By Umm Husamuddin
A young sister approached me several months ago and asked if she could speak to me about a conflict she had in her mind. She had embraced Islam about a year earlier and after the initial ‘high’ of the shahaada and the buzz of sisters around her had settled down, she felt her emaan had slipped and was continuing to slip at an alarmingly increasing rate. She felt lonely, she was in debt and she was struggling to counteract the negative thoughts that were invading her daily life.
This is, I assured her, not an unusual scenario for a new Muslim to be in. After all, it is an enormous change to undergo and something that is bound to have repercussions as we adjust. However, this was not the main problem she was experiencing. She was feeling tremendous pain in her soul, for although she had been blessed with guidance to the deen, she felt she had wasted her opportunity of this fresh start by committing what she described as ‘some next level bad deeds’. She had not repented – she felt these ‘bad deeds’ were so bad, that she felt she was not worthy of repenting, that there was no way back from them. No chance to get herself wiped clean. No opportunity to start again. No prospect of renewal.
Although this is quite a familiar tale to hear, it did not make it any less heart-breaking to witness this beautiful sister experiencing such anguish and despair. To feel such little self-worth and value that she could not see any hope. This despair had caused her to fall into a cycle of committing more transgressions, which would further lower her self-worth, causing her to bring comfort to herself with more of the sinful acts.
Her situation reminded me of the narration of Anas, radiyallahu ‘anhu, who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, say: “Allah the Almighty has said: ‘O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me, and hope in Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds in the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I shall forgive you. O son of Adam, were you to come to Me with an earth full of sins and were you then to face Me, without having associated anything with Me, I shall grant you an earth full of pardon.'” [Recorded by Al-Tirmidhi, who said that it is a good and sound Hadith]
It does not matter how ‘next level’ you consider your bad deeds to be. You are not the one to make that call. Allah does not want us to despair. He does not want to torment us, to drive us into a spiral of depression, self-harm and ultimately more misdeeds and no repentance. The fact that you can identify when you have erred is a major step in self-renewal. At this moment we must remember the beautiful promise of Allah that He will forgive us, ‘for an earth full of sins’, so long as we call upon Him. He expects us to sin and then to ask for His forgiveness. He knows that none of us is perfect and that we have our weaknesses and struggles. What matters is that we keep turning back to Him, that whenever we stumble, we turn to Him to pull us back up.
When we do not value ourselves, when we do not feel self-worth, we condemn ourselves to misery and suffering instead of hope and solace. Where do we get our self-worth from? From Allah – although we may not believe in our own selves, the truth is that Allah does. Not only does He believe that we are worthy of His Love and Mercy, He will also extend His forgiveness time and time again. You can never become too unclean, you don’t just get one shot at a fresh start, it doesn’t work that way. When we embrace Islam, our slates are wiped clean, but it does not follow that we are unable to ever wipe that slate clean again. Allah presents us with abundant opportunities to start afresh, for renewal.
It is worth noting that the response to a person being in a state of sin is not to condemn or criticise, rather, it is to encourage sincere repentance so that we can refresh our emaan and start anew. We must combat the feelings of despair and hopelessness and reassure ourselves that Allah is waiting to hear us call out to Him, to open our heart to Him and again ask him to guide us, to forgive us, to renew us.
Allah says in Surah az-Zumar: 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.”
About the author:
Umm Husamuddin is British of Maltese origin. She embraced Islam in 1996 and is married with 3 lovely children. She studied Economics at university and has also been blessed to study under some of the ulema and to teach and mentor sisters. She resides in North-West England where she is a volunteer Community Coordinator for a charity, helping the disadvantaged and homeless in society, and a Special Constable in a police force.