- The Heart Blackens
One might argue: What difference does it make whether my heart is black or red in colour? Who is watching it? Well, it does matter. The black heart is an indicator of our thoughts and resulting behaviour. The more sins we engage in, the more we normalize such behaviour for ourselves, until our hearts no longer feel fear or remorse. This is the most detrimental state to be in, when we lose the desire to reform, stop feeling guilt, no longer wish to be among the guided, and do not feel that anything is wrong with our choices.
- Barakah Disappears
With each sin we commit and fail to repent from, the blessings of Allah (swt) slowly diminish. They ultimately disappear from our lives. Barakah can be defined as divine goodness that comes to something, remains thereafter and causes the goodness to grow. This increase can actually happen physically as well as spiritually. As we commonly say: when unexpected guests land, there is Barakah in the food, as it suffices everyone.
- Provisions are Lost
The Prophet (sa) said: “A person is denied provision (Rizq), because of a sin he commits.” (Ibn Majah) For a steady flow of provisions, a constant check on one’s life choices needs to be kept. It was also reported by the Messenger (sa): “All of the children of Adam are sinners, and the best sinners are those who repent.” (Tirmidhi) So those who find their Rizq constricted must evaluate themselves closely and repent in any case.
- Others Hate the Sinner
Allah (swt) says in the Quran: “…Verily Allah does not like anyone who is a betraying sinner.” (Hajj 22:38) When Allah (swt) dislikes an individual, it will naturally lead to the rest of the creation disliking that individual as well. Whenever people around us start giving us trouble, it is a good opportunity for us to begin repenting from sins.
- Angels do not Make Dua for Him
Some distinguished angels are selected by Allah (swt) to carry His throne. They are the same ones who are assigned to make Dua for those people who repent and follow Allah’s (swt) way in the world. (Ghafir 40:6) Imagine the honour Allah (swt) grants these believers and the status of this Dua. Where is it made? Up above the Heavens. What a grave loss it is for us to miss out these Duas, due to our sins and oblivion towards them.
- One Loses the Will to do Good
Our sins become a major obstacle in doing good. Even if we have the desire to benefit someone, we will lack the energy, initiative and enthusiasm to go forward. Our blackened heart will prevent us from carrying it out.
- Sins Beget Sins
Ibn Al-Qayyim said: “If the heart darkens from the shadows of sin, then the storms of evil will gust towards him from every direction. This person will find himself moving from one sin to another, until he becomes like a blind person, who is stumbling about in the darkness of night.” Hence, in conclusion, the more sins we commit now, the more sins we will commit in future.
- Cause Self-Loathing
Since we were created to worship and obey Allah (swt) by default, turning away from this original creation plan causes emotional and spiritual distress for a sinner. If he does not run back to Allah (swt) or return to his Lord in repentance, the sinner lives in a state of discontentment, resentment and deep unhappiness. In extreme cases, this leads people to committing suicide or falling for alcohol or drugs to keep them in a state of delusion.
- Ending up in Disbelief
Why does Shaitan trap us and plays all these games with us to lead us to sins? To turn us into a disbeliever eventually. That is the final game plan – to take us along to Hellfire. So Shaitan works on using sins against humankind and blotting away any trace of faith left inside.
Repentance Saves You!
No sin can stand before sincere repentance. Taubah (repentance) is one of the cornerstones of what it means to be a successful Muslim, as Allah (swt) says: “And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed.” (Noor 24:31)
Allah (swt) warns those who do not pay heed to His great allowance: “And whoever does not repent – then it is those who are the wrongdoers.” (Al Hujurat 49:11)
Considering that we all will commit sins at some point in life, one should be realistic and grab this opportunity of purification. The word ‘Taubah’ itself linguistically means ‘returning’. We as slaves return to Allah (swt), asking for forgiveness. He, as our Lord, returns to us with His divine mercy.
Conditions of Taubah
- Saying Goodbye to the Sin
How can one sincerely repent if he continues sinning? He must stop sinning. Make Dua to Allah (swt) for help and guidance, identify and eliminate the triggers that invite you to sin, withdraw yourself from sinful company, seek help or therapy and attach yourself to someone who believes in you for constant moral boost and support, until you are certain that you will not return to sinning. We must understand that a firm resolve must also be followed up by a firm plan.
- Feeling Regretful
Our heart must feel sincere regret for committing the sin. If we still enjoy it or are not convinced in our heart that this particular sin is loathsome, we will eventually return to it, in spite of our efforts. Recite Quran, read its translation, and read the Prophet’s (sa) and his Companions’ trials in the way of Islam. Most of them were polytheists and indulged in all sorts of ill practices before embracing Islam. But once they did, they left behind the misguided life. This will give some consolation and encouragement.
- Commitment to Leave the Sin
We must have a true intention to leave our sin. Initially, we may even fail in our actions but never give up on yourself. Know that you are stronger than Shaitan and your Nafs. And your Lord is the One with absolute power and might. Seek His help every day and do not despair – you will eventually break the cycle and come out of the darkness.
- Restoring the Rights of Others
Allah (swt) is very sensitive towards the rights of His creation. Our sincere Dua will earn us forgiveness, if we have violated Allah’s (swt) rights. But He insists that we repay, repair, and re-build what we have broken in terms of the rights of others.
“The doors of Taubah remain open, until the death rattle sounds for each individual.” (Tirmidhi) On a collective level, the doors are shut when punishment is imminent or the major signs of the Day of Judgement begin.
What if I don’t sin much?
The position of every individual on this earth by default is that of a sinner. And it is Allah’s (swt) position by default to have mercy on us. But that does not guarantee Paradise for all. We have to assume ownership of our actions at some point in life, especially when Allah (swt) shows us multiple signs in our surroundings. The presence of practicing believers among us should prompt us to reform. The funerals we attend should wake us up. The calamities and diseases Allah (swt) saves us from or brings us out of must be a reminder for us.
Nevertheless, we still need to do repentance for the following reasons:
- Being (insufficiently) grateful for the blessings of Allah (swt).
- Sins we commit unknowingly.
- Shortcomings in the obligatory acts, such as Salah.
- Falling short in our treatment of others.
It is impossible to escape this negligence; hence, even the most pious of all cannot claim to be sin free.
Who can deny the Lord’s mind-blowing offer in the Quran? “Except for those who repent, believe and do righteous work. For them Allah will replace their evil deeds with good. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful.” (Al Furqan 25:70)