Repentance is ultimately the goal that we all seek. All sane people are conscious of their numerous sins, and those who believe in Allah and His Messenger, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam (may Allah exalt his mention), recognise that they will be held accountable for their sins, and therefore desire to be free of the evil consequences of their misdeeds. Islam offers man the ideal way by which he may be released from the burden of his sins.
The word Tawbah (repentance) in Arabic literally means ‘to return’. In an Islamic context, it refers to the act of leaving what Allah has prohibited and returning to what He, Almighty, has commanded.
The subject of repentance is one that concerns all people who believe in Allah, and is vital for the Muslims to understand because our salvation in the Hereafter depends on our repentance to Allah, as Allah commands (what means): “…And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, that you might succeed.” [Qur’an 24:31]
Allah also Says (what means): “…Indeed, Allah loves those who are constantly repentant and loves those who purify themselves.” [Qur’an 2:222]
One may have a real intention to repent, but there may be some obstacles to the path of repentance. If this is the case, then he needs to act without hesitation and remove those obstacles to clear the way to a happy soul.
The postponement of repentance may be the result of either a deliberate desire to prolong the illicit pleasure derived from the sin, or doubt on the part of an ignorant sinner whether or not Allah would accept his repentance.
However, we have to be certain that Allah will guide us to success and safeguard us against our malice. We also must be confident that Allah forgives our sins and that He, and only He, can judge us. It is only His Judgment that is worthy of our worry and anxiety. So we should fear Him only because sincere repentance removes all sins and disobedience.
The door of repentance is always open, until...
The door to repentance is always open and will not be closed in the face of any repentant person, regardless of his sins. Expect this gate to have two locks: death and the approach of the Day of Judgment. The first was mentioned in the Hadith: “Allah accepts a slave’s repentance unless his death approaches.” [At-Tirmithi]
The other was mentioned in the Hadith: “Whosoever turns to Allah in repentance before the sun rises in the West, Allah will forgive him.” [Ahmad]
Allah Says in the Qur’an what means: “But repentance is not [accepted] of those who [continue to] do evil deeds up until, when death comes to one of them, he says: ‘Indeed, I have repented now,’ or of those who die while they are disbelievers...” [Qur’an 4:18]
O heedless soul! Hasten to repent before the knock of death sounds and the time of repentance runs out. Do not get caught dying in a state of disobedience to your Most Merciful Lord. Satan gives you long hope and empty promises; he delays your repentance until your heart becomes as callous as a rock by being adamant in sin and disobedience, and you would therefore meet your Lord in a wretched state. If the door of repentance is closed to you, it will never open to you again.
What keeps us from repenting?
1. Taking sins lightly:
The problem with many of us today is that we do not fear Allah, which means that we do not think seriously about disobeying Him and therefore fall into sin, without giving any real thought to it. Hence, we should think about the statement which Ibn Mas’ood, may Allah be pleased with him, made: “A believer sees his sins as if he were sitting under a mountain which he is afraid may collapse on him, whereas the wicked person considers his sins as flies passing over his nose which he just drives away like this (and he waved his hand across his face to illustrate this).” [Al-Bukhari]
The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “Take caution against minor sins, because such sins are like a group of people who temporarily settled in the middle of a valley. Then, they decided to make a fire, so each one of them brought a stick until they were able to make it, so they baked their bread. Thus, minor sins (when they accumulate) may destroy the one who commits them.” [Ahmad]
2. “What is the point? I will only end up doing it again”
Such an approach is the result of a misunderstanding. Indeed, one of the conditions of repentance is having a real intention not to return to the same sin. This, however, does not mean that Satan will never tempt you to commit the same sin again. Thus, if you have failed yourself, and you returned to the same sin, it does not mean that your first repentance was a lie. You should hasten to make additional repentance, with a real intention not to return to this sin, keeping in mind that Allah’s mercy extends over everything.
3. “Allah is forgiving, so let me sin”
When reminded of repentance and the hideousness of disobedience, some people would respond that Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. An atheist once said in sarcasm: “You should commit as many sins as you can because you are heading towards the Lord who is Most-Generous.” There is no doubt that such a view is complete ignorance of the religion of Allah, because Allah’s mercy is close to the righteous and not to the wrongdoers.
4. “I am destined to be a sinner”
Some people may choose to blame Al-Qadr (fate) for their sins. For example, if you ask any of them, “Why do you not perform the Prayers? Why do you not fast? Why do you drink or smoke? Why do you not repent from your disobedience?” They would respond by saying: “This is Allah’s Qadr” or: “I am doomed to do this.”
This is definitely a grave misconception and an evasion of the truth. Believing in Al-Qadr does not mean that one is destined to commit sins. It is true that Allah has written all human beings’ deeds, good or bad, and only He knows the unseen, but the believer is not forced to perform a good deed, nor is he forced to commit any disobedience. Instead, he has been granted the ability to reflect, reason and then make a decision freely. Al-Qadr is only responsible for the calamities and blessings that an individual may confront because he can do nothing about them. For example, if a couple were to marry and have three children, then this is their Qadr. It is impermissible to fault Al-Qadr for our sins and disobedience because doing so is akin to being in confrontation and showing dissatisfaction with Allah.
