House of Ethic 

Topic 7: *Inner regret, the basic requirement for repentance (Part 1)*
The first and the basic requirement for repentance is inner regret upon one’s sins and heedlessness. 
Imam Baqir (a) says:

‎*«كَفَى بِالنَّدَمِ تَوْبَةً»* 

_“The very feeling of remorse is enough for repentance.”_
The person seeking repentance should safeguard this feeling for it would prove helpful in the future, as the tradition goes on:

_“By lord! No one achieves salvation from sins unless he confesses to them.”_
Of course, confessing to one’s own mistakes in public is not right. Only confession to God is desirable. This is because a believer’s esteem is very dearer to Allah than that his sins be known to others and he be humiliated before them, that too, before individuals who themselves are sinful and in need of Allah’s forgiveness for their own sins. Rather, a believer must confess his sins only before His Lord, so that with the humility and remorse that he expresses, the rivers of Allah’s mercy flow for him. Imam Sadiq (a) says:

‎*«إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْعَبْدَ أَنْ يَطْلُبَ إِلَيْهِ فِي الْجُرْمِ الْعَظِيمِ وَ يُبْغِضُ الْعَبْدَ أَنْ يَسْتَخِفَّ بِالْجُرْمِ الْيَسِير»*

_“Indeed Allah loves a servant who is attentive of Him after committing a great sin (asks for His forgiveness) and does not like a servant who underestimates a minor offence he has committed and neglects it (and does not think about repentance)._
*Ayatullah Tahriri*, Commentary on Munājāt al-Ta’ibīn , pg 76

Topic 7: *Inner regret, the basic requirement for repentance (Part 2)*
When a servant feels embarrassed due to a sin that he has committed and expresses regret over it, he will certainly try to compensate for it. Imam Ali (a) says: 

‎ *«إِنَّ النَّدَمَ عَلَى الشَّرِّ يَدْعُو إِلَى تَرْكِه»*

_“Embarrassment over evil pulls one towards abandoning it.”_

*Tawbah (repentance) does not require loud expressions or a special place and time*, rather, according to Imam Sadiq: 

‎*«مَا مِنْ عَبْدٍ أَذْنَبَ ذَنْباً فَنَدِمَ عَلَيْهِ إِلَّا غَفَرَ اللَّهُ لَهُ قَبْلَ أَنْ يَسْتَغْفِرَ»*

_“There is no servant that commits a sin and feels ashamed of his act but that Allah forgives him even before he seeks repentance.”_
Of course, it is quite obvious that noble places and occasions such as the birth days of the Imams and *the day and night of al-Qadr*, the pilgrimage to Mecca, visiting the shrine of the Prophet (s) and Imams (a) provide very good conditions for regret and repentance. These opportunities should be utilized in the best possible manner and religious instructions also encourage us towards benefiting from these opportunities. However, for all of these instances, an internal transformation is required so that a person’s repentance becomes a true repentance which is worthy of acceptance by Allah. Imam Sadiq (a) says:

‎*«مَنْ أَذْنَبَ ذَنْباً فَعَلِمَ أَنَّ اللَّهَ مُطَّلِعٌ عَلَيْهِ إِنْ شَاءَ عَذَّبَهُ وَ إِنْ شَاءَ غَفَرَ لَهُ غَفَرَ لَهُ وَ إِنْ لَمْ يَسْتَغْفِر»*

_“One who commits a sin, and is aware of Allah being watchful over him, and that He may punish him if He likes, or He may forgive him if He likes, he would be forgiven even if he does not seek forgiveness.”_
*Ayatullah Tahriri*, Commentary on Munājāt al-Ta’ibīn , pg 78

Topic 8 – *The effect and importance of seeking repentance*
Every stage of repentance (tawbah) has a specific life giving effect on the soul of the human being, and seeking forgiveness [through uttering the words] is no exception. It is for this reason that the words (zikr) for seeking forgiveness are recommended to be recited at different times during the day and night, for instance after the afternoon prayer (zuhr), in the evening, in the middle of the night. The effects of this recitation have also been mentioned. 

