O you who believe turn to Allah with sincere repentance

Mustapha MEGAWER

“O you who believe! Turn to Allah with sincere repentance.”
(The Holy Quran)

“By Allah I seek Allah’s forgiveness and turn to Him in repentance more than seventy times a day.”
(Imam Bukhari)

In the Holy Quran Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala says,
“And We took the Children of Israel across the sea, and Pharaoh with his hosts followed them in oppression and enmity, until when drowning overtook him, he said: ‘I believe that La illa alazi Amanat Bihee Bano Israel and I am one of the Muslims (None has the right to be worshipped but the god in Whom the Children of Israel have believed, and I am one of the Muslims.’ Now (you believe)! While you refused to believe before (death overtook you) and you were one of the evil-doers. So this day We shall deliver your (dead) body (out from the sea) that you may be a sign to those who come after you! And verily, many among mankind are heedless of Our Signs.”
(The Holy Quran, Surah Yunus 10:90-92)

He (Pharaoh) believed at a time when he could not benefit from his faith and Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala says in this regard,
“So when they saw our punishment, they said: we believe in Allah alone and reject (all) that we used to associate with him as (his) partners, then their faith could not avoid them when they saw our punishment.”
(The Holy Quran, Surah Moamin 40: 84-85)

In another Surah Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala said,
“O you who believe turn to Allah with sincere repentance! It may be that your Lord will expiate from you your sins and admit you into gardens under which rivers flow (paradise) – the day that Allah will not disgrace the Prophet (Mohammed) and those who believed with him. Their lights will run forward before them and (with their records i.e. Books of deeds) in their right hands. They will say: our Lord! Keep perfect our light for us and do not put it off till we cross over the sirat (a slippery bridge over the hell) safely and grant us forgiveness. Verily you are able to do all things.”
(The Holy Quran, Surah Tahrim 66: 8)

In the Prophet’s Sunna (Hadith), the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) said,
“Certainly Allah stretched his hand by night that the one who has committed a misdeed during the day could turn in repentance. He stretches his hand by day that the one that committed a misdeed during the night could turn in repentance until the sum rise from the west.”

Abdullah Ibn Mas’oud (Glad Tiding to Him) narrated that the Prophet (PBUH) said,
“The believer sees his sins as if he were sitting under a mountain, which he is afraid may fall on him; whereas the evildoer considers his sins as flies passing over his nose and he just drove them away like this.”
(Imam Bukhari)

In another narration the Prophet (PBUH) said,
“Allah is more pleased with the repentance of his servant than a man (a traveller) in a desert when his mount that carried his food, drink, and all that benefits him, is lost, he started looking for it and suffered from severe heat and thirst until he was near death. He then said to himself ‘I should return to my starting place to die there’ he then returned to it and was overtaken by sleep. When he woke up and raised his head he found his mount standing beside him carrying his food, drink, and all that benefits him.”
(Imam Bukhari)

Ibn Omar (GTTH) narrated in another Hadith that the Prophet (PBUH) said
“Allah accepts the repentance of man as long as he not experience death rattle.”
(Imam Al Termizi)

Abu-Sa’eed Al-Hudri (GTTH) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said,
“There was a man from Bano Israel who murdered ninety-nine people. He then set out asking (whether his repentance could be accepted or not) he came upon a monk and asked him if his repentance could be accepted. The monk replied in the negative and so the man killed him, he kept on asking whether his repentance could be accepted or not until a man advised him to go to such and such village (so he left for it) but death overtook him on the way. While dying he turned his chest towards that village (where he had hope his repentance would be accepted) and so the angels of mercy and the angels of punishment disputed amongst themselves regarding him. Allah ordered the village towards which he was going to come closer to him and ordered the village (he had come from) to go far away and then he ordered the angels to measure the distances between his body and the two villages. So he was found to be one span closer to the village (he was going to). So he was forgiven.”
(Imam Bukhari)

Here is the story of the three men (Glad Tiding To Them) who stayed behind the Prophet (PBUH) and did not join the battle of Tabuk. They are Ka’b bin Malik, Hilal ibn Umayyah and Murarah bin ar-Rabi, all of them from the Ansar (people of Medina). The last two men had fought in the famous battle of Badr. Allah sent his relief from the distress and grief that struck these three men in Quranic verses which will be recited till the day of resurrection.

Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala said ,
“And He did forgive also the three who stayed behind until for them the earth, vast as it is was narrowed to them and they perceived that there is no fleeing from Allah, and no refuge but with him. Then He forgave them, that they might beg for his pardon, verily Allah is the one who forgives and accepts repentance most merciful.”
(The Holy Quran, Surah At Tawbah 9: 118)

Muslims were not allowed to talk to them for fifty days and nights and the earth vast as it is was narrowed for them, and they did not know what action to take. They were patient for Allah’s sake and awaited humbly for His decree. They remained firm, until Allah sent His relief to them since they told the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) the truth about why they remained behind, declaring that they did not have excuse for doing so, before narrating their story.
Here I would like to give a brief introduction to the battle of Tabuk. Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala said in the Holy Quran regarding this battle,
“Allah has forgiven the Prophet, the Muhajirin (immigrants) and the Ansar (helpers) who followed him in the time of distress (Tabuk expedition) after the hearts of a party of them had nearly deviated (from the right path) but accepted their repentance. Certainly, he is unto them full of kindness, most merciful.”
(The Holy Quran, Surah At Tawbah 9:117)

Mujahid and several other scholars said, “This ayah (verse) was revealed concerning the battle of Tabuk. They left for that battle during a period of distress. It was a year with little rain, intense heat and scarcity or shortage of supplies and water.” (At-Tabari)
Qatadah said, “They went to As-Sham during the year of the battle of Tabuk at a time when the heat was intense. Allah knows how hard things were, and they suffered great hardship travelling without horses or camels and walking without shoes. They used to eat the leaves of the trees in that battle. We were also told that two men used to divide a date between themselves and some of them would take turns in sucking on a date and drinking water, and then give it to another man to suck on it. As a reward for their hardships Allah forgave them their sins.”

Abu Bakr As Siddiq (GTTH) said to Allah’s Messenger (PBUH), “Allah, the exalted and most honoured, has always accepted your invocation, so invoke Allah for us.”

The Prophet (PBUH) said, “Would you like me to do that?”

Abu Bakr (GTTH) said yes and then the Prophet (PBUH) raised his hands, and did not put them down until rain fell from the sky in abundance. It rained and then stopped raining for a while, then rained again, so they filled their containers. This is one of the Prophet’s (PBUH) miracles in which Allah favoured him to testify the truth of his message. This was a brief introduction about the battle of Tabuk. The story of the three men (GTTT) who remained behind, whose decision was deferred by the Messenger (PBUH) of Allah.

Imam Ahmed recorded that Abdullah bin Ka’b bin Malik, who used to guide Ka’b bin Malik after he became blind, said that he heard Ka’b bin Malik narrate his story when he did not join the Messenger (PBUH) of Allah in the battle of Tabuk.

Ka’b bin Malik said, “I did not remain behind Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) in any battle that he fought except the battle of Tabuk. I failed to take part in the battle of Badr, but Allah did not admonish any one who did not participate in it.
For in fact, Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) had gone out in search of the caravan of Quraysh, until Allah made the Muslims and their enemies meet without any appointment I witnessed the night of Al-Aqabah pledge with Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) when we pledged for Islam, and I would not exchange it for the Badr battle. Even though the Badr battle is more popular among the people than the Aqabah pledge, as for my news of this battle of Tabuk I was never stronger or wealthier than I was when I remained behind Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) in that battle. By Allah never had I two she-camels before but I did at the time of that battle of Tabuk which Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) fought in intense heat, facing a long journey, the desert, and the great number of enemy soldiers.

