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Lesson Forty-four: Obstacles to Obedience (Part III) CNTND

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Steps to Correct a Mistake

When Allah (S.W.A) forgives us, the guilt for having done wrong is lifted from our hearts, and we feel lighter. It also helps tremendously to restore our well-being if we try to correct the wrong. These are steps to take when correcting mistakes:

  1. Acknowledge the mistake

    It is not easy at all to admit a mistake. In fact, it is the number one stumbling block in the way to repentance. Many of us would rather deny or find excuses to our faults than accepting the responsibility of being wrong. That is why lawyers are very rich. It is so difficult to acknowledge wrong doing that people have to be taken to courts to have truth squeezed out of them. When we insist on our righteousness, we turn blind to our wrongness. In so doing, we deny ourselves a chance to ask God for forgiveness and a chance to mend our wrong ways. Why should one ask for forgiveness for a wrong doing he/she denies to have committed? Think of examples of when you faintly knew you were wrong, but you insisted on your innocence. All examples big or small are good. For example, remember a time you caused a fight over a TV remote control and you knew your sister/brother had more right to it that time than you did? Talking about our problems is good because it clarifies the subject at hand and strengthens our resolve to do better in the future. So, if we made a mistake, the first step correcting it, is to admit we did it, or we just keep an open mind about it. It creates more problems to deny mistakes right away.

    Henceforth, when something goes wrong, we must resist the temptation of denying our part in it. We must imagine for a second or so that maybe we had an itsy, bitsy part in it. When that happens, we open the door to examine the whole situation in perspective. After studying the situation well, we may even be able to come up with practical answers to alleviate the situation, or at best, completely wipe out the mistake.
  2. Ask Allah (S.W.A) for forgiveness

    Once we accept we have blundered, it is time to face our creator genuinely and ask for his forgiveness.  He promises it in this verse:

    ”Say, ‘ Oh my servants who have transgressed against their souls, despair not of the mercy of Allah, for He forgives all sins, for He is oft- forgiving, most merciful’  (39:53)”

  3. Try to fix the mistake.

    If the wrong involved hurting the feelings or property of a fellow human being, try to get his/her forgiveness. We must be careful not to make the situation worse than it was before. Do not walk to someone you insulted and remind them of the insult by using the same insulting words in an attempt to ask for forgiveness. For example, do not say:

    ” Hey, I called you a pimply faced fatso. Can you forgive me?”

    If you do that, you might get the surprise of your life instead of forgiveness. An alternative way can be like this:

    ”Hey, Assalam Alaykum. Look, I said some hurtful things to you. I am really sorry. Can you forgive me?”

Asking for forgiveness from those we wronged is very important. Allah (S.W.A) will not forgive us unless the wronged forgives us first.  People who know more say that if the wronged does not forgive us, then our good deeds equal to the injury caused will be transferred to the account of the wronged as a form of payment.

Someone may say, “I am really mean to this person; I say mean things behind his/her back. He/she does not know that I do so. Therefore, this person’s feelings are not hurt, thus, I do not need his/her forgiveness.” In this case the battle is between the culprit and Allah (S.W.A). The person insulted may have no clue about it, but Allah (S.W.A) does. As you may recall, we are here to serve Allah (S.W.A) by assuring all His creatures safety and comfort as much as we can afford. Instead of finding faults in Allah (S.W.A)’s creatures, we must do our best to help them overcome their weaknesses – thus we do not have to talk about them behind their backs. Another alternative is to actively ignore the defects in the person we find lacking in someway, especially, if the defect does not  make him/her a sinner. It is wrong, though, to cut off relationships with people, especially, if they happen to be fellow muslims. There is a popular hadith that says that a muslim does not desert or remain angry at another muslim for more than three days. It is our choice to choose whom to help in response to Allah (S.W.A)’s call of service to Him by us. However, we have no right to harm anyone or anything of Allah (S.W.A)’s creatures in the name of wishing them to get better. Talking about someone behind his/her back is called backbiting which could lead to character assassination. Criticizing someone on his/her face may lead to emotional abuse. All in all, we either help people overcome their flaws or completely leave them alone, but never cause insult and injury. Our job is to serve Allah (S.W.A), but not to judge His creatures. Here is is how Allah (S.W.A) guidance for us on the matter:

“Oh you who believe! Avoid suspicion as much (as possible) for suspicion in some cases is a sin: and spy not on each other nor speak ill of each other behind their backs. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? No, you would hate it…but fear Allah, for Allah is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful (49:12)”

Performing deeds of kindness may help pacify the insulted who may forgive us later. We must not put off asking for forgiveness and wait for Allah (S.W.A) to settle the account for us. Allah (S.W.A) promises us that for every wrong done, a good action wipes it away (11:114). It is better to clean our accounts now while we can, than to wait for Allah (S.W.A)’s judgment. We must avoid hurting people’s feelings as much as we would a king cobra, a black mamba or a python. People do not forgive easily. It is as hard to forgive as it is to seek for forgiveness.

  1. Improve and Grow

    Every weakness we overcome, we get better and stronger as human beings. We must look out for and avoid relapses. Otherwise, we do not want to become like the people the Qur'an describes down here:

    “Of no effect is the repentance of those who continue to do evil, until death faces one of them, and he says ‘Now have I repented indeed;’ nor of those who die rejecting faith; for them have we prepared a punishment most grievous (4:18).”

Try to implement these steps in your life and your pay off is character growth.