Have you read our first blog in our three part repentance series?
If you haven’t, then read it now. This blog will much make more sense once you had read the first one ☺
So, what exactly is a fresh start? Well, it is closing the door on the past and taking a new step to a new beginning. And ‘Tawbah’ also known as repentance is exactly this. It is to return from a sinful life to righteous ways, from evil to goodness.
Tawbah is a door which one enters. It is a safe haven for the believer for Allah ﷻ loves those who repent and those who return to His ways. Repentance is also a way of mending your relationship with Allah ﷻ.
But, what exactly do you need to make a successful fresh start? How can you actually take a clean break from your past life and start a fresh new life without your old life creeping back in?
Well, in this blog we will be exploring exactly this. We will be revealing the four conditions to making a fresh start and turning your back on your past life. This is what is also known as the four conditions of ‘repentance’.
FIRST CONDITION: To feel regretful and ashamed of the sins committed
You should feel ashamed of committing any sin, be it a major, minor or Makruh (disliked) act. This is because with every disobedient act a darkness enters the heart to corrupt it.
The sense of brokenness of the sinner is necessary to drive a person towards repentance. It is a sign that the heart of the person isn’t stamped by the satanic stamp and the way of amending the relationship with Allah ﷻ is still possible. In the Holy Quran allah ﷻ says:
“And those who, having done something to be ashamed of, or wronged their own souls, earnestly bring Allah to mind, and ask for forgiveness for their sins- and who can forgive sins except Allah?… For such the reward is forgiveness from their Lord and Gardens with rivers flowing underneath- an eternal dwelling: how excellent a recompense for those who work (and strive)” (3:135; 136).
Now, compare this to the person who commits a sin and doesn’t feel shameful and instead takes pride in his sinful deeds. For that person repentance becomes difficult because the heart of such a rebel is dead and a tool of Shaitan. About this type of heart Allah ﷻ says:
“Then, after that, your hearts were hardened and became as stones or even worse in hardness. And indeed, there are stones out of which rivers gush forth, and indeed, there are of them (stones) which split asunder so that water flows from them, and indeed, there are of them (stones) which fall down for fear of Allah. And Allah is not unaware of what you do.”
For this type of person only a miracle from Allah ﷻ can soften his heart and turn him towards repentance. May Allah saves us from the hardness of the heart, Ameen.
So, when you commit an act of disobedience that brings you a sense of humiliation and brokenness then know that this is a good sign to turn to Allah ﷻ and repent. Don’t despair or delay because you have failed many times because as Ibn Ata’Allah al-Sankadari Taj al-Arus (RA) said:
“God may decree that you commit a sin to rid you of arrogance and conceit. Indeed, it has been related, ‘Many a sin is there that causes its perpetrator to enter paradise”.
SECOND CONDITION: To cut the means which are leading you towards the sin
Now, you will have to abandon the acts which were previously taking you towards disobedience. An example is abandoning bad company, TV, Internet and so forth.
The company you keep is a major influence in your daily behaviour. The Beloved Messenger of God ﷺ said:
“A person acquires the same religion of his beloved ones, so let everyone observes whom they befriend.” ( Ahmad, Al-Tirmidhy)
Also Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: I heard the Prophet (ﷺ) saying:
“The similitude of good company and that of bad company is that of the owner of musk and of the one blowing the bellows. The owner of musk would either offer you some free of charge, or you would buy it from him, or you smell its pleasant fragrance; and as for the one who blows the bellows (i.e., the blacksmith), he either burns your clothes or you smell a repugnant smell.” (Al- Bukhari and Muslim)
This blessed Hadith informs us that our friends circle is vital to our rehabilitation in Allah’s ﷻ path. We should be careful when choosing our friends and cease or limit contact with those who are inviting us towards sins, at least during the period of repentance.
So, instead of going back to your old friends make some new friends who remind you of Allah ﷻ and the fleeting nature of this life.
Is bad company just about the people you hang around with or is it more than that? Actually, company is not only confined to people and can also include your laptop, internet, games, TV or any other activity that occupies your time and makes you forgetful from the remembrance of God, the Exalted. Even your your own mind can be good or bad company depending on the fantasies that you are imagining!
Sayyidina Ibn Ata’Allah (RA) says about companionship that:
“When you keep company with worldly people, they draw you to the life of this world. When you keep company with other worldly people, they draw you to God ﷻ. The Prophet ﷺ said, ‘A person imbibes the religion of his intimate friends.’ Just as you choose wholesome food to eat that is free from harmful ingredients to eat and just as you choose a beautiful woman to marry, seek intimate friendship only with those who can give you knowledge of the path to God the Exalted.
