Skip to main content

The Proud Good Doer and the Remorseful Sinner

Imām Ibn al-Qayyim

The elevated state of the remorseful sinner in the hereafter compared to the arrogant, obsessed good doer.

Some of the pious predecessors used to say: Indeed, a servant may perpetrate a sin that causes him to ultimately enter Paradise. While another may engage in an act of goodness for which he ultimately enters the Fire. They were asked: How? It was said: He perpetrates the sin but remains perpetually concerned with it, as if he observes it in front of his eyes at all times. He finds himself in a state of fear, stress, constantly crying, and in a state of regret. All out of shyness before his Lord—the Most High. Bowing his head in humility before Him. His heart is broken in relation to his misdeed. Thus, his sin acts as a means towards the ultimate happiness of the servant and his success. To the extent that his sin is more beneficial to him than his engagement in a multitude of righteous deeds due to these effects which facilitate his ultimate happiness and success. That sin becomes the reason for his entry into Paradise.

As for the one who engages in deeds of righteousness, he continually regards it as a favour he has done for his Lord. To the extent that he is arrogant and haughty because of it, viewing himself with fascination, adopting an overbearing attitude of presumptuousness [about his good standing]. Constantly saying: “I did…I did..” This then leads to conceited self-admiration, arrogance, pride and boastfulness, all of which ultimately result in his own ruin. If Allāh—the Most High—wishes goodness for such a person, he tests him with that which breaks him, discontinuing his attitude, bowing his neck in extreme humility, such that he may finally acknowledge his own insignificance. However, if He desires with this servant other than this, He abandons him to bask in his own self-amazement and arrogance. This is the true abandonment which stipulates complete destruction. The truly knowledgeable ones all posit that true guidance is that Allāh never leaves one to put all his trust in himself. True abandonment and loss is that Allāh allows one to completely rely on himself.

Thus, whomever Allāh truly desires good for, He opens the door of humility and broken-heartedness, allowing his spirit to be broken [and thus reformed]. He causes him to continually seek refuge in Him, while admitting to his own destitute, needy state before Him. He is in constant acknowledgement of his many faults and sins, his own ignorance, self-oppression, and the enmity he has shown [through perpetration of sin], while also acknowledging Allāh’s many blessings upon him, His mercy, goodness, righteousness, richness, and praise.

The truly knowledgeable one makes his way towards Allāh utilising both of these wings [i.e. fear and hope1]. He may not fly except with both of them. For the one who misses one of them is the likeness of a bird that has lost one of his wings.

[1] See: The True Believer Combines Fear and Hope in Allāh, Imām ʿAbd al-Raḥmān ibn Nāṣir al-Saʿdī

Source: Al-Wābil al-Ṣāyyib: 9-10
Translated by: Riyāḍ al-Kanadī

Published: June 20, 2024
Edited: June 20, 2024

Events & Activities