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From your sleep of heedlessness.

And Return to God - Allah!

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Sourced mainly from Al-Qushairī, Al-Hujwirī and al-Tustarī[13]

You must know that repentance is the first station the spiritual traveler on the way to the Truth, just as purification is the first step of those who desire to serve God.[7] Hence Allah has said:

{ يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا تُوبُوا إِلَى اللَّهِ تَوْبَةً نَّصُوحًا }

{ O Believers repent unto Allah with a sincere repentance! }

Repentance: beginning in the life of a person who intends to walk in the path of religion. It is the first step of discipline, the key to guidance to the straight path + of purification, to come close to Allah + is a dear thing to all prophets.

1. Introduction

{ وَتُوبُوا إِلَى اللّٰهِ جَمِيعًا أَيُّهَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ }

{ Turn to Allah altogether O believers! So that you may succeed. }

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said regarding this verse:

"The one who repents from sin is like one who did not sin."
Abu 'Ubadah bin 'Abdullah (Ibn Majah)[2]

التَّائِبُ مِنَ الذَّنْبِ كَمَنْ لاَ ذَنْبَ لَ

after which he (the blessings and peace of Allah upon him) recited:

{ إِنَّ اللّٰهَ يُحِبُّ التَّوَّابِينَ وَيُحِبُّ الْمُتَطَهِّرِينَ }

{ Indeed, Allah loves those who turn (to Him) in repentance and loves those who purify themselves.}

I heard the messenger of Allah ﷺ say: “he who turns away from (the) sin is like someone who has no sin, and when Allah loves a person no sin[1] will hurt him.”
Anas b. Mālik (Ibn Māja) - hadith joined together

They asked him:
O messenger of Allah what is the sign of return (tawba)?
He said: “it is repentance.” (nadāma).
Anas b. Mālik (Ibn Māja) - hadith joined together

2. Repenting From What?

One of the worst sins is the sin of carelessness or heedlessness (ghaflah)[16]. This is carelessness about Allah and his Messenger, and so about his divine message which is meant to guide man toward felicity in this life and the next.
And it is carelessness about 'the other'/ the neighbour and it is carelessness about the own self/ soul! {but they wrong their own souls.} 9-70

How can one be so stubborn and obstinate not to take the hand which offers help?

Allah says in the revealed scripture of the Quran:

{ أَفَحَسِبْتُمْ أَنَّمَا خَلَقْنَاكُمْ عَبَثًا وَأَنَّكُمْ إِلَيْنَا لَا تُرْجَعُونَ }

{Then did you think that We created you uselessly (or: aimlessly, in jest, in play without any purpose) and that ye would not be brought back to Us (for account)?}

Tafsīr - meaning:
Did you think that you were created in vain, with no purpose, with nothing required of you and no wisdom on Our part?
Or it was said that "in play" meant to play and amuse yourselves, like the animals were created, who have no reward or punishment? But you were created to worship Allah and carry out His commands.
Tafsīr Ibn Kathir[15]

More on sins and heedlessness below.
In what follows we will go into more detail, inshah Allah.

3. Meaning of Tauba/ Sincere Repentance

Taubat means repenting of sins(/of sinning), promising Allah to not repeat the same evils again and returning to Him alone.

Repentance is the beginning in the life of a person who intends to walk in the path of religion. It is the first step of discipline, the key to guidance to the straight path, the weapon of purification of those who wish to come close to Allah and is a dear thing to all prophets. [3]

4. The First Waystation

Repentance (tawba )[4] is the first of the waystations of the spiritual aspirant and the first of the stations of the seeker for truth[5]. The exact meaning of repentance (tawbah ) in the language of the Arabs is Return. As it is said: He has made (tawbah ) in the meaning of 'he has returned.'

Tawba (tawbah ) is the return from what is blameworthy in the religious law to that which is praisworthy,[6] and this implies of course turning away from the forbidden (harām ) toward the allowed (halāl ).[11]

5. Sahl al-Tustari on Repentance

{ وَتُوبُوا إِلَى اللّٰهِ جَمِيعًا أَيُّهَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ }

Regarding the verse cited above { Turn to Allah altogether O believers!} 24-31 (Sahl) was asked:

'What is repentance (tawba)?'
He replied:

"It is that you exchange your ignorance for knowledge, your forgetfulness for remembrance and your disobedience for obedience."

{ يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا تُوبُوا إِلَى اللَّهِ تَوْبَةً نَّصُوحًا }

Regarding the verse cited above { O Believers repent unto Allah with a sincere repentance! } 66-8 he said:

"Sincere repentance (tawba naṣūḥ) means that a person does not return (to sin), for he has become one of the company of lovers (aḥibba), and the lover does not embark upon anything which the Beloved dislikes."

He also said:

"As for the one who is sincerely repentant (tāʿib mukhliṣ), even though it might be for only an hour, or even for one breath before his death, it will be said (to him), 'How quickly have you come forth with true (sincere repentance) (ṣaḥīḥan)! (Accordingly) we have come to you in the manner that you have come."[14]

6. Three Conditions for Repentance

The people of (who are concerned with) the roots of this affair[12] teach the following: A true tawba (tawbah ) demands three conditions for repentance:

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said: “Penitence is the act of returning” (an-nadām at-tawba ).
ʿAbdallāh b. Masʿūd (Ibn Māja)

This saying comprises three things which are involved in tawba, namely,
(1) tawba for disobedience,
(2) immediate abandonment of sin, and
(3) determination not to sin again.[7]

7. The Nature of Repentance

Regarding ”the nature and property of repentance, the (Shuyukh of tasawwuf)[8] hold diverse opinions. Sahl b. 'Abdallah (at-Tustari) and others believe that repentance consists in not forgetting your sins but always regretting them,“ … so that thereby he ”will never become conceited".

