Ways To Repent And Seek Nearness To God

Salam Alaikum, welcome to our series "Ark of Salvation" in the month of Muharram, with Seyyed Moustafa al-Qazwini as the guest here today to talk about repentance. Of course, again, the month of Muharram as well as other months in the calendar is the time for turning to Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, and reflecting upon where we stand with regard to standing up for the truth, with regards to perhaps the little hypocrisies that we might commit, either deliberately or inadvertently, and how we can undertake repentance during this holy month.

Salam alaikum. Salam Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi Wa barakatuh.

Thank you again for giving us your time for this program. The month of Muharram is a very deep time for reflection upon where we stand in the world. If we were with Imam Husayn, alayhi salam, would we really have stood with him or do we just like to think that we would have stood with him? What are the things that are holding us back in ourselves from being close to Imam Husayn alayhi salam?

And also it's an occasion, the month of Muharram, to be inspired by the acts of some of his companions on the day of Ashura; and one of them is Al-Hurr. Al-Hurr ibn Yazid Riyahi was a decorated military commander in the city of Kufa, well known. Very brave man. Who was assigned the task of intercepting the caravan of Imam Husayn when he came from Hijaz all the way heading towards Kufa.

So, when Imam Husayn entered the Iraqi territory, this commander, military commander [Hurr] with about a thousand of his troops, they intercepted the Imam and that he [Hurr] did not allow him, by the commands of Ibn Ziyad; he did not allow the Imam to continue his journey to Kufa and ultimately, Imam through negotiation with him, he had to divert. Of course, this was the divine plan in the making; diverted his route to the land of Karbala.

So this man [Hurr] came, he was part of the Umayyad army in Karbala. And maybe two or three hours before the battle started, he came to the camp of Imam Husayn and he repented. And within a few minutes, he turned 180 degrees from being the enemy of Imam Husayn into being one of his close companions and allies. And ultimately, he gave his life.

So, this is an encouragement for us that repentance is doable. It's not something impossible. It's not something far reaching. We can do that. If we decide if we have the will, we can accomplish that in a matter of hours or rather minutes.

So, why repentance is important? Repentance and tawba is important, because the most delicate and the most important organ we carry is the heart, the qalb. And yet, the deadliest disease that can strike on this heart is sin. When someone commits sin; sin is going to destroy the heart. Therefore, we should not allow the sin to take over. And if it happens, if someone commits a sin, then he should resort immediately to tawba, without letting it stay there.

See, some people when they get sick, they don't go to a doctor; they say, well, it's easy, I know myself after two or three.., who knows? Maybe this time it's different. Maybe this time this bacteria is different. Yeah. And if you don't, you know, treat it, you don't get it out of your system. It might penetrate inside, stays inside and it will cripple you, this is the example of the sins.

Sometimes we underestimate or we overlook the danger of the sin - "well, I know I committed a sin here and there, it is maybe one day I will go to Hajj, maybe one day I will go to Ziyarah, maybe the month of Ramadan comes" - we should not let it there. We should resort immediately to tawba, to repentance, seeking forgiveness from God so we can cleanse, we can clean it. We don't let it in. We don't let it stay and penetrate and occupy the heart.

The Prophet, peace be upon him, salallahu alayhi wa sallam; he has an example, he says "the heart is very immaculate and clean, pure. When someone commits a sin, there will be a dark dot on his heart; then if he resorts to restoration and tawba and repentance, this dot is going to be removed; if he doesn't and then he commits the second sin, the third sin, then these dots are going to increase until a day that these dots are going to cover the whole heart" - and when it does like that, then there is no way for him to go back, no way for him to go back to Faith.

kalla! Barrana ala qulubihim, ma kanu yaksibun. Kalla! innahum min rabbihim yawmehden la mahjuboon - They're going to be veiled completely from their Lord, if the heart becomes overwhelmed with sins.

So, it is important for us to go back to forgiveness every single day. The sunnah, the tradition of the Prophet, salallahu alayhi wa alyhi wa sallam, was when he sits in a session, whether short or long, before he leaves, he would say 70 times "Astaghafirullahi Rabbi Wa Atubu Ilayhi," although he's the most infallible, the most, you know, sinless person; but to clean himself, to purify himself; this is because the heart is very tender, very delicate, very tender. Anything happens to the heart, it won't be easy to clean it, to restore it to its original condition.