What is important to note is that lack of understanding the exact meaning of the phrases of repentance shouldn’t lead one to abandon it altogether, for recitation of these phrases are important and not devoid of effects. When one commits himself or herself to recite 70 times after the Asr prayers _astaghfirullaha rabbi wa atubu ilaih_ (I seek Allah’s forgiveness and return to him) this very commitment and practical attention to this act has effects. Imam Sadiq (s) is reported to have said:

‎*«إِذَا أَكْثَرَ الْعَبْدُ مِنَ الِاسْتِغْفَارِ رُفِعَتْ صَحِيفَتُهُ وَ هِيَ تَتَلَأْلا»*

_”When a servant increases his repentance, his book of action rises whilst it is luminous.”_
However, Shaytan who is the open enemy of mankind, never ceases in his endeavours, and always strives to prevent him from achieving even this station of recitation (zikr) and dua. The skill of man lies in him standing firm against the whisperings of shaytan, and not falling short of even the smallest of good actions, such that step by step he can progress in his journey towards Allah and reach Perfection, and in this path he does not consider any good action – however small – as futile.

The Holy Prophet (s) once said,

‎*«خَيْرُ الدُّعَاءِ الِاسْتِغْفَار»*

_”The best of supplication (dua) is seeking forgiveness.”_
Nonetheless, man should always strive to deepen his actions, and should struggle to stay safe from committing any sins. However, if one has not reached the depth of knowledge (ma’rifat) and at times slips towards sins, never should he give up the apparent (zahir) actions. It has been reported from Imam Ridha (a):

‎*«مَثَلُ الِاسْتِغْفَارِ مَثَلُ وَرَقٍ عَلَى شَجَرَةٍ تُحَرَّكُ فَيَتَنَاثَرُ وَ الْمُسْتَغْفِرُ مِنْ ذَنْبٍ وَ يَفْعَلُهُ كَالْمُسْتَهْزِئِ بِرَبِّه»*

_”The example of seeking forgiveness is the example of the leaves that fall from a tree; and someone who seeks forgiveness from a sin which he is performing, is like one who makes fun of his Lord.”_
*Ayatullah Tahriri*, Commentary on Munājāt al-Ta’ibīn , pg 80

Topic 9 – *The Whispering of Satan to Delay Tawbah (Seeking Forgiveness) and its Solution (Part 1)*
Through his whispers, Satan wants to prevent man from certain actions. Man’s responsibility is that, at the first level, he must disregard these whispers, and at the next level, he should try to push away these whispers from his mind. For example, when one intends to join congregation prayers, Satan says to him, “If you go for congregation prayers, people will realize that you want to offer congregation prayers and this is tantamount to riya’ (showing off) and actions carried out with riya are void.”
Whilst satan’s entire existence is filled with shirk, he sometimes appears in a virtuous form and whispers the notion of riya’ into man’s mind. And in order that man obeys him and lets go of the noble act, he whispers to him that acts carried out with riya’ are absolutely useless. 

Such circumstances can be seen in the traditions as well, when the Shias would go to the Imams (who are the true spiritual teachers and doctors of the soul), seeking solutions for Satan’s whispers that they would be afflicted with. A follower of Imam Sadiq (a) told him of a whisper of Satan, which had been bothering him. The Imam said:

‎لَا شَيْ‏ءَ فِيهَا تَقُولُ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللَّه

_”Disregard it and say La ilaha illa Allah (there is no God but Allah)”_
It is narrated from Abu Basir that they asked Imam Muhammad Baqir (a), “What should someone who doubts a lot in his prayers and does not know which rak’ah (unit of prayer) he is reciting in prayers do?” The Imam (a) answered, _“He should start the prayer from the beginning.”_ They asked, “What if he becomes more doubtful and still has doubts even if he starts from the beginning?” The Imam replied:

_“Even though he has a doubt, he should continue his prayer. By abandoning his prayer, he would get Satan in the habit of whispering to him any time he likes, and that would encourage him more. Whoever becomes very doubtful should finish his prayers by relying on one of the possibilities (in his doubt) – he shouldn’t nullify his prayer with every doubt that visits him. If he disregards his doubt for some time, he will stop having these doubts. Satan – the wicked – wishes to be in command and to be followed; however, if he is disobeyed, he will not return.”_
*Ayatullah Tahriri*, Commentary on Munājāt al-Ta’ibīn , pg 82 – 84

