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How to Start Again After a Life of Sin This Ramadan

Do you feel like you have sinned too much to come back to Allah? Do you feel like you cannot be forgiven? Do you feel like you have wasted Ramadan and now you have lost the chance to earn Allah’s Mercy?

If yes, you are a victim to the whispers of shaytan. Shaytan arrogantly sinned, then lost hope in Allah. He accepted that he was destined for Hell-fire then made it his mission to take us all to Hell-fire, including you. What shaytan forgot, however, was how Merciful Allah is. Allah forgives anyone who sincerely comes to Him in repentance. Allah says in a Hadith Qudsi:

“O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as it.” (At-Tirmidhi, also by Ahmad ibn Hanbal).

Allah gives us His Forgiveness in proportion to our sins! Allahu Akbar! Allah is the Most Generous. This hadith is so detailed, so loving, so hopeful. Allah is calling us back to Him. Allah is affirming that no one is too far gone to come back to Allah. As long as we don’t associate anything with Allah, He will continue to forgive us no matter what we have done. It is important to come back to Allah while fighting shaytan’s whispers. It is not allowed for us to lose hope in Allah. We are all sinners, but “the best of sinners are those who repent” as the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) told us. In fact, if we did not sin, Allah would replace us with people who would sin just so that they would seek Allah’s forgiveness! Why? Because Allah LOVES to forgive!

The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “By the One in whose hand is my soul, if you did not sin, Allah would replace you with people who would sin, and they would seek forgiveness from Allah and He would forgive them.” (Sahih Muslim)

Make the Intention

The first step in changing your ways and coming back to Allah is to make the intention to sincerely repent to Allah for the sake of Allah, not to impress someone or to gain some worldly reward.

Allah says in Surah At-Tahrim:

“O you who have believed, repent to Allah with sincere repentance (tawbatan nasoohan). Perhaps your Lord will remove from you your misdeeds and admit you into gardens beneath which rivers flow [on] the Day when Allah will not disgrace the Prophet and those who believed with him… (66:8)

Allah is reminding us in this surah to repent to Him sincerely, to turn back to Him with true guilt and humility. The result is that Allah will remove from us our sins and grant us Jannah and will give us honour on the Day of Judgment with the Prophet (SAW) and the believers.

The reason why our intention is so important is that deeds are judged by their intentions. If we intend to come closer to Allah, how would He not help us when He is Ar-Raheem, Al-Wadud (The Exceedingly Merciful, The Most Loving)?

Make Sincere Du’a

The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) taught us many different du’as for istighfar. They are all deep and comprehensive, and the best du’a is the one that is made with the heart. In the last ten nights of Ramadan, He taught us to say, “Allahumma innaka ‘afuwwun, tuhibbul-‘afwa, fa’fu ‘anni” (O Allah, You are The Pardoner, You Love to Pardon, so Pardon me).

The meaning of ‘afuw is to completely erase the sins as if they never existed. It is to wipe the slate clean. We have a chance of a renewed beginning with Allah (SWT) anytime we turn back to Him. We can clear our slate with Him right now if we wish. All is takes is one sincere du’a. As we know from a Hadith Qudsi, Allah says, “If My servant comes to Me walking, I go to Him running.” SubhanAllah! How Merciful is Allah! He not only waits for us to return, but He comes and meets us halfway as soon as we start walking towards Him. Who else will receive us like this with Love but Him?

The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "The best supplication for seeking forgiveness is (Syed-ul-Istighfar). If somebody recites it during the day with firm faith in it and dies on the same day before the evening, they will be from the people of Paradise and if somebody recites it at night with firm faith in it and dies before the morning they will be from the people of Paradise.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)

“Allahumma anta rabbi laaa ilaaha illa anta. Khalaqtani wa ana a'bduk. Wa ana ‘alaa ahdika wa wa'dika masta-ta'tu. A’udhubika min-shari maa sana'tu. Aa-bu u-laka bi-ni'matika a'layya. Wa a-bu u-bi-dhambi fagh-firli fa-inna-hu la yagh-firudh-dhunooba illa anta.”

(O Allah, You are my Lord, none has the right to be worshipped except You, You created me and I am Your servant, and I abide to Your covenant and promise [to honour it] as best I can, I take refuge in You from the evil of which I committed, I acknowledge Your favour upon me and I acknowledge my sin, so forgive me, for verily none can forgive sins except You.)

