I would like to repent, but...

Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid

Risks involved in treating sins too lightly
You should know, may Allah (Azzawajal) have mercy upon you and me, that Allah (Azzawajal), glorified be He, has made repentance obligatory saying: "O you that have believed, turn to your Lord in a goodly way." (Al-Tahrim:8), and has granted us time to repent until the Scribes register the sin in our names. The prophet  has said: "The Scribe on the left hand delays registering the sin of a Muslim for six hours. If he repents (within these six hours), and seeks Allah's forgiveness, they drop if off. If he doesn't, they write is down as a single sin." That is the first respite.

The second respite, even if it is registered, is until the appearance of death before our eyes. (If a man repents sincerely before that hour, it is taken off the records then).

But the problem with most people, is that they estimate not the Majesty of the Lord as they should. They disobey Him in multiple ways - day and night. To make things worse, there are some that are misled by the notion of what they call "minor sins", so that you will see them treating certain sins as inconsequential saying, for instance: "Of what harm will be a look (at that woman), or of what consequence a hand-shake with her?" In consequence, they stare freely at pictures of women in the magazines, or those appearing in the television. Some of them, when told about the sin in it, go a step further and inquire amusingly: "O.K. What's the magnitude of the sin involved? Is it a major one or minor?"

Compare this attitude with that of the Companions of the Prophet , on whom be peace, as recorded by Bukhari in his Sahih: 1. Said Anas, may Allah be pleased with him (to one of the followers): "You imagine certain sins to be more insignificant than a straw. But, at the time of the Prophet  we used to count them among those that can destroy a man." 2. Ibn Mas'ud says: "A believer treats a sin as if it is a mountain over his head that may fall on him any moment. Whereas a regular violator looks at them as a fly that perked on his nose and he waived it away with his hand."

Will these people then learn something from the above, and from the hadith of the Prophet  who said: "Beware of the minor sins. For the example of the minor sins is like that of a group of travelers who broke their journey in a valley. Then one of them brought in a straw. Another came up with another (and a third with one more) until with their collection they were able to gather enough t o cook their food. Remember! If a man is held for questioning (on the day of Judgment)for his minor sins, surely they will destroy him." In another version he is reported to have said: "Beware of minor sins. For they add on until they destroy the man."

The scholars say therefore that when minor sins are committed without any remorse, without the fear of Allah, and accompanied by contempt then they there is all the fear they will be counted as major sins. Hence the saying: "There isn't a minor with persistence, and there isn't a major with repentance." Hence we say to him who commits minor sins: 'Do not look at the sins if they are small or big. Look at Him in whose defiance you are committing them.'

It is hoped that these words about taking sins lightly will benefit those who are true in their faith, are not seduced by their delinquencies, nor are of those that insist upon their wrongs. These words will in fact benefit those who believe in the following words of Allah: "Tell My slaves: that I am v ery Forgiving, very Kind," (Al-Hijr: 49), and those who believe in: "But My chastisement is a severe chastisement indeed." (Al-Hijr: 50)


Conditions for the acceptance of repentance

The word tauba which is rendered as repentance in English, is not a simple term as most people believe. It is very rich in meaning and implication, and is not simply a word of mouth after which the sinner continues in his sins. Says Allah, Glorified be He: "Seek forgiveness of your Lord and then turn to Him in repentance." (Hud: 3). Do you notice how turning to the Lord in repentance has been added to the search for His forgiveness?

It is quite in keeping with its importance, therefore, that repentance should have, as the scholars have stated, conditions attached to it for its acceptance. They are as follows:

  • First: Giving up of the sin itself.
  • Second: Remorse over what has been committed.
  • Third: A resolve not to repeat it, and, Fourth: Compensating those who have been wronged or obtaining their forgiveness.
  • Scholars have also mentioned some other conditions such as the following that we present with some examples.

