I’m writing to you to ask about Labaran, the Indonesian custom of asking one’s family and friends for forgiveness at the start of Ramadan.
My wife is Indonesian, and she and her friends exchange such messages, along with pictures of flowers, some of them quite elaborate. Today she received a WhatsApp from a friend containing a forwarded message from a Dr. Sufyan Baswedan, with a degree in Hadeeth from a university in Madina, declaring the practice to be a “dosa” – big sin – in that they are spreading false, or weak (daif) Hadeeth, and those who do this will go to ‘neraka/jahenna‘
What have the ulama said about the widespread custom of the people in seeking forgiveness from family and friends as a feature of Ramadan practice? The one giving the fatwa specifically objected to tying the practice to Ramadan, saying it is good to seek such forgiveness at any time.
The foundation of seeking forgiveness before Ramadan has so many proofs from so many sides that to try and stop it is a sign of the times, a sign of crass ignorance predicted by the Prophet (saws). Everyone can read in the Qur’an: “Ramadan is the month in which the Qur’an was sent down as a guidance for people” and in the Hadith: “Ramadan is the month of Allah,” so we prepare ourselves for Allah’s time and the time of His Qur’an, first and foremost by asking His forgiveness.
One explicit proof to that effect is the night of mid-Sha`ban, at which time, the Prophet (saws) said, Allah (swt) forgives everyone, except a mushrik or one who insists on enmity (i.e. refuses to forgive). This is narrated from almost ten Companions so there cannot be any doubt about it. Hence anyone that seeks forgiveness from others and forgives others from that time until Ramadan enters into the blessing of that amnesty.
One of the ways to show mutual forgiveness is to perform acts that foster mutual love such as giving salam, giving gifts, visiting one another etc., all of which acts have separate hadiths emphasizing them. All of that is the reason why Ibn Rajab, in his section on the second half of Sha`ban in his book Lata’if al-ma`arif, said:
“One of the Salaf said: ‘The best of deeds are clear consciences (salamat al-sudur), openhanded demeanors (sakhawat al-nufus), and transparency towards all Muslims (wal-nasiha lil-umma).'”
I have attached the hadith in question, as documented by Albani the grandmufti of Wahhabis in hadith, so that they cannot reject it. Pages from Albani’s Silsila Sahiha Vol 3
Another grandmufti of Wahhabis was specifically asked if asking forgiveness before Ramadan was permissible and he replied yes with several proofs.
Again: we cite such material, not because we need their reasoning or lack stronger proofs but only because it shows how confused they are, one time objecting and another time supporting and because it silences their pip-squeaks who no sooner emerging from their eggshells issue takfir of Muslims.
Note also that this particular ignoramus contradicted himself by saying it is good to seek forgiveness at all times but not specifically in Ramadan. It is as if he wants people to do less `ibada in Ramadan, and this is exactly in line with their perpetual satanic whisperings against dhikr, `ibada, salawat, tarawih, mawlid etc.
Hajj Gibril Haddad