Surah Ghafir, the Chapter of Forgiveness, is my favorite surah in Juz’ 24. Allah (SWT) reminds us throughout the entire Qur’an that not only does He have the power to forgive us, but that He (SWT) wants to. In navigating life in all its messiness, disarray and chaos, we make countless mistakes. These mistakes remind us of our imperfectness, and for so much of our lives, we grieve that. The healing comes through mercy. Islam is a religion of mercy, and every moment and factor of my life is an example of Allah’s mercy upon me. The sunlight coming down, a warm meal, friends that bring laughter and comfort into my life or a good night’s sleep are all trivial moments that often go unnoticed in our daily lives, but together make up the peace and joy we get to experience. Allah (SWT)’s mercy comes to us even when we don’t acknowledge it, even when we don’t express our gratitude for it. Even moments that appear negative are examples of Allah’s mercy upon us, not only because there could always be a worse situation, but because challenges are put in our lives to pull us closer to Allah and the humility we should maintain as believers, realizing the true lack of control we have in our lives. Gratitude comes hand in hand with forgiveness, as we realize that Allah is merciful to us, we must be grateful.
I have recognized that loving myself and being at peace with who I am is imperative to progressing as a believer. Self-love, to me, is made up of two key factors: being grateful for who I am and what I have been given, and forgiving myself when things go wrong as I work to improve. It is impossible to be completely grateful to Allah (SWT) for everything He has blessed me with if I cannot be grateful for myself — how He created me, my talents and skills, my weaknesses and struggles, my brain and my heart. Furthermore, I cannot go to Allah to seek forgiveness and carry on with life if I hold grudges against myself, if I allow moments of weakness to define me, to take over my narrative. I have learned to practice self-forgiveness, because if Allah (SWT) promises to forgive me, how can I not do the same for myself?
The healing comes through mercy. Islam is a religion of mercy, and every moment and factor of my life is an example of Allah’s mercy upon me.
As Muslims, we are commanded to be merciful. Often, we forget that this applies to our relationships with ourselves, too. What a profound blessing it is to be able to live at all, to be able to live as Muslims, yet we are often so hateful to ourselves. We know Allah (SWT) is always inviting us home, this deen is always calling us back. The mercy is never ceasing. Even when we feel like life has run out of goodness for us, Allah proves the opposite continuously. At moments when we think we have run out of goodness as people, we must remember to call ourselves home again. We are human. We are designed to make mistakes, but we are also designed to turn to our Creator. Seeking divine forgiveness is as natural to the human experience as breathing, but just as breathing often is, we don’t think enough about it until it becomes difficult, until it becomes a conscious act of survival. We turn to Allah (SWT) for forgiveness when we feel a sense of guilt or shame, while we should be proactive and preemptive, seeking forgiveness before the guilt and large mistakes crawl into our lives. How consistently and intentionally we seek Allah’s forgiveness narrates the trajectory of our lives, the healing patterns of our heart and how we recover from the daily process of grieving our overwhelming imperfection.
Seeking Allah’s forgiveness is one of the most sustaining and critical forms of self-love, as we give ourselves a chance to live life properly again and again. This is healing. Finding gratitude for who we are and what we have been given — this is how we cope with the grief of being human in a life ridden with imperfection. May we all continue to practice humility and embrace the knowledge of Allah (SWT)’s mercy. This is the only way to survive at all.
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Salimah Hagmagid is from Northern Virginia and currently lives in Washington, D.C., as a freshman at Howard University. She attended The Madeira School prior to attending Howard, where she was involved in theater, student government as the Head of Diversity and Inclusion, and writing for Gate, Madeira’s literary magazine. She is pursuing a degree in English with a minor in creative writing. As a self-published poet, she plans to use her degree to continue writing and publishing poetry as well as short stories, novels and plays. Aside from writing, Salimah enjoys studying Islamic Studies, reading and fashion design.