Tenacious Unremitting Repentance
“O you, who have believed, repent to Allah with sincere repentance. Perhaps your Lord will remove from you your misdeeds and admit you into gardens beneath which rivers flow [on] the Day when Allah will not disgrace the Prophet and those who believed with him. Their light will proceed before them and on their right; they will say, ‘Our Lord, perfect for us our light and forgive us. Indeed, you are over all things competent” (Quran: 66:8).
“…And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, so that you may succeed” (Quran 24:31).
On the authority of Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari (Allah be pleased with him), the Prophet ﷺ said: “Allah extends his hand in the night for the sinners of the day to repent, and extends his hand in the day for the sinners of the night to repent. He will continue to do so until the sun rises from the west (Muslim 2759).
On the Authority of Ibn Umar (Allah be pleased with him), the messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Whoever repents before his soul is being extracted from his body Allah will accept his repentance” (At-Tirmidhi 3537).
In essence, the entirety of the Quran is a book of hope for all who hear its verses. Not one verse in the Quran is designed to instill a sense of hopelessness in the reader. On the contrary, Allah clarifies that sadness, sorrow, despair, and forfeit are all the devil’s work to hinder us from attaining salvation and enlightenment and reaching our full potential.
The Quran and the Sunnah encourage that we never give up, that it’s never too late to turn over a new leaf, to start a new chapter. We are constantly reminded and inspired by the stories of those who preceded us on this path of salvation that people can and do change, even if only with their final breath.
It’s paramount to understand something about the Quran when reading it: any time fear is instilled in the reader, when the hellfire is mentioned, when the wrath of Allah is mentioned, when the tales of the demise of the wicked and stubborn are told, these verses are to instill fear, yes, but a healthy fear, a religious pious fear, nothing more. In other words, this fear is balanced. Its sole purpose and function is to instill a fear that will propel the person toward Allah more rapidly and keep the person focused and away from the devil’s traps. This is healthy fear intended to keep the believer vigilant and focused, and unwavering.
Suppose your fear, however, overtakes your mind and instills a sense of deprivation and disillusion, and causes you to tread the path to Allah more slowly or diverge or feel hopeless in the slightest. In that case, you can be sure this is not from Allah, and you have completely misunderstood the point of Allah’s revelation. Allah has articulated to us a general over-arching light under which to view the entirety of his revelation and sending of his Prophet Muhammad ﷺ as he says “…And we have not sent you (O messenger Muhammad) but as a mercy for all of the creation” (Quran 21:107).
Hence, the Quranic verses and narrations of the Prophet ﷺ should be viewed through this lens. Yes, there are outright terrifying verses of the Quran, but they are there to propel us to good and steer us away from evil, not to make us give up or feel hopeless. We are to repent, and we are guaranteed to fall again after that repentance because we are but perfectly imperfect humans. So we repent again and fall and repent and fall until we meet Allah. We walk the path to Allah, and we stumble and fall and get distracted and trip and at times even crawl, but we remain on the course filled with unwavering audacious hope in Allah. As the Prophet ﷺ has taught us that none of us will enter paradise based on our deeds, but rather by the overwhelming mercy of Allah All-Mighty.
By Sh. Ali Mashhour