Understand one point here. Just as a person relies on his abstinence and obedience, he sometimes relies on his sins as well. In other words, a sinner’s gaze shifts from Allah Ta’ala’s pardon and kindness, and becomes confined to his sin. Consequently, when he looks at his many sins, he is overcome by despondency and thinks that he will never be forgiven. It is as though his focus has shifted completely from Allah Ta’ala’s pardon and kindness. The Masha’ikh consider this to be a dangerous condition because Allah Ta’ala’s says about the sinners:
“Say: O My servants who wronged themselves. Do not despair of Allah Ta’ala’s ’s mercy. Surely Allah forgives all sins.”
This is the Islamic belief. On the other hand, it is as if this person is saying that Allah Ta’ala’s I can never forgive him. This person is extremely foolish and witless.
Nevertheless, whether a person relies on his obedience or his disobedience, both are reprehensible. A worshipper relies on his obedience because he is not cognizant of Allah Ta’ala’s power to “punish whomever He wills”. As for the sinner who relies on his disobedience, he is not cognizant of Allah Ta’ala’s statement:
ِ ِ ِ لا تـقنطوا من رحمة االله
“Do not despair of Allah’s mercy.”
Balance and equity demand for a worshipper to be pleased by his worship, but to remain fearful of Allah Ta’ala’s ’s punishment at the same time. In like manner, a sinner may fear his sins, but at the same time he must believe in Allah Ta’ala’s mercy and forgiveness. If a sinner possesses this quality, he will be successful despite his sins.
But there are times when a sinner becomes audacious in his sins. Let alone having any remorse and regret, he becomes boastful of his sins. He commits a sin at night, and relates it proudly during the day. This is known as audaciousness, and such a person will be taken to task on the day of Resurrection.
Nevertheless, Allah Ta’ala’s teaches us that a pious person must think of Allah Ta’ala’s ’s punishment together with His mercy. And a sinner must think of His mercy together with having fear for Him. Glory to Allah Ta’ala’s!
Look at the principle:
الإيمان بين الرجاء والخوف
“Imaan is suspended between hope and fear.”
Shaykh Sa‛dī Rahimahullah referred to the worshipper as a “fearless worshipper”. We learn from this that worshippers are of two kinds, fearful and fearless. Now who is the one who is a fearless worshipper?
He gives a word of advice in this regard: “I accept you are free from faults, but do not frown at us who are filled with faults.”
This means: If a person is free of faults, then glory to Allah Ta’ala’s! What can we say!? At the same time, he should not look at the faults of and criticize those who are sinners and are filled with faults. If he abstains from doing this, his piety will be perfected and he will be known as a fearful worshipper. But if he despises and looks down on others while carrying out his acts of worship, he may be called a worshipper on the outside, but he will not be a fearful worshipper. We learn from this that it is easy to be a worshipper, but difficult to be a fearful person.
We conclude that a person’s obstinacy is the cause of his fearlessness, and the cause of the obstinacy is his considering himself to be a pious person, and having a high regard for his good deeds.
This will result in him despising and looking down on others.
May Allah Ta’ala Save Us