When great people make mistakes

Abu Lubabh, from the people of Medina tells us his story …

I betrayed Allah and His Messenger. I disclosed the Messenger’s secrete to Bai Quraidthah when negotiating with them on behalf of the prophet. The Prophet asked me to go and talk to them after they chose me by name since I was their ally. The moment I left the meeting with them I felt that I betrayed Allah and His Messenger by disclosing the prophet’s mind to them. I felt very bad about what I did. I did not go back to the prophet. I went back directly to the Masjid, I tied my self in one of the pilars. I told people: here is what I did and I am not untying myself until Allah accepts my repentance.

The prophet was waiting for me to come back. When I did not he asked about me and he was told about my story. The prophet said: “If he were to come to me and tell me, I would have asked Allah to forgive him. Now that he did this to himself, I can’t do anything to him until Allah accepts his repentance.”

I spent 7 days and nights in this situation. My wife used to come, untie me for a few minutes to pray, and then tie me again. After 7 nights and right before dawn time, when the prophet was spending the night at the house of his wife, Umm Salamah, he suddenly laughed. His wife asked him, “What made you laugh o Messenger of Allah, may Allah make you always laugh?” He responded, “Abu Lubabuh’s repentance is accepted!” She quickly asked, “Should I give him the news?” The prophet responded, “Do, if you wish!”

I was tied to the post as usual when I heard Umm Salamah shouting, “Rejoice Aba Lubabah! Allah accepted your repentance!” The few people who were in the masjid rushed to me and wanted to untie me. I told them, “No! Until the prophet does it himself!” When the prophet came out for Fajr, he untied me. I told him, “O Messenger of Allah! Part of my repentance is to leave my neighborhood and come and live next to you. I will also donate ALL my money for the sake of Allah!” The prophet advised me to donate some and keep some for myself and my family. Allah revealed the following verse describing the situation of me and people like me, “And some others who admitted their sins, they mixed an act that was good and another that was evil; Perhaps Allah will turn unto them (with mercy), for Allah is he Oft-Forgiving, the Most Merciful”

END OF STORY

I comment saying

  • “Every human being makes mistakes,” as the prophet (pbuh) said. “The best of those who make mistakes are the ones who repent.” as he added. It is very wrong to sin and disobey Allah. We struggle and do our best not to. However, we are human beings not angels. We will fall into traps by the Shitan and we can get weak sometimes. This is part of our nature. The best people, the companions of the prophet, made mistakes and sometimes those mistakes were severe, as severe as disclosing an important secret of the prophet to his enemies. This is not an invitation or an excuse for us to sin. It is a reality that we need to be able to deal with. Dealing with this reality is with the following attitude, “Be in a constant struggle to obey Allah. When you sin, REPENT!”
  • Part of the high quality repentance is to repent quickly. Admit your mistake, regret, and come back to Allah. Do not delay your repentance. Maybe you will not have a chance to live until  you repent.
  • Regret is the key word. “Repentance is to regret!” As the prophet described it in a two word sentence. We often do many mistakes with no sense of regret. We are excessive in the amount of hope we have that Allah will accept our repentance to the extent we do not regret our sin. Without deep regret, repentance is not accepted.
  • No sin is bigger than the mercy of Allah. “My mercy encompasses everything …” as Allah told us in the Qur’an. How dare I think that the big mistake I make is bigger than the mercy of Allah? One should stay hopeful that ” Verily Allah forgives all sins …” as He mentioned in the Qur’an.
  • See how happy the prophet was when Allah revealed to him that He accepted Aba Lubabah? This is the attitude of the teacher and the murabbi. Yes, it was his secrete that got disclosed and it was a great sin and mistake this person did. But what is in it for the prophet, or any one for that matter, if Allah punishes Aba Lubabah and did not accept his repentance? The heart of the believer is always full of compassion to people around: wanting good for them and feeling happy when they are better. Same attitude was from Umm Salamah, the wife of the prophet, when she yelled from the door of her little house, “O Aba Lubabah, rejoice!”
  • Following the bad deed with a good one is the essence of repentance. “Follow the bad deed with a good one, it wipes it out …” As the prophet advised. “Verily good deeds remove bad ones …” as Allah stated in the Qur’an. It was almost the habit of everyone from the companions when they make a mistake: Follow the bad deed with a good one.

It is really amazing to see such great people make mistakes and correct themselves, for this is a great example for all of us. By no mean  any of us should go and tie himself to a post asking for repentance; he will stay there forever. The lessons learned are: 1) admit your sin, 2) admit it quickly, do not wait, 3) regret and display this regret before Allah, for he may accept you, 4) be insistent on your repentance, 5) do not feel any sin is greater that Allah’s mercy, AND 6) follow your bad deed with a good one, it will wipe it out.

There is more to this beautiful value, repentance, but this is a quick lesson from the repentance of a great man, Abi Lubabah. May Allah gather us with him and his teacher and our teacher in the highest place in Paradise. May Allah accept our repentance as He accepted his, Amin!

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4 thoughts on “When great people make mistakes

  1. SubhanAllah, a great reminder for those who fall into the dangerous trap of “I’m so bad, Allah will never forgive me”…because at that point its only a downward spiral from there.

  2. May Allah reward you. I really liked this blog entry. It reminded me of other Prophetic traditions that I read which showed how human the companions of our Prophet were. I remember one particular Hadeeth I read (Sahih Muslim) in which a woman companion angrily told her son “You are the most disobedient son!” Because he disgraced her in front of people. When I read it I was shocked!! I guess I didn’t think that kind of stuff happened between the greatest generation too. lol 🙂 Even the companions viewed it as normal for conflicts to happen with their family to the point that they would get mad and leave their homes to sleep in the mosque. I’m not trying to give anyone ideas 🙂 , but I feel it’s good to remember these types of things when one feels down and depressed for mistakes they have done.

    Osamah

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