    First, the giving up of the sin should be for the sake Allah alone, and not for any other reason such as: fear of the people, inability to commit it, and so forth. He, for instance, who gives up a sin because it affects his position in the society adversely, or because it harm s him in his profession, is not a repenter. Nor is he who gave up for sake of his health such as he who gave up adultery from the fear of contagious diseases, or because it weakens his body or mind. Nor is he the repenter who gave up theft because the house was locked or he could not open the safe, or yet because he was afraid of the guards or the police. Neither is he a repenter who did not accept bribes because he feared the man offering it could be an informer. Nor is he a repenter who gave up wine or drugs because he had no money to buy. So also, he who could not do a thing because it was beyond his means, or out of his reach will not be counted as a repenter. For instance, if a habitual liar is affected by dumbness, or an adulterer who has become impotent, or a thief who lost his limbs; in all these cases, the feeling of remorse over what has been committed before, is a condition for a person to be called a repenter, even as the non-existence of the desire to go back to it is another condition. Hence the saying of the Prophet : "Remorse is repentance."

    Allah, glorified be He, treats the man who has a strong desire to do a thing, but is incapable of carrying it out for some reason, as equal to one who does it. The Prophet  is recorded as having said:

    "There are four kinds of people in the world.

    "First, he whom Allah gave wealth as well as knowledge. This man, he fears his Lord, does his duty to his kin, and knows what is Allah's right in it. He is at the highest level.

    "Second, the man whom Allah gave knowledge but not wealth. But he is true of intention. He says, 'Had I wealth, I would have done such and such (good things).' Since he is true of intention, he and the first man are equal in reward. Third, the man whom Allah gave wealth but not knowledge. He spends his wealth without restraint, neither fearing his Lord, nor giving his kin their right, nor yet giving Allah His due. He will be at the lowest level.

    And finally, he whom Allah gave neither wealth nor knowledge. He says, 'Had I been given wealth, I would have spent it in such and such (evil) thing.' He will be judged according to his intention. He and the man of the third category are equal in sin."

    Second, the repenting man should additionally feel the regret in his heart and ill effects on his soul. That is, true repentance does not allow for taking pleasure from past sins, or desire to repeat the sin. How can he wish it when the harms are so numerous and so serious? Ibn Qayyim, may Allah be kind upon him, states many harms of sins in his book 'Ailments and Cures'. Some of them are as follows:

    "Loss of knowledge - a weird feeling in the heart - difficulties in ordinary affairs - weakening of the body - loss of willingness to do the bidding (of Allah) - loss of barakah - loss of inclination to do good things - constrained feeling in the heart - birth of evil deeds - habituation to the sins - unworthiness in the sight of Allah - littleness in the esteem of the people - curses of the beasts upon him - feeling of inferiority in the heart - sealing of the heart - earning qualification for the curse of Allah - unresponsiveness for Allah to his supplications - corruption in the land and sea - loss of sense of honor - loss of shame - loss of blessings - descending of Allah's anger - settling of fear in the heart - increased likelihood of falling in the traps of Satan - an unhappy end - and, - punishment in the Hereafter."

    Surely these are such harms and ill effects that no sane man would like to sin after he has known about them. But unfortunately, we find that some people give up one kind of sin only to succumb to another kind. There are various reasons for this. Some are as follows:

  • The belief that the new sin is less offensive in the sight of Allah.
  • The base self has greater inclination to it than to the previous sin.
  • The means for the new sin are more widely spread and easily available, as against the other kinds of sins the means of which may not be easily available.
  • Because his pals also commit that sin, and it is difficult to part their company.
  • Because such sins would be a means of earning a place of honor among certain people, a thing he would not like to relinquish, and so he continues in those sins. This happens with people who are at the helm of affairs. As it happened with the poet Abu Nuwas when another poet Abu 'Atahi reproached him over some of his failings. Said Abu Nuwas in reply:

  • Do you reckon me giving up these frivolities O' Atahi? Do you reckon me losing my position among my people?

    Third, a sinner should hasten to repent, for procrastination in this affair is itself a sin that requires repentance.

    Fourth, the fear that the repentance may not have been accepted at all. T his will help against a fall into the state of complacency and a false sense of security.

