to commit sins. Sins thus shake the ideological bases of human beings and make them drift apart from their own pure nature, unless their conscience is aroused to repent and reform. Sins remove the blessings. Although the sinners, like all creatures of God, are not deprived of divine blessings, they misuse these for further disobedience of God. This gradually leads to God’s wrath and final deprivation of divine blessings.
It has been narrated that once Imam Ali (AS) was approached by a man who complained to him about the drought affecting his village. The Imam said to him: seek forgiveness from God. Another person complained to the Imam about poverty. The Imam said: seek forgiveness from God. When the Imam was asked why was he giving the same reply to two different questions, he said: These are the divine words of the holy Qur’an in ayahs 10 to 12 of Surah Noah that quote Prophet Noah’s urging his sinful nation to seek forgiveness from your God so that He sends blessed rains and provides you with abundance and children. Thus in view of these facts, whenever we face hardships, we ought to take stock of our life and our ways and practices, to find out whether we are indulging in sins and being disobedient to God Almighty. If we violating the commandments of God, we ought to repent, seek forgiveness, and strive to reform our life.
Repentance is the key to self-reform since it stops the committing of sins, and encourages a person to correct his or her deeds. Malek Ashtar was the commander of the army of Imam Ali (AS). His bravery was a byword. One day while he was passing through the market, a young man who was engaged in idle prattle with a group of his friends, threw date seeds at passers-by, including Malek Ashtar without knowing who he was. Malek Ashtar brushed aside the date seed, looked at the laughing man and continued his way. When his friends told him the mistake he had made by insulting a dignified person like Malek Ashtar, the man became worried and hurried ran after him to seek forgiveness. He saw Malek enter the mosque and prepare for prayer. When Malek finished the prayer he approached him hesitantly dropped on the floor to apologize to him. Malek put his hand on the man’s shoulder let him stand up and said to him:
“I came to the mosque to seek God’s forgiveness for you. I prayed for you. God willing He will forgive you.” Upon hearing these words, the man cried and he thanked God, for; Malek had forgiven him despite he was a strong man.
Forgiveness is one of the prominent characteristics of good men. God has praised this characteristic in the holy Qur’an considering it one of the signs of the good people. Forgiveness creates sincerity among people. If people are strict in retaking their rights and do not forgive others for their mistakes, their life will become so bitter. Certainly forgiveness puts a good effect on the opposite side. In the holy Quran many blessings have been expressed for forgiveness. The holy Qur’an says forgiveness of human beings by others paves the way for their forgiveness by God. In ayahs 22 of Surah Noor, the holy Qur’an says:
“And they should pardon and turn away. Do you not love that Allah should forgive you?”
From the viewpoint of Islamic teachings, forgiveness is acceptable to the extent when the wrongdoer deserves it. But if the forgiveness of someone makes him ruder, such a person should not be forgiven.