The Repentant and the Command to Repent

 

عن أبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، قالَ: قالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم: «‏ وَالَّذِي نَفْسِي بِيَدِهِ لَوْ لَمْ تُذْنِبُوا لَذَهَبَ اللَّهُ بِكُمْ وَلَجَاءَ بِقَوْمٍ يُذْنِبُونَ فَيَسْتَغْفِرُونَ اللَّهَ فَيَغْفِرُ لَهُمْ».  رواه مسلم وأحمد.

 

Narrated Abu Hurayra, may Allah be pleased with him: the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “By the One in Whose Hand is my soul, if you were not to commit sins, Allah would replace you with a people who would commit sins and then seek forgiveness from Allah; and He would forgive them.”  (Related by Muslim and Ahmad).

Allah, the Creator and the Most Knowledgeable, describes the son of Adam in His Holy Book as follows: {And man was created weak} (Surah 4, verse 28). The word ‘weak’ aptly describes the son of Adam, no matter how lofty he considers himself and how arrogantly he tries to elevate himself.  Not only is man weak in his body, but he is also weak in the face of temptations and self-desires.

When disease strikes the son of Adam, only then does he realize the limitation of his strength; when sickness cripples his limbs, only then he realizes the fragility of his health; and when old age overtakes him, only then he realizes the little power he possesses. Likewise, in the face of strong temptations and desires, man realizes how weak he is in controlling his inner self–except for those whom Allah gives strength.

Thus, the Muslim is urged to seek Allah’s help in all of his affairs, to present his needs before the Mighty One, and to ask for His forgiveness and pray for redemption. While Allah is Most Merciful to His creation, the son of Adam is asked to follow Allah’s commands and refrain from disobedience.

But since man is weak and will inevitably commit sins, the Prophet ﷺ instructed the Muslim in the hadith above to seek forgiveness from Allah the Exalted, as soon as one slips and commits a sin. The Muslim is urged to repent of his sin and promise His Lord to abandon that sin. The Muslim is also commanded to ask for Allah’s forgiveness and to feel regret over his slip and transgression.

There are two common misconceptions concerning the above hadith. First, this hadith is not an invitation to commit sins; indeed, Allah is displeased when His commands are violated and has created Hell for those who disobey Him. Instead, the hadith is an invitation towards repentance: Allah loves repentance so much that He would rather see weak people inevitably slip and repent, instead of seeing strong people who never slip and thus have no need to repent. Thus, this hadith should not be considered an excuse to commit sins; rather it should be looked at as encouragement to abandon sins whenever they happen, to repent, and to return to Allah and fulfill His obligations.

The second misconceptions is the notion that whoever commits sins is in Hell. The hadith dispels this notion by reminding the Muslim of the great mercy of Allah and of his vast forgiveness. Indeed, an inkling of this limitless mercy can be seen in the following authentic hadith:

عَنْ أَبِي مُوسَى، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ: « إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ يَبْسُطُ يَدَهُ بِاللَّيْلِ لِيَتُوبَ مُسِيءُ النَّهَارِ، وَيَبْسُطُ يَدَهُ بِالنَّهَارِ لِيَتُوبَ مُسِيءُ اللَّيْلِ، حَتَّى تَطْلُعَ الشَّمْسُ مِنْ مَغْرِبِهَا».  رواه مسلم.

Abu Musa reported that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, stretches out His Hand during the night so that the sinner of the day may repent; and He stretches out His Hand during the day so that the sinner of the night may repent. (He accepts repentance) before the sun rises from the west (i.e. before the Day of Judgment).”  (Related by Muslim).

Allah’s mercy has no bounds; it is limitless and eternal. Part of seeking Allah’s mercy is repenting to Him, as the following hadith urges:

عن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه عن النبي صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم قال: « لو أخطأتم حتى تبلغ خطاياكم السماء، ثم تبتم لتاب عليكم». رواه ابن ماجه.

Narrated Abu Hurayra, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “If you committed sins until your sins reached the sky, then repented, Allah would accept your repentance.”  (Related by Ibn Majah).

