The Superiority of Istighfar

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

(الاِسْتِغْفَارُ) is the verbal noun from [اِسْتَغْفَرَ وَيَسْتَغْفِرُ  ] to seek Allah’s forgiveness. The word [الغُفُرُ ] means to cover and conceal.

The words, [الغَفُورُ وَالغَفَّارُ وَالغَافِرُ] are all names of Allah and mean the covering of the servants sins and the pardoning him of his errors.

Shaykh Zayd Al-Madkhali said: These three names mean that Allah is vast in virtue and Very Generous in Forgiveness towards repenters, as long as they don’t continue to sin.

These three names all mean the same thing according to the scholars of Tafsir. Allah conceals the sins of the servants who repent, feel remorseful and request His pardon and  His forgiveness. [1]

The reality of Istighfar

No human-being is sin free,  no of us are infallible, so it’s man’s nature to sin. The  Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Every son of Adam commits sin, and the best of those who commit sin are those who repent.’”[2]

Allah is delighted when we sin and then seeks his forgiveness. This is part of His Mercy.   The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “By the One in Whose Hand my soul is, were you not to commit sins, Allah would replace you with a people who would commit sins and then seek forgiveness from Allah; and Allah would forgive them”.[3]

Its worth mentioning here that Istighfar isn’t only done on the tongue which has no impact on the Heart and body. Al-Fudayl ibn Iyyad said: “Seeking Allah’s forgiveness without abandoning the sin is the repentance of liar.”

So seeking forgiveness from Allah also requires us to leave off the sins.

Istighfar is for the Believers.

Allah said: It is not (proper) for the Prophet and those who believe to ask Allah’s Forgiveness for the Mushrikun (polytheists, idolaters, pagans, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah) even though they be of kin, after it has become clear to them that they are the dwellers of the Fire (because they died in a state of disbelief).[At-Taubah:113]

Allah’s Messenger, (ﷺ) said:

I asked  permission to seek forgiveness for my mother from Allah, but He did not grant it to me. I asked  permission from Him to visit her grave, and He granted it (permission) to me.”[4]


Allah said: Whether you (O Muhammad ) ask forgiveness for them (hypocrites) or ask not forgiveness for them … (and even) if you ask seventy times for their forgiveness … Allah will not forgive them, because they have disbelieved in Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad ). And Allah guides not those people who are Fasiqun (rebellious, disobedient to Allah).[At-Taubah:80]


These two verses and hadith prove that forgiveness isn’t sought on behalf of the disbelievers and the hypocrites. Istighfar is a special trait that Allah has only favored the Muslims with.

An abandoned Sunnah for Istighfar

The Prophet used to wipe the head of the children and ask Allah to forgiven them. Abu Iyas said, “ My father took me to the Prophet [ﷺ] when I was a young child and the He [ﷺ] wiped my head and asked Allah to forgive me.”[5]

The Wordings used for Istighfar

  • [‏ رَبِّ اغْفِرْ لِي وَتُبْ عَلَىَّ إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ التَّوَّابُ الرَّحِيمُ]

Narrated Abdullah ibn Umar :

We counted that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) would say a hundred times during a meeting: “My Lord, forgive me and pardon me; You are  the Pardoning and  the Forgiving One”.[6]

  • [أَسْتَغْفِرُ اللَّهَ الَّذِي لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ هُوَ الْحَىُّ الْقَيُّومُ وَأَتُوبُ إِلَيْهِ]

The Prophet (ﷺ) said: If anyone says: “I ask pardon of Allah ,with Whom there is no deity, the Living, the eternal, and I turn to Him in repentance,” he will be pardoned, even if he has fled in time of battle.[7]

  • [أَسْتَغْفِرُ اللَّهَ وَأَتُوبُ إِلَيْهِ]

Narrated Abu Huraira:

I heard Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) saying.” By Allah! I ask for forgiveness from Allah and turn to Him in repentance more than seventy times a day.[8]

[سَيِّدَ الاِسْتِغْفَارِ]

اللَّهُمَّ أَنْتَ رَبِّي لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ أَنْتَ خَلَقْتَنِي وَأَنَا عَبْدُكَ وَأَنَا عَلَى عَهْدِكَ وَوَعْدِكَ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُ أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ شَرِّ مَا صَنَعْتُ أَبُوءُ لَكَ بِذَنْبِي وَأَبُوءُ لَكَ بِنِعْمَتِكَ عَلَىَّ فَاغْفِرْ لِي فَإِنَّهُ لاَ يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ إِلاَّ أَنْتَ

