SOME QURANIC VERSES AND THEIR ACTUAL MEANING:
Allah Almighty says in the Holy Quran:
“Patiently, then, persevere: for the Promise of Allah is true: and ask forgiveness for thy fault (wastaghfir li-zanbika) , and celebrate the Praises of thy Lord in the evening and in the morning.” (Quran 40:55)
“Know, therefore, that there is no god but Allah, and ask forgiveness for thy fault (wastaghfir li-zanbika), and for the men and women who believe: for Allah knows how ye move about and how ye dwell in your homes.” (Quran 47:19)
“That Allah may forgive thee (li-yaghfira laka) thy faults (zanbika) of the past and those to follow; fulfill His favour to thee; and guide thee on the Straight Way;” (Quran 48: 2)
A TOKEN OF HUMILITY AND MODESTY:
One of the morals taught to man by Islam is also this: however hard and sincerely may man be trying to serve and worship his Lord and fighting and struggling in the cause of His Religion, he should never be involved in the misunderstanding that he has done and accomplished whatever he was required to do. Rather, on the contrary, he should have the feeling that he has not been able to do full justice to what was expected of him by his Lord and Master. Therefore, he should confess his errors constantly and pray to Allah saying 'Lord, forgive me for whatever fault and error I may have committed in Your service." , this is indeed the essence of Allah's Command: 'O Prophet. ask forgiveness for your fault ..'' And in Hadith we find Holy Prophet (PBUH) praying exactly on the same lines, e.g.
“O Allah! Forgive me my sins that I did in the past or will do in the future, and also the sins I did in secret or in public.” (Sahih Bukhari, Hadith 5919)
This does not mean that the Holy Prophet had actually committed an error willfully, but its correct meaning is that it did not even behoove the servant who was the greatest worshiper of his Lord that he should harbor even a tinge of the pride of accomplishment in his heart, but his true position also was that in spite of all his great and glorious services he should continue confessing his shortcomings before his Lord. It was under this state of the mind that the Holy Prophet often implored his Lord for forgiveness.
One also needs to understand that for a person with more responsibility and greater honor, the standards are also different. Holy Prophet (PBUH) received direct revelations from the Almighty so he was supposed to be the best and at times when he had actually done no wrong as we can see, he was still admonished because of the higher levels set for him.
Further, there is a Hadith that gives the answer of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) as to why did he pray to Allah so much and seek His Mercy:
عن الْمُغِيرَةَ يَقُولُ قَامَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ حَتَّى تَوَرَّمَتْ قَدَمَاهُ فَقِيلَ لَهُ غَفَرَ اللَّهُ لَكَ مَا تَقَدَّمَ مِنْ ذَنْبِكَ وَمَا تَأَخَّرَ قَالَ أَفَلَا أَكُونُ عَبْدًا شَكُورًا
Narrated Al-Mughira (RA): The Prophet used to offer night prayers till his feet became swollen. Somebody said, to him," "Allah has forgiven you, your faults of the past and those to follow." On that, he said, "Shouldn't I be a thankful slave of Allah)?" (Bukhari, Hadith 4459)
Holy Prophet (PBUH) used to ask Allah for forgiveness as a token of his modesty and also to teach his companions and followers to do the same.
Narrated Abu Huraira: I heard Allah's Messenger saying." By Allah! I ask for forgiveness from Allah and turn to Him in repentance more than seventy times a day." (Sahih Bukhari, Hadith 5832)
Another narration makes it absolutely clear that he prayed to Allah this way as a token of modesty and more importantly to teach his followers:
Ibn Umar narrated: I heard Allah's Messenger saying, "O people ask Allah for forgiveness verily I ask Him for forgiveness hundred times a day." (Musnad Ahmad Hadith 17173)
The very words of the Hadith above prove that he did and said this to inspire his followers to repent to Allah often.
Another interesting point we need to consider here is that Quran 48:2 quoted above which says all the past and future sins of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) are forgiven was revelaed in 6th year after Hijrah while Abu Huraira, who is the narrator of the hadith saying that Holy Prophet (pbuh) repented 70 times a day, accepted Islam and came to the Holy Prophet in the 7th year after Hijrah. This proves Holy Prophet (pbuh) prayed even after Allah that verse was revealed. This is enough to prove that it was only out of modesty and to teach the followers.
ETYMOLOGY OF THE ARABIC WORDS USED:
According to Mufarridat fi Gharaib al-Quran, a book on the etymology of the Quranic words, by Isfahani, the word ‘Ghafar’ means ‘to cover with something that protects from dirt’ (vol.1 p.362). Keeping this in mind the verses can mean that Holy Prophet (PBUH) is asked to pray to be saved from the sins.