And therefore, there is a lot of "invitations" I would say, in the Holy Qur'an, for us to go back to, not to not to be despaired, not to lose hope. "Qul ya ibadi alladheena asrafoo ala anfusihim" (39:53) "asrafoo" - they did excessiveness, immoderation of sins, "asrafoo ala anfusihim."(39:53) Even if you think that you committed each and every crime, still there is room to go back to your lord."La Taqnatu" (39:53)- Do not give up. Do not be despaired, "la taqnatoo min rahmati Allahi inna Allaha yaghfiru alththunooba jamee'a" (39:53) - He is willing to forgive all sins.

Don't say "I know He is going to forgive this and this and that; but that one, I know He is not going" - This is not faith. This is not the saying of a person who have a trust and faith in God's mercy because God's mercy encompasses everything in this universe, everything in this universe.

However, we have to realize, that there are some God's rights and people's rights - Huqooq Allah and Huqooq ul-'ibad. It would not be helpful if someone commits sins and injustice and inequities against the people, whether they are verbal, physical, financial; and then he goes to God at the end of the day, "oh, please, God forgive me. I know I stole money from this guy. I know I abused this one. I know I hit that one; but You are the most merciful." -

He is the most merciful. But it doesn't work this way. There is a protocol. There are steps to be taken. First, go and settle your case with the people that you abused you wronged them, make them happy; try to seek forgiveness from them, okay; then come to God. Do the first step; God is going to do the second step for you.

I read in one narration that even Allah Subhan Wa Ta'la won't actually, there are certain sins or injustices that someone commits that Allah won't forgive them until that person has gone and.. God.

Absolutely, and this is why when people go to Hajj and we know on the day of Arafat, there are numerous traditions that God is going to forgive all the people who are standing in that desert, all the people.

Therefore, before you go to Hajj, try to reach out to those that you wronged or you think you have wronged and tell them "I apologize to you, forgive me, I'm going on this journey and I really want God to forgive me. And I know if you don't forgive me, if you are not okay with me, if you still have, you know, some hard feelings in your heart, then God is not going to forgive me" - We must do this. We must go to people and seek forgiveness from them before we go to God and seek forgiveness from Him.

Thank you. Yes. Because otherwise again, it's kind of ironic. I mean, I'm sure many people can think of examples of someone who has hurt them or done an injustice and then they will do Ziyarah or Hajj and they are thinking, well, here is me, you know, you have defrauded me or you hurt me or you did something, and you think you're getting closer to Allah by doing this Ziyarah.

However, we also must say that some people, when the people go to them seeking forgiveness, they become stubborn; they say, "I would never, ever for the rest of my... Whatever you do to me, whatever you give me, whatever offer you give me, I would not forgive you, because it is deep down in my heart" - this is called grudge. And a grudge is unacceptable in Islam. The heart of the mu'min does not contain a grudge. Yes, we might be upset.

One time Imam Al- Sadiq, alayhi assalat wa assalam, was asked by one of his followers: "So you mean that I should not hate anyone? I should not get upset or angry by anyone?" Imam said, "if you are in that session and someone makes you angry, you know, provokes you, you may become angry; it's okay, but your anger has to end by the end of that session, you don't take it with you home, you don't carry it with you." When that session is over, end it there, bury it, dump it there and leave; don't carry it with you.

So, yes, of course, sometimes we get frustrated, we get angry, we yell, we scream, you know, because people do injustice to us, but we are not allowed to carry it with us and store it in the heart. We have to keep this heart immaculate and pure and clean, this heart is the seat of God. Hadith al-Qudsi states "La tasaooni ardi wa samaai wa lakin yasaooni qalbu abdi al-mu'min", the entire cosmos system, the universe cannot contain Me, to be a house for Me, cannot house Me; the only place that can house Me and contain Me, is the heart of my true servant "qalbu abdi al-mu'min."

So, we should really clean it (heart) for God. If God chooses to stay in this heart, we should clean it and cleaning it, brushing it from what? From grudge, from jealousy, from hate. We should not keep it there; because if we keep it there, the heart is going to suffer, and it is going to be not a healthy heart, but an ailing heart and an ailing heart cannot contain the truth; neither can contain God.

I was going to say because in the Holy Qur'an it says Allah will only accept someone who brings a "Qalb as-Saleem".

"Illa man ata Allaha biqalbin saleem" (26:89) - The heart has to be always purified, and grudge and hate, the most dangerous diseases that can, you know, settle in the heart and destroy the whole heart. So we have to stay away from that by trying to be forgiving, trying to forget what people did to us.

And this is the verse in the Qur'an. God says: "forgive, pardon and forgive people. You don't want God to forgive you?"(24:22). In the same fashion that I do lots of, you know, injustices to myself; and then I go to God "Oh please God, please forgive me." And I expect him to say, "okay, Moustafa, you are forgiven." God says then you have to do the same to others. You can't hold a grudge in your heart and refuse to forgive others, while you come to me and expect me instantly to say "you are forgiven." If you do that for me, I will do this for you.

