Pilgrimage: Repeated pilgrimage, repeated sins

Q437 :Pilgrimage: Repeated pilgrimage, repeated sins

A437 : The main and clear aspect of pilgrimage is that we hasten to respond to Allah's call, wearing nothing of the ornaments which are part of our custom. When we feel our dedication in this way and when our submission is truly genuine, Allah rewards us generously for our pilgrimage. He wipes off our sins. When we have finished, we start with our slate clean. We know that when we committed those sins, we wronged ourselves and we disregarded our duty to obey Allah. When we respond to Him with dedication and submission as we do in pilgrimage, He accepts our submissions and erases our past sins. This is confirmed by numerous Hadiths. The Prophet is quoted to have said: "The only proper reward for pilgrimage offered with dedication is paradise." He also says that every time we do the Umrah, we have our sins which we have committed since our last Umrah, forgiven. There is no doubt that forgiveness is the reward Allah has promised for those who offer the pilgrimage and the Umrah to emphasize their submission to Allah. This is not surprising because Allah forgives anyone who turns to Him in genuine repentance, even when the sins he had committed are grave indeed. The Prophet is reported to have said : "A person who repents having committed his sins is like one who has committed no sins." Every time we turn to Allah in repentance, He turns to us with forgiveness. But the stress is always on our attitude being genuine. Our dedication must be complete; our submission must be total; our repentance should be sincere. A person who declares that he has repented having done a particular sin, while at the same time he knows that if a chance offers itself again, he will not hesitate to do the same sin again, will not be forgiven that sin. His repentance is merely verbal. He does not mean it because a good believer always regards his sins as something totally undesirable, even though at the time of committing them, he might have enjoyed them. People commit adultery or fornication in order to satisfy their desires. This indulgence may provide them, at the time of committing these actions, with pleasure, enjoyment and ecstasy. However, when they reflect on what they have done, they are genuinely sorry for having exceeded the limits set by Allah. That genuine regret, combined with a prayer for forgiveness, ensures that Allah looks compassionately on us and forgives us that sin. Pilgrimage is the greatest act through which we demonstrate our submission to Allah, regret for having committed sins of any sort and type, and resolve to do better in our future days. Therefore, the reward for pilgrimage is total forgiveness and heaven. But the Prophet speaks of a pilgrimage offered with total dedication. That involves a firm resolve to abide by Islamic rules and teachings. We cannot just say to Allah that we are responding to His call and we are certainly sorry for our past mistakes, but this is merely for the present. As for tomorrow, we go back to the same old practices. This is no demonstration of our submission to Allah. It does not show that we have really repented what we did in the past. On the contrary, it shows that we still do not have the necessary respect for Allah's teachings. How can that be rewarded with forgiveness? Such an attitude is similar to that of a person, having committed a sin, that he is sorry for it but will go back to it the next minute, if the chance offers itself. This is playing games with the great concept of repentance and forgiveness. Allah accepts no such verbal declarations, because they are devoid of any real substance. Having said that, I must explain that what counts is ones feelings at the time when one declares one's repentance. If at that particular moment a person is genuine in his repentance, then he is forgiven his past sins. If nevertheless he commits the same sin later because he is too weak to resist the temptation, his weakness is not taken against him except in as far as the new sin is recorded against him. That is because at the time when he declared his repentance, he was sincere. This is indeed a mark of Allah's grace which He bestows on us in abundance. He knows beforehand that we will be going back to our sins, but He also knows that at the time we declare our repentance, we are genuine. He, therefore, accepts our genuineness and responds to it accordingly. When He forgives us something, He does not record it against us again. A person may commit the same sin many times, but if he genuinely repents it every time he commits it, then he is forgiven that sin every time. Eventually, he is surely to acquire the necessary resolve and strength to be able to resist any temptation. If the attitude is one of playing games, thinking that one can commit all the sins one wants and then have slate wiped clean because one offers Umrah or pilgrimage, then the attitude is one of carelessness and disregard to Allah's teachings. It is very doubtful that Allah will accept such an act of worship in which one declares repentance when one has not actually repented. The fact that one intends to go back to it shows that the repentance is only verbal. The Umrah and the pilgrimage cannot be approached in such a casual manner. They are very serious acts of worship, the importance of which cannot be over-emphasized. A casual attitude cannot earn Allah's forgiveness. It is imperative to resolve to make a clean break with the past and make the act of worship a genuine beginning of a life of obedience to Allah and proper observance of His commandments.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )