The word jihad conjures up images of war or fighting yet it has a branch that includes fighting the very desires that we have been created with. Take the example of a horseman & his horse; the horseman depicting you & his horse depicting your desires. Suppose if he were to feed his horse constantly & neglect his responsibility regarding himself, what would happen if he were to ride his horse again? No doubt, he will be too weak to control his horse & eventually lead himself into danger. Similarly we too have to be ever-vigilant in how we feed our desires. Rasulullah (S.A.W) said, “The true warrior is one who wages war against his desires in the obedience of Allah.” (Ahmad)
There are those desires within us that help us to survive & those that are bad. Notably even the desire of food can be detrimental to one’s being if it is allowed to go uncontrolled. The greatest war is the war against the bad desires; those that take us away from the pleasure of Allah Ta’ala. Putting it simply, don’t allow yourself to “just try” things out once, for we all know that soon enough it will become a habit & many a times the difficulty that ensues in breaking a habit makes us wonder whether it would not have been easier if we had not given in in the first place to our desires.
Yes try as we may, there are times when we will falter for we are weak in the face of temptations. Allah Ta’ala says in the Quraan, “And man was created weak.” (Surah Nisa, verse 28) Rasulullah (S.A.W) said, “Every son of Adam is a sinner & the best of sinners are those who repent.” (At-tirmidhi) Because Allah knows this, He has created an avenue to make amends for our wrongs. The doors of forgiveness & repentance are always open. These are inter-twined, yet often we find people making istighfaar but continuing with the wrong. True repentance (taubah) is making a pledge never to return to the error of your ways. It has been explained by the Ulama that it’s similitude is like the milk that comes out from the udder of a cow, i.e. that is by no means can it be retuned to the udder. Similarly, after seeking pardon from Allah there should be no returning to the sin.
For some the weight of the sin is like a mountain & yet for others it seems so insignificant; this depending on how far you’ve allowed your desires to run loose. Innately however, every person knows when he has committed an evil act. Rasulullah (S.A.W) said, “A sin is that which troubles the heart & you dislike the people finding out about it.” (Muslim)
Allah loves the very act of pardoning but it is up to us to walk to Him. Allah says in a hadith Qudsi, “O son of Adam! I shall go on forgiving you so long as you pray to Me & aspire for my forgiveness whatever may be your sins. O son of adam! I do not care even if your sins should pile up on the sky & should you beg pardon of Me, I will forgive you. O Son of adam! If you come to Me with an earthful of sins & meet Me, not associating (anything) with Me in worship, will certainly grant you as much pardon as will fill the earth.” (At-tirmidhi)
On this note however one may say to herself that if Allah is Most Forgiving it’s okay to just do it this once, for Allah is Most-Forgiving. This is certainly foolish behaviour. Rasulullah (S.A.W) said, “The intelligent one is he who suppresses his desires & practices for that is after death & the foolish one is he who follows his desires & places wishes on Allah.” (Ibn Majah) Placing wishes on Allah means that we do the wrong knowingly with the hope that Allah will show mercy on us.
Making amends can take many forms such as charity, salaah, thikr of Allah, etc. Rasulullah (S.A.W) said, “The one who repents is like one who has not sinned.” (Ibn Majah)
Shaytan is not only satisfied with you sinning but makes you despair to such an extent that you refrain from seeking forgiveness. Take heart my dear sister from the following hadith: Rasulullah (S.A.W) said, “There was a person before you who had killed ninety-nine persons and then made an inquiry about the learned persons of the world (who could show him the way to salvation). He was directed to a monk. He came to him and told him that he had killed ninety-nine persons and asked him whether there was any scope for his repentance to be accepted. He said, ‘No.’ He killed him also and thus completed one hundred. He then asked about the learned persons of the earth and he was directed to a scholar, and he told him that he had killed one hundred persons and asked him whether there was any scope for his repentance to be accepted. He said, ‘Yes; what stands between you and the repentance?’ You better go to such and such land; there are people devoted to prayer and worship and you also worship along with them and do not come to the land of yours since it was an evil land (for you). So he went away and he had hardly covered half the distance when death came to him and there was a dispute between the angels of mercy and the angels of punishment. The angels of mercy said, ‘This man has come as a penitent and remorseful to Allah,’ and the angels of punishment said, ‘He has done no good at all.’ Then there came another angel in the form of a human being in order to decide between them. He said, ‘You measure the land to which he has drawn near.’ They measured it and found him nearer to the land where he intended to go (the land of piety), and so the angels of mercy took possession of it. (Muslim)
This very moment could be your point of turning, so go ahead & lift those hands in repentance to a Most-Merciful Creator before death, the destroyer of all desires & pleasures, is at your door.