• Madaarij as-Salikeen
  • Tafseer Ibn Katheer
  • Tayseer al-Kareem
  • Jamie Shurooh al-Usool ath-Thalaathah

The Meaning of Inaabah:

Inaabah is a noun which comes from the verb yuneeb.

Linguistically, Inaabah means to return to something time and time again.

Islamically, it means to return the heart to Allaah, The Most High, from other than Allaah, with love, fear and hope in all of one’s affairs, whenever one needs anything. When a person in distress repeatedly turns to Allaah, The Most High, and is persistently standing at the Gate of Allaah, he is called a ‘Muneeb’.

Inaabah is an act of worship, since Allaah, The Most High, orders us with it in Surat Az-Zumar (39:54):

وَأَنِيبُوا إِلَى رَبِّكُمْ وَأَسْلِمُوا لَهُ مِنْ قَبْلِ أَنْ يَأْتِيَكُمُ الْعَذَابُ ثُمَّ لَا تُنْصَرُونَ

“And turn in repentance and in obedience (aneeboo) with true Faith (Islamic Monotheism) to your Lord and submit to Him (in Islam) before the torment comes upon you, (and) then you will not be helped.”

Since Allaah ordered us to perform Inaabah, this means that He loves us to do so and is pleased with the one who performs it. This makes ‘Inaabah’ an act of worship. Therefore, directing it to other than Allaah is considered ‘Shirk.’

The evidence for singling out Allaah with ‘Inaabah’ is His Statement in Surat Hud (11:88) where Allaah says that Prophet Shu’aib (‘Alayhissalaam) said:

قَالَ يَا قَوْمِ أَرَأَيْتُمْ إِنْ كُنْتُ عَلَى بَيِّنَةٍ مِنْ رَبِّي وَرَزَقَنِي مِنْهُ رِزْقًا حَسَنًا وَمَا أُرِيدُ أَنْ أُخَالِفَكُمْ إِلَى مَا أَنْهَاكُمْ عَنْهُ إِنْ أُرِيدُ إِلَّا الْإِصْلَاحَ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُ وَمَا تَوْفِيقِي إِلَّا بِاللَّهِ عَلَيْهِ تَوَكَّلْتُ وَإِلَيْهِ أُنِيبُ

“O my people! Tell me, if I have a clear evidence from my Lord, and He has given me a good sustenance from Himself (shall I corrupt it by mixing it with the unlawfully earned money)? I wish not, in contradiction to you, to do that which I forbid you. I only desire reform to the best of my power. And my guidance cannot come except from Allaah, in Him I trust and unto Him I return (Uneeb).”

Prophet Shu’aib (‘Alayhissalaam) emptied his heart from relying on other than Allaah and turned to Allaah with love, hope and fear.

Allaah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) is praising Shu’aib (‘Alayhissalaam) who said: “In Him I trust and unto Him I return (Uneeb)”, which means, I turn to Allaah frequently in supplication and repentance; upon Him only I rely and put my trust in, and I empty my heart from relying on anyone other than Him. To Him only I return with love, hope and fear, turning from all other than Him (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala). A similar statement was mentioned in Surat Ash-Shura (42:10):

وَمَا اخْتَلَفْتُمْ فِيهِ مِن شَيْءٍ فَحُكْمُهُ إِلَى اللَّهِ ذَلِكُمُ اللَّهُ رَبِّي عَلَيْهِ تَوَكَّلْتُ وَإِلَيْهِ أُنِيبُ

Allaah, The Most High, says:

“And in whatsoever you differ, the decision thereof is with Allaah (He is The Ruling Judge). (And say: ‘O Muhammad e to these polytheists), ‘Such is Allaah, my Lord in Whom I put my trust, and to Him I turn back (in all of my affairs and) in repentance (Uneeb).’ [Explanation of Shaikh Salih Aal-Shaikh of The Three Principles]

Shaikh Aal-Shaykh said that Inaabah is the returning of the heart from other than Allaah to Allaah, The Most High. If the heart is turned to other than Allaah, it may be attached to it and turn to it when afflicted, instead of towards Allaah, The Most High, as happens for example in the case of those whose hearts are attached to the dead, Awliya’, Prophets, Jinn, etc..