Repentance wipes out all sins, major and minor:
Being confused, some people may think that repentance is only required for major sins. It should be noted that repentance from all sins is obligatory.
Even the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, who was sinless, asked Allah to forgive him on a daily basis. The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, is reported to have said: “O people! Make repentance to Allah. I swear by Allah that I make repentance to Him more than seventy times every day.” [Al-Bukhari]
Therefore, we all need to fear Allah, ask His forgiveness and be aware that there is no sin that is minor with persistence, and no major sin with seeking Allah’s forgiveness (i.e. if the minor sin is repeated many times it becomes a major one.) Thus, sincere repentance wipes out all committed sins.
Someone might say: “I want to repent but my sins are too many.” But Allah Says what means: “Say: ‘O my slaves who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.” [Qur’an 39:53]
Therefore, we should never lose hope or stop asking for Allah’s forgiveness. Its importance is shown to us in the Hadith in which the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “O people! Turn to Allah in repentance and seek His forgiveness, for I make repentance to Him a hundred times every day.” [Muslim]
Repentance is such a great act of worship that doing it can erase all our sins altogether, as the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “One who repents from sin is like one without sin.” [Ibn Maajah]
Article source: http://www.islamweb.net/emainpage/
The crucial role of heart
Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, informed us in a very famous narration, commonly quoted with reference to lawful and unlawful, about the important role of the heart.
He, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “Both lawful and unlawful matters are evident but in between them there are doubtful (suspicious) things and many people have no knowledge about them. So whoever saves himself from these suspicious matters (by staying away from them) saves his religion and his honour. And whoever indulges in these suspicious matters (will eventually) indulge in what is forbidden. This is like (the example of) a shepherd who grazes (his animals) near the Hima (private pasture) of someone else and at any moment he is liable to get in it. (O people!) Beware! Every king has a Hima and the Hima of Allah on the earth is His illegal (forbidden) matters. Beware! There is a piece of flesh in the body, if it is reformed, the whole body becomes good, but if it gets spoilt the whole body gets spoilt; indeed it is the heart.” [Al-Bukhari]
He, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said that after explaining that the lawful matters are clear and that the forbidden ones are clear and that between them are obscure areas, not known to many people. However, what protects a person from the forbidden matters and ensures that he remains in the lawful ones is knowledge; but beyond knowledge, it is the state of the heart. If the heart is good, then it makes use of the knowledge and it avoids what is prohibited. If the heart is corrupted, then the knowledge is of no benefit to it and it will indulge in what is prohibited.
The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, during the last (and only) pilgrimage, informed his Companions, may Allah be pleased with them, and it was an instruction to the entire Muslim nation to come, that people are not favoured based on their race or colour, but rather based on piety and on how much they are Allah fearful. After that, he, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, clarified that the place of piety is in one’s heart.”
In these statements and other similar statements, we find stress being placed on the heart - that the heart is the part of the body, which Allah has favoured over all other parts. It is the place of faith, and had there been in the body another part that was nearer to Allah, piety would have been placed there, because faith is the most valuable thing that a human possesses. It (faith) is the determination ultimately of those who have belief in Allah - those who have accepted the message and who have chosen Paradise over Hell. It is the distinction of those who have belief and those who have disbelief.
The value of faith is greater than the value of all the things of this world. This is why Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said that for Allah to guide by your hands a single person to Islam is worth more than anything in this world. For you to help someone to find faith is worth more than any of the things in this world. [Al-Bukhari]
The heart is the place in which the correctness of deeds is judged. The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “Deeds are judged according to the intention.” The place of the intention is not on the lips. It is in the heart.
‘Umar Ibn al-Khattaab, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Messenger of Allah , sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “The reward of deeds depends upon the intention and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended…” [Al-Bukhari]
Our deeds - what we do externally - are judged ultimately by the states of our hearts. Good deeds are in reference to those that we perceive to be a part and parcel of righteousness. Allah will inspect the hearts to determine whether they are truly acts of righteousness.
The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, informed us that the first three people who would be cast into the Hell Fire are those who were involved in what everybody considers great acts of righteousness. They are the scholar who taught knowledge; the wealthy person who gave from his wealth in charity and the martyr who gave his life fighting in the path of Allah .
The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, in an authentic narration, said that some people from among these types of people would be among the first groups of people thrown into Hell because the scholar, when he taught the knowledge that Allah gave him, did not do so for the sake of Allah. He taught so that people would praise him, saying what a great scholar he was and how knowledgeable he was. Allah will Say to him: “You received your praise, what you sought in that world. But there will be nothing for you in the Next.” So he will be drawn off on his face and thrown into Hell.