So the Prophet (PBUH) clearly announced the destination to the Muslims, so that they could prepare for their battle and he told them about his intent. Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) was accompanied by such a large number of Muslims.”

Ka’b bin Malik added, “Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) fought that battle at a time when the fruits had ripened and the shade was pleasant, and I found myself inclined towards that. Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) and his companions (GTTT) prepared for the battle and I started to go out in order to get myself ready along with them, but I returned without doing anything. I would say to myself, I can do that if I want so I kept on delaying it every now and then until the people were prepared, and Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) and the Muslims along with him departed.
But I had not prepared anything for my departure. I said I will prepare myself (for departure) one or two days after him, and then join them. In the morning following their departure, I went out to get myself ready but returned having done nothing. Then again, the next morning I went out to get ready but returned without doing anything. Such was the case with me until they hurried away and I missed the battle. Even them I intended to depart to catch up to them I wish I had done so! But such was not the case.

So after the departure of Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) whenever I went out and walked among the people (who remained behind) it grieved me that I could see none around me, except one accused of hypocrisy or one of those weak men whom Allah had excused. Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) did not remember me until he reached Tabuk, so while he was sitting among the people in Tabuk, the Prophet (PBUH) said,

‘What did Ka’b bin Malik do?’

Ka’b bin Malik added, “A man from Banu Salimah said something bad about me.”

Then Muadh bin Jabal said, “What a bad thing you have said: by Allah O Allah’s Messenger (PBUH)! We know nothing about him but that which is good. Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) kept silent.”

Ka’b bin Malik added, “When I heard that Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) was on his way back to Al Madinah, I was overcome by concern and began to think of false excuses. I said to myself, how can I escape for his anger tomorrow?

I started looking for advice from wise member of my family in this matter, when it was said that Allah’s Messenger had approached (Al Madinah) all evil and false excuses abandoned my mind and I knew well that I could never come out of this problem by forging a false statement, then I decided firmly to speak the truth. Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) arrived in the morning, and whenever he returned from a journey, he used to visit the masjid (mosque) first, and offer a two Rak’ah prayer, then sit for the people, so when he had done all that (this time) those who failed to join the battle came and started offering (false) excuses and taking oaths before him. They were over eight men, Allah’s Messenger accepted the excuses they expressed outwardly asked for Allah’s forgiveness for them and left the secrets of their hearts for Allah to judge. Then I came to him and when I greeted him, he smiled a smile of an angry person and the Prophet (PBUH) said,


So I came walking until I sat before him.

He (PBUH) said to me,

‘What stopped you from joining us? Had you not purchased an animal for carrying you?’

I answered ‘Yes O Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) by Allah, if I were sitting before any person from among the people of the world other than you, I would have escaped from his anger with an excuse by Allah. I have been bestowed with the power of speaking fluently and eloquently, but by Allah I know well that if I tell you a lie today to seek your favour. Allah would surely make you angry with me in the near future, but if I tell you the truth, though you will get angry because of it, I hope for Allah’s forgiveness. By Allah I had never been stronger or wealthier than I was when I remained behind you.’

Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) said,

‘As regards to this man, he has surely told the truth. So get up until Allah decides your case.’

I got up and many men of Banu Salimah followed me and said, ‘By Allah we never witnessed you commit any sin before this surely, you failed to offer an excuse to Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) like the others who did not join him. The invocation of Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) to Allah to forgive you would have been sufficient for your sin by Allah. They continued blaming me so much that I intended to return to the Prophet (PBUH) and accuse myself of having told a lie. But I said to them is there anybody else who has met the same end as I have?’

They replied, “Yes. There are two men who have said the same thing as you have, and to both of them was given the same order as give to you.’

I said, ‘Who are they?’