Remove the Avenues to Sin

Once you resolve not to commit sins, it is important to remove contact with people who encourage you to sin, especially if they have no intention to turn back to Allah. It is important to be firm in this resolve for the sake of Allah.

Abu Qatadah reported: The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “Verily, you will never leave anything for the sake of Allah Almighty but that Allah will replace it with something better.” (Musnad Ahmad)

If it’s a haram relationship we are leaving, we must know that Allah will replace it with a better relationship that is good for our dunya and Akhirah. If we are leaving a toxic friendship in which we struggled to do good deeds and walk the path of guidance, then we must trust that Allah will bring His special people into our lives who will help us on our path to Him.

If the sins that we are doing relate to some trauma in our life, it can be very difficult to cut ourselves off from them. This is when healing from our wounds becomes an act of worship if we renew our intention to become emotionally healthier for the sake of Allah.

Mend your Relationships

Many of our sins relate to us neglecting someone’s rights, mistreating people in our lives, or cutting off relations with family.

In Islam, it is a serious offense to cut relations off with one’s family (in cases of trauma or toxic households, it’s best to consult a scholar and your therapist before making any decisions).

The sins that we do between us and Allah are between us and Him, but the sins that we do against others can only be forgiven by others. We must seek people’s forgiveness if we have wronged them, but only if it will not worsen our relationship with them. If we decide that it’s best not to contact them, then we should increase in making du’a for them and ask that Allah forgives them and brings them close to Him on the Day of Judgement.

Keep Good Company

Abu Huraira reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “A man is upon the religion of his best friend, so let one of you look at whom he befriends.” (Sunan At-Tirmidhi)

Once you have left bad company, you must look for good company. Go to your local masjid and find people who attend halaqat and Islamic classes. Look for people online who spread knowledge and connect with them. Build a network with the people who are living lives that are pleasing to Allah.

Watch Your Input

Our diet is not just what we eat, but what we consume. The things we watch, the things we listen to, the content we consume online, the people and pages we follow on social media, all have an impact in which direction our nafs inclines. Your mental diet has a role to play in your inclinations just as much as your physical diet. We must guard our eyes, ears, and limbs from everything that Allah dislikes. This act of watching what we consume falls under the umbrella of Taqwa, of God-consciousness, of being mindful that Allah is watching us.

Commit Yourself to Knowledge

As humans, we need consistency. We need reminders and motivation to stay on the Straight Path. Even the sahabah did not have an iman high all the time. They got busy with their families and work and their enthusiasm waned. This is normal. It is important, however, to consistently seek knowledge, even if it is once a week in order to keep that steady stream of knowledge coming in that warns us, gives us hope, and keeps us grounded. No amount of firm resolve is a substitution for consistent, beneficial input.

Allah says in the Qur’an: “And remind, for indeed, the reminder benefits the believers.” (51:55)

Commit Yourself to Service

The biggest gifts that Allah can give us after hidayah (guidance) are tawfiq (ability to do good deeds) and thabaat (steadfastness/consistency). How do we attain these gifts?

Allah says in the Qur’an in Surah Muhammad: “O you who have believed, if you support Allah, He will support you and plant firmly your feet (grant you steadfastness).” (47:7)

The wording used is “yuthabbit aqdaamakum,” which literally means He will firmly plant your feet.

“If you support Allah” means to support Allah’s cause. It’s to support organizations that are doing charity work. It’s to support students of knowledge with your money. It’s to help the orphans and widows with their education and livelihood. It is to serve your family and your neighbors. It is to seek out the needy and vulnerable in your community to provide them with food, assistance, and transportation.

The more we serve Allah’s servants, the more firmly He plants our feet. Walking the Straight Path is not about walking in isolation. Walking the Straight Path means walking with other believers, not feeling better than them, not being indifferent to them, but serving them with a whole heart for the sake of Allah. This is how we earn Allah’s Mercy.

May Allah allow us all to turn to Him sincerely in repentance and May He accept our repentance. May Allah surround us with good company, with people who love Him and whom He loves and may He keep us far away from those who seek to take us away from Him. May Allah grant us thabaat (steadfastness) on the Path and make it easy for us to come closer to Him until the day we meet Him. Ameen.

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