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The month of Ramadan is a great opportunity for returning to Allah The Almighty with repentance. It is the month of mercy, erasing mistakes, expiating evil deeds, salvation from Hellfire and attaining Paradise. The fortunate person is he who knows this and hastens to the actions that draw him near to His Lord by turning to Him in repentance, seeking forgiveness and feeling regret for all his slips and sins.If one does not repent in Ramadan, then when will he? If one does not repent when the gates of Paradise are opened, the gates of Hellfire are closed and devils are chained up, then when will he repent? When will he give up committing sins?
It is the month of repentance, forgiveness, salvation form Hell fire and the Prophet,  [sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allah exalt his mention )] , said: “May his nose be rubbed in the dust, a man for whom Ramadan comes and then goes before he is forgiven!” [At-Tirmithi; Al-Albaani: Saheeh]

Why do we not repent while Allah The Almighty stretches out His Hand to the seeker of repentance and opens the door of His repentance to those who feel regret (for their sins)? It was narrated on the authority of Abu Moosa Al-Ash‘ari  [may Allah be pleased with him]  that the Prophet,  [sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allah exalt his mention )] , said: “Allah The Almighty stretches out His Hand at night to accept the repentance of those who did wrong during the day, and He stretches out His Hand during the day to accept the repentance of those who did wrong during the night. (This will continue) until the sun rises from the west.]” [Muslim]
It was also reported on the authority of Abu Tharr Al-Ghifaari  [may Allah be pleased with him]  that the Prophet,  [sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allah exalt his mention )] , said: “Allah The Almighty says: ‘My slaves, you commit sins by day and by night, and I forgive all sins, so seek forgiveness from Me and I shall forgive you.’” [Muslim]

Remember that the Mercy of Allah The Almighty encompasses all things. Is not He The Exalted, the One who opens the door of repentance before the hypocrites?  He The Exalted Says (what means): {Indeed, the hypocrites will be in the lowest depths of the Fire - and never will you find for them a helper. Except for those who repent, correct themselves, hold fast to Allah, and are sincere in their religion for Allah , for those will be with the believers. And Allah is going to give the believers a great reward.} [Quran 4: 145-146]

Allah The Exalted did not exclude the Jews and the Christians, who insulted and slandered Him and says (on their behalf, what means): {And the Jews say, "The hand of Allah is chained." Chained are their hands, and cursed are they for what they say. Rather, both His hands are extended.} [Quran 4: 64]
Allah The Exalted does not exclude them from His mercy that encompasses all things. He The Exalted Says (what means): {So will they not repent to Allah and seek His forgiveness? And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.}[Quran 5: 74]    
He The Exalted Says about the non-Muslims (what means): {But if they repent, establish prayer, and give Zakah, then they are your brothers in religion; and We detail the verses for a people who know.} [Quran 9: 11]

Is not He The Exalted, the One who calls those who have transgressed against themselves of the nation of Muhammad,  [sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allah exalt his mention )] , to humble themselves and repent to Him saying (what means): {Say, "O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful."} [Quran 39: 53] And He called the people of Imaan (faith) to make repentance; He The Exalted Says (what means): {O you who have believed, repent to Allah with sincere repentance. Perhaps your Lord will remove from you your misdeeds and admit you into gardens beneath which rivers flow. } [Quran 66: 8]

How can Allah The Exalted not call them to forgive them, while the most honored, noblest and the most righteous among them, Muhammad,  [sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allah exalt his mention )] , who was forgiven his previous and future sins, repented to Allah The Almighty every single day. Allah The Almighty Says (what means):
·        {Indeed, We have given you, [O Muhammad], a clear conquest. That Allah may forgive for you what preceded of your sin.} [Quran 48: 1-2]
·        {And We removed from you your burden.}[Quran 94: 2]
In spite of that, the Prophet,  [sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allah exalt his mention )] , used to say as reported in Saheeh Muslim on the authority of Al-Agharr ibn Yasaar  [may Allah be pleased with him] : “O people, repent to Allah, for I repent to Allah one hundred times a day.” [Muslim]

Is it not our right upon ourselves to hasten to draw near to Allah The Almighty in this blessed month in which one is in a dire need of the generosity of Allah The Almighty? Part of His generosity is that He The Exalted rejoices at the repentance of the sinners and loves the return of the one who transgressed against or rejected His commands. Allah The Almighty Says (what means): {Indeed, Allah loves those who are constantly repentant and loves those who purify themselves."}[Quran 2: 222]

The Prophet,  [sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allah exalt his mention )] , also said:
“Allah rejoices more at the repentance of His slave than any one of you, whose camel runs away from him in a desolate land carrying his food and drink, and he despairs of finding it, so he goes to a tree and lies down in its shade, having despaired of finding his camel. Then while he is like that, it suddenly it appears in front of him and he takes hold of its reins and says, because of his intense joy, ‘O Allah, You are my slave and I am Your lord,’ making this mistake because of the intensity of his joy.” [Muslim]

Here we have to ask ourselves about the validity of our repentance: does Allah The Almighty accept it?
There are signs for the validity of repentance. They are mentioned in Madaarij As-Saalikeen as follows:

There are certain signs of sound accepted repentance:
1-    One should be better after repentance than before it.
2-    Fear should accompany the repentant person for he does not feel secure from the plan of Allah The Almighty for the twinkling of an eye. His fear should persist until one hears the saying of the Messenger (angel) who is commissioned to take his soul: {"Do not fear and do not grieve but receive good tidings of Paradise, which you were promised.} [Quran 41: 30] Only then will his fear vanish.

3-    His heart stops and trembles with regret and fear. This is according to the greatness or insignificance of the sin. This is the interpretation of Ibn ‘Uyaynah  [may Allah be pleased with him]  of the Saying of Allah The Almighty (which means): {Their building which they built will not cease to be a [cause of] skepticism in their hearts until their hearts are stopped.} [Quran 9: 110] He said, “They are stopped by repentance.” There is no doubt that intense fear of the great punishment in the Hereafter fills the heart with regret and worry. This is the meaning of 'stopping' it. This is the reality of repentance, for his heart is filled with regret for what he has neglected and fear for his bad end and punishment. Thus, whoever does not have his heart stopped in the worldly life out of regret and fear for what he has neglected, it will be stopped in the Hereafter when the facts are revealed and he witnesses the reward of the obedient and the punishment of the disobedient.

4-    The other signs of valid repentance include a special unprecedented anguish that leaves one heartbroken. It can only be felt by a sinner. It cannot happen due to hunger or pure love, but it is something completely different than that. It breaks the heart completely before the Lord, humbles it and makes it submissive before Him. All these conditions are very beneficial and fruitful to him. They are a great cure for him and will bring him closer to His Master. Nothing is dearer to his Master than such submission, humility and yielding to his Master. 

 

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