بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
And [He also forgave] the three who were left behind [and regretted their error] to the point that the earth closed in on them in spite of its vastness and their souls confined them and they were certain that there is no refuge from Allah except in Him. Then He turned to them so they could repent. Indeed, Allah is the Accepting of repentance, the Merciful. [Qur'an, 9:118]
Sometimes we do something wrong knowing it is wrong. We ignore that feeling, we procrastinate doing the right thing, until we make a big mistake. Ka’b bin Malik (ra) made a big mistake. The Battle of Tabuk was an especially difficult battle. The Prophet (pbuh) told his companions to prepare beforehand. There weren’t enough riding animals for everyone, but Ka’b himself had two. What was his mistake? He procrastinated. He said to himself ‘i can get ready in an instant’. He saw people leaving and still he said to himself ‘i can catch up’ until it was too late.
When the army came back more than a month later, K’ab was worried. He contemplated lying to the Prophet (pbuh). But he knew he couldn’t do that. He knew that even if he lied to the Prophet (pbuh), Allah knows what he did wrong. So he told the truth.
What do we imagine to be the response? He told the truth, so he should be let off easy, right?
This is where repentance shows its sincerity. The Prophet (pbuh) told him (and two others who told the truth that they had no excuse not to join the expedition) to wait for Allah’s decree. In the meantime, none of the Muslims were allowed to speak to them. Ka’b felt terrible. He said to one of the companions “Do you know that I love Allah and His Messenger?” This continued for a long time.
Many of us would feel disheartened. We would wish that we lied. We would feel that our repentance was not accepted, otherwise why would we be punished like this? To add to that, some of the Christian Arab tribes heard about this and invited Ka’b (ra) to join them, saying they would support him.
What would you do? Imagine if you committed a sin, then repented. But after the repentance, all you find is hardship. Then you are tempted to sin again. Would you give up?
This story of Ka’b bin Malik (ra) teaches us not to give up after repentance. He refused their invitation. He continued praying to Allah. And the reward for that was being remembered in the Qur’an for eternity in the verse quoted above, as an example to all those who struggle after repentance. Allah will accept you.
Sometimes we need to learn from our mistakes. Being let off easy doesn’t help us, especially if we committed a sin knowing it is wrong. Allah shows us in this example that even when it seems like He is punishing you, it is only for your own good. And if you are patient, and turn to Him even in that scenario, you will get something you could not have even imagined. As Allah reminds us:
“And whoever fears Allah – He will make for him a way out. And will provide for him from where he does not expect.” [Qur'an, 65:2-3]
Repentance only brings good. Don’t let shaitan mess with your head and tell you the reason you are facing hardship is because your repentance wasn’t accepted. Allah has named Himself at-Tawwab, meaning He accepts ALL those who turn back to Him. He would never reject you. Allah never turns away the broken-hearted. Just be patient, and remind yourself that Allah is teaching you, like he taught Ka’b (ra). And remind yourself that, just like Ka’b (ra), Allah will give you something better than you could ever imagine.