Thus, the Muslim should never despair of the vast mercy of Allah, but should always seek it and do his best to receive it. The Muslim is urged to return to Allah and to take advantage of this great bounty before it is too late. Now there is time for repentance while we are alive. As for those who indulge in sins and ignore Allah’s commands, then they may be punished.  Allah the Exalted has given us this warning in Qur’an in the most gentle way. Allah says:

53.{Say: “O My slaves who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins), do not despair of the Mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”

  1. And turn in repentance to your Lord and submit to Him, before the punishment comes upon you, then you will not be helped.
  2. And follow the best of that which is revealed to you from your Lord (i.e. this Qur’an, do what it orders you to do and keep away from what it forbids), before the punishment comes upon you suddenly while you do not perceive!
  3. Lest a person should say: “Alas, my grief that I was undutiful to Allah (i.e. I have not done what Allah has ordered me to do), and I was indeed among those who mocked [at the truth]”.
  4. Or (lest) he should say: “If only Allah had guided me, I would have been among the pious and righteous (Muttaqun).”
  5. Or (lest) he should say when he sees the punishment: “If only I had another chance (to return to the world) then I should indeed be among the doers of good (Muhsinun).”} (Surah 39, verses 53-58).

Thus the sensible Muslim is the one who takes heed of the warning of His Lord and tries his best to follow His command to get His reward. The prudent Muslim is the one who is forewarned and tries to resist temptations and self-desires to attain eternal bliss, and if he slips and commits a sin then he soon repents and returns to Allah the Exalted. And the wise Muslim is the one who repents to Allah during day and night, and tries to get the greatest share of Allah’s limitless mercy by constantly asking His forgiveness and vast bounty and by trying his best to follow Allah’s commands and avoid things He has forbidden.  And Allah knows best.

Advertisements

“Preserve God’s Commands, He will Preserve you!”

 

عن ابنِ عبَّاسٍ رضيَ اللَّه عنهمَا قال: كُنْتُ خَلْفَ النَّبِيِّ صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم يوْماً فَقال: « يَا غُلامُ إِنِّي أُعلِّمُكَ كَلِمَاتٍ: احْفَظِ اللَّهَ يَحْفَظْكَ، احْفَظِ اللَّهَ تَجِدْهُ تُجَاهَكَ، إِذَا سَأَلْتَ فَاسْأَلِ اللَّهَ، وَإِذَا اسْتَعَنْتَ فَاسْتَعِنْ بِاللَّهِ، واعلَمْ أَنَّ الأُمَّةَ لَوِ اجْتَمَعَتْ عَلَى أَنْ يَنْفعُوكَ بِشيْءٍ، لَمْ يَنْفعُوكَ إِلاَّ بِشَيْءٍ قَد كَتَبَهُ اللَّهُ لَكَ، وإِنِ اجْتَمَعُوا عَلَى أَنْ يَضُرُّوكَ بِشَيْءٍ، لَمْ يَضُرُّوكَ إِلاَّ بَشَيْءٍ قد كَتَبَهُ اللَّه عليْكَ، رُفِعَتِ الأقْلامُ، وجَفَّتِ الصُّحُفُ».  رواهُ التِّرْمذيُّ.

Narrated Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him and his father: “I was riding behind the Prophet ﷺ once when he said: ‘O boy!  I will teach you some words (so learn them).  Be mindful of Allah; He will protect you. Safeguard His obligations; Allah will be on your side. If you ask for assistance, ask Allah, and if you seek help, seek it from Allah. Know that if all people gather their strength to benefit you, they will never benefit you with anything except that which Allah has foreordained for you.  And if all of them gather their strength to harm you, they will never be able to harm you with anything except that which Allah had pre-destined against you.  The pens had been raised, and the ink had dried up.’” (Related by Al-Tirmidhi).

The Prophet ﷺ gave his young cousin Abdullah Ibn Abbas–who went on to become the learned scholar of this nation–advice that should be written with ink of gold and engraved on stone so it can be remembered forever. This hadith is one of the Jawami’ al-Kalim: ‘Concise and Comprehensive words’ of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, full of the eloquence that indicates the true message of the Prophet ﷺ.