    Fifth, feeling of the loss of what was lost in the past while the sinner was engaged in his sins. For instance the nonpayment of zakah in which were the dues of the poor (and for the payment of which means were then available).

    Sixth, that the sinner should move away from the place where the sin was committed. For if he remains there the chances of him falling into the same sin exist.

    Seventh, the sinner should abandon the company of those that helped him in the sin. Says Allah: "Friends that day will be enemy unto each other - save for the god-fearing." (Al-Zukhruf: 67). These bad companions will be cursing each other on the day of Reckoning. You should, therefore, dear repenting man, avoid these even now, keeping a safe distance from them. For if you keep yourself in close range of them you will fall prey to Satan again and succumb to their temptations, especially when you know that you do suffer some weaknesses. There are many instances of people going back to sins because they failed to abandon bad company.

    Eighth, destruction of those things and articles that help in committing sins such as, for instance, wine, musical instruments, pictures, films, erotic literature and so on. These should be burned, broken, or destroyed as the case may be. This abandoning of all previous trappings at the threshold of repentance and perseverance is of extreme importance. And how often it has not been that the mere presence of these means of evil have tempted the owners back into the old sins after they had repented.

    Ninth, he should now, in place of the bad companions, select those virtuous ones that will support him in his new resolve. He should begin to attend those assemblies where Allah is remembered much, and from where knowledge is disseminated. He should also fill in his vacant hours with useful activities in order not to allow Satan to wend his way and remind him of the past.

    Tenth, rebuild his body - that had been fed with the "unlawful" so far - by feeding it with the "lawful" alone.

    Eleventh, let him repent before the signs of death appear, and before the signs of the Last Hour arrive - such as the rising of the sun from the West for says a hadith: "Allah will accept the repentance of him who repented; before the gurgling of the throat." (meaning the last breath). And another hadith says: "Allah will accept the repentance of him who repented before the appearance of the sun from the West."


    The exemplarary repentance

    Here we shall give you examples of the exemplary way of repentance from the lives of the first regiment of Islam: the Companions of the Prophet.

    Reports Burayda : "Ma'iz b. Aslami came to the Prophet  and said, 'Purify me O Apostle of Allah, for I have wronged myself. I have adulterated.' The Prophet turned his back to him. He appeared the next day again and said: 'I have adulterated O Apostle of Allah.' The Prophet  turned him away and sent word to his people to find out if the man was out of his mind, or whether they had found his behavior unusual. They told him that they did not know him but as a sober man, and from what they knew of him, he was a pious person too.

    "Ma'iz came back a third time and the Prophet  once again inquired of his people who testified once again that there was nothing wrong with the man. So that when Ma'iz  came back a fourth time, a pit was dug for him in the ground and he was stoned to death.

    Then (continues the narrator) came a woman and said to the Prophet , 'I have sinned O Apostle of Allah. So purify me.' The Prophet  sent her back. When it was the second day she said, 'Why do you turn me back' Perhaps you want to avoid (punishing me) as you tried to avoid (punishing Ma'iz ). By Allah, I am pregnant with the sin.' He said: 'No? Really! Go back then until you have delivered.' She came back when she had delivered - with the infant bundled in rags. The Prophet told her, 'Go back and suckle the child until it begins to eat.' So she went away and came back when the child had begun to eat. She brought the child with a piece of bread in its hand. The child was then entrusted to a Muslim, a chest-high pit was dug for her, and the people were asked to stone her.

    Khalid b. al-Walid  threw a stone at her which hit her on the head and splashed blood on him. He cursed her. The Prophet  heard him curse her and said: 'Careful Khalid! By Him in whose hands is my life, she has repented a repentance that, had an usurper of people's money through, unjustified taxes repented, he would have been forgiven.' Then following his order she was prayed over and buried."

    Another report says that (when the Prophet  prayed over her before her burial) 'Umar  said: 'Do you order her stoned to death and then pray over her!?' He said: 'She repented a repentance (of such high order) that had it been distributed among seventy of the Madinans, it would have sufficed them (for their salvation). Do you know of anything better than this that she sacrifices herself for the sake of Allah Most High?'

