5. Being Remorseful for Past Sins
And like this, one cannot seek repentance for the disobedience (of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and His Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) that one has done except by he who regrets, fears and is terrified; he is scared of his nafs [self] on that thing that he has committed. Therefore, the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Being regretful is repentance.”
We learn that in order to get our repentance accepted we must regret and fear its acceptance in our hearts. We should not make it a verbal declaration where our hearts are void of any feeling. Regret is a condition for sincere repentance. As long as we are ashamed of our act, we will avoid repeating it again. If we take it casually we will neither seek repentance nor re-do our Tawbah if we commit the mistake again.
6. Returning People their Usurped Rights
If sins are related to others’ rights, the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Whoever has wronged his brother, should ask for his pardon (before his death), as (in the Hereafter) there will be neither a Dinar nor a Dirham. (He should secure pardon in this life) before some of his good deeds are taken and paid to his brother, or, if he has done no good deeds, some of the bad deeds of his brother are taken to be loaded on him (in the Hereafter).”
We have covered the details of how one harms another person in our hadeeth commentary post. Gossips, backbiting, teasing, taunts and sarcasm that we take so lightly are sins of the tongue. It is not just about hurting a random person on the street but also our family members. How do siblings treat one another? Sometimes the real bully is in one’s own house. Just because someone is elder they believe they can control and abuse another. This is emotional abuse and only reflects abuser’s insecurities.
If there is any person that we have hurt in our life, whether it’s a friend, a sibling or a colleague then we should apologize to them right away. Because if we die while people were harmed by us then on the Day of Judgment we will have to give away our good deeds to them. And if our good deeds are not enough then we will have to carry the burden of their sins. How scary is this? On that Day we will be in need of good deeds for ourselves, how can we let someone else take them? This is why it is important that we seek forgiveness from people today while we are alive.
We should not justify our mistakes or put the blame on others. We can deceive people but we can never cheat Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. One thing that distinguishes a Muslim after believing in Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and His Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is his character. A Muslim is a person of dignified character. He does not plot schemes to hurt others. And if someone gets hurt by them unintentionally, then he put his ego aside and hastens to apologize.
What is the best way to maintain good ties with people? Speak less. Do not indulge in matters that do not concern you. Do not spread private conversations. Maintain the trust of another person by keeping their secrets to yourself. If someone hurts you, calls you by bad names, there is no need to respond or make faces. In the Qur’an, the term that appears is: faAAfoo wasfahoo [So pardon and overlook (al-Baqarah 2: 109)]. It does not simply mean forgiving someone but erasing the wrong. When the wrong has been erased, can we still remember it? Instead of waiting for others to come and apologize to you, approach them and act as if nothing happened. This will also protect our heart from holding grudges and rancor against someone.
Someone shared that right in the beginning of her marital life, she had decided that she will maintain good ties with all her family members. No matter what they say she will not respond. Her goal was to maintain reconciliation. She even taught her children to respect those who hurt her, maintain good ties and to never answer back. She said that it took her many years to be recognized by the family, but the wait was worth it.
As women we need to learn to keep our tongues in place. There is no need to participate in domestic fights. Do not take any sides and do not make anyone feel isolated. Do not frown or respond with harsh words when you are wronged. Just like, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala proved the innocence of ‘A’ishah radhiAllahu ‘anha, He will reveal your innocence too. What we need to be careful about is how we appear in His Sight. Be unconcerned of what people say to you or think of you. Leave your matters in the Hands of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. He is Al-Azeez and He honors and humiliates whom He wills. Our responsibility is to not hurt anyone by our words or limbs. If we err, then we should immediately say sorry.
If we start respecting our own families, there is no way that we will disrespect our in-laws. Plus, we are all responsible for our own conduct, how people speak to us or deal with us is not our responsibility. Do not consider yourself weak, if you do not respond. We learn from an incident of Abu Bakr radhiAllahu ‘anhu and the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam that once Abu Bakr was being abused. He kept quiet listening to what was being said to him. Eventually, he started responding to the abuser. When he did that the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam got up and left. Abu Bakr radhiAllahu ‘anhu realized that he has done something wrong, he immediately caught up with the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and asked him the reason for leaving. The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam replied: As long as you were quiet, an angel was responding on your behalf. But when you started responding the angel left and the devil came and sat down next to them. The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam could not remain seated where the devil was sitting, he left.
7. Repentance should be Before the Soul reaches the Throat
And among the signs of death is the reaching of the soul to one’s throat, so it is necessary that repentance is done before one’s death as Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said, “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. For them We have prepared a painful punishment.” [an-Nisa 4: 18]
And the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Allah accepts the repentance of a slave until his soul does not reach the throat.”
O my dear brother!
Before the coming of death and old age, draw from your youth
Before being deprived and humiliated, repent
Know that you are to be recompensed and are entrusted
Always keep Allah before you, and watch your feet from slipping
Because when sun will rise from the west then all people will believe and they will be certain that Resurrection is near, but at that time Tawbah and emaan [believe] will not benefit…Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: Allah azwa jala has built a door in the west for repentance which is as wide as covering a distance of 70 years and it will not be shut until the sun does not rise from it. And to this, this saying of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala testifies, “The day when any of your Lord’s signs will appear, one’s faith will not benefit him, whoever does not believe before that day or does not earn a good deed while being a believe.” [al-An’aam 6: 158]
And the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala extends His Hand at night so that the sinner of the day repents and He extends His Hand in the day so that the sinner of the night repents until the sun rises from the west.
This tells us about the vastness of Allah’s forgiveness. He waits for His servants to repent to Him. His doors are opened every morning and evening, but what are we doing at this time? Do we make regular istighfar? We should make it our habit to seek forgiveness in the early hours of the day and at night.
May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala make us of those who please Him, aameen.