Obstacles that Prevent One From Making Repentance, by Imam Ibn Taymiyyah

Introduction

The linguistic definition of at-Tawbah: Whoever sought repentance renounces a certain matter. Hence, is to return from a certain action.

The Divinely Legislated definition of at-Tawbah: The act of returning from the disobedience of Allah, the Most High, to His obedience.

The Scholars mentioned the act of seeking penitence is deemed obligatory for every sin committed. If the act of disobedience has occurred between the slave and Allah the Most High, and is not connected to the human rights, then the conditions are three:

[1] The First condition: The individual discontinues the disobedience.

[2] The Second Condition: The individual regrets his act.

[3] The Third Condition: The individual resolves never to return to the act.

If any of these three conditions are not fulfilled, the act at-Tawbah is not actualised. If the act of disobedience is connected to another individual, a the forth condition involved,

[4] The Forth Condition: The individual is obligated to absolve himself from the victim.

It is a most upon the individual to seek repentance for his sins. If the individual seeks repentance from a portion of them, his taw bah is considered correct according to the ‘ulama for those particular sins. However, that which he remains doing, continues to remain with him. Until him repents from the particular sin.

 

OBSTACLES THAT PREVENT YOU FROM MAKING REPENTANCE

 

DISREGARDING ONES SINS

From the things that prevent one from making Tawbah (repentance), is paying little concern with the sins one commits, belittling the sins one falls into, thinking one does not have to make repentance from them, considering they carry a light punishment. And this is a sign of one being mislead and astray, and we ask Allah for health and strength.

Anas said: “You indulge in (bad) actions, which are significant to you than a hair while we considered them at the time of the messenger to be great destroying sins”. [Bukhaari /6492) Musnad of Imam Ahmed 3/ 285 and Aboo Ya’laa 7/212(4207) 1213(4314) Al-Bayhaqi in Shu’bul-Eemaan 5/454(7208)]

So is it not befitting for the one who has belief in Allah and his messenger to underrate his sins, which he commits, but rather he should consider them to be great and this will enable him to make Tawbah (repentance) and become remorseful over whatever sin he commits.

Al-‘Awzaa’ee used to say: the major sins are the sins one commits then consider it to be small/underrates it. And also he used to say, a man persisting upon a sin is sign heconsiders it to be small sin. [Bayhaqi in Shu’bul-Eemaan, 5/429].

Ibn ‘Abbaas said: “any sin a person persists upon is a big sin, and no sin a person repents from is not a big sin”. [Bayhaqi in Shu’bul-Eemaan, 5/428]

Ka’ab said: “the slave commits a small sin and belittles it, feeling no remorse of neither repenting from it. And it becomes something considered great in Allah sight, and the slave can commit a sin and show great remorse for it and repents greatly from it and in Allah sight deems it to be small and by which he forgives him for it”. [Bayhaqi in Shu’bul-Eemaan, 5/428]

Fudayl bin ‘Iyyad said: “depending on how much one underrates a sin will depend how great it is with Allah. And any sin one deems to be great/a destroying sin, will be deemed in Allah’s sight be a small sin”. [Bayhaqi in Shu’bul-Eemaan, 5/428]

 

REASONS WHY ONE UNDERRATES HIS SINS

– Weak understanding of Allah’s Greatness Power and Lordship.

– Being Heedless of Allah and Punishment.

– Weak Eemaan and lack of Taqwa (consciousness) of Allah.

– Having a sick and corrupt heart.

– Forgetting ones sins and lack of Tawbah (repentance).

 

As’ sari said: true Tawbah (repentance), is not to forget your sins. [Bayhaqi in Shu’bul-Eemaan, 5/428]

One of the ways the lead to destruction is that one forgets his sins.

Bilaal ibn Sa’eed said: “Don’t look at any sin as being insignificant, rather, Look at the greatness of the one you disobeyed”. [Bayhaqi in Shu’bul-Eemaan, 5/430].

And this is the difference between a true believer and a weak sinner.

The true believer looks at his sins, as though they were mountain about to fall on top of him. But the weak Sinner looks at his sins as though they were a fly on his nose, and he just waves them off with his hand. [Bayhaqi in Shu’bul-Eemaan, 5/411].