    Repentance wipes out previous sins

    Someone may say : I would like to repent, but what's the certainty that I'll be forgiven? I would like to change my ways but my mind is invaded by uncertainties. Were I to be sure of being forgiven surely I would repent. The Answer is, this thought is nothing new. It used to worry even the Companions of the Prophet , on whom be peace. Here are two instances.

    The first is related by Imam Muslim, may Allah have mercy on him, the story of 'Amr b. al-'As . narrated by himself. Says he: "When Islam had taken root in my heart I went to the Prophet , on whom be peace, and said: 'Spread out your hand so that I may take pledge.' He thrust forward his right hand and I held it in mine (without taking the oath). He asked, 'What's the matter with you 'Amr?' I said, 'Well. I would like to make it conditional.' 'And what's the condition?' he asked. I said, 'That I be forgiven.' He said, 'Don't you know 'Amr that Islam wipes out previous sins... that hijrah wipes out previous sins... and that Hajj wipes out previous sins?' "

    The second has also been preserved by Imam Muslim. He reports Ibn 'Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, as saying that some people of the pagans had committed many murders and had indulged in excessive adultery in the days of ignorance (that is prior to the appearance of the Prophet ). They came to the Prophet  and said: 'What you offer, and call us to is quite appealing. But if you could only let us know if there is the possibility of atonement for our previous sins'. Allah, glorified be He, then revealed the verse "(The true servants of Allah are those) who do not call upon another god with Allah, who do not slay the soul Allah has forbidden, save by right, and do not adulterate. And whosoever does that, he shall(surely) meet the price of sin." (Al-Furqan:68). Allah also revealed: "Tell them, O My slaves who have wronged their souls: 'Do not despair of Allah's mercy.' " (Al-Zumar:53).


    Will Allah forgive me?

    Sometimes a man asks: I would like to repent, but I have such a huge collection, and such a wide variety of evil deeds in my account that I do not know if Allah will forgive me.

    Let me tell you in reply, my brother, that this is not your specific problem but that of many a young man who wants to repent his sins. Let me give you the example of a young man. He started his career of sin at a very early age. By the time he had reached seventeen years of his there was not a sin - major or minor - that he had not committed teeming up with people of all sorts - young and old. He had even committed indecencies with a little girl adding to the list of thefts committed on various occasions. Then he repented, began to do his tahajjud, fast every Monday and Thursday, and read the Qur'an after every morning Prayer. But, he used to ask, is this repentance acceptable (to Allah)?

    Our Answer to him and to every sinner is that we should always turn to the Qur'an and sunnah to find out what they have to say about the problem at hand, and what is the cure and solution they offer. When we refer to the qur'an in this regard we find that Allah, glorified be He, tells us: "Tell them (O Muhammad ): 'O My slaves who have wronged their souls, do not despair of Allah's mercy, for Allah will forgive all the sins. He is indeed very Forgiving, very Compassionate, Turn to Him then, and obey Him (in all your affairs).'" (Al-Zumar:53,54). This then is the Answer which does not need further elucidation.

    As for the thought that the sins are so numerous that Allah may not forgive them, it arises, first of all, from a lack of faith and knowledge of the magnitude of Allah's mercy. Secondly, it is because of the lack of appreciation of Allah's capability to forgive any number of sins. Thirdly, it indicates failure on the part of the penitent to come up with another important deed of the heart viz., "hope". And fourthly, it is lack of appreciation of the way in which repentance can wipe out sins. we shall therefore, discuss each of these points a little more in detail.

    As for the first, it should be enough to quote Allah Himself who says: "My mercy has encompassed every thing." (Al-A'raf:56)

    As for the second, a hadith qudsi should be enough to quote. Said the Prophet  on whom be peace: "Says Allah, 'He who knows (and believes) that I forgive all sins, then I do forgive all his sins, and do not care - so long as he does not suggest partners unto Me." And the rule will be applied (continues the Prophet ) in the Hereafter."

