Committing sin is part of our human nature and what really counts is what we do following a sin. This tarbiya aims to give 5 ways on how we should act after sinning based on the examples of the companions (ra).
1) Be remorseful/regretful – but this does not mean losing faith and despairing. Never despair because while a sin may say a lot about us, it says nothing about Allah! And we should never accuse Allah of not being kind enough to forgive our sins. We are all familiar with the hadith that if your sins were to reach the clouds of the sky and you asked Allah to forgive you He would [Ahmad]. It is narrated that an old man in Makkah went to the Prophet (pbuh) and said “there is no sin, big or small, that I haven’t committed.” The Prophet (pbuh) asked him “are you a Muslim?” and he replied “yes”. The Prophet (pbuh) said “do good deeds, leave the bad ones and Allah will convert the bad into good”. The man was shocked “even my major sins?!” and the Prophet (pbuh) said “yes”. The narration then goes on to describe the happiness and joy this sahabi felt, and went around Makkah proclaiming ‘God is the Greatest God is the Greatest’ [Tabarani].
Furthermore, when we look at the story of Firown in the Quran- Allah tells us that not only did he say ‘I am your Lord’ he went on to commit genocide and kill thousands of innocent human beings! Yet Allah tells Musa “And speak to him with gentle speech that perhaps he may be reminded or fear [Allah]” [Surat Taha, 22:44]. Allah sees what is in our hearts and Allah’s mercy is such that if you ask sincerely Allah will forgive.
Having said that, being remorseful in and of itself is not sufficient. This leads us to the second point:
2) Leave the Sin
It was the sunnah of the companions that whenever they committed a sin they would repent and leave the sin all together. When Umar (ra) realized his mistake of questioning the Prophet (pbuh) at the Treaty of Hudaybia, he said he never returned to such a thing and tried to do as many good deeds as possible to make up for it.
3) Do not justify a Sin
It is easy and indeed natural for us to defend ourselves and play the blame game in order to protect our image. But the sincerity of the Companions (ra) used to be such that whenever they committed a sin they would not justify it. It is narrated that Abu Ma’sood Al Ansari was once beating his slave boy and as he was hitting him he heard a voice behind him saying ‘know that Allah is more powerful over you’ immediately he turned around and saw the Prophet (pbuh)! He immediately said “By Allah he is free” [Muslim]
Now looking at this situation
1) We don’t know what this young boy did to invoke such a harsh punishment- he could have stolen, harassed a girl, even beaten another person
2) Yet, the companion did not stand there justifying his actions to the Prophet (pbuh) but immediately said “by Allah he is free”- even though he could have just stopped beating him- but he went to the extent of freeing him when he realised his sin.
So the lessons to learn here are:
1) No point in arguing if you know you are in the wrong
2) Do not justify your sin
3) Do something about it!
4) Never underestimate a sin! The companions used to take their sins seriously. Even if it was a minor sin. During a gathering the Prophet (pbuh) commented “why would any of you hold burning coal in your hand?” and immediately a sahaba who was wearing a gold ring took it off and threw it away. He didn’t argue, he didn’t justify himself- he just understood. Although man wearing a gold ring isn’t on par with the major sins this companion took it seriously. ٍRemember: ‘do not look at the smallness of a sin but look at the Greatness of that you are committed it against’
Moreover sometimes its not about the smallness of the sin but think does this action suit me and my image.
5) After committing sin follow it up with a good deed and Allah converts bad to good.
One of the companions went to the Prophet (pbuh) and confessed that he had kissed a woman he was not married to, and he felt very guilty about it. He even asked the Prophet (pbuh) to punish him in any way so he could atone for his sin. But the following verse was revealed to the Prophet (pbuh) and he recited it: “And establish prayer at the two ends of the day and at the approach of the night. Indeed, good deeds do away with misdeeds. That is a reminder for those who remember” (Surat Hud, 11:114). Umar (ra), who was present, asked “does this apply just to him or to all the people, O Messenger of Allah?” The Prophet (pbuh) replied, “It is for all the people” [Muslim]
Conclusion? Follow the footsteps of the Companions, may Allah be pleased with them all.