What action is most befitting first for Ramadan? Let’s open the Qur’an and start from the beginning. Let’s do this with the attitude of wanting Allah (SWT) Himself to tell us of an action that He [SWT] loves. The very first story in the Qur’an is that of Adam (as); the story of the pain of the first human committing a sin by transgressing the limits clearly set for him by Allah [SWT]:
“And We said, ‘O Adam, dwell, you and your wife, in Paradise and eat therefrom in [ease and] abundance from wherever you will. But do not approach this tree, lest you be among the wrongdoers.’” [Qur’an, Al Baqarah: 35]
We witness firsthand his pain. It’s so familiar, for we ourselves go through the very same repeatedly throughout our lives. But the most beautiful part of the story is at the very end, when Allah [SWT] declares that He is the One “Accepting of Repentance, the Merciful.” It’s the first time this attribute of Allah (SWT) is made known to us in the Qur’an. It’s like a ray of light when you’ve been in solitary confinement for too long. Like a log in the distance, while fighting to stay afloat amidst powerful waves. This form of worship was one that our father Adam (as) learned directly from Allah [SWT], so it’s certain no doubt:
“Then Adam received from his Lord [some] words, and He accepted his repentance. Indeed, it is He who is the Accepting of repentance, the Merciful” [Quran, Surat Al Baqarah: 2]
But why is this form of worship one of those most beloved to Allah [SWT], so much so that it is the one we collide with head on in the first juzu of the Qur’an. It is the manifestation of the moment of turning around and returning to Allah [SWT]. It is the moment of ‘making-up’ with Allah [SWT], it is that sweet moment of reconciliation that you all know. If you don’t remember, recall it! It’s like that feeling when you have angered your mother and no amount of begging gets her to forgive you. You cry bitter tears in your room, the world is a dark place without your mother’s forgiveness. All of a sudden, you hear the door open and she walks in with her arms out to receive you, and you run in tears and hug her. It’s that feeling! This is just your mother, imagine when it is your Creator who knew about you and provided for you even before your parents knew you would come into this world in 7,8 or 9 months.
How can Allah [SWT] forgive a person who is repenting after committing a crime against Him [SWT]? Not only that, but He [SWT] forgives him and loves him as well. Didn’t He [SWT] say that He is not only “Accepting of Repentance” but that He [SWT] is “Merciful.” There’s your answer. For Allah (SWT) sees in this repentant heart the potential of return to Him [SWT]; He [SWT] sees a heart that has felt the pain of separation from Allah [SWT]; has felt the pain of committing a sin. It’s an ailing heart that has found in return to Allah [SWT] the cure for its pain. In more than words, this person in repenting is saying, “O Allah being close to you is more beloved to me than being away from you. I am turning back now and coming back to You.”
So, what is the kind of repentance that paints a smile on Allah’s [SWT] face, and beloved to Allah [SWT]? Well, the most beloved repentance is one that is:
1) Hastening to repent: in earnest, what are we waiting for? Are we waiting for our hearts to be sealed; or when we are deprived of a blessing? When we have sinned, Allah [SWT] will send you a message, that pain that pierces your heart. That state when you start questioning yourself, and become your own judge and jury and hold yourself accountable. So, don’t be late; don’t wait until your heart hardens. Hastening to return indicates that Allah is more valuable to you, than your own desires, than your own pride.
2) A commitment never to return to the sin again: this gives width and depth to the guilt that you feel because of your sin. It shows that you are sincere in closing the doors of sins in your life. Are you going to power off that sin button, are you going to click that delete button without any resistance. Because if you do then know that Allah [SWT] promises, “…except for those who repent, believe and do good deeds. For them does Allah convert their evil deeds into good. And Allah is eternally forgiving and merciful.” [Qur’an, Al Furqan: 70]
3) Listen to this one with your heart because Shaytan wants you to particularly forget about this one. Don’t ever consider a sin too big for Allah [SWT] to forgive. No sin is ever too big for Allah [SWT] to forgive, as long as we are breathing and repenting:
‘O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as it.’ [Tirmidhi]
And in Allah’s words [SWT] says: “Say: O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah: for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [Qur’an, Surat al-Zumar: 53] So, let out a sigh of relief. Phew!
4) Consistency: Allah [SWT] loves consistency in repentance. Learn from our Prophet (saw) who said, “O people, make tawbah [repentance] to Allah. By Allah, I make tawbah to Him more than seventy times each day.” [Bukhari] The Prophet’s (saw) made the return to Allah [SWT] a way of life. He (saw) was consistently purifying his heart from sins that it might accrue without noticing. Some sins are creepy and can creep up on you without you noticing, so we say, “O Allah we ask You to forgive use from that which we do not know, but You know.” So, let’s convert this form of worship into a habit.
So, let’s hasten and return to Allah [SWT] in repentance today!