Allah subhanahu wa ta‘ala is qabil al-tawb: the acceptor of penitence. Innahu kana bi’l-awwabina ghafura: He is ever Forgiving of those who turn to Him. Faced with the evidence of His overpowering might, and of His power to remove His protection from the violence of nature, our hearts tremble. And in this there lies our hope. Allah himself says, in a Hadith Qudsi:  ‘Son of Adam! So long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. Son of Adam! were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. Son of Adam! Were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness like unto it.’ [Tirmidhi] The divine name al-Hafiz, the Protector, is the one we seek refuge in against the name al-Muntaqim, the Avenger. This is the meaning of the Prophetic du‘a –A‘udhu bika mink: ‘I seek Your protection from You.’

A man once came to Ibn Mas‘ud, radiya’Llahu anh, and asked him: I have repeatedly committed a major sin – can there be any repentance for me? Ibn Mas‘ud turned away, and the man saw that his eyes had filled with tears. He said: ‘Paradise has eight gates, and each one of them is sometimes open and sometimes shut. With the exception of the Gate of Repentance, which is held open eternally by an angel who never leaves that place. So do not despair!’

One of the early Muslims used to say that ‘Repentance is like becoming a Muslim again.’

We need to find shelter in the Divine protection. And the road back to that place is called tawba. We need to repent of our frenzied enthusiasm for the mechanical pleasures of today’s world. Watching the disgusting exhibitions of human egos on television while our neighbours are lonely is not the way of Muslims. A hadith tells us that the Muslim is not he who sleeps well-fed while his neighbour is hungry.

Muhasaba is a term in the Sunna: ‘Call yourselves to account before you yourselves are called to account.’

And the ulema say that the first step in tawba is muhasaba. We need, as individuals and as societies, to stop gobbling for a moment, and to think about how we have recently spent our time. At the end of each day, to take a minute looking back, to see what we would rather forget. And when we see those things, the desire for tawba begins.

We ask Allah subhanahu ta‘ala to grant us the gift of tawba, for us here, and for all Muslims. May He forgive us our weaknesses and our secret faults, and our laziness in serving Him. May He grant us love and brotherhood for one another, and give us the blessing of common action against what threatens us all. May He empty our hearts of suspicion and pride, and of the love of dispute, and unite us in the service of Islam and the Muslims.

Source: When the Generous appears with the Name Avenger by Shaykh Abdal-Hakim Murad


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