Repentance

Riyad as-Salihin (The Meadows of the Righteous)

by Imam Nawawi

2. Chapter on Repentance

Scholars say that it is s a duty to repent of every wrong action. If it is disobedience which occurs between a person and Allah and does not involve the right of another human being, repentance has three preconditions. The first is that one divest himself of disobedience. The second is that he regret doing it. The third is that he resolve not to ever return to it. If one of the three is lacking, then his repentance is not sound. If it involves to another human being, repentance has four preconditions: these three and that he discharges his duty to the other person. If it is money or the like, he pays it to him. If it is a hadd-punishment because of slander and the like it, he give shim power over him or seeks his pardon. If it is slander, he undoes it, He must repent of all wrong actions. If he repents of some of them, the people of truth say that his repentance of them is sound, but he still has the rest. There is much evidence in the Book, the Sunna and the consensus of the Community about the obligation to repent.

Allah Almighty says, "Turn towards Allah, O believers, every one of you, so that perhaps you will have success," (24:31)

and the Almighty says, "Ask your Lord for forgiveness and then turn in repentance to Him," (11:3)

and the Almighty says, "O you who believe! Turn in sincere repentance to Allah." (66:8)

13. Abu Hurayra said, "I heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say, 'By Allah, I ask Allah's forgiveness and turn towards Him in repentance more than seventy times a day."

14. Al-Agharr ibn Yasar al-Muzani said that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "O people! Turn in repentance towards Allah and ask His forgiveness. I turn towards Him a hundred times a day."[Muslim]

15. Abu Hamza Anas ibn Malik al-Ansari, the servant of the Messenger of Allah reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Allah is happier about the repentance of one His slaves than one of you would be about finding your camel which had strayed away from you in the middle of the desert."[Agreed upon]

In the variant of Muslim, "Allah has greater joy at the repentance of one His slaves when he turns towards Him than one of you would have over his mount, which, having escaped from him with his food and drink in the middle of the desert so that he has despaired of finding it and gone to a tree to lie down in its shade, suddenly appears standing by him while he is in that state, so that he takes its reins and then says out of the intensity of his joy, 'O Allah, You are my slave and I am Your Lord!' getting confused because of his intense joy.'"

16. From Abu Musa 'Abdullah ibn Qays al-Ash'ari is that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Allah Almighty will stretch out His hand during the night, turning towards the one who did wrong during the day, and stretch out His hand during the day, turning towards the one who did wrong during the night, until the day the sun rises from the place it set." [Muslim]

17. Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Allah will turn towards anyone who turns in repentance before the time that the sun rises from the place it set." [Muslim]

18. Abu 'Abdu'r-Rahman 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar ibn al-Khattab said that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Allah the Mighty and Majestic accepts the repentance of His servant as long as long as his death-rattle has not begun." [At-Tirmidhi]

19. Zirr ibn Hubays said, "I went to Safwan ibn 'Assal to ask him about wiping over leather socks. He said, 'What has brought you, O Zirr?' I said, 'The search for knowledge.' He said, 'The angels lower their wings to anyone who seeks knowledge, out of pleasure at what he is seeking.' I said, 'I am troubled about wiping over leather socks after defecation and urination. You were one of the Companions of the Prophet, so I have come to ask you whether you heard him mention anything regarding that.' He said, 'Yes. He used to command us when we were travelling ­ or journeying ­ not to remove our leather socks for three days and nights except in the case of janaba. We were not to remove them on account of defecation, urination or sleep.' I said, 'Did you hear him mention anything about love?' He said, 'Yes. Once we were with the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, on a journey and, while we were in his presence, a bedouin with a loud voice called out to him, "O Muhammad!" The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, answered him in a similarly loud voice, "Go ahead!" I said to him, "Bother you! Lower your voice! You are in the presence of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and this is forbidden!" He retorted, "By Allah, I will not lower it!" The bedouin said, "Can a man love a people when he has not yet joined them?" The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "A man will be with the one he loves on the Day of Rising."' Safwan continued to relate to us until he mentioned a door in the West the span of whose breadth is ­ or whose breadth it would take a rider ­ forty or seventy years.'"

