Repentance provides relief to the heart

Updated 20 May 2014
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Repentance provides relief to the heart

One of the primary distinguishing features between unbelievers and believers is that believers frequently perform the religious obligation of repentance; since unbelievers try to regard themselves as free of sin, they feel no need to repent. Believers, on the other hand, are unwilling to commit any sin that will displease Allah. However, man, by nature, may sometimes temporarily follow his earthly desires and commit sin but eventually, one regrets and begs for his/her Lord’s forgiveness.
Allah has created human beings as very helpless entities. One may fall into heedlessness due to a lack of knowledge; he may forget even the subjects he knows best, take incorrect decisions and knowingly or otherwise behave in an imperfect manner. That is because human beings have a ruthless enemy who hopes to lead them into rebellion against Allah and to block the true path by sowing doubts in their hearts. There is one side of their nature that constantly commands them to commit evil. Of course, Allah has shown people the way to resist both their earthy desires and the satan who misleads them and has inspired in honest people the power to easily overcome these matters. One would earn the approval and good pleasure of Allah to the extent that one protects himself against these two negative forces.
In any event, Allah shows a way by which people can make good their mistakes; and that way is repentance.

Allah wants people to learn
from their mistakes
One of the wise aspects of believers’ repentance is that they seek shelter in Allah and strive not to repeat their mistakes immediately by feeling a sharp regret: In other words, they perform a genuine and sincere repentance. To repent is to remain true to their intention and word and follow the true course until the time of their death that most pleases Allah. In the Qur’an, Allah describes the way that someone who sincerely repents should behave, “Allah only accepts the repentance of those who do evil in ignorance and then quickly repent after doing it. Allah turns toward such people....” (Qur’an, 4:17) In another verse Allah reveals; “...those who, when they act indecently or wrong themselves, remember Allah and ask forgiveness for their bad actions (and who can forgive bad actions except Allah?) and do not knowingly persist in what they were doing.” (Qur’an, 3:135)
It is very important to repent one’s errors right away and to immediately seek shelter in Allah.
The Holy Qur’an says: “No indeed! Rather what they have earned has rusted up their hearts.” (Qur’an, 83:14)
People must not be deceived by the time allotted to them. During the time they are allowed in the life of this world, they must repent and turn to salvation by seeking forgiveness. That is because faith and repentance at the moment of death may not be valid in the sight of Allah. One must therefore behave as if one might die at any moment and strive to improve one’s moral values.
It must not be forgotten that no matter what mistakes one may make in one’s life, be they great or small, so long as one repents and turns to Allah, the All-Forgiving, He Who accepts all repentance and transforms evil into good, one may hope to be forgiven for one’s past errors. Allah will definitely respond to repentance. He will convert one’s sins into good by forgiving them and will reward one’s present and future good deeds in the best way.
One of the false reasons that people turn away from religious moral values is that people begin to regard themselves as “incorrigible, incapable of improvement” because of the feelings of guilt caused by their misdeeds. Satan constantly works on these people who do not assess matters in terms of the moral values of the Qur’an, and who forget Allah’s titles of the All-Forgiving and All-Merciful, and that He accepts all repentance and is infinitely forgiving, and gives a person who sins the idea that “you are already a sinner, and you cannot change, so accept things as they are.” He will then try to deceive that person by saying, “You have sinned once, so there is no harm in your sinning again,” and thus drag him down.
He uses a person’s errors to turn him away from Allah. However, like all of satan’s tricks, this one is also weak because committing a sin does not mean that the person can never find the true path again. Allah reveals in the Qur’an that He will forgive anyone who sincerely repents, seeks forgiveness and strives not to commit the same sin again: “But if anyone repents after his wrongdoing and puts things right, Allah will turn toward him. Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Qur’an, 5:39)


The beauty of prayer in Islam

Updated 23 September 2016
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The beauty of prayer in Islam

GOING deeper into our spiritual state during prayers (salah) requires that we have a presence of heart and are mindful of the words being said during the prayers.
Our prayer will feel shorter, yet when we look at how much time we actually spent, we will think, “Did I just spend 10 minutes?” or even 15 and 20 minutes.
A person who began applying this said he wished the prayer would never end.
A feeling that Ibn Al-Qayyim describes as “what the competitors compete for… it is nourishment for the soul and the delight of the eyes,” and he also said, “If this feeling leaves the heart, it is as though it is a body with no soul.”

