The human personality comprises the body and the soul. The soul is pure and is made from light. The light use by Allah to make the soul is special and is not a part of what He used to create the universe. He gave a Command and the soul came into existence.
As regards the body, it was created from clay. It is physical in nature and composition; it has physical desires like to feel hungry. It has the capacity to do good or evil, i.e. to do what is permissible or to do what is not permissible. The physical desire is called nafs. It wants that its physical needs be satisfied. It is not concern whether the satisfaction is from permissible sources or non-permissible sources. As a result it can cause a person to commit sins.
About the working of the nafs Allah says:
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“The nafs is prone to do evil” (12:53).
Before man was sent on earth, Adam as a complete human being dwelt in the Garden of Eden. Allah wants every person to return and live in the Garden forever; as a result He has given man the recipe for correct and proper living in order that both the body and the soul shall be fit to return there.
A person is supposed to do what is permissible and avoid what is prohibited, as what is prohibited, when done will cause some spots to soil the soul. The spots on the soul can cause a person to be burnt in the hell fire.
Nay, but whosoever hath done evil and his sins surrounds him, such are rightful owners of the fire, they will abide therein (2:81).
Allah has prescribed a way of removing the dark spots from the soul; and that is through repentance. When a person commits a wrong, he should seek forgiveness from Allah for it as soon as he realizes that a mistake was committed. He should not put off doing so, otherwise it can cause him harm. Concerning seeking repentance Allah says:
Forgiveness is not for those who do ill deeds until when death approaches one of them he says, Lo, I repent now (4:18).
If a person does not repent and death should overtake him he will be punished for the sin he committed. In this connection Allah says:
Those who earn evil will have a reward of the like evil (10:27).
All through our lives we need to be constantly begging our Lord for forgiveness of those wrong things we may have done knowingly and unknowingly. We must do two (2) things;
1. Beg Allah for forgiveness as soon as we realize that we did a wrong thing. Allah says:
Forgiveness is only incumbent on Allah towards those who do evil in ignorance and then turn quickly (in repentance) to Allah (upon realization that a sin was committed) (4:17)
When Adam realized that he sinned he begged Allah most sincerely.
When we pray to Allah to forgive us for our sins, we pray for forgiveness for the sins we commit knowingly and for those we commit unknowingly. For those we commit unknowingly it may not be too difficult for us as Allah knows that we do not have knowledge of all things, and as a result we can commit mistakes, for example, out of forgetfulness. Take for example, a fast is not broken if one eats out of forgetfulness.
However, when one knows that he is doing a wrong thing and continues to do so he will be required to pay the fine. In this connection Allah directs that punishment must be prescribed for such wrongs that were done with knowledge that what was being done was a wrong thing. Examples of these are:
A thief male or female should have their hands cut off (5:30).
If a person knowingly have marital relation with his wife while he is fasting he is required to keep sixty days fast or feed sixty poor people.
A person can save himself from being punished for a crime committed by seeking repentance and making amends. Take for example, if a person is found guilty for a crime but honestly repents and seeks forgiveness, he/she can be forgiven. In this connection Allah says:
Whoever repents after committing a crime, and amends his conduct, Allah turns to him in forgiveness, for Allah is Most Forgiving, Most Merciful. (5:39)
Prophet Muhammad (pboh) is reported to have said:
Allah the Most Exalted said: O son of Adam, were you to come to Me with a world full of sins and meet Me without making anything a partner to Me, I would come to you with a similar amount of forgiveness (Tirmidhi).
One way of ensuring that one's burden can be light on the Day of Judgment is to do as much good as possible in this life, as good deeds remove from our records some of our sins. Allah says:
Verily, goods deeds annul evil deeds (4:14).
Brothers and sisters, because death can come upon us at any time we must not delay in asking for forgiveness and making amends for the mistakes we may have committed. In this connection Allah says:
Hasten to ask for forgiveness from your Lord, and a Garden whose width is that of the skies and the earth, prepared for the righteous. (3:133)
May Allah forgive us for our sins and may He join us with the righteous in the Garden of Paradise.