Ibn Jawzi says:
The intelligent one should keep fearing his sins although he has repented from them and cried on them. I have often seen people being satisfied about the acceptance of their repentance as if they are certain about it even though it is a hidden matter. Then even if he is forgiven, the regret of that evil act still remains.
Then precaution should be taken from every such thing which causes regret. And it is such a matter on which the repentant and the ascetic reflects little because he assumes that his sin has been concealed by forgiveness meaning sincere repentance. That which I have stated obligates keeping precaution and regret always before oneself.
Many people ask why the memory of their past sin does not leave their mind even after seeking repentance. Do you know what? This is actually a favor of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. If we were certain that our Tawbah has been accepted would our hearts have remained humble? We would be arrogant and, may Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala protect us, committed the same sin or even worse something greater than that.
Therefore, we should never sit comfortably after seeking repentance. While we should hasten to repent, we should also ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala for its acceptance. Acceptance is a matter of the Unseen. Only Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala knows whose and when our repentance is accepted. For as long as we are alive, we should keep on asking Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala for forgiveness. We have no count of our minor sins. We do not know where we stand. Therefore, never be complacent with your Tawbah and know that remorse is a good thing. It is this remorse that will protect us from falling into the sin again.
The best example that we have before us is that of the Sahabah radhiAllahu ‘anhum. Ten of them were promised Jannah in their lifetime, yet they did not become carefree. They held themselves accountable at every step of life and would consider themselves the most sinful person in the Sight of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
‘Umar ibn Khattab radhiAllahu ‘anhu used to say: If it was said that all people will enter Jannah except one I would fear to be he; and if it was that all people will enter Hell except one then I will hope that person is me.
This is why it is important to read the Seerah of the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and his Companions radhiAllahu ‘anhum. Compare yourself with them. How did they spend their days and where do we stand? May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala guide us, aameen.
We should also remember that just like Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala loves to forgive people, we too should forgive other people. This includes the religious and the non-religious. Sometimes we seat the religious people to a higher pedestal and hold them more accountable for their deeds. Nowhere in the Qur’an do we read that a religious person is immune to sins. We are all human beings and it is human to err. While a knowledgeable person should be more careful of his actions, there is no guarantee that he will never slip. Therefore, if you know someone who is a Qur’an teacher or student, don’t treat them as demigods. They are ordinary human beings just like you. They will slip and falter. Help them in righteous deeds and do not humiliate them in public.