The reality of Sincere Repentance (Tawbah): Part 2
The sooner, the better…
Successful Tawbah is a difficult task. Indulging in sins, especially major and mortal ones cause a person to become totally forgetful of Tawbah. If the tree of sins growing in the orchard of the human heart reaches maturity and its roots become strong, the results are calamitous, causing a person to turn completely away from repentance.
Even when the thought of Tawbah occasionally comes to his mind, he postpones it from one day to another, and from one month to the next, telling himself, "I will make sound repentance at the end of my life and in old age." This is wishful thinking. Such a person cannot perform Tawbah after the roots of sinfulness have grown deep into his personality. The best time for Tawbah is youth when sins are fewer, the inner darkness of the heart is incomplete and all the conditions of Tawbah are easier to fulfill. This God?given opportunity should be availed at all costs and one shouldn’t pay heed to satanic whisperings to postpone Tawbah. And therefore, one should do Tawbah as soon as possible after a sin is committed. An intelligent person who realizes this fact, abstains from sins, and undoes wrong committed in the past.
His penitent heart filled with remorse, develops a firm determination to quit sinful life. God helps him and if his Tawbah is sincere, he becomes the beloved of God as mentioned in the holy verse: “Verily God loves the repentant” (2: 222)
Imam ‘Ali (A.S) said: “If you want to win His blessings in the next world, today is the day of preparation while tomorrow is the day of reward. The place to proceed to is Paradise while the place of doom is Hell. Is there no one among you to repent for his deeds before his death, compensate for wrongs he has done, and do well before the calamity of retribution descends upon him?” [Nahjul-balagha, sermon #33]
A call to awaken the heart for Tawbah
O man! How sinful and foolish you are not to know the worth of the bounties of your Provider. After having spent years in disobedience and after prolonged disloyalty to such a merciful Lord, Who has provided all the means of your comfort and ease ? without there being, na`udhu bi Allah, any imaginable benefit to Him ? having violated His sanctities and taken shamelessness and recalcitrance to their extreme, now that you are remorseful, penitent and repentant, God Almighty has taken you as His loved one. What an abundance of mercy and plenitude of bounty! O God! We are incapable of thanking You for Your bounties. Our tongues are unable to praise and extol You. All that we can do is to bow our heads in shame and ask Your pardon for our shamelessness. We don’t deserve Your mercy. Indeed, Your mercy is more abundant and Your bounties are more inclusive than can be described.
A wise man should endeavor to intensify the form of contrition and grief in the heart so that God willing, it sets aflame the fire of remorse. That is, through meditation about the terrible consequences of sin, remorse becomes stronger in his heart, thereby voluntarily kindling the holy fire, the fire about which Qur'an says: The fire of God kindled (roaring) over the hearts, a vault upon them, in outstretched columns (104:6-8).
In his heart, burning the fire of remorse will incinerate all his sins and burn away all its rust and corrosion. He should know that were he not to kindle himself this fire in this world and were he not to open upon himself the door of this hell, he would inevitably pass from this world into the next world to face the terribly cauterizing fire prepared for him there. Thereupon the doors of Hell shall be opened and the doors of Paradise closed to him. A wise person thus realizes the grave consequences of his sins.
O God! Give us a chest lit with the fire of remorse. Set our hearts aflame with the worldly fire and set it afire by throwing into it the sparks of remorse. Remove the rust of our hearts and take us from this world in a state of freedom from the consequences of sins. Surely You are the Lord of bounties. [Adopted from Al-Khomeini, Forty Hadith, chapter 17, ‘Tawbah’]
Imam Sadjad (A.S) said: “My God! You are He who has opened a door to Your pardon and named it 'repentance' for You said, ‘Repent to God with unswerving (sincere) repentance’ (66: 8). What is the excuse for him who remains heedless of entering the door after its opening?” [al-Sahifa al-Kamilah, The Whispered Prayer of the Repenters]
A Healthy Society under the Grace of Ethics (Part 1)
A Healthy Society under the Grace of Ethics (Part 2)
A Healthy Society under the Grace of Ethics (Part 3)
A Healthy Society under the Grace of Ethics (Part 4)
A Healthy Society under the Grace of Ethics (Part 5)