Indeed, every word of this hadith deserves a volume by itself, but here we briefly focus on the statement:

(احْفَظِ اللَّهَ يَحْفَظْكَ، احْفَظِ اللَّهَ تَجِدْهُ تُجَاهَكَ)

 Preserve (the Commands of) Allah, He will preserve you. And keep the rules of Allah, He will be there for you.

 

If we ponder upon this statement, we will find that it contains the path to success in both this life and the Hereafter. This worldly life has been created with troubles and tribulations as a test for the son of Adam, and he then chooses to believe and show patience and gratitude or to disbelieve and display ingratitude and impatience.  As Allah the Exalted states in Qur’an: {He (God) is the One Who has created death and life, that He may test you which of you is best in deed. And He is the All-Mighty, the Oft- Forgiving} (Surah 67, verse 2).  Thus, every person experiences some troubles and difficulties in his daily life, some minor and some major.

But Islam also teaches us how to deal with these problems and troubles. In the above hadith, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ explains that the first step to overcome problems is to obey the commands of Allah and observe His rules in everything. Consequently, just as we try our best to preserve the commands of Allah, Allah will preserve us and be there for us when we need Him.

Indeed, when the Muslim is afflicted with a calamity or trouble, the first thing he does is raise his hands to Allah and seek His help. And as the Prophet ﷺ explained in the above statement, the pious Muslim’s call for help is answered faster, and his need is fulfilled sooner–as a result of his safeguarding of Allah’s obligations. Despite how severe his calamity may be, sooner or later a solution or a way out of his trouble is found for him.  As Allah the Exalted states: {And whoever fears Allah, He will make for him a way out (of difficulty).  And He will provide for him from where he does not expect} (Surah 65, verses 2-3).  Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him and his father, said concerning this verse: “Allah will deliver him from every difficulty of this world and the Hereafter.”

Consider the other situation, when a man is busy with sins and following self-desires; when calamity or trouble befalls him, he is left with no support and no real help. Naturally, he too turns to his Creator and seeks His help.  But the help may or may not come, and it may come at a much later point, leaving him anxious, worried, and depressed. More significantly, this anxiety may raise self-doubts and ungrounded assumptions in the weak person’s heart. Thus, his initial lack of obedience becomes a cause of the weakening of his faith. This is in contrast to the pious person who is firm in his belief and has full trust in his deliverance and aid from his Lord.

But it is never late to return to Allah, the Most Merciful.  Indeed, troubles sometimes act as a reminder to the slave to get back to his Lord. And when the Muslim repents of his sins and observes Allah’s commands, the limitless mercy of Allah encompasses him, and it is hoped that he will find a way out of his trouble despite his sinful past. As Allah the Exalted states in Qur’an: {Say: “O My slaves who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins), do not despair of the Mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” And turn in repentance to your Lord and submit to Him, before the punishment comes upon you, then you will not be helped} (Surah 39, verses 53-54).

Thus, we see the effects of the statement: “Preserve (the Commands of) Allah, He will preserve you.  And Keep the rules of Allah, He will be there for you,” both in this life and the Hereafter. In this life, the pious Muslim experiences the blessings of steadfastness and firmness in religion and full trust in Allah in the face of difficulties and troubles, as well as a forthcoming solution for his troubles that soon materializes by the Will of the Almighty (though the Muslim is asked to take every effort to consult the people of knowledge and find a solution). And in the Hereafter, the pious Muslim wins the Pleasure of Allah, along with Paradise and the Eternal Bliss. To paraphrase Ibn Abbas, through this piety a person thus gains the happiness of this world and the next. We ask Allah to grant us this gift.  And Allah knows best.

Most Beloved

Narrated Abu Hurayra, may Allah be pleased with him: “The Messenger of Allah ﷺ sent some cavalry towards Najd. They captured a man from the tribe of Bani Hanifa, who was called Thumama Ibn Uthal, and he was the chief of the people of Yamama.  They tied him to one of the pillars of the Mosque.

