Imagine Shaytan’s campaign dancing across your television screen.
“He’ll never give up on you. He’ll keep whispering until he’s sure that you won’t enter Paradise. Are you wavering over whether or not to fall into desire? He’ll be there!”
Images of people being blissful in their ignorance fade on and off of the screen. The background music is deceivingly soothing, almost enticing.
“I’m Iblis and I approve this message.”
Every commercial break, the ad plays over again. Your eyes, ears, and heart begin to go numb to it. It doesn’t seem to matter anymore, though the voice in your head is still yelling out in regret and your heart has yet to cease its depressive aching after every sin you commit. Sin. You’ve grown accustomed to the very word. You’ve hit the self-destruct button – the one Shaytan has built inside of you, the one you keep hitting time and time again. Besides, you may think, it is so much easier to press that button and believe that you aren’t entitled to Allah’s forgiveness anymore than to strive for that forgiveness.
But that’s exactly what he wants you to believe. Shaytan makes the idea of giving up look more viable up until the point that you start believing it. And it is this mentality, this corrupt thought, that the self-destruct button is built from. Unfortunately, this intangible button does not have an automatic fix.
So then, how can you break free from hitting the self-destruct button?
The first step comes in recognizing the pattern and making the intention to change. No problem can be solved if you aren’t aware that there is a problem to begin with. Be honest with yourself and evaluate yourself. Take the advice of people that know you well. After that, make the sincere intention to never go back to the sin again.
The next step is holding on to the feeling of regret. After you fall into sin, don’t let the regret slip through your fingers. Do not justify your actions, because that destroys that bit of regret and only further pushes you into Shaytan’s trap. The justification of sin is what Shaytan feeds off of. If you find yourself thinking it was no big deal because it doesn’t happen frequently or that no one saw you, then know that Shaytan is hard at work, filling your heart with misleading reassurance.
After obtaining regret over the sin, the final step is to repent immediately or as soon as possible. Thinking twice about it may be Shaytan’s chance to manipulate you again. Try to find an empty room, turn toward the qiblah, and fall into prostration. Praise Allah, pour your heart out to Him, and let the tears flow. Don’t hold back. Repeat the blessed supplication of the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him): “Allahumma Innakal ‘Afuwan Tu Hibbul ‘Afwa Fa’fu’anni”: “Oh Allah, You are the most forgiving, You love to forgive, so forgive me”.
At this moment, Shaytan may be throwing all his tricks at you to prevent you from repenting, because it’s the one thing he can’t stand. You may begin to feel tired or remember something else that you had to do. But know that when a slave turns back to his Master – recognizing his mistakes, knowing that his Master is the All-Forgiving, and asking for forgiveness with sincerity – Shaytan waves his white flag. It is then that you break free from hitting that self-destruct button over and over again.
Allah says in the Holy Qur’an:
Say, [O Muhammad], “If you should love Allah, then follow me. Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.
(Surah Aali ‘Imran: 31)
Furthermore, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
Allah the Almighty has said: “O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of 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 of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as its.
[Related by Anas, reported by At-Tirmidhi & Ahmad ibn Hanbal]
Know that you can never ask for too much forgiveness. It is when you keep asking for it that Shaytan finally wavers and waves his white flag. May Allah make us regular in repentance throughout our lives, and may He forgive our sins and admit us into Paradise. Ameen.