And know that in reality you have but three intimate friends: 1) Your money- which you will lose at death; 2) your family- who will leave at the site of your grave; and 3) your deeds- which will never leave. So start now cultivating companionship and getting intimate with one that will enter the grave with you. Indeed, the reasonable person is the person who understand God’s commands and prohibitions as imparted by God.”
THIRD CONDITION: Hold a firm, sincere and resolute intention not to re-commit that sin
You should now use your heart and mind to intend not to return to a life of darkness and instead strongly intend to remain on the straight and righteous path.
You have to remember that wishful thinking won’t take you anyway other than backwards. So when you make the sincere intention make you sure you are not just ‘wishing’ that you change but you are actually ‘willing’ to change!
When you have a ‘will’ to do something you have to take active steps to achieve the means. See the self-explanatory picture below! You can find it with a detailed explanation at page 36 of the Prophetic Path Coursebook.
Make sure you don’t make a promise to Allah ﷻ not to do something! Promises are sacred and MUSN’T be taken lightly. Instead make a strong intention and then try your BEST!
Say, you make a sincere intention in the morning not to swear and then you swear in the evening. what should you do then?
Easy, just unhesitatingly repent, re-make your strong intention (Top Tip: use the Prophetic Path app to immediately record why you swore and the circumstances you were in so you can derive a pattern if this occurs again – eg. Maybe being around certain friends) and start again.
Ok, now let’s talk about the great big misconception about this third condition. Sometimes, people think that because they have made an intention not to sin they won’t go back to the sinful act ever again, because if they do, God the Exalted won’t accept their repentance again. But, this is a false understanding.
Remember, we are human beings and we will make mistakes from time to time. What differentiates us is the fact that we can keep seeking forgiveness again and again until we meet death. Allah ﷻ says:
“Surely Allah loves the ones constantly repenting, and He loves the ones constantly purifying themselves. (2:222)”
FOURTH CONDITION: Fulfil the Rights of Allah ﷻ, the Prophet ﷺ and the creation
Now you will have to compensate for past mistakes!
Say you failed to fulfil the rights of Allah ﷻ (example Salah). On the other hand you failed to repay the debt you owed.
Which one of these do you think will bring you more difficulty on the day of judgement? The violation of rights of Allah ﷻ or of the creation?
Answer: The creation
Why? It’s simple when you think about it. Allah ﷻ can forgive the wrongs committed against Him, but out of His justice He does not forgive the wrongs committed against His creations, because only the person can decide to forgive that wrong or not.
Our Beloved Prophet Muhammad ﷺ explains this succinctly in the noble Hadith:
“If one has wronged his brother’s dignity or assaulted his assets unrightfully, he must have himself forgiven before the Doomsday where there is no gold or silver to pay. Otherwise, some of his good deeds (equal to the rights of that person) will be taken away from him and given to that person. If he has no good deeds, then the sins of the wronged one will be given to him. “
So then what are the rights of the people?
There are three categories of the rights of the people:
1. Financial rights (money, wealth and property)
If you have obtained unlawful wealth, be it in the form of land, money, real estate, gold and silver through confiscation, theft or fraudulent means in the past, this property must be returned to the rightful owner immediately. Otherwise, one must ask for forgiveness from them. If the owner has passed away, then the person must return it to their heirs (children and relatives). If there is no heir, then the person must give it in charity (Sadaqah) on their behalf.
2. Physical/bodily rights (life)
If you have harmed anyone physically, emotionally or spiritually then you must ask forgiveness from them (or their blood relations in cases where they are deceased).
You must ask for forgiveness from those individuals whom you slandered, committed backbiting against or made fun of in a degrading manner.
Below is an amazing chart which gives you an overview of the rights owed. You can use it to compare those you have violated in the past and you can even use it as a signpost of the rights you yet have to fulfil.
The two units (rakaat) of the Prayer for repentance
Now, if you really want your repentance to be accepted you will have to meet ALL four of the conditions! You can’t skip any 😉
Once you have done this it is recommended to perform 2 Rakah Salatul Tawba nafl Salah.
You should make ablution in a proper manner, offer two units of prayer for the pleasure of Allah and thereafter remember your sins tearfully from the depth of your heart, supplicating with extreme remorse and regret to Allah ﷻ that,
“Oh Allah, other than you I have no Lord and apart from me You have many servants and no one can forgive my sins apart from You. From your Mercy and Grace forgive me and protect me from committing sins in the future.”
Before and after the prayer you should recite salutation upon the prophet ﷺ.
The best time to offer this prayer is the last part of the night (Tahajjud) during which Allah ﷻ Himself announces, “Is there anyone who seeks repentance from sin?”
AND…this is the complete method and four conditions of repentance!
If there are any sins you are seriously struggling from and wish to discuss it in private then feel free to message one of our gender-specific mentors who will confidentially advise you further.