The Prophet ﷺ went to him and said: ‘What do you have, O Thumama?’  He replied: ‘I have goodness, O Muhammad. If you should kill me, you would kill a person who has already killed somebody, and if you should set me free, you would do a favor to one who is grateful, and if you want property, then ask me whatever wealth you want.’  The Messenger of Allah ﷺ left him for two days.

He ﷺ then came back to him and asked: ‘What do you have, O Thumama?’  He replied: ‘What I have already told you: if you should set me free, you would do a favor to one who is grateful; if you should kill me, you would kill a person who has already killed somebody; and if you want property, then ask me whatever wealth you want.’  The Messenger of Allah ﷺ left him until the next day.

He ﷺ then came back to him and said: ‘What do you have, O Thumama?’ He replied: ‘I have what I have already told you: if you should set me free, you would do a favor to one who is grateful; if you should kill me, you would kill a person who has already killed somebody; and if you want property, then ask me whatever wealth you want.’  Upon that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: ‘Set Thumama free.’

So Thumama went to a garden of date-palm trees near the Mosque, took a bath, and then entered the Mosque and said: ‘I testify that there is no god worthy of worship but Allah and I testify that Muhammad is His slave and messenger.  By Allah, O Muhammad, there was no face on the surface of the earth most disliked by me than yours, but now your face has become the most beloved face to me.  By Allah, there was no religion most disliked by me than yours, but now your religion (of Islam) is the most beloved religion to me. And by Allah, there was no city most disliked by me than your town, but now your town is the most beloved city to me. Your cavalry captured me (at the time) when I was intending to perform Umrah. So what do you think I should do?’

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ gave him good tidings (congratulated him) and instructed him to proceed with Umrah.

When Thumama reached Makkah, somebody asked him: ‘Have you renounced your religion?’  He replied: ‘No, rather I have embraced Islam with the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. By Allah, you will not get a single grain of wheat from Yamama until the Messenger of Allah ﷺ gives permission for that.’ ”

(Related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim).

We see the high moral character of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ in many aspects of this story. Thumama was already wanted by the Muslims as he had killed some of them, and yet the Prophet received him calmly and in the best manner. It is related in another narration that the Prophet displayed hospitality and ordered his own camel to be milked for Thumama.  In addition to that, we see the amiable demeanor of the Prophet ﷺ with his captive; he showed him no signs of threat or aggressiveness or torture.  Quite the opposite: the Prophet treated his captive with honor, generosity, and forgiveness.

In the face of such treatment and high moral code, Thumama was captivated by this noble character and had no choice but to admit to the truthfulness of Prophet Muhammad’s Divine Message.  Thumama then made his famous statement and expressed his true feelings:

By Allah, O Muhammad, there was no face on the surface of the earth most disliked by me than yours, but now your face has become the most beloved face to me.  By Allah, there was no religion most disliked by me than yours, but now your religion is the most beloved religion to me.

Indeed, what great words, and what wonderful meanings they contain.  For indeed, whoever comes to know Allah and His Messenger ﷺ will find inner peace, enlightenment, and true happiness that sustain him throughout life and after death, such that he attains pleasure in both this world and the Hereafter.  It is this great feeling that Thumama expressed in his words and this beautiful meaning that he tried to convey.  Thumama also expressed his appreciation of his new faith in action as well.  Ibn Hisham reported that when Thumama was a prisoner, he used to complain of the little food they brought him although the Muslims served him as much as they could.  But when they presented the same food to him after he embraced Islam, he ate little and showed contentment. The Muslims wondered at his change of behavior, so the Prophet ﷺ alerted them to the fact that his Islam now took precedence.

Finally, it is related that Thumama, who was the chief of Yamama, stopped all supplies and provision from reaching Quraysh in Makkah for their ill treatment of the Muslims, until they suffered shortage of food due to that embargo. Quraysh sought the aid of the Prophet ﷺ in this matter, beseeching him to maintain their kinship. Again we see the high moral code of the Prophet ﷺ and his high level of compassion: he wrote to Thumama asking him to let supplies pass to Quraysh. Thumama did so, appreciating the mercy, compassion, and true human feelings of the Prophet of Allah, prayer and blessings be upon him.

