Repentance (Tawba) : Dr. Saleh as-Saleh
by Dr. Saleh as-Saleh (Rahimahullaah)
Transcribed by : Umm Hasna Firdous Bint Jabir min Sri Lanka
Bismillaahir Rahmanir Raheem.
The one who forgives the sins, alhamdulillaah! The one who accepts the repentance. I testify that Allaah alone deserves to be worshipped, subhanahu wa ta’ala. He is the most Generous and He is the one who bestows upon us at-Taubah, repentance. Repentance is the task of the entire life. It is the beginning and the end of slave worship. It is the first station of the station of slavery to Allaah. It is its middle and it is its end. Our need for it is very great because we sin a lot and we become negligent concerning the right of Allaah upon us. Day and night we go through heedlessness. So we need that which polishes the hearts & purifies it from the accumulation of sins and disobedience and their stains. Tauba is to abandon the sin knowing its ugliness. With regards to doing it we should be determined not to return to indulge in it out of love, sincerity and hope for reward from Allaah fearing the punishment and that to be before examining death and before the sun rises from the West. This is the Tauba. Allaah opens its doors and promises to accept it irrespective of how major or how many sins there may be. Allaah says: ‘Turn ye unto obedience and repentance with true faith to your Lord and submit to Him in Islaam before the torment comes upon you, then you will not be helped.’
Allaah says: ‘And it is He who accepts repentance from His slaves and forgives sins and He knows what you do.’
Allaah says : ‘And whoever does evil or wrongs himself but afterwards seeks Allaah’s forgiveness, he will find Allaah Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful – subhanahu wa ta’ala.
And He said concerning the Christians in (Surah Maidah 5: 73–74) urging them to repent : Surely, disbelievers are those who said: “Allaâh is the third of the three (in a Trinity).” But there is no ilâh (god) (none who has the right to be worshipped) but one Ilâh (God -Allâah). And if they cease not from what they say, verily, a painful torment will befall the disbelievers among them.’
Then he urged them to repent to Him and said: ‘Will they not repent to Allâh and ask His Forgiveness? For Allâh is Oft Forgiving, Most Merciful.’
How many of us use this verse when we give Dawah to the Christians in particular when they nullify what Allaah nullifies from trinity. How many of us think about verse 74? ‘Will they not repent to Allâaah and ask His Forgiveness? For Allâh is Oft Forgiving, Most Merciful.Giving them hope, giving them glad tidings that Allaah forgives this great error of theirs.
And Allaah spoke concerning the people of the Ditch Surah Burooj (85:10) – ‘Verily, those who put into trial the believing men and believing women (by torturing them and burning them), and then do not turn in repentance, (to Allâah), will have the torment of Hell, and they will have the punishment of the burning Fire.’
Al Hasan al Basri (Rahimahullah) said : Look to this great generosity of Allaah. They killed His friends whilst He calls them to repent and ask His forgiveness.’
Allaah warns us none should despair of His Mercy in (Surah Zumar : 39-53) – Say: “O ‘Ibâdî (My slaves) who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allâah, verily Allâah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
Ibn Abbas (may Allaah be pleased with him) commented saying : ‘anyone who despairs the slaves of Allaah after the revelation of the above verse, then he has denied the Book of Allaah.’
As to the merits of Tauba, its secrets & its blessings, then these are numerous and diverse.
Tauba calls to success. Tauba leads to happiness. Tauba expiates sins & if it is perfected it changes the sins into good deeds. And when a slave turns in repentance to Allaah it is one of the most beloved acts of worship to Allah and Allaah subhanahu wa ta’ala is pleased with the tauba of those asking for it.
The Prophet (sal allaahu alaiyhi wa sallam) said in the hadith reported by Bukhari & Muslim : ‘A believer sees his sins as if he is sitting under a mountain which he is afraid may fall on him. Whereas an evil, wicked doer considers his sins as flies passing over his nose and he just drives them away.’
Ibn Masud added Allaah’s Messenger (sal allaahu alaiyhi wa sallam) said: Allaah is more pleased with the repentance of his slave than a man who encamps at a place where his life is jeopardized. But he has his riding animal carrying his food and water. He then rests his head and sleeps for a short while and wakes to find his riding animal gone. He starts looking for it and suffers from severe heat and thirst or what Allaah wished him to suffer from. He then says: ‘I will go back to my place.’ He returns and sleeps again. Then when he wakes up, he raises his head to find his riding animal standing beside him. So imagine his happiness. Allaah said in the beginning here that Allaah is more pleased with the repentance of his slave than the situation of pleasure that this person experiences after he was saved from death. Such pleasure was not mentioned concerning other worships, (meaning other than the tauba) and know that this pleasure has a profound influence on the status of the one who repents and on his heart.