They replied Murarah bin Ar-Rabi Al-Amiri and Hilal Bin Umayyah Al-Waeifi. ‘They mentioned to me two pious men who had attended the battle of Badr and in whom there was an example for me. So I did not change my mind when they mentioned them to me. Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) forbade all the Muslims from talking to us, so we kept away from the people and they changed their attitude towards us until the very land where I lived appeared strange to me as if I did not know it. We remained in that condition for fifty nights, as for my two companions they remained in their houses and kept weeping but I was the youngest and the firmest of them. So I would go out and attend the prayer along with the Muslims and roam the markets but none would talk to me. I would come to Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) and greet him while he was sitting in his gathering after the prayer, and I would wonder whether he even moved his lips in return of my greeting or not.
Then I would offer my prayer near him and look at him carefully. When I was busy with my prayer, he would turn his face towards me but when I turned my face to him he would turn his face away from me.

When this harsh attitude and boycott of the people continued for a long time, I walked until I scaled the wall of the garden of Abu Qatadah who was my cousin and the dearest person to me. I offered my greeting to him, by Allah he did not return my greeting. I said O Abu Qatadah I beseech you by Allah! Do you know that I love Allah and his Messenger (PBUH)? He kept quiet and I asked him again, beseeching him by Allah, but he remained silent. I asked him again in the name of Allah and he said that Allah and his Messenger (PBUH) know better. Thereupon my eyes flowed with tears and I returned and jumped over the wall.

While I was walking in the market of Al-Madinah, suddenly I saw someone from Ash Sham came to sell his grains in Al-Madinah, saying ‘Who will lead me to Ka’b bin Malik?’

The people began to point (me) out for him, until he came to me and handed me a letter from the King (who ruled Syria for Caesar) for I know how to read and write. In that letter, the King wrote to me ‘that your friend (the Prophet (PBUH)) has treated you harshly…. so join us and we will console you.’ When I read it I said to myself that this was also a sort of test, so I took the letter to the oven and burned it.
When forty out of the fifty nights elapsed there came to me a messenger of Allah’s Prophet (PBUH) saying that Allah’s Messenger ordered me to keep away from my wife, I said, ‘should I divorce her, or else what should I do?’ He said not only keep aloof from her and do not mingle with her. The Prophet sent the same message to my two fellows I said to my wife, ‘Go to your parents and remain with them until Allah gives his verdict in this matter.’

Ka’ab ibn Malik added, ‘The wife of Hilal bin Umayyah came to Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) and said O Allah’s Messenger (PBUH)! Hilal bin Umayyah is a helpless old man who has no servant to attend on him. Do you dislike that I should serve him? The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said,

‘No (you can serve him), but he should not come near you (sexually).”

She said, ‘By Allah! He has no desire for anything by Allah, he has never ceased weeping since his case began until this day of his.’ On that day some of my family members said to me, ‘Will you also ask Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) to permit your wife (to serve you) as he has permitted the wife of Hilal bin Umayyah to serve him?’ I said, ‘By Allah I will not ask permission of Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) regarding her. For I do not know what Allah’s messenger (PBUH) would say if I asked him to permit her (to serve me) while I’m a young man.’
We remained in that state for ten more nights, until the period of fifty nights was completed starting from the time when Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) prohibited the people from talking to us. When I had finished the fajr prayer on the fiftieth morning on the roof of one of our houses while sitting in the condition in which Allah described (in the Quran) my very soul seemed narrowed to me and even the earth seemed narrow to me for all it’s spaciousness.

There I heard the voice of a man who had ascended the mountain of Madinah calling with his loudest voice ‘O K’ab bin Malik be happy’ (by receiving good tidings). I fell down in prostration before Allah realizing that relief has come with his forgiveness for us. Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) announced the acceptance of our repentance by Allah after fajr prayer. The people went out to congratulate us. Some bearers of good news went to my two companions. When the man whose voice I had heard, came to me conveying the good news I took of my garments and dressed him with them and by Allah I owned no other than them on the day. Then I borrowed two garments, wore them and went to Allah’s Messenger (PBUH). The people started congratulating me on Allah’s acceptance of my repentance. Saying. ‘We congratulate you on Allah’s acceptance of your repentance.’

