Benefits of Seeking Forgiveness (Istighfaar)
It is narrated about the famous saint Al-Hasan Al-Basri (may Allah have mercy upon him) that once a person came to him, complaining about famine and seeking remedy. He therefore advised him: ‘Seek forgiveness from Allah’.
Thereafter, another person came seeking remedy for his poverty. Al-Hasan advised this person also: ‘Seek forgiveness from Allah’.
A third person came to him and said: ‘Please pray to Allah that He may grant me a son’. Al-Hasan replied: ‘Seek forgiveness from Allah’.
Finally, a fourth person came him, complaining about the drought of his orchards, and sought remedies. Al-Hasan advised him also: ‘Seek forgiveness from Allah’.
Witnessing the above incidents, one his companions said to him: ‘Different people came to you complaining about their different kinds of problems and seeking different remedies. However, you provided all of them with the same remedy!’
Al-Hasan replied: ‘I didn’t say that from my own accord; rather, I deduced that from the Book of Allah – quoting His Nabi Nuh (alaihis-salam) – that he said to his people:
“Pray to your Lord for your forgiveness, - Indeed He is Very-Forgiving, - and He will cause the heavens to rain upon you in abundance, and will help you with riches and sons, and will cause gardens to grow for you, and cause rivers to flow for you.” [Surah Nuh: 10-12]
The Best Istighfaar:
Shaddad bin Aus (radhiyallahu anh) narrated that the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “The most superior way of seeking forgiveness from Allah is to say:
اَللّٰهُمَّ اَنْتَ رَبِّيْ، لَآ اِلٰهَ اِلَّآ اَنْتَ، خَلَقْتَنِيْ وَاَنَا عَبْدُكَ، وَاَنَا عَلٰى عَهْدِكَ وَوَعْدِكَ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُ، اَعُوْذُ بِكَ مِنْ شَرِّ مَا صَنَعْتُ، اَبُوْءُ لَكَ بِنِعْمَتِكَ عَلَيَّ، وَاَبُوْءُ بِذَنْبِيْ؛ فَاغْفِرْ لِيْ؛ فَاِنَّهٗ لاَ يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوْبَ اِلَّآ أَنْتَ
“If someone recites it during the day having firm belief in it, and dies on the same day before the evening, he will be from the people of Paradise. And if somebody recites it at night having firm belief in it, and dies before the morning, he will be from the people of Paradise.” [Sahih Bukhari: 6306]
The above Du’a (supplication) has been narrated with a slight change in other narrations – in Sunan An-Nasai, in another place of Sahih Bukhari, and in Musnad Imam Ahmad.
However, this does not cause any significant change in the meaning. Therefore, learning and reciting any of them should be fine.
Only Allah knows best.