This is part of the series presented in Ramadan 2018: "The Foremost Way of Seeking Forgiveness: Sayyid al Istighfar Explained, by Shaykh Muhammad Abu Bakr Ba-Dhib.
In this segment, the Shaykh starts breaking down the different parts of the formula of seeking forgiveness.
The supplication begins with affirming God's divinity, His oneness, His lordship, and our complete need and slavehood to Him. It also offers proof and knowledge of our understanding of God. For example, when we acknowledge that Allah has created us, this carries the meaning that we believe that Allah is All-Powerful, because a Creator necessarily needs to be all-Powerful. Furthermore, to believe that we are Allah's servants, is to bring yourself into the followers of the Prophet Muhammad, Allah bless him and give his peace.
The "covenant" described in the supplication, is the one mentioned in this verse:
And when your Lord took from the children of Adam their descendants and made them testify. "Am I not your Lord?" They said, "Yes, we have testified." - lest you should say on the day of Resurrection, "Indeed, we were unaware." (7:172)
The ability that is referred to, is the trait of free will that humans have. It is the trait of free will that allows us to believe in Allah, which will be rewarded in the next life, or punishment if we deny it.
Similarity, acknowledging that we are created, indicates that we believe that we will die one day. This causes us to wonder what comes after death, and to prepare for it.
About the Series
In this five-part series, Shaykh Muhammad Abu Bakr Ba-Dhib covers a short treatise on explaining the foremost way of seeking forgiveness as has come to us from Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him. The work, Tiryaq al Qulub wa al Absar fi Bayan al Ulum allati Tadamanha Sayyid alIstighfar (The Healing of Hearts and Eyesight in Exposition of the Knowledges Contained in The Foremost Way of Seeking Forgiveness) is by Imam Ahmed bin Zain al-Habshi (d. 1145 AH).
Text, transliteration and translation of Sayyid al Istighfar can be found below.
اللَّهُمَّ أَنْتَ رَبِّي لا إِلَهَ إِلا أَنْتَ خَلَقْتَنِي وَأَنَا عَبْدُكَ وَأَنَا عَلَى عَهْدِكَ وَوَعْدِكَ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُ أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ شَرِّ مَا صَنَعْتُ أَبُوءُ لَكَ بِنِعْمَتِكَ عَلَيَّ وَأَبُوءُ لَكَ بِذَنْبِي فَاغْفِرْ لِي فَإِنَّهُ لا يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ إِلا أَنْتَ
Allahumma anta Rabbi la ilaha illa anta khalaqtani wa ana ʿabduka, wa ana ʿala ʿahdika wa waʿdika ma astataʿtu, aʿudhu bika min sharri ma sanaʿtu, abu’u laka bi niʿmatika ‘alayya, wa abu’u laka bi dhanbi faghfir li fa’innahu la yaghfiru 'dh-dhunuba illa anta.
O Allah, you are my Lord. There is no god but You. You created me and I am Your servant. I am upon Your covenant and promise to the best of my ability. I seek refuge in You from any evil I have wrought. I confess to You Your blessings upon me and I confess to You my sins. So forgive me, for no one forgives sins but You.
Resources for Seekers