Repetitive Repentance

by britishmisk

I came across this amazing article by Sheikh Gibril Haddad a while back. It was a question asked by someone on Sunni Path about a sin he kept committing and was losing the will power to fight it. It’s one of the best responses an Islamic scholar has ever given to a question that I have seen. Enjoy and disseminate:

Repetitive Repentance?

Answered by Shaykh Gibril F Haddad

There are a couple of major sins which I can’t stop doing. I repent.. and then I end up doing it again. Again I build up the will power to stop… but again I end up committing the sins. I can’t seem to stop and I’ve got to the stage where I’m finding it harder to repent, incase I end up doing it again. Plus I’m lacking the will power. What should I do?

Wa `alaykum as-Salam:
Allah Most High promised high levels to the repentant and He mentioned that the Throne-bearing angels make repentance for them also. And the Prophet, upon him peace, gave us glad tidings with regards to the believer’s sins precisely because they lead to repentance. Therefore continue to repent.
Finding it harder to repent is because you still trust in yourself and find it humiliating. This is what the ego hates and it is a good sign for redoubling repentance. A broken heart is better than a pleased one.
Sin or no sin we despair in ourselves: “The whole matter consists in seeing yourself as a disobedient servant without a single good deed” (Shaykh Ibrahim al-Dusuqi). Our hope is all taken up in Allah: {Say: O my servants who have transgressed against their souls. Despair not of the Mercy of Allah: for Allah forgives all sins: He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful} (39:53).
We should not divinize our sins. They have no power over us and millions of them can be erased in one instant of sincerity accepted by Allah. We should look for that instant. Where else than in repentance? It is our stairwell, if the angels were to envy us it would be for that.

Will power is built up by habit over time. Change your routine for a few weeks. Do something new and leave something out. One of the Shaykhs said, if it is too hard to clear the garbage, build a bridge over it and move on. This is good advice.

Similarly, Salat over time bears the fruit described in the blessed verse: {Prayer restrains from shameful and unjust deeds} (29:45). In time, we should not get stuck forever at the station of weakness.
Invoke blessings on the Prophet together with saying Astaghfirullah x100 daily. Make it incumbent upon yourself to do “something special” for Allah Most High.

The Prophet, upon him peace, promised special help for the repentant sinners and so we should take him to witness and use his means just as we consult one for help over problems, or more. The key in this is to invoke much blessings on him at all times.

Ibn `Umar relates: I was sitting with the Prophet, Allah’s blessings upon him, when Harmala ibn Zayd al-Ansari of the Banu Haritha tribe came to him. He sat in front of the Messenger of Allah, Peace be upon him, and said: “Messenger of Allah, belief is here” – and he pointed to his tongue – “and hypocrisy is here” – and he pointed to his heart – “and I don’t make dhikr of Allah except little.” The Prophet remained silent. Harmala repeated his words, whereupon the Prophet seized Harmala’s tongue by its extremity and said: “O Allah, give him a truthful tongue and a thankful heart, and grant him to love me and to love those who love me, and turn his affairs towards good.” Harmala said: “Messenger of Allah, I have two brothers who are hypocrites; I was with them just now. Shall I not point them out to you [so you will pray for them]?” The Prophet said: “Whoever comes to us in the way you have come, we shall ask forgiveness for them as we asked forgiveness for you; and whoever keeps to this path, Allah becomes his protector.”

Abu Nu`aym narrated it in Hilyat al-Awliya. Ibn Hajar said in al-Isaba (2:2 #1659): “Its chain of transmission is acceptable and Ibn Mandah also narrated it. We have narrated the same through Abu al-Darda’ in the Fawa’id of Hisham ibn `Ammar.”

May Allah grant us the same four attributes he granted to that fortunate sinner and extend to us His protection against what we hate and fear.

Hajj Gibril