Shaikh Bin ‘Uthaimeen (Rahimahullaah) said: “Inaabah is to turn to Allaah, The Most High, in obedience, and avoid disobedience to Him. Its meaning is close to that of repentance (Tawbah), except that it is more subtle in meaning, and conveys the sense of dependence upon Allaah and fleeing to Him for refuge, and it cannot be except for Allaah, The Most High. Its evidence is Surat Az-Zumar (39:54).” [Explanation of Shaikh Bin ‘Uthaimeen of The Three Principles]

Shaikh Bin Baz (Rahimahullaah) said: “Inaabah is returning in repentance to Allaah, and submitting the matter to Allaah and all these acts cannot be except for Allaah Alone.”

Shaikh Abdur-Rahman bin Qasim an-Najdi said: “Inaabah is one of the greatest acts of worship, which is Tawbah (turning to Allaah in repentance); in fact, it is higher in status than Tawbah, because Tawbah or repentance, means to return to Allaah, The Most High, with regret, remorse and resolve to not commit the sin again. Tawbah comes under Inaabah, because Inaabah is to turn to Allaah in all acts of worship, and completely turn from all that is not pleasing to Him to what is pleasing to Him; as such, Inaabah is more general than Tawbah.” [Explanation of The Three Principles]

Shaikh ‘Abdullah al-Fawzan said: “If a man quits committing a sin and resolves not to go back to it and he feels remorse and continuously performs acts of worship and good deeds, he is called, ‘Taa’ib’ (repentant). If he returns to Allaah, after this repentance (in all his affairs in supplication, asking Him his requests, etc…), he is called ‘Muneeb to Allaah’ (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala).” [Explanation of the Three Principles]

Ibn al-Qayyim (Rahimahullaah) said: “Inaabah is the devotion of the heart to Allaah, The Exalted, like devotion of the body inside the mosque without leaving it. That is to say, devotion of the heart is to love and glorify Allaah and devote the actions of one’s body to Allaah by worshipping Him sincerely and by following His Messenger (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam). Whoever does not devote his heart to Allaah alone, would devote it to different kinds of images.

When the heart is attached to, busy with and following anything other than Allaah, this is devotion of the heart to images which appear to him in his heart. This is similar to devotion to the images of idols. That is why the polytheism of the pagans was by devoting their hearts, intentions, and wills to idols. For this reason, the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) called whoever did so a servant of idols or images and invoked Allaah against him. He (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “Miserable be the worshipper of the dinar and the dirham! Let him be miserable and a loser, and let him never be healed even from the prick of a thorn.”

Kinds of Inaabah:

Ibn al-Qayyim (Rahimahullaah) said that there are two kinds of Inaabah which are:

a) Related to Allaah’s Ruboobiyyah (Oneness in His Lordship) – which is general, as all the creation returns to Allaah, whether a believer or a disbeliever. For example, in Surat Ar-Rum (30:33-34), where Allaah, The Most High, says:

وَإِذَا مَسَّ النَّاسَ ضُرٌّ دَعَوْا رَبَّهُمْ مُنِيبِينَ إِلَيْهِ ثُمَّ إِذَا أَذَاقَهُمْ مِنْهُ رَحْمَةً إِذَا فَرِيقٌ مِنْهُمْ بِرَبِّهِمْ يُشْرِكُونَ (33) لِيَكْفُرُوا بِمَا آَتَيْنَاهُمْ فَتَمَتَّعُوا فَسَوْفَ تَعْلَمُونَ

“And when harm touches men, they cry sincerely only to their Lord (Allaah), turning to Him in repentance (Muneebeen); but when He gives them a taste of His Mercy, behold, a party of them associate partners in worship with their Lord. So as to be ungrateful for the grace which We have bestowed on them. Then enjoy (your short life); but you will come to know.”

