By Mawlana Khalid Abdul Sattar
One of the first steps on the path to Allah Most High is to ensure that we seek forgiveness from those wrong actions we have committed in the past. Each time we sin, disobeying Allah or leaving one of his commandments, we add a layer of spiritual filth onto our hearts. The result of this is that when we try to perform Dhikr and other acts of worship, we cannot fully experience them, because that filth becomes a block between the reality of that act, and its receptor in the body, which is the heart. This is why despite performing our daily Adhkar, despite reciting the Quran, sitting in Muraqabah, sending Salawat; we are not able to fully reap the benefits of these actions.
If you look at the instructions on a pack of glue, it will always mention to ensure that both surfaces which you want to join together are clean, to ensure a secure bond. The reason is because if there is any dirt or foreign substance between the two, the bond cannot take hold and remains weak.
The same is true with our relationship with Allah Most High. As long as we allow that layer of filth to remain upon us, our relationship with Him can never take hold and be maintained, and we will remain in the same pathetic state. Everyday saying that tomorrow will be different, tomorrow will be better, only to wake up to the same reality day-in and day-out.
Reminder Concerning Tawbah
[...] Shaykh Zulfiqar Ahmad (may Allah preserve his legacy) gave a very beautiful, and practical reminder on turning in repentance to Allah Most High. I wanted to share a few of the points he made [...] :
1. Detach Yourself from Bad Company
Everyone is responsible for their own actions, but the company we keep strongly influences the decisions we make and can often be the impetus leading us to sin. Imam Ghazali mentions that a bad companion is worse than the bite of a snake because the poison of a snake only kills the body, whereas the poison of a bad companion kills one’s Iman.
He further explains that a bad companion is actually worse than Shaytan because although Shaytan plants the idea of sin in our hearts, he does not compel us to act. It is our doing which takes that idea and manifests it into sin. But when a friend calls us toward sin, he not only plants the idea in our mind, but he grabs our hand and drags us toward the sin.
2. Make Tawbah from Two Sides
As soon as we disobey Allah Most High, we should ideally turn to Him in sincere repentance. However, many times we may not realize the mistake right away, or be so caught up in it, that we don’t care. So once we recognize the disobedience, we need to make Tawbah from two sides:
a. Tawbah from the disobedience, and
b. Tawbah from the delay in making Tawbah.
3. Fulfilling Rights is Part of Tawbah
Part of Tawbah is having remorse and asking for forgiveness, but we must also ensure that the rights due upon us are fulfilled. Some of these are the rights of Allah; for example, making up missed prayers and fasts, paying our overdue Zakah, etc. Others are the rights of the servants of Allah; for example, compensating for any financial loss (i.e. in the case of theft), apologizing to someone if we backbit or spoke inappropriately to them, etc.
4. A Common Deterrent to Tawbah
We all have made our fair share of mistakes (may Allah forgive us), but sometimes Shaytan tricks us into thinking, “I have so many sins, how can they all be forgiven? There is no point in making Tawbah!” The key is not to look at the sins, however numerous and horrific they may be, but rather to look at the One forgiving the sins; how perfect and merciful is He!
5. A Common Complaint after Tawbah
“I made Tawbah, but bad memories of the sin linger.” If the Tawbah was sincere, the memories will dissipate over time. Focus on creating good memories in the meantime (i.e. acts of obedience), and on increasing your daily Dhikr (so that the remembrance of Allah can replace the whisperings of Shaytan)
These were just a few of the reminders; may Allah Most High forgive my shortcomings in presenting the words of our beloved Shaykh.