Turn back to Allah
Inna lilahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un – Verily to Allah we belong and verily to Him we shall return
These are words we have undoubtedly uttered and heard countless times this past year. Each death we encounter is reminder after reminder of how limited and fleeting our time is in this temporary world. No matter how young or old, truly death waits for no one. Our every heartbeat and every breath is bringing us closer and closer to our inevitable end. However, death is not something that we should fear or feel despair over, rather something that should propel us to prepare for it just as intricately and extensively as we have planned for our futures in this world.
This world we live in is full of so much heartbreak and hurt, so many trials and tribulations that our hearts will never find true contentment here, as this is not where we belong nor is it our final abode. It is not worth us sacrificing the eternity that awaits us for the small, short-lived enjoyment we may find here. An eternity that consists of nothing but absolute ease, tranquility, and bliss. A place that no eye has ever seen, no ear has ever heard and no heart can ever conceive, yet the place our souls yearn for, where we will be more familiar with our dwellings than we are with our houses in this world.
We will be living in houses made with bricks of gold and silver; drinking from rivers of honey, milk, non-intoxicating wine, and eating from trees consisting of every kind of fruit; dressed in silk and adorned with gold bracelets, in the company of angels and prophets and all our righteous companions of this world; and where we will finally be pleasured with the sight of our beloved Rabb.
Before our life in this world, Allah assembled all of the souls of the descendants of Adam; it is in this moment where we took a covenant affirming the existence of our Lord.
And remember when your Lord brought forth from the loins of the children of Adam their descendants and had them testify regarding themselves.
Allah asked, “Am I not your Lord?”
They replied, “Yes, You are! We testify.”
He cautioned, “Now you have no right to say on Judgment Day, ‘We were not aware of this.’ [7:172]
Thus, it is because of this first covenant that every human is born with a natural inclination to Tawheed (oneness of Allah). For as long as we have life in our chests, it is never too late for us to return and repent to our Lord – Ar-Rahman, the One whose mercy transcends our comprehension. It is never too late for us to fulfill our covenant.
Allah the Almighty said: I am as My servant thinks I am. I am with him when he makes mention of Me. If he makes mention of Me to himself, I make mention of him to Myself; and if he makes mention of Me in an assembly, I make mention of him in an assembly better than it. And if he draws near to Me an arm’s length, I draw near to him a cubit, and if he draws near to Me a cubit, I draw near to him a fathom. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed. [Bukhari]
So, ‘how do we turn back to our Lord?’ you may ask…
How often do we find ourselves immersed in feelings of frustration, disappointment, regret as we find ourselves falling into the very same sins that we repented from? That despite trying so hard to fight against our nafs, it ended up overpowering us and we gave in. Despite this, how blessed are we to still be able to experience these emotions?
The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Verily, when the servant commits a sin, a black mark appears upon his heart. If he abandons the sin, seeks forgiveness, and repents, then his heart will be polished. If he returns to the sin, the blackness will be increased until it overcomes his heart. It is the covering that Allah has mentioned: No, rather a covering is over their hearts from what they have earned.” (83:14) [Tirmidhi]
The fact that we are still able to experience these feelings of guilt means our hearts haven’t completely blackened and that is a blessing from the bounties of Allah swt. It is this blessing that drives us to turn back and rectify our ways. Each and every one of us are sinners and the best of sinners are those who repent.
We may feel as though we have spent so much time away from Allah swt and His remembrance and that there is no point in us turning back now but Allah swt tells us:
As for those who repent, believe, and do good deeds, they are the ones whose evil deeds Allah will change into good deeds. For Allah is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful. [25:70]
Know that if Allah guides us to Him and inspires us to raise our hands to Him, He wants to answer us, He wants to extend us his endless mercy. Imagine all the sins we have accumulated over so much time, every single one of them, being converted into good deeds for us instead.
Even after repenting, we may find ourselves falling into the same sins again and again but rather than losing hope, we must keep on turning back to Allah for He loves to forgive and will continue to forgive for as long as we keep turning back to Him. In the same way that Allah never tires of forgiving, we must never tire of asking.
We can better come to know Allah through His names and attributes and we can strengthen our connection with Him by calling upon these names and being conscious of them in our everyday lives. Allah is al-Ghafoor (the ever forgiving) and al-Ghaffar (the all-forgiving), no matter the quantity or the size of the sin, Allah is there to forgive us. Unlike the angels who are unable to sin and therefore unable to experience these qualities, we have been blessed with being able to ask for Allah’s infinite mercy.
O child of Adam! However much you beseech Me and place your hopes in Me, I will forgive you without any reservation. O child of Adam! If you have sins piling up to the clouds and then ask My forgiveness, I will forgive you without any reservation. O child of Adam! If you come to me with enough mistakes to fill the Earth, and meet Me without associating anything as a partner with Me, I will come to you with enough forgiveness to fill the Earth. [Muslim]
A habit we can all aim to implement inshaAllah:
“Whoever says, ‘Subhan Allah wa bihamdihi,’ one hundred times a day, will be forgiven all his sins even if they were as much as the foam of the sea [Bukhari]
Allah swt tells us, He did not create jinns and humans except to worship Him. This is our purpose in life. Many of us may think of salah as a burden, as something we have to do as opposed to something we want to do. But if we think of the context in which salah was prescribed to us, it was gifted to the Prophet saw at the lowest point in his life as a source of peace and comfort for him.
Salah isn’t exclusively for those who we see as ‘better’ Muslims than us, rather it is for all of us, regardless of background. No matter how hard we find it or how many sins we are committing or how imperfect or undeserving we feel, we just have to take that first step in standing and humbling ourselves before Allah swt. This is what will ground us and aid us in becoming the Muslim we were created to be. This is what will help us to leave those sins behind us and turn our lives around.
When you stand to pray and say that first Allahu Akbar, know that Allah swt is greater than everything in this dunya and leave your worries behind you as you engage in this meeting with your Lord. The veil between you and Allah swt is lifted and He faces you so pray as though you can see Him or at least knowing that He sees you. Imagine angels coming and praying with you and your sins falling away from you with each ruku’ and sajdah. It is in sujood where we are at the closest point that a servant can be to Allah swt.
It is the salah that separates us from the non-believers and will be the first thing that we will be questioned about on the Day of Judgement. If our prayers are sound then the rest of our deeds will be sound too but if our prayers are deficient, then the rest of our deeds will be deficient too. Our salah is therefore our benchmark, we need to set this straight so that our other deeds do not go to waste.
A habit that we can try to implement inshaAllah: “Whoever recites ayat al-kursi after every prescribed prayer, there will be nothing standing between him and his entry into Paradise but death.” [al-Mu’jam al-Kabīr]
These are just some practical tips to inshaAllah help us all on our journeys towards Allah swt. These habits are very light on the tongue and the few minutes we take out of our day to practise these will inshaAllah be rewarded with an eternity of pleasure.