The Seven Stages of Repentance

Peace, one and all…

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Ramadan is a time of introspection, a time of looking inwards at ourselves and the paths we tread through life, and thus a time of slowly filtering liberation. Traditionally, therefore, the 30 days of Ramadan have been divided into 3 sections: the first 10 days are days of mercy, the second days are days of forgiveness and the final 10 days are for seeking freedom from the chastisement of hell.  Although there is much to be said on the topic of hell, it is worth noting that just as it is an otherworldly place it is also a this-worldly state of being: many of us are already in our own private hells, right here and now.  As such, if entered into with sincerity, Ramadan can be a means of release from our bonds, a time of quiet, thoughtful repentance.  The Arabic word for repentance is tawba, which refers to turning back to truth and goodness, and turning away from unhelpful deeds. Ultimately, tawba is turning away from all that is illusory, to that which is truly real, to the Divine in other words.

In order to achieve true liberation we need to return to our Source, fully and sincerely.  ‘O you who believe, repent to God with sincere repentance’ says the Quran (66:8).  This short story, drawn from the Mevlevi Wird (known in Turkish as the Evrad-i Serif), helps us to understand what is needed for our tawba to be sincere. May it be of benefit.

Ibn al-Musabib relates, ‘I entered the presence of Ibn al-Munkadir of Tyre and said quietly, ‘Istaghfirullah,’ Ibn al-Munkadir heard me and admonished me:

‘Beware of hasty repentance for it is the act of liars.’ I asked him why and he replied, ‘Sincere repentance requires seven things: the first is to feel remorse in the heart. The second is to do what Allah has commanded. The third is to desist from what He has forbidden. The fourth is to make up for what you have let lapse. The fifth is to give each person his or her right so that you will free yourself for the Day of Reckoning. The sixth is to melt your ego with acts of obedience. The seventh is to let every member of your body taste the sweetness of obedience the way that you let it taste the sweetness of disobedience. If after all this you say, ‘Istaghfirullah,’ then your repentance will reverberate in you and rise to the heavens without any veils’

May all who pass by be blessed with goodness.  May we all be liberated from our unhelpful behaviours and addictions.

And my last prayer is in praise of God, Sustainer of All Being.

Ask olsun! May love increase!

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