And as to the word ‘zanb’ which generally means ‘sin’ Isfahani in his above mentioned books says; ‘it is used for every deed whose outcome is not good.’ (vol.1 p.181) This makes it evident that the word can be used for everything whose outcome is not good or as expected. The following supports our contention on these lines.
AN EXAMPLE OF A 'SIN' WHEN IT COMES TO THE PROPHET (PBUH):
Holy Prophet (PBUH) was once even admonished by the Almighty and that one event clearly shows what the matter was. It is stated in Qur'an 80:1.
"He frowned and turned away his face because there came up to him the blind man. And what would make you know that he might reform, or heed the admonition, and admonishing might profit him? As for him who is indifferent, to him you attend, though you would not be responsible if he did not reform. And the one 'who comes to you running, of his own will, and fears, from him you turn away."(Qur'an 80:1-10)
It so happened that Holy Prophet (PBUH) was talking to some leaders of Makkah who had not embraced Islam and right them one of his companions Ibn Umm Maktum came in and Holy Prophet (PBUH) disliked his entry at that time. In fact Holy Prophet (PBUH) thought that even if a single man from among the people whom he was trying to bring to the right path, listened to him and was rightly guided, be could become a powerful means of strengthening Islam. Therefore, none of his companions should interrupt at that time; whatever he wanted to ask or learn, he could ask or learn at some later time.
By this style the Holy Prophet (PBUH), by a subtle method, has been made to realize that it was an act unseemly for him. Had somebody familiar with his high morals witnessed it, he would have thought that it was not he but some other person who had behaved in that manner.
So, this was a deed which the Holy Prophet (PBUH) did, and was disliked by the Almighty Allah. We can see Holy Prophet's (PBUH) intention was not to commit sin and hurt anyone but Allah who knew that those to the Prophet was talking were not sincere but the blind man who came was sincere. And so he was admonished.
This is a clear manifestation that for Holy Prophet (PBUH) the standards were much higher. And so what’s called a 'sin' is only this much when it comes to The Most Perfect of All Humans.
Having explained the Quranic verses that Christians misinterpret, now we come to the Bible and what it tells us about Jesus Christ (PBUH) whom Christians take not a holy man or perfect human but God Incarnate.
According to the Gospel of Matthew:
Jesus (PBUH) prayed to the Father in the Heaven; “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12)
The Greek word translated as ‘debts’ is opheilēma (of-i'-lay-mah), which according to Strong’s Bible Dictionary (Entry G3783) means ‘something owed, that is, (figuratively) a due.; morally a fault: - debt.’ In Thayer’s lexicon the words ‘offense’ and ‘sin’ are clearly used.
Infact according to Smith and Van Dyke Arabic Bible, the word used to denote the actual Greek word is ‘zunubana’ (i.e. our sins):
(وَاغْفِرْ لَنَا ذُنُوبَنَا كَمَا نَغْفِرُ نَحْنُ أَيْضاً لِلْمُذْنِبِينَ إِلَيْنَا) transliterated as ‘waghfirlana zunubana’ i.e. forgive us our sins. Infact same words are used in Quran and Hadith where there is a mention of sin concerning Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
Agreed that the context of the verse says he asked his disciples to pray this way but Bible proves he himself often prayed to God and it no where says he prayed differently.
Further Jesus (pbuh) was Baptized by John the Baptist and we know about John the Basptist; "And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins." (Luke 3:3)
Now Christians can take only two courses; either they can argue that this is only in fugitive sense or a lesson for the disciples and later followers. We, the Muslims, have no problem with either of these explanations but this only exposes the double standards of the Christians.
If Jesus Christ, the ‘God Incarnate’ and a ‘God’ himself can pray for the forgiveness of his sins and take the Bapstism of repentance then there is no problem in Prophet Muhammad who was human only, indeed the best and perfect of them but a human still, doing the same. A human, however great needs to show his modesty but not so a divine person as Christians think of Jesus.
And also the fact that it makes more sense of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), who came with a doctrine of salvation based on good deeds and repentance, asking the Almighty God for forgiveness teaching his followers the same then Jesus (PBUH) who as per Christian belief brought the gift of salvation merely through his own vicarious sacrifice.
These double standards of the Christians remind one of Jesus (PBUH) who said:
"First cast out the beam out of your own eye; and then shall you see clearly to cast out the mote out of your brother's eye." (Matthew 7:5)
And also: "You blind guides, you strain out a gnat, and swallow the camel." (Mathew 23:24)
INDEED ALLAH KNOWS THE BEST !!!
...by Waqar Akbar Cheema