Ramazan and repentance

Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamath, Sri Lanka.

It IS a special custom for every Muslim to do 'Taubah' (Repentance) during the holy month of Ramadhan, because, the month of Ramazan has a close link with Repentance. What is 'Taubah'?

'Taubah' is an Arabic word which literally means to come back or to incline. According to the Islamic terminology, it means, ' to seek forgiveness from Allah for one's sins and shortcomings'. Man is liable to commit sins at every step and there comes a stage when a person is deeply plunged into the quagmire of sins which takes him more and more near to Satan and moves him more and more away from God.

But when such a person really and truly realizes his own folly, he turns towards Allah and seeks His refuge entreating most fervently seeking Divine succour in treading the paths of piety.

This is what is called 'Taubah' - Repentance. No Divine scripture can claim to be perfect in itself unless it fulfills to the entire the internal and the external needs of the human beings.

It would be a great pity if man is held guilty, responsible and culpable and considered fit to be consigned to the gallows even though he repents over his past evil deeds, and promises firmly to engage himself in piety. It is an inevitable law that to err is human.

That is why God has imparted the teachings of TAUBAH to all the Prophets and Reformers who had been sent to this world for the reformation of mankind.

Every Prophet and Reformer passed this teaching to his contemporary nations as he received it from God. Drawing the attention of the believers towards the avenues of prosperity and salvation, Allah says in the Holy Quran: "And turn ye to Allah altogether that ye may succeed." (24;32) In this verse Allah enjoins upon the believers that if owing to human weakness they commit any sins and misdeeds they need not fall into the pit of despondency and should not let gloom and despair overtake their spirits and senses. Instead they should turn honestly to God with the sincerity of the hearts to seek forgiveness for their sins and misdeeds. Further Allah assures the believers that He will not only forgive their misdeeds owing to human weakness but shall crown their efforts with success and grant them prosperity. In this way, Allah the Most Beneficent and Merciful will dispel the gloom and despair from the hearts of the believers and will shower upon them gentle drops of His Mercy in great abundance.

The Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) emphasizing the importance of 'Taubah' (Repentance), exhorted his followers in the following words: " O ye people! Seek forgiveness of Allah for your sins and ask for mercy, for I myself do the same more than a hundred times every day". (Muslim) In another place, he is reported to have said: "Anyone who repented of his sins was like the one who had never sinned". (Ibn-i-Mjah) The Muslim theologians and scholars say that repenting for one's sins is indeed most important and might be termed as a 'must'. It is therefore, obvious that without repentance one cannot achieve spiritual perfection and moral excellence.

True Repentance and its conditions:-

What is the true repentance? Most of the people seem to be satisfied with mere oral recitation of the word TAUBAH. But that is totally contrary to the concept of real repentance. An oral recitation cannot guarantee any benefit from Allah unless a person is truly contrite and repentant in his heart of hearts and gives a proof of it by his deeds and his actions and not merely through word of mouth.

True repentance means that one should be ashamed and conscious-stricken of his sins and should, therefore, pray and beseech fervently to Allah the Almighty to shower His mercy upon him. At the same time one should make a strong resolution that he would try his level best to abstain from all sinful deeds in the future.

He must make a reasonable change in his daily life and honestly and sincerely turn to God Almighty. He should bear strong affirmity to Allah with determined resignation of his body and soul to His will.

Moreover one should immerse oneself in the fire of love for God and incinerate his ego therein and try to develop godly virtues in his heart to lead a pious life in the future. This is what is called true repentance about which the Holy Quran says: " O ye! who believe! Turn to Allah in sincere repentance". (66;9)

Conditions for Taubah – Repentance:-

The seven conditions of the True 'Taubah' are given below:

1. The repenting person should be contrite of his sins with a true heart and should be truly ashamed of his past sins.

2. He should make up his mind very sincerely that in the future he would never neglect his duties as commanded by Islam.

3. That if it be physically possible to make amends for his past misdeeds, he must try to do so.

4. That if he had, in the past, perpetrated atrocities or inflicted any injury upon someone, he should go and beg his pardon and try to compensate for them.

5. That to his level best, he should make restitutions to those whom he had defrauded in the past or done any wrong. If he is not able to do so, he should at least pray for them.

6. That he should undertake to vow to abstain from sinful acts and should make up his mind firmly not to indulge in misdeeds any more.

7. The repenting person should strive to follow the path of righteousness and should make a very great spiritual change in his heart.

Fruits and Benefits of 'Taubah' – Repentance:-

Sincere Repentance does avert the decreed dooms, calamities and tribulations that do befall us. Allah not only enjoins and exhorts repentance but gives the assurance that He does accept repentance and answers the prayers of the supplicants and does write off the sins of the repenting people.

Moreover Allah enlightens the soul of the repenting person and elevates him to the place where he could enjoy spiritual bliss and nearness to Himself.

As a reward for repentance, Allah not only forgives the sins of the repentant but also converts his evil deeds into good deeds. (Holy Quran: 25;71) This means, that the repentant should bring about so complete and thorough reformation that in the place of every sin and crime in which one had indulged before his 'Taubah' (Repentance) should practise a corresponding virtue.

There are some people who think that they are free to indulge in sins to the extreme, because all of them would be forgiven through repentance and that they shall thus avoid punishment.

Such people are indeed totally mistaken and are ignorant. This is because 'Taubah' as is explained in Islam does not at all provide facilities as has been mentioned above and that to commit sins time and again and then seek repentance.

We must seek and implore the help of Allah and His succour in all our efforts and exertions and to remain pure and never to indulge in sinful acts. It is not of much avail simply to go on repeating phrases while the heart is not aware of the real purpose.

Nothing reaches God except that which proceeds from the hearts. Do supplicate very often in your own language as it does move your own hearts also. The tongue should be a witness to the state of your heart.

May God the Almighty enable all the Muslims to do the Repentance (Taubah) in the real sense during this holy month of Ramadhan

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