In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
My dear brother!
There are too many incidences of those who repent and the tales of those who turn to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala are long…how many people repented after a long span of deviation? And how many wrongdoers learned that honor is in the obedience of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala? And that the end of sins and disobedience is dreadful! There are lessons and advice in the stories of such people; there is lesson for the heart and awakening it from the slumber of negligence; it draws its attention toward obedience and in leaving sins.
Know, my dear brother!
Tawbah begins with the awakening of the heart and getting out of the slumber of negligence and turning away from the path of the ignorant toward the honor of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
We pray to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala that He makes all of us penitent and those who turn to Him, aameen.
[The author of the book narrates the repentance of someone named Kifal though it is appears in many books, it is a weak incident. Therefore, we are skipping it.]
The Repentance of the Man who Murdered 100 People
Abu Sa’eed Khudri radhiAllahu ‘anhu narrates that the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:
Before you there was a man who had murdered 99 people. He asked about the greatest scholar in the land; he was informed of a rahib. He went to the rahib and said that he has killed 99 people. He asked if he would be forgiven. The rahib replied: No! So, the man killed the rahib as well and completed the count to 100 murders.
He then again asked about the greatest scholar in the land and he was informed of one. He met the scholar and said: I have murdered 100 people, can I repent? The scholar replied, “Yes, you can repent. Who can come between you and your repentance? Travel to such-and-such place because there are some people there who worship Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Join them in worship and do not return to your previous place of dwelling because it is an evil place.”
The man left and traveled to that place; half way on the journey, the Angel of Death appeared. A dispute erupted between the angels of mercy and angels of punishment. The angels of mercy said: He came in repentance turning his heart to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. And the angels of punishment said: He never did a good deed.
Another angel appeared in the human form – the other angels appointed him their judge. The angel in the human form instructed other angels to measure the land, whichever land he was closer to he would be considered from it. When the angels measured the land, they found him to be closer to the land that he was traveling to. The angels of mercy collected its soul and returned to their Lord.
In one narration it appears that he was closer to the land of worshipers by an arm’s length; he was taken as one of the dwellers of that land.
In another narration it appears that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said to the evil land: Distance away. And He said to the land of worshipers: You come near. Then He instructed that distance between the two lands be measured. So it was noticed that he was closer to the land by an arm’s length and he was forgiven.
This incidence appears in several authentic narrations. It teaches us that if we truly seek repentance then we should not despair the mercy of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, no matter how grave or how many our sins are.
The man’s going to the rahib displays his sincerity. He was searching for a way to get out of his sins and repent to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. When he slipped one more time, he did not stop there. He continued searching for a way out. When he met a learned scholar, he did not just confess his sins to get it off his chest or show the scholar how pious he was, but he acted on the advice.
The first thing to remember is that in Islam there is no confession of sins to anyone other than Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. We keep our sins private and seek repentance directly from Him. But if we do not have knowledge of Deen and somehow share our sin with others asking them for advice then we should not just get it off our chest but also act on what we are told to do.
We also learn that one should approach a learned scholar. Anyone who dresses up like a Muslim or “appears” religious does not qualify for giving us fatwa [scholarly opinion]. Many times when we find our friends more religious, we start asking scholarly opinions from them. A person who worships Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and who has “knowledge” of the His commands are two different people. It could be that your friend is religious, offers prayers at the right time with proper ablution and khushu. She fasts in the month of Ramadan and does voluntary worship as well. Dresses up modestly and stays away from laghw but we do not know if she has knowledge of the Qur’an, ahadeeth or fiqh [jurisprudence].
In Islam there is ‘ilm [knowledge] and ‘aml [actions]. Knowledge without actions is fruitless and actions with knowledge are doubtful. We could be following innovations, if we do not have proper knowledge of authentic teachings of Islam. Therefore, don’t take either of the two for granted.
The scholar did not just tell the man that he will be forgiven but also “showed” him how. And the solution that he gave was to leave the land of evil and move to the land of worshipers meaning abandon the evil company and sit with the righteous. In these posts, we have repeatedly learned the virtue of sitting with the righteous. Remember, our personality is shaped by the company that we keep. If we want to be from the dwellers of Jannah, then we should sit with those who can take us to Jannah (through their good habits and knowledge. This does not mean they will intercede on our behalf.)
We also learn that we should never give up hope in others. No matter how grave their sin is – we are not judges – Allah’s mercy is greater. He waits for His servants to return to Him in repentance. Then who are we to spread despair? If someone approaches us for advice, we should answer them with hikmah [wisdom].
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala does not only wait for His servants but also facilitates their repentance if they are sincere. In this incidence, He instructed the evil land to distance away and the better land to stretch out. We should remember this when we slip. Allah’s forgiveness is vast, run to Him and do not be depressed. If there is any sin that we are unable to give up (such as haram relationships, haram movies) then we should beg to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to distance us from it. Our Tawbah should not just be verbal, but it should also be from the heart. The heart should be ashamed and sincerely turning to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala grant us tawbahtun nasuha [sincere repentance]. May He allow us to act on the deeds suggested in these chapters to remain firm in our Tawbah, aameen.