Repentance:The Way Out Of Hardships

Repentance: The Way Out Of Hardships

(by Imam al-Medina al-Munawwarah Sheik ‘Alî Abd-ur-Rahmân al-Hudhayfi)

All praise is due to Allah, Lord of all the worlds. May His blessings and benedictions be upon the Messenger, his household and companions. Fellow Muslims! Fear Allah and hold fast unto Islam. That is the most trustworthy handhold. It is the fear of Allah that sets the matters of one’s life and Hereafter right. Know also that Allah’s Sunnah (His rules on His creatures) in this universe never changes. Allah says,

اسْتِكْبَارًا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَمَكْرَ السَّيِّئِ وَلَا يَحِيقُ الْمَكْرُ السَّيِّئُ إِلَّا بِأَهْلِهِ فَهَلْ يَنظُرُونَ إِلَّا سُنَّتَ الْأَوَّلِينَ فَلَن تَجِدَ لِسُنَّتِ اللَّهِ تَبْدِيلًا وَلَن تَجِدَ لِسُنَّتِ اللَّهِ تَحْوِيلًا

“No change will you find in Allah’s Sunnah (way of dealing) and no turning off will you find in Allah’s Sunnah.” (Surah Fatir 35:43)          

It is in the Sunnah of Allah and His rules that whoever sows good will harvest good and that whoever sows evil will harvest evil. Allah says,

فَمَن يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ خَيْرًا يَرَه وَمَن يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ شَرًّا يَرَهُ ُ

“Whoever does good equal to the weight of an atom (or a small ant) shall see it. And whosoever does evil equal to the weight of an atom shall see it.” (Surah Az-Zalzala 99:7-8)          

It is a rule of Allah over His creatures that whoever takes the way that leads to the success of his life of this world and its pleasure shall attain whatever Allah has destined for him of this world and whoever takes the way that leads to the success of his hereafter and the Paradise, Allah will make him reach his goal. Also, whoever takes the way that leads to the success of both this world and the Hereafter, obeys Allah and abstain from sins, he will attain the success of this both world and the Hereafter. Allah says,

وَكَمْ أَهْلَكْنَا مِنَ الْقُرُونِ مِنْ بَعْدِ نُوحٍ وَكَفَى بِرَبِّكَ بِذُنُوبِ عِبَادِهِ خَبِيرًا بَصِيرًا

مَنْ كَانَ يُرِيدُ الْعَاجِلَةَ عَجَّلْنَا لَهُ فِيهَا مَا نَشَاءُ لِمَنْ نُرِيدُ ثُمَّ جَعَلْنَا لَهُ جَهَنَّمَ يَصْلاَهَا مَذْمُومًا مَدْحُورًا

وَمَنْ أَرَادَ الآخِرَةَ وَسَعَى لَهَا سَعْيَهَا وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ فَأُوْلَئِكَ كَانَ سَعْيُهُمْ مَشْكُورًا

كُلاًّ نُمِدُّ هَؤُلاَءِ وَهَؤُلاَءِ مِنْ عَطَاءِ رَبِّكَ وَمَا كَانَ عَطَاءُ رَبِّكَ مَحْظُورًا

“Whoever desires the quick-passing (transitory enjoyment of this world), We readily grant him what We will for whom We like. Then afterwards, We have appointed for him Hell; he will burn therein disgraced and rejected (far away from Allah’s Mercy). And whoever desires the Hereafter and strives for it, with the necessary effort due for it, then such are the ones whose striving shall be appreciated. On each –these as well as those- We bestow from the Bounties of your Lord. And the Bounties of your Lord can never be forbidden.” (Surah Al-Isrâ’ 17:18-20)          

It is also of the rule of Allah to test His slaves with the good and evil. He says,

كُلُّ نَفْسٍ ذَائِقَةُ الْمَوْتِ وَنَبْلُوكُمْ بِالشَّرِّ وَالْخَيْرِ فِتْنَةً وَإِلَيْنَا تُرْجَعُونَ

We shall make a trial of you with evil and with good. And to Us you will be returned.” (Surah Al-Anbiya’ 21:35)      

As for the Muslim, whenever any good affects him he knows that it is a favour from his Lord, for he knows that he deserves nothing from Allah by right and this belief will make him thank his Lord and praise Him. Also, if any evil afflicts him he perseveres and seeks the reward of his Lord, for he knows that, that is the result of a sin he has committed or that Allah wants to elevate his rank in the Hereafter. Allah says,

وَمَا أَصَابَكُمْ مِنْ مُصِيبَةٍ فَبِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِيكُمْ وَيَعْفُو عَنْ كَثِيرٍ

 “And whatever of misfortune that befalls you, it is because of what your hands have earned. And He pardons much.” (Surah Ash-Shura 42:30)          

