First Step: Repentance and Hope on the Journey to God

(Ibn Ata’s Words of Wisdom: Part 2)

“If you find yourself having less hope in God when you make a mistake, then realize you are only relying on your work and not on God’s mercy.”

I have an intention to start a journey to Allah Almighty, and the question is: where would I start? What should I take with me on the journey?

Should I recall, for example, the good things that I did in the world and take them with me on my journey to advance me? Or should I otherwise recall my mistakes and take them on my journey?

The answer is actually to take my mistakes rather than what I think are good deeds. Not to rely on my good deeds, but to start the journey by simply turning my heart to Allah Almighty and putting my trust in Him and hoping that His mercy and His bounty will carry me throughout my journey.

The first step is to take my mistakes and shortcomings with me and to repent from them. And I should actually not give up on the mercy of Allah. I should start by giving up on the sins and regretting them, on the shortcomings, on the flaws, and then I should accompany a very important feeling which is hope in Allah.

Yes, repentance is about regret and is about giving people back their dues that I was unfair to them about, but more importantly, it’s about hope, it’s about turning to Allah with hope.

Never Give Up Hope

Sometimes hope is compromised by the following question: “How should I hope and I’ve done all these mistakes? How should I hope that Allah will accept my repentance and I’ve been so off course?”

Actually, this question, by itself, is a mistake that a word of wisdom here is actually warning us from. Allah Almighty says:

The ones who lose hope in Allah’s mercy are the disbelievers only. (Quran 12:87)

This is the verse that inspired this word of wisdom.

One who loses hope is not really relying on Allah because they rely on what they think is the good that they did in the world. They rely on their weak selves and their limited abilities. And they think that if they do good, then they are fine.

But they are not fine! Everyone is full of flaws, everyone has done so many mistakes, given Allah’s mercy and bounties.

Therefore, Allah is merciful, that is what will take us to Paradise. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:

Nobody will go to paradise according to their own deeds.

They asked:

“Even you?”

He said:

Even me.

So the Prophet Muhammad didn’t accompany his good deeds even though they were so many; he accompanied his faults that he saw very well and he repented from very well.

Seventy times every day he (peace be upon him) would repent. And of course he is at a level that we all know. But he always combined the fear of Allah with that hope that He, with His mercy, will give him Paradise.

Then, let us start the first step with hope in Allah Almighty.

A Journey to God (Folder)

About Dr. Jasser Auda
Jasser Auda is a Professor and Al-Shatibi Chair of Maqasid Studies at the International Peace College South Africa, the Executive Director of the Maqasid Institute, a global think tank based in London, and a Visiting Professor of Islamic Law at Carleton University in Canada. He is a Founding and Board Member of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, Member of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, Fellow of the Islamic Fiqh Academy of India, and General Secretary of Yaqazat Feker, a popular youth organization in Egypt. He has a PhD in the philosophy of Islamic law from University of Wales in the UK, and a PhD in systems analysis from University of Waterloo in Canada. Early in his life, he memorized the Quran and studied Fiqh, Usul and Hadith in the halaqas of Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo. He previously worked as: Founding Director of the Maqasid Center in the Philosophy of Islamic Law in London; Founding Deputy Director of the Center for Islamic Ethics in Doha; professor at the University of Waterloo in Canada, Alexandria University in Egypt, Islamic University of Novi Pazar in Sanjaq, Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies, and the American University of Sharjah. He lectured and trained on Islam, its law, spirituality and ethics in dozens of other universities and organizations around the world. He wrote 25 books in Arabic and English, some of which were translated to 25 languages.