    As for the third, another hadith should offer the cure. The Prophet  quotes Allah as having said: "Son of Adam! If your sins were to reach the limits of the sky, and then you seek My forgiveness, I shall forgive you, and I do not care. Son of Adam! If you will bring sins equal in volume to the earth and then you meet Me (on the day of Judgment) in the state that you would not have suggested partners unto Me, I shall give you in return forgiveness equal to the volume of the earth."

    And, as for the fourth, another hadith of the Prophet  should be enough for the purpose. Said he: "He who repented is like him who has no sin on him."

    In addition, for the sake of every one who thinks that the forgiveness of his sins is a doubtful affair, we narrate the hadith that follows in the next section.

    Repentance of the man who committed a hundred murders

    Abu Sa'id Sa'd b. Malik b. Sinan al-Khudri says that the Prophet  said: "There was a man among a people before you who committed ninety-nine murders. Then he inquired about the most knowledgeable man on earth and he was led to a monk. He went to him and told him that he had killed ninety-nine people and asked him if it was possible for him to repent. The monk told him: 'NO!' So the man killed him also and completed his hundred. Then he inquired about the most knowledgeable man on earth and was led to a scholar. He went to him and told him that he had killed a hundred people and asked him if there was repentance for him. The man told him, 'Yes. And what can come in between you and repentance?' 'Then he told him, 'Go to such and such a town for in it live people who are devoted to God. Devote yourself there to God in their company and do not come back to your own town for it is an evil place.'

    So the man started towards that town. However, while he was halfway through the journey death overtook him. The angels of 'mercy' and 'punishment' descended and began to argue over him. The angels of mercy said: 'This man had repented and was seeking his Lord, (therefore he is our share),' while the angels of punishment claimed that, 'he had never done a good thing in life,' (so he was their share). While they were thus arguing, another angel arrived in the form of a man. They decided to accept him as their arbitrator. He said: 'Measure the earth between the two towns and let him be assigned to the fate of the one he is nearer to.' When they measured they found him nearer to the town he was heading towards. So the angels of mercy took him away."

    Another version has it that "he was nearer to the town of the righteous people by just the span of the hand." And another version of a trustworthy report has it that "the earth was ordered to stretch itself to become closer from this end and farther from the other. So that when they measured they found him nearer to the town (of the righteous) by virtue of which he was forgiven."

    Now, what can come in between a man and repentance? O you who imagine that your sins are too great - do you think that your sins are greater than those of that man (the murderer of a hundred souls) to whom Allah turned in mercy? Why should you despair? Indeed crimes can be even greater than this and yet they will be forgiven (with true repentance). Consider this,: Says Allah, glorified be He: "(The true servants of Allah are those) who do not call upon another god with Allah, who do not slay the soul Allah has forbidden, save by right, and do not commit adultery. And whosoever does that shall meet the price of sin. His chastisement will be doubled on the Day of Reckoning and he will abide therein for ever - save him who repented, believed and did righteous deeds, such are those whose evil deeds will Allah change into good ones. Allah indeed is very Forgiving, very compassionate." (Al-Furqan:68-70)

    Consider the words: "Such are those whose evil deeds will Allah change into good ones." It shows the magnanimity of Allah. And the scholars have said that the changing will be of two kinds. First, change of a man's evil qualities into good ones (in this world itself). For instance of polytheism into monotheism, adultery into chastity, untruthfulness into truthfulness, deceit into honesty, etc. And second, the change of evil deeds into good ones on the day of Judgment.

    Also consider the words: "The evil deeds will be changed into good ones." Allah didn't specify whether He will change every evil deed into a good one of equal magnitude. Rather it was left open, and can be lesser, equal, or even greater - depending upon the quality and sincerity of repentance. This is yet another grace from our Lord. The following hadith brings out this point:

    Abdul Rahman bin Jubair  narrates on the a Prophet , on whom be peace, (another report suggests that a very old man whose eye-lashes had fallen over his eyes stood before the Prophet  supporting himself on a cane), and said: "What will you say of a man who did not leave an evil deed - major or minor - but he committed it. (Another report has it that there wasn't an evil deed that he left uncommitted to the extent that were they to be divided between the people of the world, they would destroy them all). Is there repentance for him?" The Prophet  asked him: "Have you embraced Islam?" He said: "Yes! I testify that there is no god but Allah, and that you are His Messenger." The Prophet  told him: "Do good deeds (now onwards) and stay away from evil. Allah will change all of them into good ones." The man said: "And my treacheries an debaucheries?" The Prophet  said: "Yes (them too)". The man cried out: "Allah is great" and kept repeating until he disappeared from the sight.