The Muslim examines himself, review his deeds and repents for every sin he commits. As for the disbeliever, if any favour comes his way, he becomes insolent and arrogant and starts transgressing. And when any calamity afflicts him he despairs and becomes impatient. This world is his Paradise and his lord is his desires. Brethren in faith! Muslims, these days, are afflicted with many calamities. Many causes have however been given for these tribulations. Some say that they are a result of the evil plan of the enemies, some say they are the result of our economic recession and some say they are the result of the Muslim’s industrial and technological backwardness etc. All this are just symptoms of the ailment. The real cause of this sorry situation is the Muslim’s negligence of their religion individually and collectively. Allah says,

أَوَلَمَّا أَصَابَتْكُم مُّصِيبَةٌ قَدْ أَصَبْتُم مِّثْلَيْهَا قُلْتُمْ أَنَّى هَـذَا قُلْ هُوَ مِنْ عِندِ أَنْفُسِكُمْ إِنَّ اللّهَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ

“(What is the matter with you?) When a single disaster smites you, although you smote (your enemies) with one twice as great, you say, ‘From where does this come to us?’ Say (to them): It is from yourselves (because of your evil deeds).’ And Allah has power over all things.” (Surah al ‘Imran 3:165)         

Allah also says,

لَهُ مُعَقِّبَاتٌ مِنْ بَيْنِ يَدَيْهِ وَمِنْ خَلْفِهِ يَحْفَظُونَهُ مِنْ أَمْرِ اللَّهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لاَ يُغَيِّرُ مَا بِقَوْمٍ حَتَّى يُغَيِّرُوا مَا بِأَنفُسِهِمْ وَإِذَا أَرَادَ اللَّهُ بِقَوْمٍ سُوءًا فَلاَ مَرَدَّ لَهُ وَمَا لَهُمْ مِنْ دُونِهِ مِنْ وَالٍ

 “Allah will not change the condition of a people as long as they do not change their state themselves.” (Surah Ar-Ra‘d 13:11)             

Muslims in their history have passed through some periods which were more severe than the present one in afflictions and in which their enemies subjected them to persecutions. But then they made a sincere return to their religion with knowledge and Faith. They therefore, attained security and regained their honour, unity and well being under the shade of Islamic law. This injury was healed and their condition became better. In this age, the calamity is actually great for the Muslim nation, but it remains and indisputable fact that the affairs of the latter generation of the Muslim nation will never be set aright except by that which set right the affairs of their predecessors. So, blaming the enemies of Islam for these calamities does not in any way absolve the Muslims from being responsible for their own woes, for how will the Muslims expect the unbelievers to solve their problems for them if they themselves fail to do so through the Book of Allah, the Sunnah of his Prophet and in the light of their interests and those of their coming generations? The solution to Muslims’ problems therefore lies with Allah and then with their rulers and scholars by letting the people know all that is good, encouraging them to do that and warning them against all that is evil as far as matters of their religion and life is concerned. This is a great responsibility that requires strong will and sincerity. Fellow Muslims! Whenever a calamity afflicts a community, the first step to take is to have a sincere repentance. Allah says,

إِلَى اللَّهِ جَمِيعًا أَيُّهَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ

“And all of you beg Allah to forgive you, O believers, that you may be successful.” (Surah An-Noor 24:31)         

Every Muslim needs to have a sincere repentance. If anyone however says, ‘What is the relevance of my personal repentance to the rectification of the Muslims’ condition?’ He should be told that the cause of all good in this world and the Hereafter is the obedience to Allah and the cause of evil retribution is to disobey Him. He should also be told that, the repentance of every individual brings greater good and reduces calamities on the Muslims. Muslims should also unite in the face of this changing world that aspires to change the creed of Islam and eliminate its values and laws. Further, past nations were destroyed because of the existence of many sinners and fewness of righteous people. The sin of a single individual may destroy a whole nation. Allah caused the people of Thamud to perish because one of them killed the camel. He caused epidemics to spread among the children of Israel –even in the presence of Musa and Haroun because some of them committed adultery. Allah says about some of the destroyed nations,

فَكُلًّا أَخَذْنَا بِذَنبِهِ فَمِنْهُم مَّنْ أَرْسَلْنَا عَلَيْهِ حَاصِبًا وَمِنْهُم مَّنْ أَخَذَتْهُ الصَّيْحَةُ وَمِنْهُم مَّنْ خَسَفْنَا بِهِ الْأَرْضَ وَمِنْهُم مَّنْ أَغْرَقْنَا وَمَا كَانَ اللَّهُ لِيَظْلِمَهُمْ وَلَكِن كَانُوا أَنفُسَهُمْ يَظْلِمُونَ

 “So We punished each (of them) for his sins; of them were those on whom We sent a violent wind with shower of stones, of them there were those who were overtaken by awful cry, of them were those whom We caused the earth to swallow and of them were those whom We drowned. It was not Allah who wronged them, but they wronged themselves.” (Surah Al-‘Ankaboot 29:40).  

