Hadith: O Allah, distance me from my sins as You have distanced the east from the west. O Allah, purify me from my sins as a white garment is purified from dirt. O Allah, wash out my sins with water, snow, and hail
عن أبي هريرة -رضي الله عنه- قال: كان رسول الله -صلى الله عليه وسلم- إذا كَبَّر في الصلاة، سَكَت هُنَيَّة قبل أن يقرأ، فقلت: يا رسول الله بِأبي أنت وأمِّي أَرَأَيْتَ سُكُوتَكَ بين التَّكبير والقِراءة، ما تقول؟ قال "أقول: اللّهُم بَاعِد بَيْنِي وبَيْنَ خَطاياي كما بَاعَدْت بين المَشْرِق والمِغرب، اللَّهم نَقِّنِيَ من خطاياي كما يُنَقَّى الثوب الأبيض من الدَّنَس، اللَّهم اغْسِلْنِي من خَطَاياي بالثَّلج والماء والبَرد". [صحيح.] - [رواه مسلم.] المزيــد ...
Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported: Whenever the Messenger of Allah (may Allah's peace and blessings be upon him) said: "Allah is the Greatest" to start the prayer, he would remain silent before reciting. I said: "O Messenger of Allah, may my father and mother be ransomed for you! I notice that you remain silent between the Takbīr (saying 'Allah is the Greatest') and the recitation. What do you say (in between them)?" He said: "I say: ‘O Allah, distance me from my sins as You have distanced the east from the west. O Allah, purify me from my sins as a white garment is purified from dirt. O Allah, wash out my sins with water, snow, and hail.'" [Sahih/Authentic] - [Muslim]
The meaning of the Hadīth: "Whenever the Messenger of Allah (may Allah's peace and blessings be upon him) said 'Allah is the Greatest' to start the prayer," meaning: when the Prophet (may Allah's peace and blessings be upon him) would say the Takbīr of Ihrām, a pillar of the prayer without which it is not valid. He would remain silent before reciting, meaning: he would take a moment of silence before reading Sūrat al-Fātihah.
"I said: 'O Messenger of Allah, may my father and mother be ransomed for you!" Meaning: I sacrifice my mother and father for you, not to mention anyone other than them.
"I noticed that you remain silent between saying 'Allah is the Greatest' and the recitation. What do you say?" Meaning: tell me what you say between opening the prayer with the Takbīr of Ihrām and the recitation.
"he said: 'I say:'" Meaning: I say the opening invocation to begin the prayer, which is: "O Allah, distance me from my sins as You have distanced the east from the west." Meaning: the Prophet (may Allah's peace and blessings be upon him) asked his Lord to distance him from his sins as He distanced the east from the west, and the meaning of this distancing is either to erase the previous sins and not blame him for them or to prevent him from falling into future sins and grant him infallibility against them. The expression of distancing the east from the west is the most extreme exaggerated form that people can use. In fact, when people want to use an exaggerated expression for two distant things, they liken them to the heavens and the earth or the east and the west.
"O Allah, purify me from my sins as a white garment is purified from dirt." Meaning: remove my sins from me, erase them from me like cleansing and purifying returns a white garment to being white after having been soiled with dirt. A white garment was mentioned especially because filth is more apparent on it than on any other color.
"O Allah, wash out my sins with water, snow, and hail" because sins bring heat and burning to the heart, and they are a cause for the heat of punishment. Therefore, it is suitable that they be washed out with what will cool them and extinguish their heat: water, snow, and hail.
This invocation is of the utmost suitability for this noble station: engaging in private conversation (with Allah), because in prayer, a person entreats Allah, the Almighty, to erase his sins and distance him from them so far that he will never meet them, just as the east and west never meet; and that He remove his sins and cleanse him from them, just as He removes filth from a white garment upon which the traces of cleaning appear; and that He cleanse him from his sins and cool their heat and flames with these cold purifiers: water, snow, and hail. And these parables are of the utmost congruence.
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