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Saturday, July 16, 2005

Stay on Track

By IOL Shari`ah Researchers


Before delving into how to preserve one's repentance and strengthen it so it can be of great benefit in this world and the Hereafter, we would like to shed light on the conditions of true repentance. These conditions are:

1. Giving up the sins one used to commit
2. Feeling regret for committing such sins and feeling remorse whenever one remembers them, and developing a fear of Almighty Allah's punishment
3. Resolving never to return to committing one's past sins, exerting one's utmost to resist all temptations and never even thinking about succumbing to a temptation
4. Depending on the fact that Allah is Ever-Forgiving and Merciful
5. Seeking to compensate the person if the sins are concerned with violating someone's rights, and asking them for forgiveness

There are many considerations that should be taken into account concerning the preservation of one's repentance and strengthening it.
First, bear in mind that committing sins hardens one's heart. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: "When a servant of Allah commits a sin a black spot is planted in his heart. If he gives up that sin and asks Almighty Allah for forgiveness, his heart gets purified. But if he returns to sinning, the black spot widens until it causes the heart to rust altogether." (At-Tirmidhi) This rust is referred to in Almighty Allah's words: [Nay, but that which they have earned is rust upon their hearts.] (Al-Mutaffifin 83: 14) Al-Hasan Al-Basri, an eminent righteous predecessor, said: "The good deed illuminates the heart and strengthens the body, while the bad deed darkens the heart and weakens the body."
Sinning may also negatively affect earning one's livelihood. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: "A man may be deprived from means of livelihood because of a sin he has committed." (Ibn Majah). It should be kept in mind that death may come at any moment, and thus, it is important to seek to renew one's repentance every now and then and keeps one's heart pure.
Second, seek to observe and consistently practice additional acts of worship, in addition to observing the obligatory acts. Train oneself never to fall short.
Third, avoid going to places that may be a temptation to return to sinning. It is best to cut off all relations with those who go to such places. It is not right to tell oneself that it is all right to go to these places in an attempt to call the people to the right path, as going there may be the beginning of a further deterioration. It is better to be rid of anything that may cause one to seek the pleasure of sinning.
Fourth, seek to keep the company of righteous committed persons. This will help one remain steadfast on the right path. This includes seeking to marry a righteous person who can help preserve true repentance and help one remain obedient to Almighty Allah.
Fifth, seek to acquire useful knowledge in different fields pertaining to both religious and worldly sciences, attend lectures by knowledgeable scholars, and try to develop career capabilities, whether academically or professionally.
Sixth, observe the duty to express gratitude to one's parents, keep good ties with relatives, and help younger sisters and brothers in their field of study and in becoming closer to Almighty Allah.
Seventh, try to serve the community by participating in useful projects that are of benefit to the Muslim youth and caring for those who are elderly and poor.

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