So, if the slave underrates his sins and belittles them, he will never have remorse over what sins he commits. For a person to recognize the greatness of his sin, three thing must occur, Firstly, him knowing the greatness of the affair,

Secondly, knowing the greatness of the one who lays down the order and who he is disobeying, And lastly, belief one being held to account for what one does whether good or bad. [Ibn Qayyim in Madaarij-us-Saalikeen, 1/203].

 

HAVING MANY EXPECTATIONS*

(*Having many hopes, which will make one think he’ll have ample time to make tawbah and do righteous deeds)

Yahya ibn Mu’ath: “The thing that prevents the people from making Tawbah (repentance): many expectations”. [The Dispraise of Al-Hawaa (desires) by Ibn Qayyim 1/216-217].

Shaytaan always strives to discourage the believer by saying to him: take you time with regards to this, what is the rush, you have all the time in world, so Shaytaan, deceives and makes him procrastinate, so the slave dies while sinning. [Tablees Iblees, p.486 by Ibn Qayyim.].

It’s narrated that Ibn ‘Abbaas said with regards to this verse:

“The Hypocrites) will call to the believers:’’ were we not with you?’’ The believers will reply:’’ Yes! But you lead yourselves in to temptations; you looked forward for our destruction.” {Sooratul-Hadeed-14}

 

“But you lead yourselves in to temptations”

Said means: with desires.

Says, with regards to tawbah, the statement of Allah:

“And you were deceived by false desires.”

Means, you procrastinated, with regards to righteous deeds.

“Allah Till the Command of comes to pass”.

Says Means: till Death over took you.

“And the chief deceiver deceived you in respect of Allah.”

Means: Shaytaan. [Bayhaqi in Shu’bul-Eemaan, 5/462-463]

So the steadfast, upright believer should make good use of his time, and not procrastinate and turn away from living a life of longing and hoping and expecting so much in the future. Some of the salaf used to say: be weary or procrastinating always, delaying and putting off things, for indeed it is some thing from Shaytaan and his forces.

So this is the example of the steadfast believer who lives a life minimizing his expectations and hopes, and his example, is that of a group of traverses, upon there travels, and they arrive at a town, and settle to prepare, requiring what they need, then they move on to therenext destination. And this is the example of the believer in this world; he is only just passing through, so he only takes from it what he will need for his journey and has no time to do too much procrastinating and delaying ever opportunity that passes his way. [Tablees Ibless by Ibn Jawzi, p.486]

 

ALWAYS RELYING UPON THE MERCY OF ALLAH

Abu Ali Ru’thabaani said one of the things many are misled by, is relying solely upon the mercy of Allah. And by doing so, they leave off making Tawbah (repentance), due to the fact of them believing Allah will always have mercy upon them. [The Dispraise of Desire by Ibn Qayyim 1/187].

So the worse of the people are those who consider their sins not to be great and they are by this misled into believing Allah is Most Forgiving.

Umar ibn Thar’ra said: oh people who wrong themselves, by disobeying there Lord, don’t be misled in to believing Allah will always be merciful to you. Be weary of such a delusion, because Allah says:

“So when they angered us, we punished them, and drowned them all.” {Soorutul-Zukhruf-55}

 

Ibn Qayyim said: oh you who are misled into believing Allah is Always Merciful, Shaytaan was cursed for ever, and expelled from that which he was in, because of a simple order, to prostrate. And what was Adams sin? Was it not a small sin? Was it a big sin? By his sin was not Adam expelled to from the garden? Was it not because of a small morsel of food? Does it not show that a small sin can destroy one for ever, as did with the case with Iblees? [Al-Fawaa’id Ibn Qayyim, p.90].

So don’t think you can’t go to the hell fire for one sin you commit because Allah says:

“So he feared not the consequences thereof.” {Sooratul-Shams: 15}

 

Did not a woman go to the hell fire because of how she treated her cat?

A man might say a single word, and by it be thrown deep into the hell fire.