Thus, we see many lessons in this story that the Muslim should learn and try to emulate.  Indeed, as shown by both words and action of the Prophet ﷺ, positive morals and exceptional manners are an integral part of our religion of Islam. In this story, we see the embodiment of mercy, forgiveness, compassion, and morals in the best way possible. These traits and characteristics should be the target and goal of Muslims in their daily lives. And Allah knows best.

A True Story of Generosity, Honor, and Forgiveness

Related Shayba Al-Dimashqi: “During the reign of Sulayman Ibn ‘Abd al-Malik (an Umayyad Caliph), there lived a man from the tribe of Bani Asad whose name was Khuzayma Ibn Bishr. Khuzayma was rich and was well-known for his honor, generosity, and help of the needy. He continued to be so generous that one day he himself became needy. As a result, Khuzayma was obliged to seek the aid of his brothers whom he used to help out and do favors. His brothers helped him for some time, but eventually they grew weary of him. When he noticed their change in attitude, Khuzayma said to his wife: ‘O cousin, I see a change in my brothers, and I have decided to stay in my house until I die.’ He then locked his door upon himself, and lived on what he had until it was depleted, and he was bewildered what to do.

Ikrima Al-Fayyad was the ruler of the island, and while he was sitting in his ruling place surrounded by a group of the peers of the city, Khuzayma was mentioned. So Ikrima asked: ‘In what condition is he?’ They replied: ‘He is in the worst of conditions and has locked himself in his house.’ Ikrima refrained from speaking any further on the topic.

When it was nighttime, Ikrima took four thousand Dinars and placed them in a single money pouch. He then went out secretly, disguised, until he stopped at Khuzayma’s door.  He knocked and Khuzayma came out.  Ikrima said to him: ‘Use this to improve your conditions.’  Khuzayma took the pouch and found it heavy, so he caught the reins of his night visitor’s mount and asked: ‘Who are you, may I be sacrificed for you?’  Ikrima said: ‘I did not come out disguised at this time to be recognized!’  Khuzayma said: ‘I will not accept it until you tell who you are.’  Ikrima said: ‘I am Jabir ‘Atharatil-Kiram (the mender of the slips of the honorable).’  He then left.  Khuzayma went inside his house in disbelief, feeling the pouch and the money inside.

Ikrima returned to his house and found that his wife had sensed his absence and had become suspicious. She slapped her cheeks, and when he saw her like that, he asked: ‘What is wrong with you, O cousin?’ She replied: ‘Your mistreatment of your cousin. The ruler of the island does not go out at night secretly without his servants except to go to a wife or a mistress!’ He said: ‘Allah knows that I went out for neither.’ She said: ‘Then tell me why you went out.’ He replied: ‘O woman, I did not go out at the time except that I wanted nobody to know about me.’ She said: ‘You must tell me.’ He said: ‘Then keep it a secret.’ She replied: ‘I will.’ So Ikrima told her the whole story and she said: ‘My heart is at rest now.’

In the morning, Khuzayma paid out his debts and improved his condition. He then set out to visit the Caliph Sulayman Ibn ‘Abd al-Malik. When Khuzayma arrived there, he asked permission to enter. The Caliph Sulayman gave him permission, for he had heard of his honor and generosity. Sulayman asked him about his condition and the reason for his delayed visit. Khuzayma told him about the story of the night visitor, so Sulayman asked: ‘Did you know recognize him?’ Khuzayma replied: ‘No, by Allah, because he was disguised. I only heard him saying his name was Jabir ‘Atharatil-Kiram (the mender of the slips of the honorable).’ Sulayman was eager to know his real name and said: ‘If we come to know him, we will help him for his generosity.’ He then said: ‘Get me a scepter (ruling spear).’ And he appointed Khuzayma as a ruler for the island in place of Ikrima Al-Fayyad. Sulayman gave Khuzayma many gifts and bade him to go back to the island.