(O Allah, You are my Lord, there is no god but You. You have created me and I am Your slave and I am keeping my promise and covenant to You as much as I can. I seek refuge with You from the evil of what I do. I acknowledge Your blessing and I acknowledge my sin, so forgive me, for there is none who can forgive sin except You.)’ If he says this in the morning, believing in it firmly, and dies on that day before evening comes, he will enter Paradise, and if he says it in the evening, believing firmly in it, and dies before morning comes, he will enter Paradise.”[9]

[وَاِسْتَغْفِرِيهُ عُشْرًا]


Um Raf’I when you stand for prayer say, “ Subhanallah 10 times, la illah ilallah 10 times, Al-Hamdulilah 10 times, Allahu Akbar 10 times then say As-staghfurallah 10 times. When you say subhanallah 10 times Allah says this is for me and when you la illah ilallah 10 times Allah says this is for me, and when you say Al-Hamdulilah 10 times Allah says this is for me and when you say Allahu akbar Allah says this is form and when we seek forgiveness after saying those words He says, “ I have forgiven you.”[10]


The times of the day to perform Istighfar

  • After completing worship

Allah said: Then depart from the place whence all the people depart and ask Allah for His Forgiveness. Truly, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most-Merciful.[Al-Baqarah:199]

Although this verse was revealed for Hajj, it applies to completing the prayer and other acts of worship that we fall short in performance.

  • The last hours of the night

Allah said :(They are) those who are patient ones, those who are true (in Faith, words, and deeds), and obedient with sincere devotion in worship to Allah. Those who spend [give the Zakat and alms in the Way of Allah] and those who pray and beg Allah’s Pardon in the last hours of the night.[11]

  • After completing a class or gathering

سُبْحَانَكَ اللَّهُمَّ وَبِحَمْدِكَ أَشْهَدُ أَنْ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ أَنْتَ أَسْتَغْفِرُكَ وَأَتُوبُ إِلَيْكَ ‏

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Whoever sits in a sitting and engages in alot of empty and meaningless speech and then says before getting up from that sitting of his: [‘Glory is to You, O Allah, and praise, I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except You, I seek You forgiveness, and I repent to You,] then whatever occurred in that sitting would be forgiven from him.”[12]

Also there is other narration when the prophet [ﷺ] said these words after completing Wudu and reading the Quran.[13]

  • After burying a Muslim

After the burial of a dead man, the Prophet (ﷺ) would stand by the grave and say, “Ask Allah to forgive your brother and supplicate for him be steadfast ,because he is being questioned (about his deeds) now.”[14]

Seeking Istighfar is the way of the Angels and the Prophets.

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “The angels supplicate in favour of one of you ,so long as he remains in the place where he has performed Salat (prayer) in a state of Wudu’. They (the angels) say: ‘O Allah! Forgive him, O Allah! Have mercy on him.”‘[15]

  • Adam

Allah said: They said: “Our Lord! We have wronged ourselves. If You forgive us not, and bestow not upon us Your Mercy, we shall certainly be of the losers.”[ Al-‘Araf: 23]

  • Nuh

Allah said: Nuh (Noah) said: “O my Lord! I seek refuge with You from asking You that of which I have no knowledge. And unless You forgive me and have Mercy on me, I would indeed be one of the losers.”[ Hud :47]

  • Ibrahim

Allah said: “And Who, I hope will forgive me my faults on the Day of Recompense, (the Day of Resurrection),”[Ash-Shu’ara: 82]

  • Dawud

Allah said: And Dawud (David) guessed that We have tried him and he sought Forgiveness of his Lord, and he fell down prostrate and turned (to Allah) in repentance.[ Saad: 24]

  • Sulayman

Allah said: He said: “My Lord! Forgive me, and bestow upon me a kingdom such as shall not belong to any other after me: Verily, You are the Bestower.”[Saad:35]

  • Musa

Allah said: He said: “My Lord! Verily, I have wronged myself, so forgive me.” Then He forgave him. Verily, He is the Oft-Forgiving, the Most Merciful.[Al-Qasas:16]

The benefits of Istighfar

  1. It’s a command from Allah:

Allah said: So be patient (O Muhammad ). Verily, the Promise of Allah is true, and ask forgiveness for your fault, and glorify the praises of your Lord in the Ashi (i.e. the time period after the midnoon till sunset) and in the Ibkar (i.e. the time period from early morning or sunrise till before midnoon) [it is said that, that means the five compulsory congregational Salat (prayers) or the ‘Asr and Fajr prayers].[Ghafir: 55]