    Here a repenting man may ask. When I was in error and sins, not even doing my Prayers - an act that severed my links with Islam - I used to do some good things. Will I be rewarded for them after I have repented or are they lost to the winds? The Answer is in another hadith.

    'Urwa b. Zubair  reports Hakim b, Hizam  as saying that he asked the Prophet , on whom be peace: "O Apostle of God! What is your opinion about those good deeds that I used to do in the days previous to Islam, such as spending in charity, liberating a slave, or being good to my relation. Are they to be rewarded for?" The Prophet  told him: "It is culmination of those good deeds that led you to Islam."

    So, with repentance the sins will be forgiven and evil deeds of the past will be changed into god ones. What more do you want?


    What shall I do when I have sinned?

    Someone may ask: How do I go about repenting from a sin? Do I just say, "I repent" and that's it, or is there anything to be done after that?

    The Answer is, there are basically two things that should be immediately done. The first is an act of the heart viz. to sincerely regret the sins of the past. The second is an act of the body viz. to bring up some good deeds, starting with two cycles of Prayer of repentance. The following is a hadith in support:

    Abu Bakr , says: "I heard the Prophet , say, 'There isn't a man who, when he commits a sin, rises, makes ablution, and offers two raka'a of Prayers, but Allah forgives him his sins.' Then the Prophet  recited the verse: 'Those (are the true believers) who but Allah forgives the sins? They do not insist upon the sins they have committed, and they know (that Allah is Forgiving).' " (Al-Imran:135)

    There are other reports that describe more in detail how these two cycles of Prayers of repentance must be offered. For

    1.There isn't a man who makes ablution (and does it well), but sins fall off the limbs of the body with the last drop of water.

    And doing an ablution well includes saying the bismillah in the beginning, and some other prayer-words after it such as:

    "I bear witness that there is no deity save Allah, the One, and I also bear witness that Muhammad  is His slave and Messenger." Or, "O Allah! Make me of the repenting, and make me of the purified." Or, "O Allah! With praises to You I bear witness that there is no deity but You. I seek your forgiveness and turn to you in repentance."

    2. Offers two raka'a of Prayers.

    3. Does them with full presence of mind and heart.

    4. Commits no mistake within the Prayers.

    5. Does not speak to himself within them.

    6. Recites the prayer-words in them well and in humility.

    7. Then seeks Allah's forgiveness.


    1.His past sins are forgiven.
    2.He can be assured of Paradise.

    And then, as these things have been achieved he should now increase his good deeds to the extent possible. Don't you see what 'Umar  did when he had committed the mistake of arguing with the Prophet , at Hudaibiyya. He used to offer special act of worship, (like fasting, almsgiving etc.), to atone for that sin. Consider also the following hadith.

    "He who commits some evil deeds, and then turns to doing good deeds is like the man who had on him a tight-fitting coat of mail made of steel, so tight, it would almost choke him. Then he did a good deed and it opened up a little for him. And then he followed it up with another and it opened up a little for him. And then he followed it up with another and it opened up a little more until it became so loose as to fall off to the ground."

    So you see how good deeds release a man from the clutches of past sins and liberate him from the tension that they cause. Let me at this point offer you the abridged version of an incident which is laden with lessons.

