In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
When Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala desires good for a person, He makes actions easy for him that will hold his hand and take him to the place of repentance. Those actions help him in repentance and make him firm on it and make him keep treading the path and not lose his way. And from those actions some are:
Taking One’s Nafs into Account
And this is the place to differentiate between the rights and responsibilities of a person. This helps a person in repenting and makes him firm on it. Ibn Qayyim says:
From the place of introspection is that it should land on the scale of repentance. Because when a person will account his nafs [soul] he will recognize the right above it and get out of it. And that right will get out from him and go to the real owner. This is the truth of repentance.
Verily, repentance is between two introspections: One introspection is before repentance that calls for repentance, and another introspection is after it that calls for protection of repentance.
Reflecting on the Consequences of Sins
So when a person learns that the punishment for disobedience is qabeej and his end will be awful and retribution will be same as it is for the one in sight, then this will make him stop sinning right in the beginning. And if he has committed a sin, then it will make him ponder toward repenting in the Court of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Ibn Jawzi says:
The superiority of intellect is with the pondering over the consequences. However, the one with little intellect ponders over the current situation. The thief looks at stealing the goods and forgets the cutting of the hands. Similarly, the consumer of alcohol temporarily enjoys the pleasure and he forgets the calamities that he will harvest in this life and the next. So is the case of adultery, man looks at satisfying his desire and he forgets the dishonor and capital punishment in this world. Be content with this brief explanation and beware of the consequences. Do not value such desires that deprive you of many blessings.
Pondering Over the Qur’an
Qur’an is the Book of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. It contains guidance and light and protection from all kinds of trials [Fitaan]. It is equal whether they are trials of desires or the trials of doubts…and he who ponders over the Qur’an as is its due right then it takes him to more beneficial knowledge, sincere repentance, farsightedness, distancing from dunya, drawing attention to the Hereafter, hatred for disobedience, love for obedience and honoring Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. And Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said,
“And We send down of the Qur’an that which is healing and mercy for the believers, but it does not increase the wrongdoers except in loss.” [al-Isra 17: 82]
Greediness for the Company of the Righteous and Leaving the Company of the Bad
And this too helps a person in repenting and standing firm on it. Indeed, one is influenced by the company he keeps. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “Close friends, that Day, will be enemies to each other, except for the righteous.” [az-Zukhruf 43: 67]
The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said,
“A man is upon the religion of his best friend, so let one of you look at whom he befriends.”
And from the asbaab of being firm in repentance is:
Leaving the place of disobedience. This is when staying in that place will again make one fall into disobedience. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “Was not the earth of Allah spacious (enough) for you to emigrate therein?” [an-Nisa 4: 97]
Leaving the place of disobedience does not mean that one should migrate from their country or change their city, but it means leaving bad company. If our friends are indulged in sins, then we need to distance away from them.
And from the asbaab of keeping repentance strong is:
Remembering Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, supplicating to Him and seeking His forgiveness. Because remembrance of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and du’a are the weapons of a believer and istighfar is from the proofs of repentance and humility. All these awaken the heart and make it conscious and distance him from stone-heartedness, attacks of negligence and being attached to dunya.
Istighfar keeps the heart conscious and warns one when it is being attacked by evil.
From the asbaab of keeping Tawbah is:
Reducing one’s desires and remembering death. Likewise, remembering the stages of the Hereafter, visiting the graveyard and attending the funeral. These are deeds that awaken the heart and do not let it be neglectful.
[Book: The Soul’s Journey after Death]
And from being steadfast in repentance it is:
Striving to chase the halal [lawful] in food, clothing, transport and everything else.
And from its asbaab it is:
Shunning apparent haram deeds and staying away from them such as addictions, musical instruments, photography, immoral movies, vulgar stories, dramas, dish (antenna) and other things.
When Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala goodness for a person, He shows the person his faults. Sometimes we meet such people that make us reflect on our character. Sometimes we come across such articles or go to a gathering of guidance. Such guidance is called Al-Huda Al-Biyyani. Such is the love of Allah!
If everyone in your house speak loudly and screams, then you will never realize that this is rude behavior unless you visit someone’s house where the entire family is soft spoken. If you sit in a company where they share vulgar jokes and immoral stories, then you will never realize this is a sin. Therefore, we should constantly keep seeking righteous friends and see where people are taking us.
What leads to such guidance? We learn that it is self-introspection. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala shakes everyone when they are committing a sin. If a person does not become conscious at that time, he is left to indulge in his sin. But if a person holds himself accountable and becomes conscious, he is inspired to excel in good deeds. May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala make us of those, aameen.
Self-introspection causes one to look at their mistakes and understand their responsibilities. When one realizes that he has not honored his responsibilities he commits to fulfilling them. It teaches us that people who keep complaining, perhaps fail to look at their own selves. Self-instrospection is a need and must be done constantly.
If we do not keep doing our muhasaba there is a great chance that we will slip again. It is similar to losing weight. If you temporarily watch your diet, and as soon as you reach your target weight you give up dieting and resume your old eating habits, what will become of you? You will regain the lost weight. Same goes with repentance. Once you have repented, never assume you are cleansed or will never fall for the same sins again. Always keep yourself in check.
Keep the consequences of your actions in mind before doing it. This is the sign of one’s intellect that he keeps the end in mind. Whenever you are unable to give up a sin – reflect on the consequences. What is the punishment for this sin? What will happen when your sin is unveiled? Shaytan beautifies our sins with statements such as: Allah is the Most Forgiving. Or that so-and-so also did this nothing happened to him. Never compare yourself with others. We don’t know how and when Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala will deal with them.
Reflecting on the Qur’an and studying it deeply, is one of the ways of coming out of trials.
We should watch our company because company influences a person. Our speech, our clothing and our habits are influenced by those with whom we sit. On the Day of Judgment, if these people were not righteous – they will take us to the Hellfire along with themselves. And they will be enemies to one another whereas the people of Paradise will be longing for their friends and wait for them in Paradise.
One should clean their house of addictions (such as alcohol, cigarettes and drugs), throw away filthy novels and immoral stories. Clean your house of vulgar movies, DVDs and other similar things. Be careful about how you use the Internet. Keeping tab on the lives of others is not from the beneficial knowledge – seek that which will help you in the Hereafter.
Many people keep asking how they can remain steadfast in Tawbah, this chapter provides a list of actions that preserve repentance.