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What about the Sinners in Ramadhaan?

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|| Let Those Getting On With Ramadān Anticipate Great Good, But What About Those Who Are Not? ||

More than anything else, the month of Ramadān is about hope and anticipating immense good from God. Ibn Rajab al-Hanbalī wrote:

‘The month, all of it, is mercy, forgiveness and freedom [from the Fire]. This is why it says in an authentic hadīth that the gates of mercy are flung open during it; and in a hadith in Al-Tirmidhī and others: “Indeed, Allāh frees [people] from the Hellfire every night [of Ramadān].”1 Be that as it may, the first part of [the month] is dominated by mercy – particularly to the God-fearing who act with excellence (li’l-muhsinin al-muttaqīn). Allāh, exalted is He, says: “Surely, the mercy of Allāh is near to those who act with excellence.” [7:56] And: “My mercy embraces all things, therefore I shall ordain it for those who fear [God] and pay the zakāt.” [7:156] At the month’s commencement there is an unbounded outpouring of mercy and good pleasure upon the God-fearing, whilst the people of excellence are treated with grace and eminence.

‘As for the middle of the month, forgiveness dominates it. During it, those who fast are forgiven, even if they are guiltily of committing some minor sins – for even that shall not bar them from being forgiven. In this respect, Allāh, exalted is He, said: “Truly your Lord is forgiving to people despite their evil-doing.” [13:6]

‘As for the latter part of the month, those whose evil deeds and major sins would have necessitated residing in the Hellfire, are freed and liberated.’
2

But what about the sinners who continue to lead wayward lives and neglect their duties to Allāh, even in the blessed month of Ramadān? Well even they needn’t despair! Ibn Rajab went on to say:

‘Just because Allāh’s mercy has been specified for the doers of excellence, it doesn’t mean sinners should despair of receiving it. Just because forgiveness is ordained for the God-fearing, those who wrong themselves [by sinning] are not veiled from it … “Say: ‘O my servants who have transgressed against their own souls! Do not despair of Allāh’s mercy! For Allāh forgives all sins.’” [39:53] So, O sinner – and we are all sinners – let not your wrong deeds make you despair of Allāh’s mercy. How many like you have been liberated from the Fire during these days. So entertain a good opinion of your Protecting Lord and turn in repentance to Him. For no one is damned with Allāh, save he who damns himself.’3

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1 - Al-Tirmidhī, no.682; al-Hākim, al-Mustadrak, no.1532, where he said: ‘The hadith is sahih as per the conditions of Al-Bukhārī and Muslim.’

2 - Latā’if al-Mā‘arif (Riyādh: Dār Ibn Khuzaymah, 2007), 479

3- ibid., 481.

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