    Ibn Mas'ud  says a man came to the Prophet  and said: "O Apostle of Allah, I found a woman in a garden and did everything to her except having sex: I kissed her, and hugged her and so on, but I didn't go beyond this. So judge me as you wish." The Prophet  said nothing in reply and the man went away. Upon this 'Umar  remarked: "Allah would have left it in secret if he had left it in secret." The Prophet looked in the direction the man had gone and said: "Call him back." When they called him back he recited him the following verse: "Establish Prayers at the two ends of the day and early part of the night. Indeed good deeds wipe out evil ones. And this (Qur'an) is a reminder unto the mindful." (Hud:114)

    Upon hearing this Mu'adh  (and according to another report 'Umar ) said: "O Apostle of Allah, is this for him alone or (the rule) is common?" He  replied: "No it is common."


    The companions of sin chase me

    You may say: I would like to repent and change my ways but my former evil companions pursue me wherever I go. No sooner do they know of a change in me than they launch an attack on me, and I feel myself weak against them. What shall I do?

    The Answer is, bear with patience for this is the way of Allah. This is how He tries His slaves in order for everyone to know who the true ones are and who the phony, and, in order that He may distinguish the pervert from the righteous.

    Once you have taken the path to virtue, persevere. These evil people who are Satan of the jinn and men, will conspire with each other in order to turn you back from the path of reformation, therefore, listen to them not. They will say about what you are attempting that this is an infatuation that will not last, that it is a passing crisis and soon you will recover, and so on. In fact, it was heard that a man said about his former companion who had begun to change his life, 'What evil he has fallen into?!'

    No wonder that when a young man put down the receiver refusing to talk to his former girl-friend after he had decided he will change his life, she dialed him after a few days to tell him that she hoped by then he was cured of his evil inspirations! It is for such situations that Allah has revealed: "Say, I take refuge with the Lord of the people, the King of the people, the God of the people... from the evil of the secret whisperings.. (Al-Nas:1-6) Is your Lord then more worthy of obedience or these evil companions?

    You should also know that they will chase you in every place and will employ every means to win you back to their ways. A young man once confided to me that his former girl-friend used to order her chauffeur to drive behind him. She used to chide and entice him through the window of her car while he would be heading for the mosque! But says Allah: "God grants firmness with the firm word to those who have believed, in this world, an (so He will) in the Hereafter." (Ibrahim:27)

    One of the means these evil companions of sin will employ to entice you will be to remind you of the pleasures of the sins of the past, through mementos, messages, pictures, letters and so on. But do not pay attention to them, and be reminded of the story of Ka'b b, Malik. He was a Companion of the Prophet  who had stayed back from the Tabuk campaign. When, as a punishment, the Prophet  ordered that he was to be boycotted by everyone until Allah cleared him, the Ghassanid king wrote to him a letter in which he said: "I am to learn that your (man meaning the Prophet ) has abandoned you. But you are not the kind of person that should be belittled and wasted. Join us. We will treat you much better." What was the reaction of the Companion? Says he: "When I read the letter, I said to myself, this is yet another trial from my Lord. Then I threw it to the fire."

    This is how, my dear young man or woman, you should treat those things sent to youto win you back, burn them to ashes and: "Be patient. For Allah's promise is true. And let not those who do not believe weaken you." (Al-Rum:60)


    They threaten me

    You may say, I want to repent but my old companions threaten me that they will reveal my past activities, and publish my secrets among the people, using those pictures and other proofs they have and thus disgrace me. What shall I do?

    We say, fight against these friends of the devil. And rest assured that the tricks of the devils are weak. These are some of the tactics of Satan but will avail nothing before the patience and perseverance of a believer firm in his belief. And also know that if you try to please them and yield to them there is no end to their demands on you. You will destroy yourself altogether in the end. Rather do not pay attention to them, do what is right and say: "Allah is enough for me. He is the best of the supporters." The Prophet  himself, when he feared a people, used to pray in words:

    "O Allah! We beseech You to take them by their throats. And seek for ourselves Your protection against their mischief's."