Sufyan, one its transmitters, said, "It is in the direction of Syria. Allah Almighty, on the day He created the heavens and the earth, created it to be open for repentance and it will not be locked until the sun rises from there." [at-Tirmidhi & others]

20. Abu Sa'id ibn Sa'd ibn Malik ibn Sinan al-Khudri reported that the Prophet of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Among those before you there was a man who killed ninety-nine people. He asked who was the most knowledgeable man in the world and was directed to a monk. He went to him and said that he had killed ninety-nine people and was repentance possible for him? The monk said, 'No,' so he killed him and made it a hundred. Then he again asked who was the most knowledgeable man on earth and was directed to a man of knowledge. He said that he had killed a hundred people, so was repentance possible for him? The man said, 'Yes, who can come between you and repentance? Go to such-and-such a land, where there are some people worshipping Allah Almighty. Worship Allah with them and do not return to your own country. It is an evil place.' So he went and then, when he was half way there, he died. The angels of mercy and angels of punishment started to argue about him. The angels of mercy said, 'He came in repentance, turning with his heart to Allah Almighty.' The angels of punishment said, 'He has not done a single good action.' An angel came in a human form and they appointed him arbitrator between them. He said, 'Measure the distance between the two countries and whichever one he is nearer to, that is the one he belongs to.' They measured and found he was nearer to the land to which he was going, so the angels of mercy took him." [Agreed upon]

In the variant in the Sahih, "He was a hand-span nearer to the virtuous land, so he was put among their people." In the variant in the Sahih, "Allah revealed to this country to distance itself and that one to come nearer. He said, 'Measure the distance between them,' and they found that he was nearer to the good one by a hand-span and he forgave him." In one variant, "He was nearer it by a short neck."

21. 'Abdullah ibn Ka'b ibn Malik, the one of Ka'b's sons who guided him when he went blind, said, "I heard Ka'b ibn Malik relate his account of when he stayed behind the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, on the expedition to Tabuk. Ka'b said, 'I did not stay behind the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, on any another expedition he made at all, except for the Tabuk expedition, although I did not go on the expedition to Badr. No one censured me for staying behind that, because the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and the Muslims set out heading for the caravan of Quraysh until Allah Almighty brought them together with their enemy unexpectedly. I was present with the Messenger of Allah on the night of 'Aqaba when we made a compact on Islam and I would not want to exchange that for having been present at Badr, even though Badr is more renowned than it among the people.

"'Part of my account of when I stayed behind the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, on the expedition to Tabuk was that I had never been either stronger or wealthier than when I stayed behind him on this expedition. By Allah, before it I had never had two riding animals as I did have when that expedition took place. When the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, intended to go on an expedition, he would always indicate another destination until the expedition actually left. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, made this one at a time of intense heat and there was a long journey in prospect and a waterless desert, and a great enemy to face. Therefore he made the whole thing quite clear to the Muslims so that they could make the necessary preparations for the expedition. He told them the direction in which he was intending to go. The Muslims with the Messenger of Allah were numerous and a recording book (meaning a register) was incapable of including all of them.'

"Ka'b said, 'Anyone wanting to absent himself thought that his absence would go unnoticed as long as no revelation was sent down about him from Allah. The Messenger of Allah made that expedition when the fruit was ripe and there was plentiful shade and I inclined towards it. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and the Muslims with him made preparations, and I would go out to make preparations with him as well, but then I would return without having accomplished anything, saying to myself, "I can do it any time I wish." I went on like this until the people were fully prepared, and the Messenger of Allah set out with the Muslims but I had still not completed any of my preparations. Then I began and again returned without accomplishing anything. I continued like this until they had gone on ahead and the expedition had left. I intended to set off and catch up with them, and I wish that I had done so, but that was not decreed for me. When I went out among the people after the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, had left, it saddened me that the only people like me were either men suspected of hypocrisy or men whom Allah Almighty had excused on account of their being among the weak.

"'The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, did not mention me until he reached Tabuk. While he was sitting among the people at Tabuk, he said, "What has Ka'b ibn Malik done?" A man of the Banu Salima said, "O Messenger of Allah, he has been held back by his two cloaks and self-conceit.' Mu'adh ibn Jabal, may Allah be pleased with him, said to him, "What an evil thing to say! By Allah, Messenger of Allah, we only know good of him!" The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was silent. While he was like that, he saw a man in white shimmering in the heat and said, "May it be Abu Khaythama!" and it was indeed Abu Khaythama al-Ansari. He is the one who gave a sa' of dates as sadaqa and the hypocrites criticised him.'

"Ka'b said, 'When I heard that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was on his return journey from Tabuk, I became very upset and began to think up lies and to say, "How can I escape his anger tomorrow!" and I consulted everyone among my family capable of giving sound advice for help in respect of that. When it was said that the Messenger of Allah was arriving, all falsehood left me as I knew that nothing would ever save me from him. I resolved to stick to the truth. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, arrived in the morning. Whenever he came back from a journey, he would first go to the mosque and pray two rak'ats in it and then he would sit to receive the people. When he did that, those who had stayed behind went to him making their excuses and swearing to them. There were about eighty men. He accepted what they declared and took their allegiance and asked forgiveness for them and entrusted their secrets to Allah Almighty until I came. When I greeted him, he smiled the smile of someone who is angry and then he said, "Come here." I walked up and then sat down in front of him. He said to me, "What kept you back? Had you not bought a mount?"'