So, those who come to us and say, "listen, in this year on that occasion, I did this to you, please forgive me." I should not be stubborn here. I should say, "okay, you're forgiven." But let's say I tell him, "please don't go back to this, don't do it neither to me again nor to anyone else, learn your lesson from it." And then we tell him "you are forgiven."

Thank you. You were also going to talk about, you know, repentance for different types of people. So we might think...

I was going to speak about the consequences of not repenting, if you allow me.

Sure, Yeah.

We have verses in the Qur'an that it says - these are some of the consequences for people when they don't repent, when they commit sins and they persist on them without resorting to repentance.

Verse in Surah Ar-Room "thumma kaana aqibatul-ladeena asa us suaa-an kaddhabu be ayathillahi wa kanu biha yahstahzaboon" (30:10)- Hence was the result of those who kept rejecting the signs of God. "Thumma kaana aqibatul-ladeena asa us suaa" - those who committed sins those who kept committing sins one after the other. At the end of the day, even though they were Muslims and sometimes they were believers, practicing Muslims, but they, let's say, committed many sins or one sin, let's say one sin; I'll give you an example of a sin which is very common among the community of the believers who pray and fast and go to Hajj and observe hijab - "back biting" very common.

Maybe they don't drink, they don't fornicate, they don't gamble, they don't steal, they don't murder, they don't rape; but for them, Gheebah, backbiting, gossiping, is very easy, very easy, very normal, acceptable. But it is a sin. "La yaghta baadakum baadah, ayuhibbu ahadukum any yaakula lahma akheehi maitan fakarih tumooh" (49:12). Don't backbite each other.

So, if someone does not to stop. He's going to corrupt his faith at the end of the day. At the end of his journey, he is going to reject God, one day he will reject, and I have seen this example of some people ,at the beginning of their journey was very good, very religious, very committed. But somehow after the age of 50, after the age of 60, they changed course completely. They stopped praying. Even to the extent that they said, what is Islam? This is just, you know, all mockery.

And so this is what the ayath is telling us:"Thumma kaana aqibatul-ladeena asa us suaa" (30:10) - they continued committing sins. "Suaa" means sins and "kaddhabu bi ayat Illah" - at the end, they would altogether reject the signs of God. "wa kanu biha yahstahzaboon" - they would ridicule them. They would ridicule the ahkaam of Islam, the commandments of God, the articles of faith. They start, you know, ridiculing them and belittling them. So this is one one result.

The second result is that when someone persists on sinning, he is going to be confused between what is right and what is wrong. Sometimes he sees things that are wrong and he considers them very right and acceptable. And this is exactly what the Qur'an says. Qur'an says in Surah Faatir, wich is chapter 35, verse number 8: "Afaman zuyyina lahu sooo amalihi faraahu hasanan fainna Allaha yudillu man yashao wayahdee man yasha" (35:8)- because of his sinning, he looks at something which is terrible, he did something very gross, very terrible, but he finds it Hasana, nice, acceptable, it's okay to do this.

And again, I have seen this, we are not talking about the community of the nonbelievers. We are not talking about non-Muslims or noncommitted Muslims. This is about some committed Muslims. But they come to specific sins and they look at them as being very normal. They plunder. I know some Muslims, they don't miss their prayers, neither their fasting, they love to go to Hajj like, their family members, they wear hijab, they go to the mosque, they recite the Qur'an; but when it comes to halal and haram, the money which does not belong to them, it's okay, they usurp that money, they take it, as if it is halal.

See, this is because they kept doing this in the beginning and they did not repent. So it becomes a habit for them. They get used to it. They cannot stop it, although they are praying, they are fasting, they are reading Qur'an and du'a, okay, but they can't stop this habit of taking the money that belongs to others.

Another consequence of the sin, which is mentioned in Surah at-Taubah, this is very interesting, "Fa a’qabahum nifaaqan fee quloobihim ilaa Yawmi yalqaw nahoo bimaaa akhlaf Allaaha maa wa’adoohu wa bimaa kaanoo yakhdhdhiboon" (9:77). A story of a man, one of the companions of the Prophet by the name of Thalabah. He was a very simple person, always with the Prophet, always in the mosque. And one day he said, "I am very poor, impoverished, oh Messenger of God, please pray for God to give me something." The Prophet said to him, "Ya Thalabah, with this little that you have, but you can give thanks to God and appreciate what he has given you, better than giving you something big where you cannot appreciate God".

