Verily God loves the repentant (Quran 2:222):
Humans disagree about every subject on earth. But no one disputes two crucial realities of life: Firstly, that all of us will die one day. Secondly, that none of us knows when they will die. Knowing this, how can we remain unprepared for death? How can we justify postponing repentance for even a second?
Opportunity to repent is among the most important blessings from the Merciful Lord. Given our propensity to fall into sins in a world that beckons towards evil at every step, not taking help from this opportunity is probably the biggest and most dangerous folly that anyone can commit. Consequences of leaving this world with unpardoned sins are too dreadful to imagine.
Picture the plight of the unfortunate soul when it arrives in the grave and realises that the doors of repentance that were wide open throughout the life are now firmly shut !! The frightened soul now pleads furiously to be allowed to return to the world to take corrective actions. Promises everything under the sun from concerted worship to countless dollars on charity and good deeds to relentless and sincere repentance. Then recollects in utter horror the Quran verses of how it will be too late to repent once the last breadth has left the body! Can there be a greater tragedy?
Essentials Of Repentance: (extracts from the book Forty Hadith)
It is narrated by al Sayyid al Radi (R) in the Nahj al balaghah that some one said ‘Astaghfirullah (I seek God’s forgiveness) before ‘Ali (A). ‘Ali said to him. “May thy mother mourn for thee! Do you know what is istighfar? Verily istighfar is a degree of the ‘illiyyun and it is a word that means six things. First is remorse over the past. Second, the resolution not to return to it ever. Third, to return to the creatures their rights (usurped in the past) so that you meet God Almighty in such a state of purity that no one has a claim against you. Fourth, that you fulfill every duty that was neglected by you, in order to satisfy your obligation in respect of it. Fifth, that you attend to the flesh of your body that had grown on unlawful nourishment so that it melts away as a result of grief and mourning and the skin adheres to the bones, after which new flesh grows there between. Sixth, that you make your body taste the pain of obedience in the same way as it tasted earlier the pleasure of sinfulness. When you have done these things then say Astaghfirullah!”
This noble tradition mentions firstly two essential requirements of penitence, which are remorse and the resolution not to relapse into sin. Then it mentions the two important condition for its acceptance, which are returning the rights of creatures and then of the Creator. Tawbah is not accepted from anyone on the mere verbal declaration, ‘I repent.’ The penitent man is one who returns everything illegitimately taken from others. If anyone has a claim against him, he should satisfy it if possible, or acquire his propitiation.
He should discharge whatever divine obligations and duties that have remained unfulfilled, and if all of them cannot possibly be fulfilled he should try to make amends to the extent that he can. He should know that everyone of these is a claim with a claimant that would demand it of him in the other life in the hardest of conditions, and he would be unable to satisfy it without taking up the burden of others’ sins and exchanging his good deeds for the satisfaction of those claims. At that time, he will be helpless and destitute and have no way out for his relief.
My dear, let not Satan and the carnal self take hold of you and make the matter appear an insurmountable difficulty in your eyes and thus finish you off by making you refrain from tawbah. Do know that it is better to act in this regard even if to a small extent. If the unoffered prayers, fasts and atonements are many, if God’s unfulfilled duties are numerous and the people’s usurped rights are innumerable, if your sins are abundant and your vices are plenty, do not despair of God’s grace and’ do not lose hope in His mercy. God Almighty will facilitate your passage if you act to the extent of your capacity and He will show you the path of salvation. You should know that to despair of the mercy of God is the biggest of sins and I don’t think that any other sin has a more evil effect upon the soul.
The Art and Concept of Supplicating for Repentance:
Imam Zainul Abedin a.s. has taught us with amazing words of wisdom and eloquence the art and concept of supplicating for repentance. Five of these ideas are presented below (for complete supplication: click here)
1. Thou hast said, my Lord, in the firm text of Thy Book, that Thou acceptest repentance from Thy servants, pardonest evil deeds, and lovest the repenters, so accept my repentance as Thou hast promised, pardon my evil deeds as thou hast guaranteed, and make obligatory toward me Thy love as Thou hast stipulated!
2. O Allah, I repent to Thee in this my station from my sins, great and small, my evil deeds, inward and outward, my lapses, past and recent, with the repentance of one who does not tell himself that he might disobey or secretly think that he might return to an offense.
3. O Allah, but I can not be faithful to my repentance without Thy preservation, nor can I refrain from offenses without Thy strength. So strengthen me with a sufficient strength and attend to me with a defending preservation!
4. O Allah, if any servant repents to Thee, while in Thy knowledge of the Unseen he will break his repentance and return to his sin and offense, I seek refuge in Thee lest I be like that! So make this my repentance a repentance after which I will need no repentance
and a repentance which will obligate the erasing of what has gone by and safety in what remains!
5. O Allah, bless Muhammad and his Household just as Thou hast guided us by him!
Bless Muhammad and his Household just as Thou hast rescued us through him!
Bless Muhammad and his Household, with a blessing that will intercede for us on the Day of Resurrection, the day of neediness toward Thee! Thou art powerful over everything, and that is easy for Thee!
May the Smart Clock remind us each day (with its zikr of Astaghfirullah) the importance of timely and sincere repentance
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