We all commit sins. After committing sins, we repent. We make promise with Allah and our own souls that we will prefer the will of Allah to our own whims and desires. We make firm determination to remain vigilant over our lower self. Time passes by. Gradually we become more preoccupied with our worldly affairs. As a result, we become less preoccupied with the state of our spirituality, and the strength of our determination starts to deplete silently. Then comes the time when we become completely oblivious of what promise we made before our Lord. The delusion of this world, the whisper of the Shaytan, and the temptations of our lower self get better of us. We fall back into the sin again.
We repent again.
Then we fall back into the sin again.
We also repent again.
Allah has promised great rewards for those who repent repeatedly. We are prone to error. That is why we should also be prone to repentance.
Having said this, we should remember that if we truly repent and turn back to Allah, we should stop falling back into the same sin after many repeated repentance at some point of our life. If that does not happen, the cycle of repenting and falling back into sin turns into a vicious cycle.
We sometimes find ourselves trapped in such vicious cycle. And when we do find ourselves in such situation, we suddenly discover that we have hit the rock bottom. We suddenly find we are probably the most heinous ever hypocrite to walk on the earth. Because we come to realize that we are taking advantage of the mercy of Allah. We feel that we are mocking the opportunity that Allah has given us to always re-enter the door of His mercy.
However, we should remember that repentance is still the way to break us out from such vicious cycle. No matter how much guilt we feel in our heart, no matter how shallow we feel inside, we should still hasten to repent to Allah. A trick of the Shaytan in such critical time is to make us procrastinate and prevent us from turning back to Allah. The Shaytan wants us to die without repenting to Allah. The Shaytan whispers, “Look you hypocrite! You have committed so many filthy sins, how do you think you will show your face before Allah? Better first do some acts of worship before you repent to Allah.” The logic of the Shaytan is extremely fallacious. Why? Because why there should be a question of showing face to Allah, when the knowledge of Allah encompasses everything I have done? In addition, doesn’t the thought of doing some acts of worship before repenting to Allah indicates that Allah actually needs something from us to grant us forgiveness, whereas Allah is Al-Ghaniy, free from all needs?
Allah said in the Quran:
And [saying], “Seek forgiveness of your Lord and repent to Him, [and] He will let you enjoy a good provision for a specified term and give every doer of favor his favor. But if you turn away, then indeed, I fear for you the punishment of a great Day. [The Noble Quran, 11:3]
Allah further said:
And return [in repentance] to your Lord and submit to Him before the punishment comes upon you; then you will not be helped. And follow the best of what was revealed to you from your Lord before the punishment comes upon you suddenly while you do not perceive. [The Noble Quran, 39-54:55]
Therefore, we should hasten to repent to Allah, and seek His forgiveness. The door of forgiveness from Allah is always open till our time ends in this world, and it will remain open till the sun rises from the west.
After repeatedly committing a single sin, when we finally turn back to Allah to seek His forgiveness, we often do not know what to say. Actually we human beings never knew how we should seek forgiveness from our Lord. Allah out of His infinite mercy taught us how we should make supplication to Him, like He taught our father Adam and mother Eve (May Allah’s peace be upon them) the supplication after they ate from the forbidden tree.
Aside from blessing us with the Quranic supplications, Allah through His Messenger (ﷺ), also taught us many beautiful supplications.
In terms of effectiveness, the Quranic supplications are ranked the highest, followed by the Prophetic supplications.
Our pious predecessors also wrote many supplications, and wrote many books on them. Recently I came across a supplication written by Imam Hasan Al Basri (May Allah have mercy on him), and it touched my heart so much that I felt I should share it with all of you. The supplication is included in Imam Al Basri’s book Prayer for Forgiveness. The supplication is given below:
O Allah, I seek your forgiveness for every sin for which I presented my repentance before You; and regarding which I stood before You swearing an oath in Your name and called Your friends from among Your servants to be my witnesses – that I would never return to disobeying You.
But when Satan with his cunning tempted me to return to it; and Your forsaking me [due to Your anger over my impiety] caused me to [despairingly] waver toward it; and my lower self invited me to disobey You once more; I hid myself in shame from Your servants, but openly and daringly committed sins before You, though I knew full well that no covering nor any closed door could conceal me from You and no veil could hide me from Your sight.
I still defied You by disobediently doing what You had prohibited to me; but [despite my iniquity], You did not remove Your covering from me, but rather treated me equal to Your pious servants, as though I had always been an obedient servant and swift to fulfill Your every command and fearful of Your warnings.
I remained obscure in front of Your servants, and none besides You knew my secret. You did not single me out from Your servants with a mark of disgrace, but instead showered upon me blessings like theirs; and with this You distinguished me over them as though I were, in Your sight, of a status like theirs. All this was owing only of Your forbearance and abundant blessings – generous grace from You to me. For You then, O my Lord, belongs all praise.