When we hear the word repentance we associate it with “sin”. We believe that repentance is mandatory only for he who is the sinner. However, when we study the Seerah we see that our beloved Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam used to seek forgiveness of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala 70 to 100 times in a day. He was the Prophet of Allah and free from sins, yet it was his daily routine to repent. We learn from his Sunnah that as soon one does the tasleem in the prayer he should say Astaghfirullah thrice. Why is that, we were not engaged in a sin; we were offering the Salah? It is because none of us can claim that our worship is error-free. Sometimes our intention is not right; we do a righteous act for the praises of others. Sometimes we go daydreaming while standing on the prayer mat. Sometimes we make unintentional errors. The istighfar at the end acts as a cleanser for those errors.
Through these examples we learn that repentance is not restricted to the sinners only. All of us need it. The ability to perform a righteous act does not guarantee its acceptance. We learn this from the Seerah of the prophets. When Prophet Ibraheem and Isma’eel ‘alayhim salaam were raising the foundations of Ka’abah they were saying, “O Allah! Accept this from us.” They were “chosen” by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to build His House, yet they feared the acceptance of their work. After fasting for a month, the Muslims greet each other on the ‘Eid day with a similar du’a. They ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to accept their fasting and the fasting and good deeds of others as well.
Knowing that nothing guarantees acceptance should keep us humble. We should also not become content with our good deeds assuming that we have done enough. Rather, we should be greedy to accumulate more and more good deeds. For example, after offering the Salah do not say: Alhumdulillah I have offered the prayer. Rather worry about its acceptance. What kind of Salah did I offer? Was it at the level of excellence?
In the Qur’an, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says: “They have not appraised Allah with true appraisal,” [al-Hajj 22: 74, az-Zumar 39: 67]. Had we recognized who our Lord is and His status, we would not have become complacent with our deeds. The Companions radhiAllahu ‘anhum we learn always feared their reckoning. They exhausted themselves in the Cause of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala through their lives, their wealth and in worship yet acknowledged they have not done enough. They are the one about whom the Qur’an says: Allah is pleased with them yet this testimony of the Qur’an did not allow them to become arrogant or negligent about their deeds. All of them were eager to do more and more in the way of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, and in the most excellent manner.
Keeping this in mind let us study this short book published by Al-Huda International.
All praise is for Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and He is sufficient. Peace and blessings are for His chosen one Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
Certainly seeking forgiveness in the Court of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is a light shining amid the intense darkness of disobedience. It is such a light that is shining on the edges of the sky enticing mankind to turn to their Lord and end their disobedience.
Man slips and commits a sin making it a stepping stone for falling into other evils. He gets so indulged in the sin that even if he is searching for the way out he is unable to find it. He keeps sinking further and further. It is like he is stuck in a whirlpool and cannot escape. Therefore, it is important that we keep repenting. Tawbah is the key to escape the consequences of sins.
Tawbah has been calling the disobedient and negligent since eternity: Come to your Lord. Turn to your Lord in attention for his Rahmah [mercy] is wide, His Bounty is great and Allah’s joy for the repentant is limitless.
It has been seen when someone is advised to do Tawbah, they get offended. They ask, “Are you calling me a sinner?” This is not something to get defensive about. As cited above, the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam – the best of creation used to seek repentance as well. If the best of the creation did not find Tawbah below his status then who are we to take an offense to it?
In the above passage, we read that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is overjoyed when His slaves turn to Him in repentance. It is because being our Creator He knows that we will slip and err. But He also knows that unlike Satan we are not to live in hopelessness. We can return to Him in repentance and submission acknowledging our error. Remember that Satan blamed Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala for his sin. He said: You misguided me. This is the trait of someone who does not wish to recognize and rectify his mistake; he finds someone to pin the blame on. A repentant, on the other hand, acknowledges his error and asks Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to forgive him. He has hope in Allah’s mercy and forgiveness and knows that He has a Lord who is At-Tawwab – the One who repeatedly forgives His servants’ errors.
Not only that but He is extremely patient with servants and does not punish them right away. He keeps waiting and giving us chances and only punishes us when we have become stubborn in our wrongdoings.
Next time someone advises you to do Tawbah do not be offended. It is a ray of hope in the darkness of our sins.
In the Qur’an, we read we read:
“And it is He who accepts repentance from His servants and pardons misdeeds, and He knows what you do.” [ash-Shu’ara 42: 25]
So, O Disobedient! Repent in the Court of your Lord and cry over your sins.
And O Negligent! Repent for your negligence in the Court of Allah and ask Him for clemency.
And O Obedient! Repent in the Court of your Lord for your arrogance over your deeds and your negligence of your faults.
“And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed.” [an-Nur 24: 31]
We learn that Tawbah is for everyone. The disobedient who recognizes his sins should turn to His Lord in sincerity and cry over his wrongdoings. The negligent should seek forgiveness for his ghaflah [negligence]. Allah ta’ala knows the capabilities that we have; when we are underperforming it should be a wakeup call for us. We need to strive like the Companions and reach for the excellence level. The obedient one should protect his heart and not let arrogance seep in. Arrogance is a Satanic trait and one of the diseases of the heart. The scholars teach that one should always consider others better than oneself and never blow his own horn. Instead of pointing fingers at others we should look at our own shortcomings.
Sometimes we are engaged in sins that we do not even know are sins. For example, many innovations that have crept into our religion some of which can lead one to committing Shirk [associating partners with Allah] – one of the major sins for which no one can be forgiven unless they seek forgiveness unlike other sins. When it is pointed out that it is a Biddah, the devout followers refute the advice by saying, “What harm is there in praying a little more?”
Similarly, we have borrowed traditions from other cultures. Our weddings and funerals have customs that cannot be proven from the Sunnah. Yet we practice them as part of our religion. Sometimes, it is not the innovations or borrowed customs but our speech is vulgar. We are not conscious of what comes out of our mouth, how we treat others, our mutual contracts and so on. As one gains knowledge in Deen he realizes his mistakes. Therefore, a devout worshiper should not become complacent with his present life but reflect on his past life and have remorse for his intentional and unintentional errors. Reflecting on our own weaknesses and mistakes will keep us humble.
To summarize all of us should be engaged in Tawbah, doing more good deeds, seeking their acceptance, being aware of our shortcomings and protecting our hearts from its diseases.
O my guided Muslim brother! These pages are ripe fruits that contain the virtues of repentance, its obligations, and its results and fruits and some incidences of those who repent.
We ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to make this book a guide for every Muslim treading the path of repentance because it is such goodness that should be sought. And Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is the Best Maula [Friend] and Best Naseer [Helper].
Throughout the book you will notice that the author addresses the reader as: O My Dear Brother. There is love and compassion in his address. This is an important point that we must learn especially when giving advice. We need to be gentle, watch our tone of voice and choose our words carefully. We first need to build a rapport with the addressee before we can expect them to listen to us. Many times we complain that people do not listen to us but have we watched our tone? Never abuse the other person or become hopeless about his situation. We do not know when one will be guided. Talk to people without arrogance and prejudice. Spread hope among people even if you meet the most sinful person.