"He said, 'I said, 'Messenger of Allah, by Allah, if I were sitting with anyone else in the world apart from you, I would think that I could escape his anger by making some excuse. I am gifted in argumentation, but, by Allah, I know that if I were to tell you a false story today which might satisfy you with regard to me, Allah would soon make you angry with me. If I tell you the truth, you will be angry with me, but I hope for a good outcome from Allah, the Mighty and Exalted. By Allah, I do not have any excuse. By Allah, I have never been stronger nor wealthier than when I remained behind you."'

"He said, 'The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "This one has spoken the truth. Get up until Allah decides about you." Some men of the Banu Salima followed me and said to me, "By Allah, we have not known you to commit a wrong action before this! Were you unable to offer an excuse to the Messenger of Allah like the others who stayed behind made excuses? The Messenger of Allah's prayer for forgiveness would have compensated for your wrong action."' He said, 'By Allah, they continued to reproach me until I wanted to return to the Messenger of Allah and deny what I had said. Then I said to them, "Has anyone else met with the same as me?" They said, "Yes, two men have met with it. They said the same as you said and the same thing that was said to you was said to them."' He said, 'I said, "Who are they?" They said, "Murara ibn ar-Rabi' al-'Amiri and Hilal ibn Umayya al-Waqifi."' He said, 'They mentioned to me two righteous men who had been present at Badr and had good character.' He said, 'When they mentioned them to me, I was determined.'

"'The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, forbade people to speak to the three of us out of all those who had remained behind him. So the people avoided us (or he said, "changed towards us") until the earth seemed strange to me and it was not the same earth I used to know. We remained that way for fifty days. My two companions were miserable and stayed in their homes, weeping. I was the youngest of them, and was tougher. I used to go out and attend the prayer with the Muslims and I would walk in the markets but no one would speak to me. I went to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and greeted him while he was in his assembly after the prayer and would say to myself, "Did he move his lips to return the greeting or not?" Then I would pray near him and sneak a look at him and he would look at me while I attended to my prayer, but when I turned towards him, he would turn away from me. When that harshness of the Muslims went on too long a time for me, I climbed over the wall of Abu Qatada's garden. He was my cousin and the dearest of people to me. I greeted him, and, by Allah, he did not return the greeting to me. I said to him, "Abu Qatada, I ask you by Allah, do you not know that I love Allah and His Messenger?" He was silent, and I repeated my adjuration and he was still silent. I again repeated my adjuration and he said, "Allah and His Messenger know best." My eyes overflowed with tears and I turned and climbed back over the wall.

"'While I was walking in the market of Madina, a farmer from the people of Syria, who had brought some food to sell in Madina, said, "Who will direct me to Ka'b ibn Malik?" The people began to point me out to him until he came up to me and handed me a letter from the king of Ghassan. I was a scribe and so I read it. It said, "Following on from that: it has reached us that your companion has been harsh to you. Allah has not put you in a place to be humiliated and deprived. Join us and we will console you." When I had read it, I said, "This is also part of the test," and I took it to the oven which burned it up.

"'When forty of the fifty days had passed and revelation was still delayed, a messenger from the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, came to me and said, "The Messenger of Allah commands you to withdraw from your wife." I said, "Am I to divorce her or what?" He said, "No, just withdraw from her and do not go near her." He sent the same message to my two companions. I said to my wife, "Join your family and stay with them until Allah decides about this business." The wife of Hilal ibn Umayya went to the Messenger of Allah and said to him, "Messenger of Allah, Hilal ibn Umayya is an old man unable to look after himself and he has no servant. Would you dislike me serving him?" He said, "No, but do not let him come near you." She said, "By Allah, he has no impulse for anything. By Allah, he has remained weeping since the day of this business started until today." Some of my family said to me, "You should ask permission from the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, for your wife. He gave permission to the wife of Hilal ibn Umayya to serve him." I said, "I will not ask the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, for permission for her. How do I know what the Messenger of Allah would say if I asked his permission being a young man!" I remained like that for ten days, and fifty days were completed from the time when speaking to us was first prohibited.