  1. It’s a means to increase your provision:

Allah said:  I said (to them): ‘Ask forgiveness from your Lord; Verily, He is Oft-Forgiving;11. ‘He will send rain to you in abundance;12. ‘And give you increase in wealth and children, and bestow on you gardens and bestow on you rivers.’ “[Nuh 10-12]

  1. It’s help one enter Jannah

Refer to the hadith known as  “ Sayyidul Istighfar”

  1. It removes sins

 Anas (May Allah be pleased with him) said:

I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) saying, “Allah, the Exalted, has said: ‘O son of Adam! I shall go on forgiving you so long as you pray to Me and aspire for My forgiveness whatever may be your sins. O son of Adam! I do not care even if your sins were reach up to the sky and should you beg pardon of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Adam! If you come to Me with an earthful of sins and meet Me, without associating anything with Me in worship, I will certainly grant you as much pardon that could  fill the earth.”‘[16]

  1. It Repels harm and calamity

Allah said:  And Allah would not punish them while you (Muhammad ) are amongst them, nor will He punish them while they seek (Allah’s) Forgiveness.[Al-Anfal:33]

  1. It raises your level in Jannah

The Messenger of Allah(ﷺ) said: “A man will be raised in status in Paradise and will say: ‘Where did this come from?’ And it will be said:’From your son’s praying for forgiveness for you.'”[17]

  1. It cleans the heart

The Messenger of Allah said: “Verily, when the slave (of Allah) commits a sin, a black spot appears on his heart. When he refrains from it, seeks forgiveness and repents, his heart is polished clean. But if he returns, it increases until it covers his entire heart. And that is the ‘Ran’ which Allah mentioned: ‘Nay, but on their hearts is the Ran which they used to earn.’”[18]

The Spiritual Development of Istighfar

It makes the Dunya insignificant in the heart of the servant

Distances the devil from you

Attain Allah’s love

Taste the sweetness of faith and obedience.

Increases intellect and faith

Draws the slave closer to Allah.

Removes stress and worry.

Makes worshipping Allah easier.

Helps to purify your soul and your community from bad deeds.[19]

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A Discussion between ” Abu Thabit [Firm] and Abul Munaqid [Contradictions]

Prepared and presented by Abu Aaliyah Abdullah ibn Dwight Battle

Academic/Khateeb in Qatar ©

Acknowledgments : Quranic verses were taken from the Muhammad Taqedeen Al-Hilali.

[1] العمل لاسنى/pg 79

[2] Ibn Majah :   4251 graded as being 4251

[3]  Muslim 2749

[4] Muslim #1621

[5] Musnad Imam Ahmed [4/19] graded as Sahih by Shu’ayb Ar-Na’ut

[6] Sunan Abi Dawud 1516

[7] Abu Dawud #1517 graded as Sahih Al-Albani

[8] Al-bukhari#6307/ Muslim 2707

[9] Al-Bukhari 6306

[10] Ibn Sunni amal layl [105/37-38]

[11] Ali Imran : 17

[12] At-Tirmithi#3433/At-Tirmithi graded this hadith as being Hasan Gharib As-Sahih


[14] Abu Dawud#946

[15] Al-Bukhari: Book 9, Hadith 1062

[16] At-Tirmithi 1878 Hadith Hasan

[17] Ibn Majah :798 Hasan by Imam al-albani

[18] At-Tirmithi 3334 –Graded as Hasan by Imam Al-Albani.

[19] Refer to [نظرة النعيم/ vol 2/ 302]

2 thoughts on “The Superiority of Istighfar”
  1. Asalaamu alaikum wa RahmatuLahi wa Barakaatuh,

    May Allah make your affairs easy and may He accept your good and conceal your faults. Ameen.

    Concerning this hadith:

    Um Raf’I when you stand for prayer say, “ Subhanallah 10 times, la illah ilallah 10 times, Al-Hamdulilah 10 times, Allahu Akbar 10 times then say As-staghfurallah 10 times. When you say subhanallah 10 times Allah says this is for me and when you la illah ilallah 10 times Allah says this is for me, and when you say Al-Hamdulilah 10 times Allah says this is for me and when you say Allahu akbar Allah says this is form and when we seek forgiveness after saying those words He says, “ I have forgiven you.”[10]

    Can you clarify as to which segment of the salah this is to be said, i.e., is it after the takbiratul ihram and before isti’aatha, or during ruku, sujood, etc.?

    May Allah reward you for any time you happened to take out to clarify this for me. BaarakaLahu feekum.

    1. wa alaykum as Salam

      the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) mentioned when you intend to stand for prayer, so its before the actual prayer itself. I recommended the students to practice this between the Athan and Iqamah or while the Iqamah is being called.

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