This kind of Inaabah is general and is the case with everyone when afflicted with a harm. It does not require the person to be a Muslim, as those who commit Shirk and Kufr are included when Allaah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) said about them, “But when He gives them a taste of His Mercy, behold, a party of them associate partners in worship with their Lord.”

b)      Related to Allaah’s Uloohiyyah (Oneness in His Worship) – this is the special turning of His Awliya’, who turn to Him with love and servitude.

Inaabah means to come to Allaah always with Iqbaal, which is to turn to Him while worshiping Him and to turn away from other than Him. It includes the following:

1. To love Allaah;

2. To submit to Him;

3. To turn to Him;

4. To turn away from others.

The description of the Muneeb is that he always hastens to please Allaah and turns to Him at all times, preferring His Love over his own desires and beloved matters; because the word Inaabah implies the meaning of hastiness, returning and proceeding.” [Madaarij  as-Salikeen]

Allaah, The Most High, mentions in Surat Qaf (50:8):

تَبْصِرَةً وَذِكْرَى لِكُلِّ عَبْدٍ مُنِيبٍ

“An insight and a reminder for every slave who is muneeb (i.e. turns to Allaah in repentance, the one who believes in the Oneness of Allaah and performs deeds of His obedience, and always begs His pardon).”

Ibn Katheer (Rahimahullaah) said: “Allaah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) says that observing the creation of the heavens and earth and all the great things that He has placed in them provides insight, proof and a lesson for every penitent servant who submits in humbleness and returns in repentance to Allaah, while feeling hope and fear and being in awe of Him.” [Tafseer Ibn Katheer]

In Surat Ar-Rum (30:31), Allaah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) says:

مُنِيبِينَ إِلَيْهِ وَاتَّقُوهُ وَأَقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَلَا تَكُونُوا مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ

“(And remain always) turning in repentance to Him (only) (Muneebeen), and be afraid and dutiful to Him; and perform as-Salat and be not of al-Mushrikun (the polytheists, idolaters, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allaah).”

Shaikh as-Sa’dee (Rahimahullaah) said: “(Muneebeen), returning to Him and fearing Him, in the previous verse, explains how to direct the face (i.e., self) towards the religion. Inaabah means the inaabah of the heart, which implies to draw its concerns and interests to what pleases Allaah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala). This requires the actions of the body to be in compliance with what is established in the heart; therefore, it includes all apparent and hidden acts of worship. This cannot be accomplished (fulfilled) except with the abandonment of sins (the hidden and the apparent sins).

Therefore, Allaah says, “Fear Him,” and that is by acting upon Allaah’s Commands and abstaining from His Prohibitions. Allaah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) emphasized/ singled out the Salat out of all the Commands, because Iqamat as-Salat (establishing the prayer) calls one to Inaabah and Taqwa. Allaah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) says in Surat Al-Ankabut (29:45):

اتْلُ مَا أُوحِيَ إِلَيْكَ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَأَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ إِنَّ الصَّلَاةَ تَنْهَى عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالْمُنْكَرِ وَلَذِكْرُ اللَّهِ أَكْبَرُ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ مَا تَصْنَعُونَ

“Recite (O Muhammad (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam)) what has been revealed to you of the Book ( the Qur’an) and offer prayer perfectly. Verily, prayer prevents from al-Fahshaa’ (i.e., great sins of every kind, unlawful sexual intercourse, etc.) and al-Munkar (i.e., disbelief, polytheism, and every kind of evil wicked deed, etc.) and the praising of Allaah is greater indeed. And Allaah knows what you do.”

This will help one to achieve Taqwa (Fear of Allaah).

