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The Eternal Delight of Repentance!

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By Sister Jamine Khan

When Allah created us, Allah pointed out the path of righteousness, and also the path which will lead to Allah’s displeasure. In addition, Allah gave us free will, in other words, we have a choice as to which path to follow. When we choose the path of sin we are turning away from our Creator. We are all born in a state of purity, with a natural predisposition to obey Allah. We enter the world in a state of submission to the divine known as the Fitrah. To return to our natural state we should turn away from doing what is wrong, and repent.

With true repentance we dedicate ourselves to correcting our behaviour, it enables us to turn away from sin and return to the path of Allah. Allah’s infinite mercy has given this as a means by which we can strive for purification and thus return to our original sinless state of the Fitrah. True peace, tranquillity and contentment can only be obtained from the remembrance of Allah.

“Without doubt, it is in the remembrance of Allah that the hearts find rest” (Quran: 13:28)

The greatest tragedy occurs when we turn away from the remembrance of Allah. This causes us to degenerate into a slave of our own base desires. Real repentance should begin at the point that one becomes Allah conscious.  Among the qualities by which Allah describes those whose repentance is accepted is that of

“Those who having done something shameful or (having) wronged their own souls, remember Allah and immediately ask forgiveness for their sins” (Quran: 3:135).

Repentance is a very intimate and personal act between the sinner and Allah, therefore reflection is vital. Most of us have the tendency to go through life believing that we are aware, yet not fully conscious of how Allah works in our life. When we are aware of the many blessings Allah pours into our lives, even when we occasionally stray, we will be grateful and long to return to Allah’s favour.  This is the time to reflect upon where we have wronged ourselves as a divine creation of Allah. This is when the longing to make amends take hold.

The temptations of the world are very seductive, and it is easy to succumb. However, Allah’s mercy is infinite. Allah is pleased when we turn to Him in repentance because we have been created with a tendency to make mistakes so that we will repent and be forgiven from Allah’s mercy.

With repentance we embark on an act of worship so great that we can be totally absolved of our sins. When we are forgiven, Allah’s divine attributes of mercy and forgiveness are manifested.  The process of doing wrong, being aware of it and then repenting also serves as a channel for our spiritual growth. It develops our love for the Almighty and increases our respect and consciousness of Allah.

Allah forgives anyone who turns to Him, repentant. When we commit a sin by disobeying the commands of Allah, we are responsible before Allah for that sin. We have to take responsibility.  When we turn to Allah in repentance we are in fact fulfilling Allah’s wish as well as a part of the reason for our creation. Repentance then becomes an act of righteousness and worship greatly pleasing to Allah. 

“Surely Allah loves those who constantly turn to Him in repentance  And those who keep themselves pure”(Quran: 2:222)

However, as with all things, repentance requires certain conditions. The repentance must first be acceptable to Allah. The guidelines represent the necessary conditions which must be met in order for the act of worship through repentance to be valid. Repentance has been commanded by Allah but Allah does not need our repentance, we need Allah’s remission.

Tawbah (repentance) has been legislated primarily for our benefit; for our spiritual growth through rising above sin and the remembrance of Allah. Ideally repentance should take place immediately, although do not despair that Allah will not forgive sincere repentance even if time has elapsed.

“Surely Allah will forgive those who do sins in ignorance and soon turn in repentance. These Allah will forgive, for Allah is all-Knowing, all-Wise” (Quran: 4:17)

Some important points to note when turning to Allah in Repentance:

· An immediate abandonment of the sin for which forgiveness is sought must take place. One should not repent and then commit the same offence again.

· If the sin for which repentance is sought involves the violation of the rights of others, these rights must be restored for absolution to be granted.

· A feeling of sorrow and regret must be present. Remorse is the foundation of the act of Tawbah. Without it repentance becomes a meaningless ritual devoid of any sincerity and substance.

· True Tawbah is not only expressed in feelings from the heart and words on the lips but also in the penitent individual’s actions. He should be driven by his desire for absolution to correct whatever wrong he has done and make amends.

“If any of you does evil in ignorance, then repents And makes amends, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful”(Quran: 6:54)

True peace, tranquillity and contentment can only be obtained from the remembrance of Allah.

“Without doubt, it is in the remembrance of Allah that the hearts find rest” (Quran: 13:28)

Repentance must be done strictly for the pleasure of Allah alone, for only He can pardon the sins of man. The act of Tawbahmust be performed while maintaining full consciousness of Allah throughout. For acts of worship done in a purely ritualistic manner, wherein words are uttered quickly, limbs moved reflexively and mindlessly, are unacceptable to Allah and are of no benefit to man. Abu Hurayrah (RA) reported that the Noble Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) emphatically stated this point as follows:

“Call on Allah in prayer confident that it will be answered. But know that Allah does not answer the prayer of an unmindful, inattentive heart.” (Hadith)

When one is aware of one’s actions, they become deliberate and can be directed correctly, but in an unconscious state they become meaningless.

May Allah grant us all consciousness, for true Allah Consciousness leads to contentment, Insha’Allah!

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