“Allâh will accept the repentance of whom He wills. And Allâh is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [Surah At-Tawbah 9:27]
When was the last time you repented to Allah ﷻ? And I don’t just mean casually uttering the words ‘Oh Allah forgive me’ to cover all your bases. I mean when was the last time you truly repented to Allah ﷻ? I ask myself this all-important question too, by the way.
You know when you have genuinely repented as there’s no other feeling quite like it. You make a connection with Allah ﷻ that is so sincere that it humbles you to your core. Your heart softens and melts like cooled molten lava. You may get a tingling sensation inside your brain or a gentle shiver down your spine. The noise inside your head quietens and as you fine tune your focus upon Allah ﷻ, warm tears well up in your eyes until they overflow. This type of repentance has a deep, cleansing effect. It feels like it’s washing away the stubborn stain of your sins, leaving you feeling refreshed and revitalised. You feel less burdened by the guilt, pain, misery and regret that inevitable comes with mistakes. If only we could experience this pure connection every time we repented to Allah ﷻ!
So, what’s stopping us? Perhaps we are just too busy and distracted to make time and space for that connection. Yet it is still possible to get mini moments of Khushoo (humility and focus) when we are in our car, cooking, working and going about our daily business, but sometimes it helps to set up the right conditions to create that special moment with Allah ﷻ. These conditions can include:
- Reserving time – uninterrupted and giving undivided attention
- Creating space – clean and cleared
- Removing distractions – put down the phone, switch off the screen, put away the mop and bucket, frying pan and laundry!
And if you’ve got kids, parents, a spouse, in-laws, or pets – you must be laughing your head off right now! And I get it! These conditions are scarce resources, but we need to do the best we can, as our mental and spiritual health depend upon the quality time we spend with our Creator ﷻ. We need to take time out to be with Him ﷻ, alone.
Allah ﷻ is All Forgiving, Most Merciful. His doors of Mercy and forgiveness are open 24/7 but there are certain times, days and months when His Mercy and Forgiveness is intensified — Fajr, Fridays and Ramadhan are just a few examples of these times. Allah ﷻ even swears by certain days to indicate their greatness for repentance. The 10 days of Dhul Hijjah are amongst these particularly blessed periods of time, so we need to make sure we are benefitting from this opportunity.
It’s important to ask Allah ﷻ for forgiveness and at the same time, we should also refrain from repeating the same sins that caused us to repent in the first place. Even though the rewards for doing good deeds are multiplied during Dhul Hijjah, extra caution is needed to stay away from bad deeds (sins) during this month, as they are more severe and hated by Allah ﷻ. In the Quran, He ﷻ says: “Do not wrong your souls in these months.” (Surah At-Tawbah 9:36).
We are all created weak, and we all have moments when we sin. There are also times when we do keep going back to the same sins repeatedly. I’m not about to reveal the areas I struggle with, as that would be a sin in itself, but I will share a few tips that can help to lessen our indulgence.
- Create positive reinforcements to help you refrain from the sin – Visualise the rewards in this life and the next. Imagine gaining Allah’s reward and Pleasure; tipping the scales of goods deeds in your favour on the Day of Judgement; receiving your book of deeds in your right hand; seeing smiling faces and delights in Paradise. When refraining from that sin, imagine that you are protecting your reputation, your marriage and family unit. You are also protecting your health, wealth and social life. All of which is rewarded by Allah ﷻ.
- Create a deterrent – conjure up negative imagery. Visualise the consequences that could arise from your sinful actions in this life and the next. Imagine Allah’s Displeasure, the punishment in this life, the punishment in the grave and in the impending Hellfire. Imagine losing your health through associated mental and physical disorders, diseases or stress. Imagine the ruined reputation, loss of family, friends, wealth, home, job, or business if your sin became unmanageable or became known in the community etc. It should be noted that refraining from sin should always be for the sake of Allah ﷻ to earn His rewards rather than fear of the people.
- Remove yourself from the situation and make it difficult to put that sin into action for example stop buying that product, delete their phone number or unfollow them, cut out social media, be with more righteous company and not with those who are a bad influence, Sellotape your mouth (just kidding!).
- Distract yourself from the sin – by doing more regular good deeds, learn aspects of the Islamic faith, learn tajweed, memorise more surahs. Start up a hobby; do volunteering, write a book, set up a self-help group, throw yourself into a new business venture, learn a language, even do that one outstanding job you’ve been procrastinating on like cleaning your room, writing that email, finishing that assignment, or sewing on that shirt button. Busy yourself doing productive good deeds so you have little time to habitually sin.
- Have a halal alternative – Shaytan and our own nafs make the sin attractive and desirable. If we have enjoyable alternative activities that are halal and beneficial, we will not only look forward to doing them, but we could have something tangible at the end to show for it. For example, instead of sitting for hours on end arguing on Twitter, go for a walk or the gym with a friend. Not only do you have good company with a righteous friend, but you keep fit and active.
- Give yourself halal rewards and incentives – reward or treat yourself every time you refrain from the sin. Put a few coins in your savings jar each time you refrain. Create a vision board reminding you of the reward or treat you will spend the money on i.e., a new book, an outfit, a meal, day trip or holiday etc.
- Imagine a better ‘You’ if you quit that sin – will you become a nicer person, healthier, stronger, mentally well, happier, more focused, financially better off? Sometimes sins are a poor coping strategy for our problems rather than acknowledging that we have them and finding solutions. If we indulge in our sins, we will not only make ourselves more sick but our problems may also deteriorate. So, turn back to Allah ﷻ during these blessed days as He is All Forgiving, Most Merciful.
On theauthority of Anas ضي الله عنه, who said:
I heard the Messenger of Allah pbuh say: Allah the Almighty said: “O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as it.”
It was related by at-Tirmidhi (also by Ahmad ibn Hanbal). Its chain of authorities is sound. Hadith 34, 40 Hadith Qudsi
This piece was written by Aliya Vaughan.
Aliya Vaughan has been a Muslim for 26 years and lives in the UK. Her award-winning children’s story ‘A Race to Prayer’ and her second book in the series, ‘Turning back to Allah’ are available from Kube Publishing.
You can follow her @aliya_vaughan on Instagram