Khuzayma went back to the island. When he got close, Ikrima and the peers of the city came out to receive him, and the men all returned together into the city. Khuzayma took lodgings at the ruling house and ordered that Ikrima be questioned and called to account.  Ikrima was accounted for and was found to owe a significant sum of money.  Khuzayma asked him for the amount, and Ikrima replied: ‘I have no access to such an amount.’  So Khuzayma had Ikrima imprisoned.  Khuzayma later called him to pay and Ikrima replied: ‘I am not among those who protect their money at the expense of their honor, so do whatever you wish.’  Khuzayma had him chained in iron and constrained him. Ikrima stayed like that for one month, and the iron chains wore him out and caused him harm.

Ikrima’s cousin–his wife–heard about the trouble, so she called a wise servant girl of hers and said: ‘Go at this hour to the door of this ruler and say: ‘I have advice that I will say only to the ruler himself.’ And when you go inside, ask him secretly: Was this your reward to Jabir ‘Atharatil-Kiram (the mender of the slips of the honorable), that you harm him, imprison him, and put him in chains!’ The servant girl followed through with this procedure.

When Khuzayma heard her words, he said: ‘My shame! My opponent is Jabir ‘Atharatil-Kiram (the mender of the slips of the honorable)?’ She responded in the affirmative. Khuzayma immediately called for his mount to be saddled, rode to the peers of the city, gathered them and then took them all to the door of the prison. Khuzayma opened the prison door and saw Ikrima Al-Fayyad at the bottom of the cell, so different from his normally honorable look and worn out. When Ikrima saw Khuzayma and the peers, he felt ashamed and bent his head. Khuzayma approached him and bent down, kissing his head. Ikrima raised his head and asked: ‘What is the reason for this?’ Khuzayma replied: ‘Your honorable deeds and my ill-reward.’ Ikrima said: ‘May Allah forgive us and you.’ Khuzayma then ordered Ikrima’s chains to be removed and placed around his own feet. So Ikrima asked: ‘Why do you want to do that?’ Khuzayma replied: ‘I want to experience the same harm that you experienced.’ Ikrima said: ‘I swear by Allah on you not to do so.’

They left together until they reached Khuzayma’s house, so Ikrima bade him farewell and wanted to leave, but Khuzayma did not let him. Ikrima asked: ‘And what do you want?’ Khuzayma replied: ‘I want to change the condition in which I see you.’ He then had the washing quarters emptied and they went inside. Khuzayma then himself served Ikrima. He asked him to travel together to see the leader of the believers (Caliph Sulayman) and he agreed.

They set out together until they reached the Caliph Sulayman Ibn ‘Abd al-Malik. Sulayman was worried by the fact that Khuzyama was visiting so soon, and without warning. He permitted Khuzayma to enter. When he did, Sulayman asked before any greeting: ‘What is the purpose of your visit, O Khuzayma?’ He replied: ‘Something good, O leader of the believers. I have found Jabir ‘Atharatil-Kiram (the mender of the slips of the honorable), and wanted to make you happy since I know your eagerness to see him.’ Sulayman asked: ‘And who is he?’ He replied: ‘Ikrima Al-Fayyad.’ So Sulayman gave Ikrima permission to enter. Ikrima entered, and said salam to him. Sulayman had him sit close and said: ‘Your good deed to him was a trial for you.’ Sulayman then fulfilled his needs, and gave him ten thousand Dinars. He asked for a scepter (ruling spear) and appointed Ikrima as the ruler of the island, and of Armenia, and of Azerbaijan. Sulayman then said to him: ‘Khuzayma’s rule is in your hand; if you wish you can let him stay, and if you wish you can discharge him.’ Ikrima said: ‘I would rather let him go back to his rule, O leader of the believers.’ They then left together, and they stayed as rulers for Sulayman during his reign.”

Related by Ibn Hijja Al-Hamawi in his book Thamarat al-Awraq.