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Opening a Perfect Door: Repentance

قَالَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ) مَنْ لَزِمَ الاِسْتِغْفَارَ جَعَلَ اللهُ لَهُ مِنْ كُلِّ هَمٍّ فَرَجاً، وَمِنْ كُلِّ ضِيقٍ مَخْرَجاً، وَرَزَقَهُ مِنْ حَيْثُ لاَ يَحْتَسِبُ(.

"If someone constantly asks for forgiveness, Allah will show him a way out from every difficulty and a way to salvation from every sorrow, and He will give sustenance from an unexpected source" (Abu Davud, Vitr 26).

Repentance... Asking for forgiveness... Desiring that one's mistakes not be counted... Making one's tongue and body witnesses to this plea... While making this wish, showing the sincerity of it through behavior ...

Repentance has a function in establishing balance in the relationship between the servant and Allah, who blew man's spirit from His own spirit and who, in a sense, made man a candidate to be a part of Himself. Repentance is a requirement of servanthood; it is the requirement of recognizing man's absolute ruler and drawing the limit of his own helplessness. It is a sign that the servant has not forgotten his Lord.

It is impossible for man to be free from mistakes. Wishing to live without error means wishing to be an angel. However, our Prophet said, "I swear to Allah, who holds my life in the power of His hand, if you had never done anything wrong, Allah would destroy you and bring a people who, after committing sins, would ask forgiveness and He would forgive them" (Muslim, Tauba 11). Here it can be understood that, according to Islam, what is expected from man is not that he never falls into error, but that he does not persist in sin. For this persistence dulls the natural tendency toward good latent in man, prepares a foundation for seeing evil as normal and leads a person to interpret religious rules different from what they are in order to justify his actions. It even deters a person from comprehending that trying to avoid sin and evil is a good in itself. Consequently, opportunities to do good begin to escape one by one.

Man was crested with the ability to correct his mistakes and learn from them. In order to correct a mistake, one must first want to do this and feel regret for the wrong deed. The basic requirement for this is to have a notion and knowledge about what is right and wrong and to have gained the discernment and foresight to distinguish between the two. Why would a person, who has not obtained a sound idea and knowledge on the matter of what and where his mistake is and who is responsible for it, ask for forgiveness? However, it is a necessity of being "human" to develop an awareness of one's share in what happens and what should happen. "Every calamity you encounter is due to your own actions; nevertheless, He forgives most of them" (Shura 42/30). This verse gives us an important message in regard to calamities that we do not want to live here and now or in the future in this world and the next: Controlling our own behavior, we need to fulfill our responsibilities today. In this respect repentance is also an important vehicle for gaining awareness that will allow us to comprehend, beyond apparent reasons, our own responsibilities that are hidden away.

Repentance protects man from pride, being spoiled and the intoxication of perceiving blessings as having derived from himself. It presents us with a perfect door for exalting our humanness as we bend lower. It makes us sensitive and watchful against sin. By keeping our attention sharp, this sensitivity and watchfulness helps a person avoid sin. It creates a new turning point in the relationship between man and his Lord. It teaches us to become purified by taking refuge in Him in all difficulties, with the peace of mind of having entrusted ourselves to the possessor of all being. It gives us the opportunity to join the ones Allah loves. Only a person who can ask forgiveness can comprehend what forgiving means and become tolerant towards others.

Not asking or being able to ask for forgiveness can only be a result of self-conceit. One of the biggest obstacles in front of a person is self-pride. Let us not forget that what satanized Iblis was his pride in not bowing before "anyone."

"If anyone does evil or wrongs his own soul but afterwards seeks God's forgiveness, he will find God Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful" (Al-Nisa 4/110).



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