The Reality of Taubah

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نحمده و نصلي على رسوله الكريم

أعوذ بالله من الشيطن الرجيم      بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

هُوَ الَّذِي يَقْبَلُ التَّوْبَةَ عَنْ عِبَادِهِ“Allah Ta’ala accepts the repentance of His servants.” (ash-Shura:25)

When a person makes taubah Allah becomes extremely happy. The object of taubah is to regret and be remorseful over one’s actions. One should ponder in this manner: “I have committed this error whereas I was not supposed to have done so.”

By showing remorse and regret, a person is pleading before Almighty Allah Ta’ala to forgive his wrongdoings and shortfalls. However, some necessary steps are essential for the acceptance of this repentance. Paying mere lip service and proclaiming,

“Forgive my sins. I am repenting”, is insufficient.

In Kanpur, one of my friends complained to me that his four-year-old child was always asking for money.

“Why are you asking for money?” I said, reprimanding him.

He immediately caught hold of both his ears with his hands (in a manner of repenting).

“Will you ask for money in future?” I added.

“No, never again,” he assured me.

Thereafter, he struck his father on his knee and said: “Now give me the money since I have repented.”

Our repentance, nowadays, is similar to this child’s repentance. We feel that merely mentioning the word taubah is sufficient and no other recourse is required.

Covering up

Some sins are of such a nature that taubah alone does not suffice and qadha becomes obligatory. For example, a person did not perform his salaah. (It is essential that together with making taubah he performs the qadha of the missed salaah). Not performing qadha and merely saying: “O Allah! Forgive me. I have not performed my salaah. I will perform it in future,” is definitely inadequate.

It is absolutely incumbent on that person to perform qadha of the salaah omitted. (Then only will the taubah be accepted.)

If a person did not fast in the month of Ramadhaan, it will be obligatory upon him to make qadha of the missed fasts. Not observing the qadha and merely resorting to repentance and pleading: “O Allah! I am repenting, I will fast in future”, will not suffice.

Similarly, if a person did not pay his zakaat, for his taubah to be accepted he will have to discharge the outstanding amount. Without paying out the due zakaat, it will also not suffice for him to say, “O Allah! Forgive me. I will discharge my zakaat in future.”

The crux of the matter is that those laws of the Shari’ah which can be recompensed by making qadha Shari`ah has made its qadha obligatory. The acceptance of taubah requires that we fulfil the qadha as well as beg for forgiveness for not having fulfilled the obligation at its prescribed time.

The similitude to this situation is where a person is in debt or has to pay a government tax at a stipulated date but has missed the deadline. He presents himself before the magistrate and begs for leniency saying: “I did not pay my tax on time, please forgive me, I am begging your forgiveness.”

It is possible that he may be pardoned for not meeting the deadline but does this mean that he will be absolved from paying the outstanding tax as well? Definitely not! The tax will still have to be paid out. Similarly, in the Shari`ah there are many obligations which, if not fulfilled, will make qadha incumbent upon an individual. A person’s taubah will not be accepted without fulfilling the qadha.

As far as the violation of the rights of human beings is concerned, the dictates of taubah require that the particular right (which was usurped) be fulfilled. For example, a person usurped another’s wealth.

“I beg your forgiveness,” he wails. “Please forgive me. I have taken your wealth.”

This is insufficient. He is required to first pay out the wealth that he owes and then seek the victim’s forgiveness.

Furthermore, taubah should be made in accordance with the manner in which the sin was committed. The taubah should reciprocate the degree or severity of the sin. If a sin was committed in solitude, the taubah should be made in solitude as well. If a sin was committed in the presence of a few people then the repentance too should be executed in the presence of those people. In this situation, to make taubah in solitude will not be acceptable.

The example of this is backbiting or speaking ill of another person in his absence and that individual has learnt about it. Making taubah in solitude will be inadequate. He has to repent in the company of those in whose presence he had committed this evil deed and seek Allah Ta’ala’s pardon as well.

Chunks of meat

The Qur’aan has explicitly prohibited backbiting. Allah Ta’ala states in the Qur’aan:

وَلَا يَغْتَب بَّعْضُكُم بَعْضًا أَيُحِبُّ أَحَدُكُمْ أَن يَأْكُلَ لَحْمَ أَخِيهِ مَيْتًا فَكَرِهْتُمُوهُ“Do not speak ill of each other behind their backs. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother?” (al-Hujuraat:12)

Thus, backbiting can be ascribed to a person who breaks off chunks of meat from his dead brother’s corpse and consumes it. It is reported in a hadeeth that Nabi (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) once asked the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu anhum): “Do you know what backbiting is?”

The Sahaabah (radhiyallahu anhum) replied: “Allah Ta’ala and his Rasul (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) know best.”

