Repentance and Hypocrisy...
Peace, one and all...
Sometimes, when we're absorbed with ourselves and our selfish desires, we forget God (and ourselves) and stray from the Path. Although Allah has written all that occurs, we are still given the right to choose to do (or, importantly, not to do) a thing. When, therefore, we choose a thing that is bad for us (and thus sin) a number of things happen.
Firstly, we violate the natural order of things. That is, sin is like inherent wrongness; its very nature radiates a kind of malice. Secondly, we earn God's displeasure. This leads us to the third effect: we veil ourselves from Allah's presence. I don't mean this in the Christian sense of God not being able to accept anything unholy (which would suggest God cannot do a certain thing) but rather that sin affects our own ability to sense the Truth clearly.
The Prophet (saw) compared sins to fire - which burns up good deeds as fire consumes dry wood. What an apt remark. Sin burns and it is an unhealthy fire.
Repentance then becomes necessary. Al hamdu lillah, God has woven repentance into the very fabric of Islam. Bad deeds can be wiped away with sincere contrition and good deeds. Repentance means leaving the deed, feeling remorse for it and striving to never committ it again. Moreover God, so the Quran informs us, accepts the sincere repentance of everyone, you just have to mean it. Unlike other statements regarding the future, which in Islam are hedged with the phrase 'insha Allah' (God willing), repentance is said to be assured. That is, if you're truly sorry God will accept it. Even if you fall into sin again and again and again (as I have done), repent truly and be re-born into God's all-encompassing mercy.
Think about that statement for a moment (as I am now). No complicated acts, no self-inflicted punishments, just a simple heartfelt plea of 'sorry'. However, the key word I suppose is 'heartfelt'. Repentance must be sincere to be accepted. Otherwise, it's mere hypocrisy. Writing this words reminds me just how much of a hypocrite I am: may God turn to me and help me change my ways! Again, where possible, hide the sins of others that God may hide your sins.
Before God, I freely confess my sins. I have no confessor except Allah, Glorified and Exalted, Lord of Majesty and Honour, '...Merciful and Compassionate, showing steadfast love to thousands...'. Again, before God, I ask for pardon and ask for guidance, so that I stray no more. Lord, Knower of the Unseen and the Visible, guide my steps and give me insight into the secrets of my heart, that I may see the way; help me to avoid sin, secret and open, and help me to walk aright!
Ya Allah astaghfiruka wa atubu ilaik! Ya Allah astaghfiruka wa atubu ilaik! Ya Allah astaghfiruka wa atubu ilaik! Ya Allah, astaghfiruka kulli dhunubi wa'al khataya wa atubu ilaik. Ya Arham Ar-Rahimeen!I want to close with a Prophetic du'a (supplication) which is very appropriate in this regard:
Allahumma anta Rabbi (O Allah, You are my Lord), La ilaha illa Ant (There is none worthy of worship except You), Khalaqtani wa ana `abduk (You created me and I am Your Servant), Wa ana ala ahdika wa wa'dika mustata`t, (And I am following Your Covenant and Promise as much as I can), A`udhu bika min sharri ma sana`t, (I seek refuge with You from the evil of my actions), Aboo'o laka bi ni`amatika alaihi (And I acknowledge Your favours upon me), Wa aboo'o bi dhanbi (And I acknowledge my sin), Faghfirli, fa innahu le yaghfiru dhunuba illa ant (So, forgive me, and indeed none forgives sins except You).
And God carries the water