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West London Islamic Centre & Jamia Masjid

Islamic Articles::Forgiveness & Tauba

The Believer Remembers When Reminded

Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that the Prophet (pbuh) said, 'There is no believing slave [of Allah] except that they have a sin that he continually commits, from time to time,or a sin that they constantly does - it never leaves him until he leaves this world. Verily, the believer is created muftannan, tawwaban, nassaa`an -when he is reminded, he remembers.' (al-Mu`jam al-Kabeer Imam al-Tabarani)

This hadeeth is a ray of light and a source of optimism for the believer. For there is no single believer amongst us who is perfect - how can we be, when perfection is for Allah alone? And there is no believer amongst us who is sinless, for it is only the angels who are sinless. In this hadeeth, our beloved Rasul (pbuh) is reminding us that there will be sins that a believer does, notice that he called such a person a mu`min, a true believer, despite these sins. Furthermore, he pointed out that it is possible that a servant is tested with a particular sin that he has become addicted to, a sin that he continuously does until he dies.

The Prophet (pbuh) then described such a believer with three characteristics, and stated that the believer has been created with them. Hence, to have these three characteristics is a sign of a true believer. The first of them is that he is muftan, meaning he will be tried and tested. The implication from this description is that the believer has been created in order to be tried and tested, and of the ways he is tried and tested is through sins. Trials and tribulations are of many types, some of them are worldly,others spiritual; some of them deal with physical pain, others cause mental anguish; some of them are losses of this material world, to see how patient we are, others are gains and blessings given to us, to see how we use them. In all cases, such fitan or such trials and tribulations - should draw us closer to Allah. Even if a sin has occurred, the true believer uses this sin to come closer to Allah. But how can a sin be used to draw nearer to the very One whom he has disobeyed? Through the act of repentance, tawbah.

Hence, the next description given is that the believer is tawwab, meaning that he repents continuously, repeatedly, relentlessly. The believer does not become discouraged due to the quantity of sins that he commits, because he realises that Allah's mercy is infinite and limitless. The true mu`min is not demoralised by his past habits, though he regrets them, but rather in spirited and uplifted by hopes of a grander future.The believer always remembers the encouraging words from his beloved Prophet (pbuh) who said, 'The one who repents from a sin islike one who has not committed it in the first place' (Reported by Ibn Majah).

Thus, this second description given to the believer shows that the believer will always repent from his sins, regardless of how many times he has done other sins, or even this very sin, before the repentance. The Prophet (pbuh) then gave the third and final description of the believer, that he is nassaa`a, meaning that he continually forgets and relapses. Thus, the believer becomes heedless of the commandments of Allah, oblivious to the realities of the after-life, and, when tempted by what he perceives to be a pleasing and sweet deed, falls prey to the seductions of Shaytan, and swallows that poisonous sweet. But as soon as the deed has been committed, and the outer layer of sweetness dissolves, it is followed up by the bitter after taste of the poison and pollutant that he has just ingested. But not all hope is lost, for all such deeds can be undone, once again through repentance - that greatest gift of Allah to the sinners! The believer feels this guilt, and all that is needed is a prodding, perhap she hears a verse being recited, or attends a lecture that stirs him, possibly they are given a heart to heart by a friend or relative, or maybe they listen to a khutbah that reminds them of their spiritual bankruptcy.

So, '...when he is reminded, he remembers', this is because he has an inner core of good, are pository of taqwa (God conciousness) that need only be watered and brought out in order to cause this change in him. And so the believer is forever in a cycle a perpetual, never-ending cycle - of committing sins, and then repenting, and then falling headless and committing sins again, only to be reminded of his purpose in life, after which he will repent, and fall into thoughtlessness once again, only to be prodded into action and good behavior...

The cycle of life continues, and it is this life that characterises the life of the believer, for the believer repents and strives to attain perfection, whereas the fasiq or hypocrite commits the same sins or worse, and cares little to better his situation. What separates the mu`min from the fasiq is not the sin - both Adam (pbuh) and Iblees the rejected shaytan disobeyed Allah - but their reaction to the sin was worlds apart. Adam repented, and became beloved once again to Allah; Iblees obstinately persisted, and become the most accursed creation of Allah. The battle of the believer is challenging. He will perpetually fall into sins, but as long as he perpetually repents, with sincerity, trying his utmost to avoid relapse and is reminded by the speech of Allah and His Messenger, he is still a believer, and will continue to remain a believer, until he dies. Always remember those uplifting words of the Basheer whom Allah sent to us, 'Whoever is pleased with his good deeds, and saddened by his evil deeds,is indeed a mu`min [believer]' (Reported by al-Tirmidhi).

May Allah grant us all Iman and taqwa, and bless us to be amongst those who, when tested, are patient, and when blessed, are thankful, and when sinful, are repentant. Ameen!

'O those of My servants who have transgressed against your own selves, despair NOT of God's mercy. God does forgive all sins, for surely He isthe most forgiving most merciful one.' [Al-Qur'an 53]

'Truly, Allah loves those who repent, and loves those who care for cleanliness.' [Al-Qur'an 2:222]

The Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) said 'I have not left anything that will bring you closer to Allah and distance you from the Hellfire, except that I have commanded you with it. And I have not left anything that will bring you closer to the Hellfire and distance you from Allah except that I have forbade you from it.' (Sahih Bukhari)