In most cases, we know that we should strive to balance equally between the two. Especially in light of Laylatul-Qadr, the Prophet (saws) beautifully incorporated both when asked by ‘Aisha (ra), what to say on this blessed night:

قولي: اللَّهُمَّ إِنَّكَ عَفُوٌّ تُحِبُّ الْعَفْوَ فَاعْفُ عَنِّي

“Say, O Allah, You are One who forgives and You love to forgive, so forgive me” (Al-Tirmidhi).

Here we see the advice to seek Allah’s forgiveness [FEAR] with referring to Allah as the Oft-forgiving and loving to forgive [HOPE].

Finally, some small nuances to bear in mind in light of the above not specific to Ramadan, taken from Imam al-Ghazali’s al-Arba’īn and others:

– One who inclines to sin (or some said, in their youth), then his fear of Allah, should be slightly more than hope.

– One who is generally obedient to Allah, then fear and hope should be balanced.

– One who is old in age or close to death, then his hope should be more than fear.

Everyone is different and will approach the nights differently – there is no doubt that these are the best of nights and Allah’s mercy is unlimited for his slaves, but the more our hearts feel the need for Allah and yearn for his forgiveness, the more likely it will be sincere and dependent upon him.

یَوۡمَ لَا یَنفَعُ مَالࣱ وَلَا بَنُونَ ۝٨٨ إِلَّا مَنۡ أَتَى ٱللَّهَ بِقَلۡبࣲ سَلِیمࣲ ۝٨٩

“The Day when there will not benefit [anyone] wealth or children, except one who comes to Allah with a sound heart”. (Shu’ara: 88)