Topic 9 – *The Whispering of Satan to Delay Tawbah (Seeking Forgiveness) and its Solution (Part 2)*
One should try to act on what Allah and the Ahl al-Bayt (a) have prescribed, and be persistent in that. It is natural for one to have a lapse of attention during worship—although this is not something desired and we should look for a cure for this. However, this lapse of attention is not considered riya and it should not preoccupy us. Riya is when one intends to carry out an act for the sake of showing off to others, and this is the only intention for his act.
Zurarah asked Imam Muhammad Baqir (a) of the one who does a good deed, but feels happiness in his heart when others see him. The Imam (a) replied:

_“There is no problem with that. (Naturally) there is no one who does not wish for others to know of the good he does. This is fine as long as this is not the reason he sets out to do the act.”_
However, one should always—with determination and thoroughness—be attentive towards the condition of his soul, and should not let himself wander unchecked. He should be increasingly particular of his actions so that his actions become more perfect and yield more fruits.
*Ayatullah Tahriri*, Commentary on Munājāt al-Ta’ibīn , pg 82 – 84

Topic 10: *The necessity of recognizing the paths of Satan’s whispering (Part 1)*
One of the important and subtle issues with regards to confronting Satanic whisperings is to recognize the openings from which his whispering penetrates. At times Satan attempts to penetrate into the heart and soul of man, utilizing the path of whisperings that pertain to religious beliefs. Man’s responsibility in this case is to neutralize Satan’s attack by disregarding the whisperings, and by pondering upon the fundamental aspects of the faith.
Imam Muhammad Bāqir (a) says:
A man came to the Messenger of Allah (s) and said “Oh Messenger of Allah! I have become a hypocrite.” The Holy Prophet (s) said, _”By Allah you have not become a hypocrite, and if you had become a hypocrite you would not have come before me, informing me. What is it that has caused you to doubt? I think the attentive enemy (Satan) came to you and said to you ‘Who created you?’ So you replied: ‘Allah created me’. Then he said to you ‘Who created Allah?'”_
The man said “Yes, I swear by Him who sent you with the truth, that is what happened”. The Holy Prophet (s) said _”Verily Satan comes seeking you from the path of action (and refraining you from good actions) and if he is unsuccessful then he approaches you from this path so that he may cause you to slip. And whenever this happens then he (who it happens to, it is incumbent that he) should remember the oneness of Allah (that is he should utter the remembrance lā ilāha illallāh).”_
🍁The important and subtle point in this tradition, is the manner in which the remedy has been presented by the most perfect of all mortals and the real doctor of all pains.
The noble messenger approaches the matter in the most measured manner such that the root of these whisperings are burnt out. Therefore he says:

_The fact that you come before a walī of Allah and seek from him, and the fact that you strive that this state of yours changes and is rectified, is in itself good and desirable._
This simple action even though is the first step, it is the most essential of undertakings and most blessed of efforts. It has the ability to remedy other ailments too. What is important is that the action is undertaken in accordance to the Divine command, and the incentive for acting is also the Divine command.
*Ayatullah Tahriri*, Commentary on Munājāt al-Ta’ibīn , pg 85 – 86

Topic 10: *The necessity of recognizing the paths of Satan’s whispering (Part 2)*
Under no circumstances should man be heedless of seeking forgiveness. The task of Satan is to whisper and to give a pretence of impediments; his goal is to prevent man from reaching eternal happiness. Of course he starts his work from the first step and says:

“Why do you seek forgiveness and repent to Allah? This action is beyond your capacity, because you will eventually commit a sin again. What use is this repentance?”
In response to him, it must be said:

_”My plan is that I won’t commit a sin again and with the Will of Allah I won’t. What good are you? You are neither my advocate nor my guardian.”_
The primary goal of Satan by these whisperings is to take control of the affairs of man and place him under the yoke of his authority. In response, man must seek forgiveness and ask for help from God and also seek that, in the path of achieving repentance, he takes a step. In this regard, man should have a firm resolve, and to the extent that he can, he should not refrain from righteous deeds, although seeking forgiveness and repenting themselves are considered from the righteous deeds.
*Ayatullah Tahriri*, Commentary on Munājāt al-Ta’ibīn , pg 85 – 86

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