From the merits of Tauba is that : through its great influence on the stations of uboodiyah, brings forth love, kindness, softness, mildness, gratitude to Allaah, praise of Him, being pleased with Him, enjoying his many blessings. And from its merits ‘humbleness.’ – humility of the heart, submissiveness to Allaah. And this is more beloved to Allaah than many of the apparent actions. Although the apparent actions may be more in quantity and quality than the slavery of repentance. Why? Because humility & humbleness is the spirit of worship and its essence. That’s why Allaah subhanahu wa ta’ala is with the broken hearts, the humble ones to Him, & that’s why He subhanahu wa ta’ala is most near to His slave when he is in the position of humbleness & humility – and that is the prostration. Because this is the station of humility. And this may be the secret behind the response of Allaah to the invocation of the oppressed, the invocation of the traveler & to the invocation of the fasting person. Because of the humility in their hearts. The anguish of the oppressed causes the broken heart. Similarly the traveler finds broken heartedness (humility) when he travels to strange places. Similarly in a fasting person, it breaks the animalistic drive for lust & desires as Imaam Ibn Qayyim (rahimahullah) discussed. Despite the greatness of tauba and its great blessings there are however mistakes made by many people regarding tauba. And that is due to ignorance or negligence and his heedlessness.
From these mistakes:
1)Delaying repentance : In this case the person should repent for his sins & from his delay in repenting.
2)Paying no attention to Tauba: paying no attention to those sins the person may not know that he had committed. Because there are secret sins that are hidden & there are sins that the person is ignorant of. There is no salvation from this except through a general tauba : from that which he knows & from that which he doesn’t know. And that’s why the Prophet (salallaahu alaiyhi wa sallam) said that shirk in this ummah is more hidden & concealed than the creeping of ants.
Abu Bakr (may Allaah be pleased with him) asked Prophet (salallaahu alaiyhi wa sallam) how we could we rid ourselves from this. He (salallaahu alaiyhi wa sallam) said: reciting
Supplication for fear of shirk : (Quoted by Bukhari)
‘O Allaah, I take refuge in You lest I should commit shirk with You knowingly and I seek Your forgiveness for what I do unknowingly.’
3)From the mistakes is to abandon tauba fearing that one may return to the sin again or fearing from criticism by others or fearing to go to a lower rank & losing prestige & fame. This is a mistake that should be avoided. Thus the person should be determined to repent. And if he returns to the same sin, let him renew the tauba one more time & so on if it recurs. And let him realize that if he repents Allaah will compensate him with good for that which he abandoned.
4)Widening the extent of the sin depending on the Mercy of Allaah and this is grave error. Why because, we know ‘Yes’ that Allaah is the Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful but we also know that He is severe in punishment. Allaah says: and never will his wrath be turned back from the people who are criminals, sinners etc. So the person has to remember this as well.
5)Repentance of the liars: those who abandon the sins temporarily due to sickness, accidents or other reasons, due to fear or hoping for some prestige. Whenever they get the opportunity, they return to the sins. This is the tauba of the kazzabeen – the repentance of the liars. It is not a true tauba. Not including of course in this the type of people who may think of committing a sin (his self invites/incites him to commit a sin) or that shaytaan deceived him & made him commit it. Then he regrets it and he repents. This is a true repentance. Also NOT included are thoughts — as long as they are thoughts and not materialized into action.
6)The delusion concerning the respite (an interval of rest or relief / a period of temporary delay) which Allaah gives to the wrongdoers. This turns people off from tauba. And that’s why the Prophet (salallaahu alaiyhi wa sallam) said: that if you see Allaah giving His slaves from the bounties in this life whilst he is sinning, He gives him what he likes – then this is a gradual attraction to punishment. Then the Prophet (salallaahu alaiyhi wa sallam) recited the saying of Allaah from Surah al-An’am:44 ‘So, when they forgot (the warning) with which they had been reminded, We opened to them the gates of every (pleasant) thing, until in the midst of their enjoyment in that which they were given, all of a sudden, We took them to punishment, and lo! They were plunged into destruction with deep regrets and sorrows. (This is reported by Imaam Ahmed & the men of narration are trustworthy.)
Anyone who does evil will be recompensed for. And maybe that the sinner thinks his body is safe & then thinks that there is no punishment while his heedlessness concerning the fact that he will be punished if he does not repent in itself is a punishment. Ibn al-Jawzi (rahimahullaah) said: What is incumbent upon the intellectual (a person who has sound intellect) is to be cautious concerning his sins because its fire is under the ashes, and may be that the punishment is delayed due to the clemency of Allaah & may be it comes speedily. A person of sound intellect, when he commits a sin will hasten to repent.
7)From the mistakes concerning repentance is the despair from the Mercy of Allaah & the despair from repentance. Some people when they indulge in excessive sins and they repent once or twice, then they return to the sin once more & thereafter they return to the sin over and over again, they despair from the Mercy of Allaah. And this is a grave error. Because none despairs from the mercy of Allaah except the disbelievers.
We ask Allaah subhanahu wa ta’ala to assist us to be from those who repent sincerely to Him and may He, the Most High accept our repentance. Walhamdulillaahi rabbil Aalameen.