Similarly, the benefactor, who was generous with his wealth. He gave and people praised his generosity, but Allah will Say: “You did it for the praise and you were praised. You did it for people to appreciate you.” So that individual will be drawn off on his face and thrown into Hell. [Muslim]
The martyr - the one whom we all assumed had died in the Path of Allah. We would think that his place in Paradise is guaranteed. But Allah will Say: “You fought so people would say, ‘How brave this one is! How strong and courageous he was!’” People said it; they praised you, so he will be drawn off on his face and thrown into Hell.’
All is telling us that ultimately, even the highest of deeds can be of no avail if the hearts are sick; if the hearts are corrupt. So the place of the heart should, in our minds, occupy great attention. We have to spend much of our time observing, being aware of the state of our heart.
So there is no other faculty in the human body and existence that a believer should be more concerned about. We have to make sure that this faculty is functioning as Allah wishes it to function. We should be greatly concerned about it. The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, often used to supplicate, beginning with: “I seek refuge in You, O Allah , from knowledge that does not benefit, and from a heart which does not fear.” [At-Tirmithi, Abu Daawood, An-Nasaa’i and Ibn Maajah]
Article source: http://www.islamweb.net/emainpage/
The hardest form of patience
There are two factors that influence the degree of difficulty in patience. First, is the degree of motivation when man wants to do something and secondly, how convenient is the intended action for man. If both factors exist, patience reaches its utmost difficulty and vice versa. While if on of the two factors disappears, it becomes difficult on one hand and considerably convenient on the other.
Thus, if a man has no motive to kill, steal, drink wine, or commit atrocities, and these actions are inconvenient for him, then he is able to ward them off easily. Whereas for a man whose desires are powerful and finds it convenient to act accordingly, then he is hardly able to show constant perseverance. Hence, the ruler who abstains from injustice, the young man from indecency and the rich from worldly pleasures, command the highest status before Allah.[*]
These categories rightly deserve Allah’s protection on the Day of Resurrection so long as they bear hardships patiently. Therefore, the adulterous old man, the untruthful ruler and the haughty poor are severely punished because it would be more convenient for them to overcome such unlawful desires. Consequently, giving up patience in such situations sheds light on their insolence and rebellion against Allah.
It requires constant perseverance to keep away from sins of the tongue and unchastity because their motives are powerful and easily accessible. Unfortunately, sins of the tongue provide delight for man, such as slander, telling lies, dispute, direct or indirect self-complacency, reporting people’s utterances, defaming enemies and praising his votaries. It is narrated on the authority of Mu’adh Ibn Jabal, radiallahu ‘anhu, that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said,
“Keep control over your tongue.” Muadh wondered, “Are we held accountable for our utterances?” The Messenger said, “People are thrown down on their noses in the Hellfire only by the harvest of their tongues.”
This is true especially when offences of the tongue turn into a habit, thus becoming almost impossible to overcome.
You may find a man who prays at night, fast during the daytime and refrain from resting on a silky pillow even for a single moment, but he likes to indulge in disparaging remarks about others. He may even cast aspersions about the righteous people who are sincere to Allah and their religion, without knowing exactly what he is speaking about.
Therefore, there are many who abstain from the slightest unlawful thing, even a drop of wine, but they cannot avoid adultery. ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar, radiallaahu ‘anhumaa, was asked about the blood of a mosquito. He said: “Behold, these men ask me about the blood of a mosquito while they killed the son of the Prophet’s daughter!”
Hardship in patience, in respect of sins and their varieties, differs according to the strength and weakness of what motivates them respectively.
Imam ‘Ali, radiallahu ‘anhu, said: “Patience is of three categories, namely:
a) to bear adversity with perseverance
b) to perform obedience with constancy, and
c) to ward off rebellion patiently.”
A man who endures an adversity calmly until Allah gives him relief, will receive 300 good deeds as his reward. A man who performs acts of obedience as Divinely prescribed receives 600, while he who keeps away from rebellion receives 900.
Maimun Ibn Mahran, radiallau ‘anhu, said: “Patience is of two types, namely:
a) to bear adversity calmly, which is commendable and
b) to ward off disobedience is much better.”
[Excerpted from The Way to Patience and Gratitude (Uddat as-Sabirin wa Dhakirat ash-Shakirin) By Imam Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah (rahimahullah)]
[*] On the authority of Abu Hurairah, the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “Seven are those whom Allah will place under His protection on a Day when there will be no protection but His, namely: “The just ruler; the young man who is brought up in worship of His Lord; a man whose heart is constantly attached to mosques; two men who love one another for Allah’s sake, he alone brings them together and separates them; a man who, summoned by a beautiful woman, says: ‘I fear Allah’; a man who gives charity so much secretly that his left hand does not know not what his right hand has given, and a man who, remembering Allah in seclusion, and then sheds tears.”