Abridged and translated1 by Huda Shaka and Naiyerah Kolkailah
Inaba, turning to and returning to Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He), is a concept often repeated and enjoined in the Qur’an. The Exalted says, “And return [in repentance] to your Lord and submit to Him before the punishment comes upon you; then you will not be helped.” [Qur’an, 39:54]
And He says, recounting the words of Prophet Shu`ayb, “…And my success is through none but Allah. Upon him I have relied, and to Him I return.” [Qur’an, 11:88]
He also says, “…(this) gives insight, and it is a reminder for every servant who turns [to Allah].” [Qur’an, 50:8]
And, “Indeed, Allah leaves astray whom He wills and guides to Himself whoever turns back [to Him]. [Qur’an, 13:27]
In His description of Prophet Dawud, He says, “…and he fell down bowing [in prostration] and turned in repentance [to Allah]. [Qur’an, 38:24]
Inaba is the act of returning to Allah (swt), where one directs the heart’s drives and attracting forces to Him. It incorporates both love and fear, for the one who is returning loves the One she is returning to, and she is also submissive, devout, and humble towards Him.
People are at various levels in their means of returning to Allah (swt). Some turn back to Allah (swt) by leaving certain transgressions and sins. This return comes from being aware of Allah’s punishments, and is brought about through knowledge, fear and cautiousness.
Others return to Him by delving into different types of worship and devotional acts. They strive to perform these acts diligently, and the acts of obedience become beloved to them. This return stems from having hope and being aware of Allah’s promise, His reward, and loving Allah’s generosity towards them. These people are more light-spirited and at ease than the first group because they have a strong sense of hope and awareness of God’s Compassion and Benevolence.
Both groups are returning to Allah (swt) through hope and fear, but the fear of the second group falls under their broader feeling of hope, while the hope of the first group falls under their overarching feeling of fear.
There are yet others who return to Allah (swt) through supplication and invocation, humbly begging and pleading for all their needs from Him. This return comes from witnessing His favors and abundant blessings, as well as His Generosity and Capability. So, they direct their pleads to Him and rest their hopes in Him. They still enjoin the good and forbid the evil, but this is their particular way of returning to Him. They were not blessed with performing many devotional acts, and their hope in Him comes mainly at the time of difficulty and adversity. So, their return is one of necessity and not of choice.
These are like the people Allah (swt) describes: “And when adversity touches you at sea, lost are all those you invoke except for Him,” [Qur’an, 17:67], and His saying: “And when they board a ship, they supplicate to Allah—sincere to Him in religion…” [Qur’an, 29:65]
All these people may have souls that are looking away from Allah, the Exalted. They are leaving Him and looking towards something more naturally familiar to the self, which has come between it and its return to the One it should truly worship—and its real Lord.
The most elevated type of return is the returning of the entire soul (ruh) to Him because of intensely pure love, which suffices over everything besides the Beloved and Worshiped One. When the souls turn to Him, nothing else stays behind because all the organs follow the soul. So, when the soul turns to Him as a true lover—with every vein and joint having serene love for his Loved One— then all His might, and limbs and senses also return to Him.
The heart, too, returns to Allah (swt) with love, supplication, humiliation, and brokenness. The mind returns by acting upon the commands of the loved One, surrendering to them, and giving them authority over all else—for there remains in the mind no doubt or suspicion about them. The nafs (self) returns by obediently following the commands, and by giving up lowly habits, immoral behavior, and corrupt intentions. Instead, it completely follows His commands, surrendering to Him and wanting Him over everything else. The nafs no longer contains desires that challenge God’s command, and it authorizes its Lord in managing its affairs. It surrenders to His Rule, while being content with His Decree.
Such a sincere return to Allah (swt), for even one hour of your life, is more beneficial and fruitful than many years of other kinds of inabah. How can one even compare the level of this return to Allah (swt) with all the others? That is the bounty of Allah (swt), which He gives to whom He wills. Indeed, a person with this type of inabah has a soul that is ever-returning, even if the signs of its returning are hidden from him because he is distracted. Its returning is silently present, like the presence of ammunition in a weapon.
For those who engage in the previously mentioned types of return, if any of them turn to Allah (swt) for a brief time through supplication, remembrance, and invocation, his nafs heart, and mind sometimes turn away from the One He is returning to. Parts of him return for a brief time, but then he leaves and turns towards the desires of his nafs and whatever his nature calls him to.
In the end, Allah is the One who grants success and provides help, and there is no Lord other than Him, and no deity except Him.
- Some liberty has been taken with the translation, while preserving the meaning, to increase readability in English. [↩]