And you love to pardon, so pardon me

My dearest brothers and sisters, peace and blessings upon you this holy month. Alhamdulilah for the opportunity to live another Ramadan, and to welcome this blessed guest.

Growing up, I had a particular – if unforgiving – view of religion. I held myself up harshly to a standard that I always kept failing, and at times, despair overwhelmed me. I’d think of all the sins I have committed, knowingly and unknowingly, the small ones that littered my everyday life that I never gave a second’s thought when committing them, and the big ones that weighed heavy on my conscience. And every time I vowed to myself that I would do better, be better.

I’d slip up again…and again…and again.

Over time, even my promises to myself to become a better person felt weak, for who was I kidding? Why was I repenting, when I knew that I would only mess up – again?

One of the hardest things, I find, is for a person to forgive themselves. It’s easy to be generous towards others who have wronged us, to dismiss hurt and disappointment from an external party, but to ourselves, we are our harshest critics and forgiveness does not come easy.

The problem with such an attitude, however, comes from the devoid sense of hope, and despair that clings to you incessantly – a constant reminder of all your failures – paralyisng and preventing you from taking any steps forward.

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“قُلْ يَا عِبَادِيَ الَّذِينَ أَسْرَفُوا عَلَىٰ أَنْفُسِهِمْ لَا تَقْنَطُوا مِنْ رَحْمَةِ اللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ جَمِيعًا ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ ”
Say, “O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.” (Surah Az-zumar, 53)

How can my despair fight the strength of such a verse? When everything becomes bleak, and I find myself succumbing to those thoughts, I remember this verse. For every single part of it offers hope.

“وَهُوَ الَّذِي يَقْبَلُ التَّوْبَةَ عَنْ عِبَادِهِ وَيَعْفُو عَنِ السَّيِّئَاتِ وَيَعْلَمُ مَا تَفْعَلُونَ”
“And it is He who accepts repentance from his servants and pardons misdeeds, and He knows what you do” (Surah Ash-Shuraa, 25)

He pardons alsayi’at. Allah swt in His mercy does not only forgive, He pardons. While the distinction does not often convey in the English language, the placement of the word ‘afo, pardon, to erase, is beautiful. Allah swt tells us, that He will erase the sins committed, not only forgive them. And just as in the previous verse mentioned, where Allah swt tells us that He forgives all sins, this verse again only specifies sayi’at. Sins, or misdeed. Not some sins, not small wrongs, but sins.

So as we enter this month of mercy and forgiveness, I remember and cling to these verses, and hope they will provide some comfort to whoever may need it.

اللهم إنّكَ عَفُوٌ، تُحِبُّ العَفْوَ، فاعْفُ عنّي

Oh Allah, you are the generous ever-pardoning, and you love to pardon, so pardon me.

Ramadan kareem to you all.


Noor El-Terk is a writer, social media enthusiast and a keen advocate for social justice with a particular interest in the MENA region. As a long time MABer, she served as the Head of Projects & HR previously. She tweets at @kelo3adi