Zainab bint Jahsh narrated that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said, “Woe unto the Arabs because of an impending calamity. Today the debris of the Gog and Magog has been opened to this extent. And he demonstrated that extent by making a circle with his index finger and the thumb.’ Zainab said: ‘I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! Are we going to be destroyed while there are righteous people among us? The Messenger of Allah said, ‘Yes, when immorality and alcoholic drinking have become widespread.”

Do not therefore treat the matter of repentance lightly for it is the way out of all hardships. Hold fast unto the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger for they are the light and guidance that save from darkness and error. Brethren in faith! The religion of Islam commands the Muslims to be united and forbade them from disunity. Allah says,

وَاعْتَصِمُواْ بِحَبْلِ اللّهِ جَمِيعًا وَلاَ تَفَرَّقُواْ وَاذْكُرُواْ نِعْمَةَ اللّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذْ كُنتُمْ أَعْدَاء فَأَلَّفَ بَيْنَ قُلُوبِكُمْ فَأَصْبَحْتُم بِنِعْمَتِهِ إِخْوَانًا وَكُنتُمْ عَلَىَ شَفَا حُفْرَةٍ مِّنَ النَّارِ فَأَنقَذَكُم مِّنْهَ ا كَذَلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللّهُ لَكُمْ آيَاتِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ

 “Hold fast together to the cable of Allah and be not divided. Remember the blessing that Allah bestowed upon you: you were once enemies then He brought your hearts together, so that through His blessing you became brothers. You stood on the brink of a pit of fire and He delivered you from it. Thus Allah makes His signs clear to you that you may be guided to the right way.” (Surah Al-‘Imran 3:103)           

Allah also says,

وَأَطِيعُواْ اللّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ وَلاَ تَنَازَعُواْ فَتَفْشَلُواْ وَتَذْهَبَ رِيحُكُمْ وَاصْبِرُواْ إِنَّ اللّهَ مَعَ الصَّابِرِينَ

 “And obey Allah and His Messenger, and do not quarrel with one another lest you should lose courage and your power depart. Be steadfast, surely Allah is with those who remain steadfast.” (Surah Al-Anfaal 8:46)

The religion of Islam while enjoining unity among Muslims does not however mean that the non-Muslims can be attacked or denied their rights which they enjoy under the Islamic law. If many non-Muslims understand the justice of Islam and its beauties, they would embrace Islam and would not have blamed it for wrongful acts of some Muslims. Allah says,

قُلْ تَعَالَوْا أَتْلُ مَا حَرَّمَ رَبُّكُمْ عَلَيْكُمْ أَلاَّ تُشْرِكُوا بِهِ شَيْئًا وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَانًا وَلاَ تَقْتُلُوا أَوْلاَدَكُمْ مِنْ إِمْلاَقٍ نَحْنُ نَرْزُقُكُمْ وَإِيَّاهُمْ وَلاَ تَقْرَبُوا الْفَوَاحِشَ مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَمَا بَطَنَ وَلاَ تَقْتُلُوا النَّفْسَ الَّتِي حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ إِلاَّ بِالْحَقِّ ذَلِكُمْ وَصَّاكُمْ بِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ

 “Say (O Muhammad to the people): ‘Come, I will recite what your Lord has prohibited you from: Join not anything in worship with Him, be good and dutiful to your parents, kill not your children because of poverty –We provide sustenance for you and for them, come not near the shameful sins, whether committed openly or secretly and kill not any one whom Allah has forbidden except for a just cause (according to Islamic Law). This He has commanded you that you may understand.” (Surah Al-An’am 6:151)      

Brethren in Faith! Fear Allah as He should be feared, seek nearness to Him through righteous deeds and abstain from sins. Send forward good deeds before you meet Him and make good use of your life. Allah says,

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَلْتَنظُرْ نَفْسٌ مَّا قَدَّمَتْ لِغَدٍ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ

 “O you who believe! Fear Allah and keep your duty to Him. Let every soul look for what he has sent forth for the morrow and fear Allah. Verily, Allah is All-Aware of what you do.” (Al-Hashr 59:18)          

Provide for yourselves answers that will save you from the hardship of the Day of Resurrection. The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: “The foot of man will not slip on the Day of Resurrection until he is asked of his life as to how he has lived it, of his youth as to how he has used it, of his wealth as to how he got it and in what he spent it and about his knowledge as to what he did with it.”

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