"Then on the morning after the fiftieth night, I prayed Fajr on top of one of our houses. While I was sitting in the grip of the state which Allah Almighty mentioned about us, my self being constricted and the earth seeming narrow for me after it had been wide, I heard someone shouting at the top of his voice from the top of Sal': "Ka'b ibn Malik, good news for you!" I fell down in prostration and knew that relief had come. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, announced to the people the turning of Allah, the Mighty and Exalted, towards us after he had prayed the Fajr prayer. The people came to bring us the good news. They went to my two companions to bring them the good news. One man spurred on his horse to reach me and one of Aslam ran towards me and climbed the mountain. The voice reached me quicker than the horse. When the one whose voice I had heard came to me to give me the good news, I removed my garments and put them on him because of the good news he had brought. By Allah, that day I had no other garments than those. I borrowed two garments and wore them and went to go before the Messenger of Allah. Crowds of people met me to congratulate me on Allah's turning towards me. They were saying to me, "Enjoy the turning of Allah towards you!" until I entered the mosque. The Messenger of Allah was sitting surrounded by people. Talha ibn 'Ubaydullah may Allah be pleased with him, got up, hurrying to shake my hand and congratulate me. By Allah, not one of the Muhajriun got up except him. Ka'b will never forget what Talha did.'

"Ka'b said, 'When I greeted the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, his face was shining with joy and he said, "Rejoice in the best day that has come to you since your mother bore you!" I said, "Is it from you, Messenger of Allah, or from Allah?" He said, "Indeed it is from Allah, the Mighty and Exalted!" When the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was happy, his face used to shine as if it were a part of the moon. We used to recognise that in him. When I sat down in front of him, I said, 'Messenger of Allah, part of my repentance is that I divest myself of my property as sadaqa for Allah and His Messenger." The Messenger of Allah said, "Keep part of your property for yourself. That will be better for you." So I said, "I will keep my share at Khaybar." I said, "Messenger of Allah, Allah Almighty has saved me on account of being truthful, and part of my repentance is that I will speak nothing but the truth for as long as I live." By Allah, I do not know of anyone among the Muslims whom Allah Almighty has tried more. By Allah, I have not inclined to a lie from the time I said that to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, until this very day, and I hope that Allah Almighty will protect me during what remains of my life.'

"He said, 'Allah Almighty then sent down, "Allah has turned towards the Prophet, and the Muhajirun and the Ansar, those who followed him at the 'time of difficulty'" until "He is All-Gentle, Most Merciful to them, and also towards the three who were left behind, so that when the earth became narrow for them, for all its great breadth," until "Fear Allah and be with the truthful." (W9:118-120; H9:117-119)'

"Ka'b said, 'By Allah, after Allah guided me to Islam, Allah did not bestow on me any blessing greater than my truthfulness to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and the fact that I did not lie to him and get destroyed as those who lied were destroyed. When the revelation was sent down, Allah Almighty said about those who lied, the worst thing He said about anyone. Allah Almighty said, "They will swear to you by Allah when you return to them, so that you leave them alone. Leave them alone, then! They are defilement. Their shelter will be Hell as repayment for what they earned. They will swear to you to make you pleased with them, but even if you are pleased with them, Allah is certainly not pleased with degenerate people." (W9:96-97; H9:95-96)'

"Ka'b said, "We three were left apart from those whose excuses had been accepted by the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, when they swore to them and whose allegiance he took and for whom he asked forgiveness. The Messenger of Allah deferred the matter of us until Allah Almighty decided about it and Allah Almighty said, "towards the three who were left behind" and what He mentioned was not our staying back from the expedition but his leaving us and deferring our matter beyond that of the others who stayed behind and made excuses to him which he accepted.'" [Agreed upon]

One variant has, "The Prophet left on the expedition of Tabuk on a Thursday. He liked to set out on Thursdays."

One variant has, "He used to only return from a journey in the morning. When he arrived, he went first to the mosque and prayed two rak'ats in it, and then he would sit in it."

22. Abu Nujayd 'Imran ibn al-Husayn al-Khuza'i reported that a woman from Juhayna came to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, who was pregnant as a result of fornication. She said, "O Messenger of Allah, I have broken a hadd, so carry out the punishment on me. The Prophet of Allah summoned her guardian and said, "Treat her well. When she gives birth, bring her back to me." He did that and the Prophet of Allah commanded that her garment be tied tightly about her and then he commanded that she be stoned. Then he prayed over her. 'Umar said to him, "Do you pray over her, Messenger of Allah, when she committed fornication? He said, "She repented with such a repentance that if it were to be divided out among seventy of the people of Madina, it would be enough for all of them. Can you think of anything better than her offering herself to Allah, the Mighty and Majestic?" [Muslim]

23. Ibn 'Abbas reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "If the son of Adam possessed a valley full of gold he would want to have two valleys, yet his mouth will only be filled by earth. Allah turns towards those who turn in repentance." [Agreed upon]

24. Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Allah, glory be to Him, laughs about two men, one of whom kills the other and yet both of them enter the Garden. One fights in the way of Allah and is killed. Then Allah turns towards the killer, who then becomes Muslim himself and is martyred." [Agreed upon]