Every Ramadan social media is flooded with request for forgiveness. We ask others to forgive us if we have done something wrong knowingly and unknowingly. Now the unknowingly part I get. Sometimes we do things that hurt others and we are unaware. In these cases we, the “wrongdoer”, aren’t given a chance to apologize or correct the mistake because we simply are not aware we have done something wrong. It’s completely understandable to cover that base and seek forgiveness because it’s unknown.
Now for the knowingly part, why can’t we apologize to the people we have wronged? We know when we backbite or slander each other. We know if we have divorced and left children behind and refuse to take care of them. We know if we cut family ties, i.e. preventing a father from seeing his children. We know know if we have fought with a Muslim. We know when we lie on someone to make ourselves look good. We know if we run a business and hurt the communities by selling alcohol and synthetic drugs. We know when we are profiting from cheap unfinished products. We know if we have instigated an issue and caused problems for our sister. We know! We know! We know!
In these instances we are aware of the wrong, so why wait until Ramadhan (or traveling) to toss out the request for forgiveness? It seems it’s become more of a ritual to ask in this manner. It’s become expected that before Ramadan and during Hajj season there is an influx of such request. I’m sorry but I’m truly giving the side eye to the “knowingly” part. Let’s make this year we accept the wrong we do to others and give our Muslim brothers and sisters their rights. Apologies are much more sincere when we accept what we’ve done and make necessary changes.
Here are some alternative solutions to seeking forgiveness for the knowingly examples of wrongs mentioned above:
1. If we backbite/slander a Muslim, go to the person and apologize. If you don’t have the guts to do that then speak good of them in the same company in which you tarnished their name. If you can’t do that, then get them a gift. If can’t do that then stay quiet.
2. If you have a child you do not take care of then change your life. Get a job. Support your children. There are no excuses for not taking care of your children. Asking for forgiveness only works when you stop doing the wrong that you are apologizing for. Asking for forgiveness yearly as your child suffers seems a bit fake.
3. Cutting family ties specifically between children and their fathers. Sometimes marriages don’t last but that doesn’t mean the children must suffer. Honestly, if there wasn’t abuse involved then there really isn’t any good reason to keep a child away from their father. Reconnect the child with their parents. Allow them to figure out how they feel on their own.
4. Fighting with Muslims. Does this really need an explanation??? We know when there is either a verbal or physical altercation but rarely offer an apology. In fact, the dispute doesn’t end there. Too many times we quarrel and the first thing we do is call a friend and discuss what “just went down” ultimately inviting others to backbite. We could handle the issue in a more mature manner. Accept that anger has momentarily taken over and follow the sunnah when it comes to removing the anger.
5. Telling lies on others to make ourselves look good. All I can suggest is stay calm and speak the truth. May Allah protect us all from hypocrisy and telling lies. Ameen
6. Can this be the year the Muslims stop selling alcohol and synthetic drugs? Aside from the clear evidence from the Quran telling us its wrong, statistics prove drunk driving is the cause many deadly accidents. Also there are many videos online showing reactions to the harmful synthetic marijuana K2. Now, I’m not saying selling real marijuana is any better but I mention the K2 because it is legally sold in many convenient stores along with alcohol. This is knowingly harming others. There isn’t any good that can come from either of these substances.
7. Profiting from cheap products. If I purchase a pricey abaya from a Muslim business there is no reason I should have to literally retrace every single stitch because it’s falling apart. That shouldn’t happen after the first wear. On top of that having a “no return” policy. Come on! This is not right and if we sell any type of product then we should charge according to the quality. High quality should be high priced. Enough said.
8. Instigating problems between Muslims. This goes along with backbiting but I’ll just say this, we should not be going back and forth with the “he said she said”. Such a mentality should have ended in grade school. Let’s solve our issues with each other and leave it at that. Let Islam make adults mature again. Ya Allah, Ameen!
I know we all make mistakes. This is what makes us human. All I am trying to get across is that we refrain from being of those who act out certain rituals depending on the times of year. Let’s try to be better people for the sake of being good and pleasing our Creator. We all do things that unknowingly hurt others and for that I ask forgiveness for as well. As for the pain we knowingly cause let’s try to correct those faults instead of throwing yearly requests that feel a little phony. Especially if we don’t change our ways. May Allah make us all more sincere and courageous…Ameen