How Do I Get Out of This Shameful Cycle of Sin and Empty Repentance?

Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad

Question

I have been stuck in this rut of sinning. I feel terrible afterward, repent and try to improve, but I always lapse by the end of the week, and I’m honestly so tired. I hate myself for ruining my life and feel stuck in this black hole. The worst part is that I feel less guilty each day. I ask Allah for forgiveness whenever I make a mistake, but honestly, I’m so ashamed. I get thoughts like, “I don’t feel guilty enough; Allah might not accept my repentance.” I feel so depressed. I constantly compare myself to others who seem to be such perfect Muslims. Why me? Why have I ruined myself so much? I wish I never existed.

Answer

Thank you for your question. I empathize with your frustration and pain, but you must not despair. Allah is far greater than you imagine, and His power is inconceivable; keep begging Him for help.

Perfection

I can guarantee you that no Muslim alive today is perfect. Such was only the state of the Prophets and Messengers we take as our role models. Allah knows that His servants will sin, he does not desire them to be perfect, and He rejoices at their repentance. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “By the One in Whose Hand my soul is, were you not to commit sins, Allah would replace you with a people who would commit sins and then seek forgiveness from Allah, and Allah would forgive them.” [Muslim]

Gratitude

It is the nature of society that we don’t know people’s secrets, and most let their good sides shine when they are in public. There is much wisdom in this, and the moral standards of society are better upheld, even if only in appearances, as Allah hates for people to divulge their sins publicly. Many are in graver situations than you, and if you compared their sins to yours, you would be grateful. Start by being thankful for your blessings and all the things that are right in your life. Allah Most High says in the Quran, “Indeed, We blessed Luqman with wisdom, ˹saying˺, ‘Be grateful to Allah, for whoever is grateful, it is only for their own good. And whoever is ungrateful, then surely Allah is Self-Sufficient, Praiseworthy.’” [Quran, 31:12]

Despair

I urge you not to despair because Allah Most High has told us, “Say: My servants who have wronged yourselves, never despair of God’s mercy. God forgives all sins: He is truly the Most Forgiving, the Most Merciful.” [Quran, 39:53] Your key is to persevere in your repentance and never cease, no matter how shameful, sad, desperate or depressed you might feel. In any cycle, even that of sin and repentance, one of the two will overwhelm the other. Allah will answer your prayer by His grace and pull you out of this lifestyle; I am sure of it. His greatness and forgiveness are far, far greater than your sin.

Resources

Please see some tips here on overcoming sin:

How Do I Break The Habit of Repeatedly Falling Into The Same Sin?
How Can I Resist Temptations and Sins?
Dhahabi’s The Major Sins Explained: Avoiding the Pitfalls to Attain Salvation

May Allah give you the best of this world and the next.

[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqida, fiqh, tajweed, tafsir, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She later moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.