When a person repents, he makes a vigorous start and says, “The Shaytaan is telling me to slow down,” so he does more acts of worship. Then his enthusiasm cools down, and he says, “Allaah does not burden any person beyond his scope,” and his acts of worship become less until he goes back to the way he was.
My question: What advice can you give? Should he make a vigorous start, or take a gradual approach until it is established and then add more after a while, or should he follow the saying, “When your wind blows, then make the most of it”?.
Praise be to Allaah.
The blessing of guidance and repentance is one of the
greatest blessings that Allaah can bestow upon the Muslim, whereby he
changes himself for the better in ways that will bring him closer to Allaah,
may He be exalted. Usually the person who has repented starts to do acts of
worship in an enthusiastic manner, seeking thereby to make up for what he
missed out on during the time that he spent in sin and misguidance.
This is something natural that happens to everyone who is
sincere in his repentance. This was mentioned by our Prophet (peace and
blessings of Allaah be upon him), who also described the cooling off and
reduction of enthusiasm that comes after that. This is also something
natural, but the danger in the case of one who has repented is that this
loss of enthusiasm may lead to him going back to the way he was. Hence it is
essential to pay attention to this matter. If the one who repents finds his
enthusiasm waning, he must adopt a moderate approach and adhere to the
Sunnah so that he can preserve his capital, then he can start again with
energy and strength, because starting from the middle is better than
starting from zero.
It was narrated that
‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Amr (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of
Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Every deed
has a period of enthusiasm, and every period of enthusiasm is followed by a
slackening off. If a person’s enthusiasm is for my Sunnah, then he has
succeeded, but whoever chooses something else when he slackens off is
Narrated by Ibn Hibbaan in his Saheeh (1/187); classed
as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Targheeb, 56.
It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with
him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:
“Every deed has a period of enthusiasm, and every period of enthusiasm is
followed by a slackening off. If a person is moderate and avoids extremes,
then you may have hope for him, but if fingers are pointed at him, then do
not count him as anything.”
Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 2453; classed as hasan by al-Albaani
in Saheeh al-Targheeb, 57.
Al-Mubaarakfoori (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
“Every deed has a period
of enthusiasm” means, enthusiasm and energy for doing a thing, whether it is
for good or evil.
“and every period of enthusiasm is followed by a slackening
off” means, one becomes tired, weak and lethargic
“If a person is moderate and avoids extremes” means, if he
controls his enthusiasm and avoids the extremes of excess and negligence
when his enthusiasm wanes.
“then you may have hope for him” means, there is the hope
that he will succeed, for he can continue to adhere to something moderate,
and the most beloved of deeds to Allaah are those which are done
“but if fingers are pointed at him” means, he is striving
hard in order to become famous for his worship and asceticism, so that he
will be famous and people will point at him.
“then do not count him
as anything” means, do not think of him as special or regard him as one of
the righteous, for he is showing off. He did not say, “Do not have any hope
for him,” because he has already fallen and he cannot catch up with what he
Tuhfat al-Ahwadhi, 7/126
In order for the Muslim to avoid either extreme, he must be
moderate and not go to extremes in doing acts of worship and obedience lest
he get bored and give it up, and he should not refrain from doing them out
of laziness and carelessness lest he gets used to that and never goes back
to worship. Both attitudes are wrong, but the one who follows a middle path
is following the right path, and whoever follows the right path will attain
that which Allaah loves and is pleased with.
It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with
him) said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be
upon him) said: “No one of you will be saved by his deeds.” They said: Not
even you, O Messenger of Allaah? He said: “Not even me, unless Allaah
bestows mercy upon me. So do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately,
and worship Allaah in the forenoon and in the afternoon and during a part of
the night, and always adopt a moderate course whereby you will reach your
Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 6098
Al-Haafiz ibn Hajar (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
“So do good deeds” means, strive to do what is right.
“moderately” means, do not go to extremes in worship, lest
you become tired and give up, and thus fall short.
This hadeeth indicates that we are encouraged to be gentle
and moderate in worship; the words used liken worship to walking at various
times of day and night, with the aim of reaching one's abode, namely
“Always adopt a moderate
course” means adhere to the middle way. The literal translation would be,
“Moderation, moderation”; the word is repeated for emphasis.
Fath al-Baari, 11/297
Conclusion: We invite you to ponder the ahaadeeth quoted
above and think about what they mean. Remember that the one who repents
should be grateful, and the best way of showing gratitude is to persist in
repentance, which means persisting in worship. Remember that “The dearest of
actions to Allaah is that which is done regularly, even if it is small.”
Narrated by al-Bukhaari and Muslim. So do not start in an overenthusiastic
way and then stop completely; rather be moderate in worship. This is
something that it is possible for you to do. Whenever you feel more
energetic, then focus on obeying and worshipping Allaah, and whenever you
feel tired than go back to the moderate way. We ask Allaah to make things
easy for you, and to guide you to the best of words, deeds and attitudes.
And Allaah knows best.