    True, it is not always easy. That girl for instance, is in a great fix who is told by her former boy-friend that he has recorded all her conversations, and has preserved all the pictures, and will send them to her relatives if she will refuse to date with him. She is certainly not in an enviable situation. This is exactly what happened with those singers and actors that repented. Their former friends and companions distributed some of their pictures in the markets in order to apply psychological pressure on them and force them back to their own company. But Allah is with those who repent, who fear Him. He is the Friend of the believers in Him. He does not waste them. He does not ignore them. Never has it happened that a man sought His protection and He refused him. Also know that with every hardship comes ease, and after every impasse comes an opening. We offer you at this juncture the story of a Companion of the Prophet who used to help in the escape and emigration of the weak people from Makkah to Madinah. The report runs as follows:

    " There was a man in Makkah called Marthad b. Abu Marthad . He used to help in the escape of the captured Muslims at Makkah until they had reached Madinah. There was also a woman in Makkah called 'Anaq. She was his girl-friend. This Marthad had promised a prisoner help in his escape to Madinah. He narrates the story himself. Says he: 'I went to the place (where the man was imprisoned) and hid myself under the shadow of one of the Makkan walls. It was a full moon night. It so happened that 'Anaq passed by. She saw my shadow by the side of the wall, and when she reached me, she recognized me. "Is that Marthad?" she asked. I said, "Yes". "Welcome!" she said, "come and spend the night with me." I said: "Dear 'Anaq, Allah has forbidden fornication." Suddenly she cried out: "People! Here is the man who used to steal away your prisoners." Some eight men began to chase me. I climbed a mountain (outside of Makkah) called Khandama and hid in a cave. They were right on top of me at the mouth of the cave. But Allah blinded them and they returned giving up the chase. (After it was all cool) I also returned and picked up the tied prisoner. By God, he was a heavy man. I carried him until we had reached the grasslands. Then I freed him (from his chains). Then I carried him again (probably he was injured :tr.) - and he gave me a hard time. At last we reached Madinah. There, when I went to meet the Prophet  I asked him if he would allow me to marry 'Anaq. I asked him the question twice but he gave no reply until Allah Most High revealed: "An adulterer does not marry but an adulteress or an idolateress. And an adulteress does not marry but an adulterer or an idolater." (Al-Noor: 3) The Prophet told me: "Marthad! A fornicatordoes not marry but a fornicatoress or an idolateress, and a fornicatoress does not marry but a fornicator or an idolater. Therefore don't marry her." ' Do you see how Allah defends those who believe in Him, and how He bestows His favors upon them?

    Nevertheless, let us suppose that worse come worst, they publish things about you that you hate to be published. But you can always explain your position to the people. Tell them, yes, once I was in the wrong but now I have repented. What do those who are publishing these things want of me now?

    And let us all remember that true disgrace is that of the Hereafter when a man will be exposed not in the presence of a hundred or two hundred, thousand or two thousand people, but in the presence of millions of jinn, the angels and men starting from Adam till the last man. To the prayer then of Ibrahim  who said: "And, O Lord! Degrade me not upon the Day they will be raised up. The day when neither wealth nor the offsprings shall be of any profit; save he who will come to Allah with a pure heart." (As-Shu'ara':87-89)

    And seek strength with the following prayer-words of the Prophet :

    "O Allah! Screen our secrets and grant us peace in place of fear. O Allah! Help us direct our vengeance toward those who wrong us, and help us against those who oppress us. O Allah! Let not our enemies nor those who envy us rejoice over (our failures)."


    Past sins haunt me

    You may say: I committed many sins, but even after I have repented, I am haunted by their memories. They spoil my simple pleasures and the quiet of my nights. What's the solution?

    Our Answer to you, dear brother in Islam is as proofs of the sincerity of your repentance. This indeed is the regret that is desirable: the regret which has been equated with repentance. But your hope should be that Allah will forgive all the sins. And do not despair for Allah says: "And despair not but tho se that are misguided." (al-Hijr: 56) Ibn Mas'ud  is reportedto have said: "The greatest of sins are:

       1.To ascribe partners unto Allah,
       2.To be unmindful of Allah's strategy, and,
       3.To despair of Allah's mercy."

    A believer is always between fear and hope. May be one of them will weigh more on him in a particular situation. For instance, when he sins fear overwhelms him and which drives him to repent. But when he has repented then hope overtakes him and he seeks forgiveness.


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