Junaid and others take the opposite view, that repentance consists in forgetting the sin. They argue that the penitent is a lover of Allah, and the love of Allah is in contemplation of Allah, and in contemplation it is wrong to remember sin, for for remembrance of sin is a veil between Allah and those who contemplate Him. … In short, repentance is a Divine strengthening and sin is a corporal act.

Repentance is of three kinds: (1) from what is wrong to what is right, (2) from what is right to what is more right, (3) from selfhood to Allah. The first kind of the repentance of ordinary men, the second kind is the repentance of the elect; and the third kind of repentance belongs to the degree of Divine love (mahabbat ).[9]

8. Sins - Heedlessness

Dhu 'l-Nūn, the Egyptian, said: “Ordinary men repent of their sins, but the elect repent of their heedlessness,” because ordinary men shall be questioned concerning the outward behavior, but the elect shall be questioned concerning the real nature of their conduct.

Heedlessness, which to ordinary men is a pleasure, is a veil to the elect.

Abu Hafs Haddad says: “Man has no part in repentance, because repentance is from Allah to Man, not from Man to Allah.” According to this saying, repentance is not acquired by Man, but is one of Allah's gifts, a doctrine which is closely akin to that of Junayd.[10]

  1. What is sin?

    Doing an act which has be prohibited by Allah and to the doer of any such action is held accountable and is liable to some sort of punishments by Allah, sometimes the punishment will have to be borne only in this world and sometimes in both worlds.
    Sins are like flat tyres, people with them go nowhere if not changed at the right time.

    The worst scenario is when sins turn into habit so much so that sometimes any sin performed regularly becomes 'culture' which we can't drop. No wonder sins may sound or look tempting and irresistible but there's a line above and below everything we do.

    Sometimes we know that we are addicted to a certain type of sin and it seems like we are waiting for them to be called out. Or we may find it hard to drop them as we are used to them so much that they have become an integrated part of our life.

    May we seek protection from Allah, to bring us out of those, or even better may Allah protect us for not ever falling into sins.

    (https://understandquran.com/what-is-tawbah-why-should-we-repent-to-allah/) What is Tawbah & why should We Repent to Allah? - Understand Al-Qur’an Academy  ↩

  2. https://sunnah.com/ibnmajah:4250  ↩

  3. (https://understandquran.com/what-is-tawbah-why-should-we-repent-to-allah/) What is Tawbah & why should We Repent to Allah? - Understand Al-Qur’an Academy  ↩

  4. Repentance is deep regret or guilt for wrongs or sins committed, an intensive feeling of remorse - when the soul is confronted with its sins, of having forgotten God, and or of having placed other so-called gods instead of the One and Only God.

    The word “repentance” does barely attain to the meaning it once had. The spoken English of today and for that matter many other languages as well, have - in the era of postmodernist depletion of values and nihilism - lost much of their semantic strength.  ↩

  5. …the first of the stations of the seeker for truth for the all-encompassing mercy and knowledge of God.  ↩

  6. Quschairi, S. 146; Kap. 3.3 ↩

  7. KAM294 (Kashf Al-Mahjūb p.294)  ↩ - ch.4 ↩

  8. The shuyukh of tasawwuf who are the 'shaykhs' of Sufism, and remember tasawwuf is the heart of this religion. Then not to forget that most, if not all classical shuyukh had an affiliation to tasawwuf, see here: Tasawwuf Shuyukh  ↩

  9. KAM297  ↩

  10. KAM298–299  ↩

  11. So etymologically tawba means “return”, because tawba really involves the turning back from what Allah has forbidden through fear of what He has commanded. (Al-Qushairi)

  12. the roots of this affair: i.e. of this religion of Islam - are the scholars of usūl, which are the roots and principles of the Islamic law. More: On the Original Meaning of Fiqh

  13. Sourced mainly from Al-Qushairi (1), Al-Hujwiri (2) and Tafsīr al-Tustarī (3)
    (1) Risalat Qushairī, Sendschreiben über das Sufitum, trnsl. R. Gramlich
    (2) (KAM) Kashf Al-Mahjūb; Al-Hujwirī, trnsl. Nicholson

  14. (3) Tafsīr al-Tustarī; trnsl. Annabel and Ali Keeler

  15. (http://m.qtafsir.com/) Tafsīr Ibn Kathir
    (https://www.altafsir.com/Tafasir.asp) Tafsīr al-Jalalayn, trans. Feras Hamza
    Did you suppose that We created you aimlessly and not for an underlying reason and that you would not be returned to Us?' read active tarji'ūna 'you would not return' or passive turja'ūna 'you would not be returned'
    Nay! But it was so that We might engage you with commands and prohibitions whereafter you would be returned to Us for Us to requite you accordingly: { And I did not create the jinn and mankind except that they may worship Me } Quran 51-56.

  16. Read Sura 7-179



Related texts
link-in A Postmodern Sin: Acedia
link-in On Carelessness Or Heedlessness
link-in Repentance for zina and drinking


* Living Islam – Islamic Tradition *