Turning to Allah in Repentance

O you who delays his repentance because of his deluded hope of a long life; tell me, “For what Day was it postponed?” (al-Mursalat 77:12) You used to say, I will repent when my hair becomes grey and here they are, the months of the year (i.e. youth) have passed and gone and if the sword of your endeavours was of many use, your vain desires would have met their death under its sharp edge. Every day you lay down the basis of your repentance and returning to Allah but you position this foundation on the edge of a precipice, because every time you get a heartfelt feeling to repent, the troops of your desires attack and overcome your intention of repentance. Slaughter the threat of desire with the knife of firm resolve, because so long as desire remains alive, you are never safe from the relapses of an ever-changing heart [from good to evil]. Let the tears you shed in the darkness of the night be intercessors for when you make mistakes. Indeed the flint of the intercessor sparks the flames of success.

With the ink of your tears write your good expectations from he Who is capable of fulfilling them; do not suffice with your repentance without accompanying it with grief and sorrow similar to the grief of Prophet Yaqub, peace be upon him, when he lost Yusuf, or the patience of Yusuf, peace be upon him, over what he went through; but if you cannot bear either of those, then at least accompany it with the humanity of the brothers of Yusuf when they said: “and be charitable to us” (Yusuf 12:88)

O people, these are the torches of success and acceptance; O you whose house is devoid of provision, these are the days of harvest; O you who was abandoned in the land of Kanan, when will you smell the breeze of Yusuf; O ‘prison of Egypt’ when will the king see seven cows, O Benjamin, the time of departure is when you hear the tones of the words “Indeed, I am your brother” (Yusuf 12:69)

O you who constantly makes mistakes, when will you prostrate the forehead of “and indeed we have been sinners”? (Yusuf 12:91)

When the firm will of truthfulness and sincerity descends into the heart of the repenting slave, the King becomes pleased, and he writes off the written [bad deeds] and reveals to the earth; conceal the faults of my slave.

Before you, there was a man who took a hundred lives, but then he repented and set forth from his evil town to a good one, but death overtook him on the way. Thereupon, Angels of mercy disputed with Angels of punishment as each side wanted to take the man’s soul. Allah sent to them an Angel to arbitrate between them, who said: measure the distance between the two towns, then Allah commanded the town of evil to recede back further and the town of the good to come closer. When they measured the distances, the found the man closer to the town of good, and thus he was forgiven. (Record in Al-Bukhari 3470)

Neither the judge nor the adversaries realise the wisdom of “thus we plan for Yusuf” (Yusuf 12:30) Allah pledges that if a sinner repents sincerely, He will accept him and revive him and, “made for him light by which to walk among the people.” (al-Anam 6:122) O you who repent, “fulfil all contracts” (al-Maidah 5:1) And honour your contract with the One with Whom you made a contract, “and do not break oaths after the confirmation” (al-Nahl 16:91) If you slip after having become upright, then return again to the House of Generosity where, “Allah shall not tire of forgiving you until you are tired of seeking forgiveness.” (Reported by Bukhari 5861)

Seeds of Admonishment and Reform by Imam Ibn Jawzi Pages 51-54