Question: I have done a lot of things which God would not be happy about. Now that I realize that those things were not as trivial as I thought and do carry a lot of significance in-front of God. I feel bad and guilty. What should I do?
Answer: Although a Muslim should be concerned about every deed of his and should constantly strive for his spiritual advancement, yet his concern should not be a case of ‘straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel’. The puritanical attitude of being finical about trivialities while ignoring the real issues is not an Islamic attitude. The true believers avoid big sins (see the Qur’an 42:37 and 53:32) and continually seek the forgiveness of their Lord’ (9:112). If your attitude is not of insisting on your sin knowingly (3:135), which insistence can at times eat up all your virtues (2:81), then you should know that your Lord, whose love and care has sustained you since you were a drop of ‘mingled water’, is immensely kind and gracious to those who believe and put their trust in Him. If you are sincerely trying to avoid sin, He’ll replace the blunders you make with the good deeds that are part of a Muslim’s everyday life (25:70). He understands all our imperfections and failings, and what He, in His unfathomable mercy, requires of us is not perfection but sincerity. For He knows. And He cares. Therefore, never let your depression after blundering into a sin make you lose heart. Let each mistake be a lesson, and a reason to move ahead with greater fervour. For that is what Tawbah means: returning. Even if a true believer commits a serious sin incidentally, he should remember that the doors of repentance and atonement are always open. If he has wronged someone, he should make the best effort to make amends, and if he has wronged his own soul, he should ask God for forgiveness and make a solemn pledge to restrain himself in future.
If you do not deceive your Lord and turn back to Him, you’ll find Him welcoming you with open arms. In this is indeed a reason to rejoice. So, never lose hope and never stop trying. ‘The Lord is your shepherd. You shall not want. He shall make you lie down in green pastures: He shall lead you beside the still waters. He shall restore your soul: He shall lead you in the path of righteousness for His name’s sake. Though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, fear not; for you are with Him. His rod and His staff shall comfort you.’