Nabi (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) explained: “To mention something about your brother, in his absence which, if pointed out to him in his presence, will be disliked by him.”

“What if that weakness is actually found in this person?” the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu anhum) enquired. (Will it then still constitute backbiting?)

“Yes,” answered Nabi (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). “This will indeed be backbiting for if the weakness is not found in him, you have slandered him.”

Crossing over Jahannum

Regarding the sin of slandering, it has been recorded in the books of hadeeth that the person who had slandered another in this world, will be stopped whilst crossing the bridge of siraat. He will be asked to furnish the evidence for his false allegation against his fellow brother. He will also be asked to bring forth witnesses to support his claim and, until and unless they are not brought forth, he will not be allowed to proceed. He will be made to stand on the bridge of siraat and beneath him the flames of Jahannum will be constantly rising.

Some people will cross over with the speed of lightening, others like the wind, whilst some will cross over it with the speed of a fast horse. The fire would not harm them whatsoever. But as for that person who is in this unfortunate position, he will be made to stand motionless, and it will be demanded of him: “Bring forth your evidence.”

How will it ever be possible to produce false evidence on that day? In this world, false evidence can be manufactured. This has been predicted as one of the signs of Qiyaamah. Nabi (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) is reported to have said:

يشهدون و لا يستشهدون

People will give evidence without even being asked to do so.

How will it ever be possible to bring forth false evidence in the hereafter? This crime of slandering another person is such a heinous sin.

Pen him down!

Just as backbiting can be committed by means of one’s speech, so too can it be done by means of one’s pen. In fact, the backbiting committed by one’s pen is even more severe than that of the tongue because that which has been spoken has come to an end (after the conversation). Some may remember the discussion whilst others may forget. However the person who made gheebat with the pen, by printing and circulating it or merely by printing pamphlets or small booklets, this sin will remain forever.

This is a continuous sin, which is extremely dangerous. The pen is known as one of the two tongues. One tongue is found in a person’s mouth whilst the other is in his hand, i.e. his pen. We have now understood how contemptible this sin is.

One form of backbiting occurs by merely gesturing with the hands. A person may be short. To indicate that so and so is short by gesturing is also backbiting. Another person may be tall. To make an indication of this with one’s hand whereby that person may resent it is also a form of backbiting. Others may be inflicted by other forms of deficiencies and to indicate this by means of gestures, will also constitute backbiting.

Subtle trouble

There is also another subtle form of backbiting which people do not even consider as backbiting. For example, a person begins praising someone in a gathering saying that so and so is a very wonderful person. Another person in the gathering then sarcastically says: “Yes, it is so,” or he may very sarcastically shake his head in the affirmative.

In this instance, although he has not made any verbal statement but, by shaking his head, he implies that you are unaware of the praised individual’s shortcomings.

“I know what type of a person he really is.”

This also represents gheebat. It is of a very dangerous nature because one does not even realise that he is backbiting.

Caution: Danger ahead

There is yet another type of backbiting that Allamah Shaami (rahimahullah) has regarded as kufr. This is of an extremely perilous nature. The example of this is speaking ill of your brother and then rejecting the admonishment not to indulge in this sin.

“How can I be backbiting,” we indignantly retort. “What I am saying is absolutely true. In fact I can tell it to him on his face.”

It is as though we are regarding backbiting as permissible so long as it is true, whereas gheebat actually constitutes that which is true. The Qur’aan, on the other hand, totally prohibits it and regards it as haraam. Thus, we are in actual fact refuting a nass-e-qat`ee (definite injunction). An act, which is prohibited through nass-e-qat`ee, is being regarded as permissible. This is kufr. That is why Allamah Shaami (rahimahullah) has classified it as kufr. May Allah Ta’ala save and protect us all.

Kicking the habit

Allah Ta’ala has gathered us here in this Musjid (Darul Uloom Musjid in Dabhel). I continuously tell those who go out in the path of Allah Ta’ala (tableegh jamaat) that when a habitual drunkard goes out for a chillah (forty days), forty days would have elapsed without him drinking alcohol. Remaining in his home would have made it very difficult for him to abandon his evil habits. But, since he came out in jamaat, he was saved from consuming alcohol.

He may have had the foul habit of swearing but once he had come out for forty days he did not swear. He always used to fight and quarrel with others. For forty days he did not do so. He was a constant thief but for forty days he did not steal.

A person may be involved in a variety of sins ranging from physical sins to sins relating to one’s character but, once he has come out for forty days, Allah Ta’ala has protected him from these maladies. And, upon his return, the effect of this environment remains with him. And if he has to go out in jamaat again, this will benefit him even more. However, if he becomes negligent then slowly but surely his previous evil habits will resurface.