But he kept saying, "oh please, Prophet, I have no wife, no family, no place." So the Prophet said, "okay, Allahumma arzuq Thalabah" - "oh Lord, give him." God started giving him, and the more he got, the more busy he became and the less he started going to the mosque; to the extent one day he became very rich, that when the Prophet asked him for Zakaat; he said, Zakat from Muslims. I know we get taxation from non-Muslims, jizya. I'm a Muslim. I'm a believer you want to take zakat from me? Taxation? He refused.

The Qur'an came and he said "Fa a’qabahum nifaaqan fee quloobihim" (9:77) because when he stopped going to the Masjid, stopped communicating with the Prophet and the Muslims and was completely busy and focused on his business, on the Duniya, on the money, that delivered him hypocrisy in his heart. Bequeathed him "Fa a’qabahum nifaaqan fee quloobihim ilaa Yawmi yalqaw nahoo bimaaa akhlafu Allaha maa wa’adoohu wa bimaa kaanoo yakhziboon."(9:77) He started lying because he said to the Prophet in the beginning that "if God gives me, I'm going to give to others."

So, when God gave him and He gave him a lot and he had surplus, he refused to pay the basic thing, which is zakat. So God says, because he was lying and cheating on God, then Nifaq penetrated and settled in his heart. And there is no way he can repent after that.

It is quite scary; but I think you are right, the people can go on for years actually with a certain lifestyle, praying and fasting, as you say, go on Hajj for Ziyarah; but they might be doing defrauding, as you say, they're in the habit of that and they tell themselves that it is something very light or there might be another common thing is for an employer to delay paying the employee. So that's quite common. And and I've heard that...

I hope Ahulbayt channel is not doing this to you guys.

No no no, it is not referring to certain companies, certain muslim organizations that that I've seen where it's a habit (it is a habit, it is a habit) to pay the check, you know..

It is a habit in certain cultures, in certain countries I've seen it, I've seen it that they have the money. Let's say they hire a laborer. He works in their house, in their office and they have the money, and he did his job and his job is completed. But they tell him "well, next week," or they write him a check, they say "don't deposit this now, in two weeks from now." - This is not good.

This is a habit, it becomes a habit, although they are very religious and they don't want to steal from that guy, but they don't also want to give him on time because it's a habit. He learned this from his father and his father learned that from his grandfather and it's embedded in their culture.

And making people suffer who have to support their families. We've just got a couple of minutes till we we have to wrap up. So perhaps could you give a tip on how we can repent?

Repentance also should be a habit that we should not be feeling arrogant - "well, today I didn't do anything wrong; my whole day was very nice, very proper; when when I spoke, when I acted, when I purchased," so why should... This is the whispering of the Shaytan, the whispering - "oh, you didn't do anything, you were the best person today, so don't repent; don't say Astaghfirullah, there's no need for you to say Astaghfirullah." And then he [Shaytan] would come the following day, the third day, and then the day when we do something wrong - again, he's going to say "this wasn't wrong; everybody did this.

We need to force ourselves to seek repentance in the morning, midday and the evening, everyday. It is actually the tradition of the Prophet, Sallal-lahu alayhi wa alihi wa sallam, that it is for the believer, a mu'min, to say at least 100 times, at least 100 times: "Astaghfirullah Rabbi Wa Attubu ilayh" with understanding, with appreciation, with feeling it, not just saying it, feeling it.

And of course, we have some private hours where we can spend in communion and privacy with God, especially after midnight, in particular Salat ul-Layl, Tahajjud, even if it is five minutes. I remember one of my scholars would say: "even if you can't say Salat ul-Layl, the half-an-hour or 20 minutes; when you open your eyes in the middle of the night, just say a few words to God, just say a few things to him. Say, "I love You, don't abandon me, I need You; You are everything to me. You are my friend." Even if you say this, this is good. Better than saying nothing. God loves to hear our voice. God loves to listen to our petitions when we petition to him, when we go to him, when we have some private..

Sometimes we do the prayers in Jama'ah, in public; but what is more important than that is when we go to him in private, because we claim He is our sweetheart; so we have to tell Him this. We have to acknowledge this between us and Him in private that - "we love You, I still love You. I know I am not being a good boy. I'm not a good servant. I'm not a good slave. But I still love You. You know that I love You. I need You. Take me to You" - these words will make a big difference; would improve the relationship between the servant and his Lord.

Thank you very much for that good advice for our viewers as well. Syed Moustafa Qazwini, thank you for this discussion on Tawbah and on Repentance; and I hope again for our viewers that was useful and that perhaps you've been taking notes as well; and inshaAllah, we'll see you in the next program, Salam Alaikum.