The love of Allah
Some people’s relationship with Allah is limited to following orders and leaving prohibitions, so that one does not enter hell. Of course, we must follow orders and leave prohibitions, but it needs to be done out of more than fear and hope; it should also be done out of love for Allah. Allah says in the Qur’an: “… Allah will bring forth [in place of them] a people He will love and who will love Him.” (Qur’an, 5:54)
We often find that when a lover meets the beloved, hearts are stirred and there is warmth in that meeting. Yet when we meet Allah, there is not even an ounce of this same feeling. Allah says in the Qur’an: “And (yet) among the people are those who take other than Allah as equals (to Him). They love them as they (should) love Allah. But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah.” (Qur’an, 2:165)
And those who believe are stronger in love for Allah. There should be a feeling of longing, and when we raise our hands to start the prayer, warmth and love should fill our hearts because we are now meeting with Allah. A dua of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “O Allah, I ask You for the longing to meet You” (An-Nisa’i, Al-Hakim)
Ibn Al-Qayyim says in his book Tareeq Al-Hijratain that Allah loves His Messengers and His believing servants, and they love Him and nothing is more beloved to them than Him. The love of one’s parents has a certain type of sweetness, as does the love of one’s children, but the love of Allah far supersedes any of that. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Any person who combines these three qualities will experience the sweetness of faith: 1) that God and His messenger are dearer to him than anything else; 2) that his love of others is purely for God’s sake; and 3) that he hates to relapse into disbelief as much as he hates to be thrown in the fire.” (Bukhari)
Thus, the first thing he mentioned was: “… that God and His messenger are more beloved to him than anything else…”
Ibn Al-Qayyim says: “Since ‘there is nothing like unto Him’ (Qur’an, 42:11), there is nothing like experiencing love for Him.”
If you feel this love for Him, it will be a feeling so intense, so sweet, that you would wish the prayer would never ever end.
Do you truly want to feel this love? Then ask yourself: ‘why do you or should you love Allah?’
Know that you love people for one (or all, in varying degrees) of three reasons: For their beauty, because of their exalted character or/and because they have done good to you. And know that Allah combines all of these three to the utmost degree.

All-embracing beauty
We’ve all been touched by beauty. It is almost fitrah (natural disposition) to love what is beautiful. Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, said about the Prophet, peace be upon him, that it was “as if the sun is shining from his face.” Jabir (may God be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah was more handsome, beautiful, and radiant than the full moon” (Tirmidhi)
Allah made all His Prophets have a certain beauty so that people would have a natural inclination toward them.
And beauty is more than what is in the face, because beauty is in all of creation and somehow has the ability to take our breath away and give us peace simultaneously. The glimmer of the crescent moon on a calm night, the intensity of a waterfall as the water drops for thousands of feet, the sunset by the sea … certain scenes of natural unspoiled beauty stirs something in us. As Allah is the One Who made it beautiful, so what of Allah’s beauty?
Ibn Al-Qayyim said: “And it is enough to realize Allah’s Beauty when we know that every internal and external beauty in this life and the next are created by Him, so what of the beauty of their Creator?”
This fitrah for loving what is beautiful is because Allah is beautiful. One of His Names is Al-Jameel (the Most Beautiful). Ibn Al-Qayyim states that the beauty of Allah is something that a person cannot imagine and only He knows it. There is nothing of it in creation save for glimpses.
Ibn Al-Qayyim says if all of creation were the most beautiful they could be (so let’s imagine, ever single human being looked as beautiful as Yusuf, peace be upon him, and the whole world was like Paradise), and all of them combined from the beginning of time until the Day of Judgment, they would not even be like a ray in comparison to the sun when compared to Allah. Allah’s beauty is so intense that we will not even be able to take it in this life. In the Qur’an, Allah describes Musa’s (peace be upon him) request: “And when Moses arrived at Our appointed time and his Lord spoke to him, he said, ‘My Lord, show me (Yourself) that I may look at You.’ (Allah) said: ‘You will not see Me but look at the mountain; if it should remain in place, then you will see Me.’ But when his Lord appeared to the mountain He rendered it level, and Moses fell unconscious.” (Qur’an, 7:143)
Even the mountain could not bear the beauty of Allah and crumbled, and when Musa, peace be upon him, saw this (he did not even see Allah), he fell unconscious. This is why on the Day of Judgment it is Allah’s light that will shine on everything. We talk about breathtaking beauty, but we have yet to experience Allah’s beauty. While things in this world can be beautiful or majestic or if they combine both they are finite, true majesty and beauty are for Allah: “And there will remain the Face of your Lord, Owner of Majesty and Honor.” (Qur’an, 55:27)
Keeping all of this in mind, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Allah directs His Face toward the face of His servant who is praying, as long as he does not turn away” (Tirmidhi).
Remember this in your prayer, and ask Allah to allow you the joy of seeing Him in Paradise.