The Promised Messiah (as) goes on to say:
“And it makes a man perfect. In other words, the person who wants to bring about a change and acquire the correct morals, it is incumbent upon him to repent with a true heart and sincere motivation. It should be borne in mind that there are three conditions for repentance, without fulfillment of which true repentance is not achieved.
The first condition is to get rid of wicked fancies which arouse evil propensities. Fancies have great influence. Every action is preceded by a fancy. Thus the first condition for repentance is that evil thoughts and fancies should be discarded. For instance, if a person has an illicit relationship with a woman and desires to repent, it is necessary that he should conceive of her as ugly and should call to mind all her low qualities. As I have just said fancies exercise a powerful influence. I have read that some Sufis carried their fancies to such a length that they saw a person in the form of an ape or pig. Thus the first condition of repentance is that all thoughts which give rise to evil pleasures should be discarded altogether.
The second condition is remorse. Everyone's conscience admonishes him over every evil, but an unfortunate person leaves his conscience suspended. So a sinner should express remorse over his sin and evil action and should reflect that the pleasure to be derived from them is temporary. He should also consider that every time there is a decline in that pleasure and that in the end, in old age when his faculties are weakened, he will perforce have to give up all these pleasures. Then why indulge in that which in the end has to be given up anyhow? Most fortunate is the person who turns to repentance and becomes determined to discard all corrupt thoughts and vile fancies. When he gets rid of this impurity, he should be remorseful.
The third condition is a firm resolve that he will not revert to those vices. If he adheres to this resolve, God will bestow upon him the strength for true repentance and he will be rid altogether of his vices which will be replaced by good morals and praiseworthy actions. This is a moral victory. It is for God Almighty to bestow the power and strength for it for He is the Master of all power and all strength, as He has said:
All power belongs to Allah (2:166).
And man is weak, as is said:
… for man has been created weak (4:29)
This is his reality. So to acquire strength from Allah, the Exalted, one must make perfect the above mentioned three things and leave off laziness and indolence and becoming totally engaged, pray to Allah, the Exalted. Allah, the Exalted, would then bring about a change.
This is the statement of the Promised Messiah (as). Those people should always remember this who say that we prayed to be safeguarded against this or that evil but this bad habit has not gone away. Allah, the Exalted, has not heard our prayers. Some parents become concerned when the children or young men develop bad habits. They say we have tried and prayed also but our prayers have not been heard. So it should be known that this is wrong. For the acceptance of prayer also there are some requirements. They need to be met. Praying for four days and then saying that Allah, the Exalted, has not heard our prayers is transferring one’s own failure on to the shoulders of God.
Nevertheless, I have just read the quote from the Promised Messiah (as) on how one can save oneself from evil. To repent and to save oneself from evil there are some necessary things that have to be done. There are some deeds and some efforts that are needed and there are some ways that need to be practiced or carried out. When you will carry those out then the results will manifest themselves. And the prayers to be saved from evil will only be accepted when some practical steps will be undertaken. Not taking any practical measures and just praying and even that in a casual manner and then saying that the prayers have not been accepted and perhaps it is the intent of Allah that one should remain a sinner, is wrong.
If it is desired that an improvement happens and one leaves bad morals and deeds then the Promised Messiah (as) has said there are three things that a person himself needs to do. Then he should pray and such prayer will be a source of help and the evil drops off. And to effect a true repentance first cleanse your mind of the bad thoughts. First there develops a taste for the evil in one’s mind, then a person goes and commits that evil deed. If such thought does not take birth in the mind and if instead a hate develops against that foul deed then the person never moves to carry out the evil deed. It is only when there grows in the mind a pleasure and taste for that deed that one moves on to carrying it out. So the very first practical step that one has to take in order to save oneself from an evil deed is to purify your mind of these evil thoughts and temporary pleasures.
The example that the Promised Messiah (as) gave is that of an illicit relationship with a woman, and friendships are established. So instead of having a good impression of such a woman in one’s mind, replace it with a bad impression. Instead of looking for her beauties, establish in your mind as bad a picture of hers as possible. Bring to the fore her bad characteristics and establish such an image of her face in your mind that should be extremely ugly and hateful. Only in this way would you be able to distance yourself from this evil.
Then the second condition the Promised Messiah (as) informed us of is that you should awaken your good and righteous conscience and think what evils you are getting involved with. Develop in your hearts a sense of remorse. Only then will you be able to avoid this evil.
Then the Promised Messiah (as) said the third condition is that you should have a strong and firm resolve that I am not going to even go near this evil. And when you will be making an attempt to save yourself from this evil constantly, then God Almighty bestows the favor of true repentance to be granted and He listen to the prayers done to be saved from evil deeds and bad habits. These are all the things that need to be done before praying. It should not be that one is involved day and night in evil and once or twice a prayer is uttered asking that one be saved from this evil. These actions are clearly demonstrating that the prayer has not been uttered in all sincerity.
The righteous spirit, one’s conscience that is hidden inside, showing up at some one time and reminding that what a state you are in and committing these evil deeds, and as a result temporarily uttering a prayer but becoming subdued upon the desire for evil coming to the fore and the feelings of remorse caving in ..such prayers cannot save one permanently from evil nor make one capable of discharging the dues of a true prayer. In fact this is tantamount to making fun of the concept of prayer altogether and trying to put God under an obligation. God Almighty is under no obligation to anyone. Such people need to remember that if you want to take real benefit from God’s Forgiveness and inherit His Favors and see your prayers being accepted, then you need to turn your attention to your own state of being.
As I said, Allah, the Exalted, is so gracious upon His servants that He is always ready to envelop His servants in His mantle of Mercy. Does this not demand from us that we should be ready to walk upon the paths He has laid out for us and thus benefit from His Mercy. We should acquire that Mercy that is attained by true believers and by those who love Him truly. Try to save ourselves from those things that despite His all encompassing Mercy make one deserving of His wrath and punishment. May our repentance be true repentance and we remain ever in prostration in front of Him.
The Promised Messiah (as) says: Cleanse your actions and be ever involved in the remembrance of Allah and do not become heedless. Just as wild animals who run to save themselves when they become even a little bit lazy get trapped by the hunter similarly one who becomes forgetful of the remembrance of Allah, he becomes prey to Satan. Forever keep repentance alive and never let it die because that part of the body that is used constantly is the one that is always of use and the one that is left unexercised is the one that becomes useless forever. So keep repentance active always so that it should not become useless. If you do not turn to true repentance then its case will be like that of the seed that is planted on a rock but if you employ true repentance then its case is like that of the seed that is planted on the best soil and yields fruit at its appointed time.
These days anyone trying to achieving true repentance faces a lot of difficulties. The attractions of the world and its temptations hinder us.
The Promised Messiah (as) says:
“The weapons through which we are going to achieve predominance are Istighfar, Taubah, knowledge of the faith, keeping the greatness of God in our mind and offering the five daily prayers regularly. Salat is the key to the acceptance of prayers. When you offer the salat, make prayers during it, and do not be heedless and safeguard yourself from every evil whether it be related to the duties owed to God or to His creatures.”
May Allah make us among those who offer true repentance and may we forever continue to inherit the favors and grace of Allah. And may He make us beneficiaries of all the blessings associated with this blessed month of Ramadhan. Aameen.
Check out this slide show: Islam's Merciful God
This article and the accompanying slide show are a summary of Friday Sermon of July 18th delivered by Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad at, the Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community