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Wednesday, July 02, 2003  

On Repentance (Tawbah) Part 1 of 3 God Most High said, "Turn to God together, O believers, that you may be successful" [24:31]. Abu Bakr Muhammad bin al-Husayn bin Furak reported to us ... from Anas bin Malik, that the Messenger of God (may God grant him peace and blessings) said ... "One who repents from sin is like one who has not sinned at all. When God loves a servant, a sin will not persist in him." Then he recited, "God loves the repentant and loves those who purify themselves" [2:222]. Someone asked, "Messenger of God, what is the sign of repentance?" He replied, "Remorse." Ali bin Ahmad bin Abdan al-Hawari reported to us ... from Anas bin Malik that the Prophet (may God grant him peace and blessings) said, "There is nothing dearer to God than a repentant youth." Tawbah, repentance, is the first station for spiritual travelers and the first stage of development in seekers. The root meaning of tawbah in the Arabic language is "return" - its associated verb, taba, is used to mean "to come back." So repentance is to return from what is blameworthy in the divine law to what is praiseworthy in it. The Prophet said, "Regret is an act of repentance." Sunni scholars of the Quran and Hadith have said that three things form the conditions for the authenticity of repentance: regret for violations committed against the divine law, immediate abandonment of the error, and the resolve never to go back to the act of disobedience that was performed. And these, indeed, are undoubtedly the prerequisites for the soundness of one's repentance. These scholars say that the Hadith, "Regret is an act of repentance," is only pointing out the most important element of repentance. When the Prophet said, "The pilgrimage is Arafah," he meant its most important element is Arafah or rather standing in prayer there. He did not mean that there was no other necessity of pilgrimage except standing at Arafah, but that to stand and pray there was of greatest significance. Just so, his saying "Regret is an act of repentance," means that the greatest foundation of repentance is regret. However, one among the people of realization said, "Regret is sufficient for the authenticity of repentance because the consequence of regret is the other two conditions. An evaluation that would count regret to truly exist while one persisted in similar acts or was resolved to pursue them is absurd." This is the definition and general meaning of repentance. From an analytical perspective, repentance has causes, degrees, and parts. First comes the heart's awakening from the sleep of heedlessness and the servant's recognizing his negative condition. He will attain this if he manages to pay attention to the reprimands of God, the Truth within him, by listening to his heart. This is found in the hadith, "God's counselor is in the heart of every Muslim," and in the hadith, "There is a piece of flesh in the body: if it is sound, the whole body is sound, and if it is corrupt, the whole body is corrupt. It is the heart." When the servant has reflected in his heart on the evil of what he is doing and has seen the ugliness of his actions, the wish for repentance and for leaving his negative behavior will form in his heart. God will help him by confirming his resoluion, his starting to return to good deeds, and his readiness for the steps to repentance. These steps begin with his leaving bad company - that is, people who would entice him to turn back from his purpose and confuse him about the rightness of his decision. Perfection at this level only comes with the diligent practice of witnessing that increases the servant's longing for repentance and with the dedication of his efforts to accomplish his resolve through the strengthening of his fear and hope of God. Then the knot of his persistence in negative actions will be loosened from his heart. He will stop running after dangerous things. He will rein in his ego from pursuing passions or desires of the flesh. Then he will immediately abandon his sin and confirm his resolution never to return to the like of it in the future. If he proceeds according to his intention and acts in conformity with his will, he has been granted true sincerity in his repentance. But even if his repentance has weakened once or many times and only his force of will induces him to renew it - and this sort of thing occurs very frequently - he must not give up hope of repentance on account of such incidents because "Surely to each period is a decree established" [13:38] It is related that Abu Sulayman al-Darani said, "I attended the meeting of a judge. His words made an impression on my heart. When I rose to go, nothing remained in my heart of it. I went back yet again and the effect of his words stayed in my heart until I returned to my house. I shattered the means of my disobedience and became attached to the Way." When this story was told to Yahya ibn Muadh, he remarked, "A sparrow captured a crane!" By the sparrow he meant the judge and by the crane, Abu Sulayman al-Darani. It is related that Abu Hafs al-Haddad said, "I left the action so many times and I returned to it. Then the action left me, and I did not return to it again." It is said that at the beginning of his wayfaring, Abu Amr bin Nujayd attended the sessions of Abu Uthman [Said bin Salam al-Harani], whose words affected his heart so that he repented. Then his first enthusiasm faded and he fled from Abu Uthman whenever he saw him and avoided attending his meetings. One day Abu Uthman met him in the street. He turned aside and took another path. Abu Uthman followed him and kept following him until he caught up with him. "My dear son," he said, "you are not in the company of someone who only loves you when you are sinless. And only Abu Uthman can help you in a case like this!" Abu Amr bin Nujayd repented and returned to his intention and fulfilled it. -Imam Abu-l-Qasim al-Qushayri, Principles of Sufism (Risalah Qushayriyyah)



posted by SuFiSTiC | 7/02/2003 04:48:00 AM |
As for him who fears to stand before his Lord and restrains the ego its desires, the Garden is shelter.
(The Snatchers:40)
Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "The Fire is surrounded by all kinds of desires and passions, while Paradise is surrounded by all kinds of disliked, undesirable things."
(Bukhari)
Whoever does good at night is rewarded during the day and whoever does good during the day is rewarded at night. Whoever is sincere in abandoning a desire is saved from catering to it. God is too noble to punish a heart that has abandoned a desire for His sake.
(Abu Sulayman ad-Darani)
Beware of your ego, and trust not its mischief;
The ego is worse than seventy devils.
(Arabic Poem)
Abu Bakar Balkhi
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I seek God's forgiveness, and do not claim that my intention in producing this Blog is confined to good religious purposes; how may I do so when I am aware of the hidden desires, egotistic passions, and worldly wishes that I harbour? I do not claim innocence for myself; the ego is indeed an inciter to evil, save when my Lord shows mercy; my Lord is indeed Forgiving, Merciful. O God! I seek Your protection against my committing idolatry [shirk] knowingly, and Your forgiveness for that of which I am not aware! I ask God to make me and all other believers benefit from this Blog and to render my production of it purely for the sake of His Noble Countenance.

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