When I entered the mosque I saw Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) sitting in the mosque with people around him. When I greeted him, his face was bright with joy.

The Prophet (PBUH) said,

‘(Be happy) with the best day have ever seen since your mother gave birth to you’.

I said to the Prophet (PBUH), ‘Is this forgiveness from you or from Allah?’.

He (PBUH) said,

‘No, it is from Allah’

So Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala revealed the ayat,
‘Allah has forgiven the Prophet (PBUH), the Muhajirin (immigrants) and the Ansar (helpers) who followed him in the time of distress.. After the hearts of a party of them had nearly deviated but he accepted their repentance. Certainly, he is unto them full of kindness, most merciful, and the three who stayed behind, until for them the earth, vast as it is, was narrowed and their souls were narrowed to them and they perceived that there is no fleeing from Allah, and no refuge but with him then he forgave them. That they might beg for pardon, Verily, Allah is the one who forgives and accepts repentance most merciful. O you who believed! Have Taqwa of Allah, and be with those who are true (in words and deeds).”
(The Holy Quran, Surah At Tawbah 9:117-119)

Ka’b ibn Malik said, “By Allah, Allah has never bestowed upon me, apart from his guiding me to Islam, a greater blessing than the fact that I did not tell a lie to Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) which would have caused me to perish, just as those who had told a lie have perished, Allah described those who told lies with the worst description he ever attributed to anyone.

Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala said,
‘They will swear by Allah to you when you return to them, so turn away from them. Surely, they are impure and hell is their dwelling place repentance for that which they sued to earn. They swear to you that you may be pleased with them, but if you are pleased with them, certainly Allah is not pleased with the people who are rebellious.’
(The Holy Quran, Surah At Tawbah 9: 95)

Ka’b bin Malik added ‘We the three persons, differed altogether from those whose excuses Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) accepted when they swore to him he took their pledge and asked Allah to forgive them. But Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) left our case pending until Allah gave his judgement about it.’

As for that Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala said,
And he did forgive also the three who stayed behind’.

Ka’b bin Malik said that, ‘What Allah said does not discuss our failure to take part in the battle but to the deferment of making a decision by the Prophet (PBUH) about our case in contrast to the case of those who had taken an oath before him and excused them by accepting their excuses.”

So Ka’b bin Malik and his two companions (GTTT) remained firm, until Allah sent His relief to them since they had told the Messenger (PBUH) of Allah the truth about why they had remained behind without an excuse. Therefore the consequences of being truthful were better for them for they gained forgiveness.’

Hence Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala stated in the following ayat,
“O you who believe! Have Taqwa of Allah, and be with those who are true.”
(The Holy Quran, Surah At Tawbah 9: 119)

The following Hadith of the Prophet (PBUH) also reinforces the ayat for Muslims to stay truthful.

Abdullah bin Mas’ud said,
“That the Messenger (PBUH) of Allah said ‘hold on truth, for being truthful leads to righteousness and righteousness leads to paradise verily, a men will keep saying the truth and striving for truth, until he is written before Allah as very truthful (Siddiq) beware of lying, for lying leads to sin, and sin leads to the fire. Verily, the man will keep lying and striving for falsehood until he is written before Allah as a ‘great liar.'”
(Imam Ahmed)

As regards the acceptance of repentance Imam Al Nawawi said that the people of knowledge say that repentance is mandatory or compulsory for every sin. If the act of disobedience does not involve taking people’s rights, it has three conditions:

1) one should abstain from committing that deed
2) one should regret having committed that deed
3) one should determine not to return to that deed

If the act of disobedience involves taking people’s rights it has four conditions. The conditions mentioned above and in addition, repaying what one has illegally taken.
The Holy Quran, Sunna and the unanimous agreement of the Muslims impose the ruling of turning in repentance from sins.

Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala says,
“And let all of you beg Allah to forgive you all O believers, that you may be successful.”
(The Holy Quran, Surah An Nour 24:31)

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