Similarly, Allah Ta’ala has sent us here to this Musjid. We are prohibited from leaving the Musjid without a valid Shar’ee or acceptable, sound reason. Those evil habits, which we may have possessed at home, have been left outside and Allah Ta’ala has given us an excellent opportunity to free ourselves from such evil habits. By staying here, we can even guard our tongues. To protect our tongues is extremely important.

Once, a companion of Nabi (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) requested for some special advice. Nabi (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) pointed to his tongue and said: “Guard this!”

It is recorded in the hadeeth that every morning, all the limbs of the body address the tongue begging of it: “O servant of Allah Ta’ala! If you remain upright we will remain upright (safe), but if you do not remain upright then we too will suffer the consequences.” Hence, to protect the tongue is of paramount importance.

The companions of Nabi (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) once enquired that if something undesirable was uttered, will they be taken to task for this on the Day of Qiyaamah?

Nabi (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) replied: “ثكلتك أمك – May your mother cry over you”. A large number of people will be flung overturned into the fire of Jahannum because of this.”

Thus, we have an excellent opportunity here to guard and protect our tongues. What a tremendous benefit is gained by familiarising our tongues with the recitation of the Holy Qur’aan, tasbeeh, zikr, durood shareef, istighfaar, etc., instead of involving it in backbiting, swearing, arguing and quarrelling.

Weigh your words

It is recorded in the ahaadeeth that, at times, a person may utter a seemingly insignificant word. However, due to this very utterance he will be flung into Jahannum. That is how dangerous just one word can be. An excellent chance has been provided to us now to protect our tongues. Sometimes whilst quarrelling and arguing amongst ourselves, we do not even get the opportunity of reflecting upon what we are uttering, and Shaitaan becomes overwhelmed with joy.

The thorny tree

It is stated in a hadeeth that in the evening Shaitaan spreads his throne on the ocean and seats himself on it. All his subordinates gather around him to render an account of their day’s work. One disciple will relate:

“I have caused a person to miss his salaah today.”

“You have done nothing,” Shaitaan bemoans. “Your deed is very insignificant.”

This rendering of accounts will continue until one disciple says: “Today, I caused a fight between a husband and wife. When the husband came home, I whispered to his wife to accuse him of doing something wrong. I incited the husband to flatly refute this accusation and advised him how to respond to his wife’s accusation and vice-versa, until both their blood pressures rose and their tempers flared, resulting in the wife leaving her husband and going to her parents’ home.”

Hearing this, Shaitaan becomes elated. “Indeed you have done something very laudable. You are really worthy of being my deputy.” He then embraces this disciple.

The wife has now gone to her parents’ home. Her parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, etc., will gather around her to ascertain what had transpired. She will relate every minute detail, resulting in backbiting and even slandering. Thus, a special gathering of backbiting and slandering involving every household member will take place.

The husband’s family, friends and associates will also come and question him and a similar scenario will occur there. This acrimonious bickering will continue between them and they will stop communicating with each other.

It is narrated in a hadeeth that our actions are presented before Allah Ta’ala every Monday and Thursday. Everyone is forgiven except for two people who have severed ties with each other. Their actions are not even presented before Allah Ta’ala, resulting in them being deprived of His forgiveness. It is said regarding them that until and unless they do not reconcile, they will not be forgiven and their deeds will not be presented to Allah Ta’ala.

It is reported in another hadeeth that when two Muslim brothers cease to communicate with each other because of some argument and fight and they break off ties with one another, the du’aas of both are rejected.

Furthermore, the husband and wife have desires and passions. The husband will fulfil his lust and desires unlawfully and vice versa. The offspring of these illicit relationships will be a source of even greater hardship for them. Due to a disagreement between the parents the children get affected as well.

As a result of the viperous tongue, this conflict has thrown their lives into such a lamentable and sorrowful state. Shaitaan has planted a tree of sins, yielding thorny branches, and these will constantly grow and bear poisonous fruit, and various types of worms and insects will then inhabit it.

Nevertheless, we have been provided with an excellent opportunity to protect our tongues. Hence, during i’tikaaf, we should not speak unnecessarily. However, amongst our friends something or the other will be spoken. An eleven-month-old habit is impossible to give up in just a single day. But definitely this habit will be decreased. We will definitely experience some change when we make the correct and sincere intention.

We have come here to ask of Allah Ta’ala, to beg His forgiveness and to repent for our shortcomings. We are beseeching Him to protect us in the future as well. Thus, divine assistance will come from the side of Allah Ta’ala. Our previous sins will be forgiven and, Insha-Allah, we will be protected in the future as well. May Allah Ta’ala grant us all the ability of practising upon what has been mentioned. Aameen.