 

HEEDLESSNESS*
(*Remembering Allah very little/one being Heedless all the time of Allah)

One of the greatest reasons why one falls into sins is due to carelessness. Being heedless of Allah, being heedless of Allah’s punishment, and one not being preoccupied in these two, one will live a life of misery and destruction. The only way one can free himself from being heedless of Allah, is to be reminded, as Allah says:

“Therefore remind (man) in case the reminderprofits (them).” {Sooratudh-Dhariyaat: 55}

 

Muhammad ibn Yunus said: We were with Za’heer Al- Baani, when a man said to him: Advice us oh Aboo AbdurRahmaan? Who replied to them: be weary upon which state you die upon, and that you don’t die in a state of negligence.

 

THINKING ALLAH WILL NOT EXCEPT ONES (TAWBAH) REPENTENCE

Allah says;

“Oh (my Slaves) who transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins!)? Despair not of the mercy of Allah, verily Allah forgives all sins. Truly, he Most Forgiving Most Merciful.” {Sooratul-Zumar 53}

So it is not befitting that a true believer distances himself from Tawba (making repentance). And do not despair and think Allah will not accept you (Tawbah) repentance. This is not a sign of a true believer, and leads to destruction.

Indeed Allah is the Most Merciful, who always forgives his repenting Slaves, and none despairs from the Mercy of Allah except the Disbelieving people. What one is ordered to do is have a good opinion of Allah in all his affairs, even in the last moments of his life.

And it is narrated from Nu’maan Ibn Baseer who said regarding the Statement of Allah:

“And do not throw yourselves into destruction”                     {Sooratul-Baqarah: 19}

 

If any of you sins, he shouldn’t throw him self into destruction, by saying Allah will not forgive me, Rather he should ask Allah for forgiveness, for Allah forgives all sins.

A man once asked Baraa’ Ibn Hazm, Oh Aboo ‘Ammaar, the statement of Allah:

“And do not throw your hands into destruction”                     {Sooratul-Baqarah: 190}

 

Is this referring to a man, who throws himself into destruction by meeting and fighting with his enemies until they kill him?

Nu’maan replied: No, this is not what is meant. Rather, what is meant, is that a man commits a sin, and then says, Allah will not forgive me. This is what it means. [Bayhaqi in Shu’bul-Eemaan, 5/407, For further reference go to Ihsaan’ul thun bil’la /Good opinions of Allah by Ibn Abi Dunya]

 

THINKING ONE IS SAVED DUE TO HIS MANY DEEDS*

(*Being misled due to the fact that one does many goods deeds)

The slave is misled in to believing due to the fact that he has many religious deeds, he will be saved, regardless of whatever sins he commits. So he understands from the statement of Allah, The Most High:

“Verily, the good deeds remove the evil deeds.” {Soorah Hood: 114}

 

So he gives up making (Tawbah) repentance altogether.

Ibn ‘Awn said: Don’t rely just on your many deeds, because you don’t know whether Allah will accept them or not.

 

And don’t feel you’re saved, by the mere fact, that you’ve made (Tawbah) repentance. Because, is there a guarantee, Allah will except your (Tawbah) repentance?

 

Because your actions are concealed from you, and you don’t know what Allah does with them, maybe they could be recorded amongst the successful or maybe they could be recorded amongst losers, doomed to the fire.

 

Taken from the Book “At-Tawbah” By Shaykhul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah Translated by Taalib bin Tyson

 

As’ sari said: true Tawbah (repentance), is not to forget
your sins.16 One of the ways the lead to destruction is that
one forgets his sins. Bilaal ibn Sa’eed said: Don’t look at
any sin as being insignificant, rather, Look at the
greatness of the one you disobeyed.17 And this is the
difference between a true believer and a weak sinner.
The true believer looks at his sins, as though they were
mountain about to fall on top of him. But the weak Sinner
looks at his sins as though they were a fly on his nose,
and he just waves them off with his hand.18 So, if the slave
underrates his sins and belittles them, he will never have
remorse over what sins he commits. For a person to
recognize the greatness of his sin, three thing must
occur, Firstly, him knowing the greatness of the affair,
Secondly, knowing the greatness of the one who lays
down the order and who he is disobeying, And lastly,
belief one being held to account for what one does
whether good or bad.19
􀀃
HAVING MANY EXPECTATIONS20
Yahya ibn Mu’ath: The thing that prevents the people
from making Tawbah (repentance): many expectations.21
Shaytaan always strives to discourage the believer by
saying to him: take you time with regards to this, what is

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