Then, Allaah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) said: “And the remembrance of Allaah is greater indeed,” i.e., prayer also includes the rememberance of Allaah which is the higher objective and more important. This is an incitement for al-Inaabah.” [Tayseer al-Kareem]

Ibn Katheer (Rahimahullaah) said: “Prayer has three attributes, and any prayer that does not contain any of these attributes is not truly prayer: being done purely and sincerely for Allaah alone (Ikhlas), fear of Allaah, and remembrance of Allaah. Ikhlas makes a person do good deeds, fear prevents him from doing evil deeds, and the remembrance of Allaah is the Qur’an which contains commands and prohibitions.”

Ibn ‘Awn al-Ansari said: “When you are praying, you are doing good; it is keeping you away from immoral sins and evil wicked deeds, and what you are doing is part of the remembrance of Allaah, which is greater.” [Tafseer Ibn Katheer]

Regarding Surat Ar-Rum (30:31), Shaikh as-Sa’dee (Rahimahullaah) then said, “Allaah particularized Shirk from the Prohibitions, combined with which no deed is accepted. Allaah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) said: ‘and be not of Mushrikeen (those who worship others along with Allaah or set up rivals or partners with Allaah, etc.)’ because Shirk contradicts and is the opposite of Inaabah.” [Tayseer al-Kareem]

Note: The difference between Raghbah, which means longing or fervent desire to reach that which is beloved, and Inaabah, is that Raghbah is frequently returning to Allaah hoping to receive something that one likes (of worldly or religious matters), whereas Inaabah is done at the time of difficulty.

The Reward for Inaabah:

1-    Guidance in this life:

Allaah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) says in Surat Ash-Shura (42:13):

اللَّهُ يَجْتَبِي إِلَيْهِ مَنْ يَشَاءُ وَيَهْدِي إِلَيْهِ مَنْ يُنِيبُ

“Allaah chooses for Himself whom He wills, and guides unto Himself who turns to Him (in repentance and in obedience).”

Shaikh as-Sa’dee (Rahimahullaah) said that Allaah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) chooses for His Messengership and allegiance whom He knows is deserving as He (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) chose this Ummah over all other nations, preferred it over them and chose for this Ummah the best religion. “Allaah guides unto Himself who turns to Him,” indicates that this is the means by which the slave attains the guidance from Allaah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala). This is achieved by his turning to Allaah, directing his heart to Him, hoping and seeking His Countenance and by following this intention with actions of the limbs in what pleases Allaah and brings the slave closer to Him. Therefore, having good intention and seeking the guidance earnestly are means of ease to Allaah’s guidance.

Also, He (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) said in Surat Ar-Ra’d (13:27):

قُلْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُضِلُّ مَنْ يَشَاءُ وَيَهْدِي إِلَيْهِ مَنْ أَنَابَ

“Say: ‘Verily, Allaah sends astray whom He wills and guides unto Himself those who turn to Him (in repentance). ‘”

In Surat Luqman (31:15), Allaah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) commands us to follow the path of those who turn to Him in repentance and obedience; especially the Sahabah (the Companions (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhum)):

وَاتَّبِعْ سَبِيلَ مَنْ أَنَابَ إِلَيَّ

“And follow the path of him who turns to Me (in repentance and obedience) (i.e. the true believers)”.

This verse indicates Allaah’s Perfect Knowledge about the Sahabah (the Companions) (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhum) and their utmost state of Inaabah. This is clear proof that their statements are sound evidences specially those of the Rightly Guided Caliphs (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhum).

2-    Attaining Paradise:

Allaah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) praised those who return to Him, and mentioned His reward for them in Surat Qaf (50:31-33):

وَأُزْلِفَتِ الْجَنَّةُ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ غَيْرَ بَعِيدٍ ، هَذَا مَا تُوعَدُونَ لِكُلِّ أَوَّابٍ حَفِيظٍ ، مَنْ خَشِيَ الرَّحْمَنَ بِالْغَيْبِ وَجَاءَ بِقَلْبٍ مُنِيبٍ

“And Paradise will be brought near to the righteous, not far. [It will be said], ‘This is what you were promised- (it is) for every one oft-returning (to Allaah) in sincere repentance and those who preserve their covenant with Allaah (by obeying Him in all that He has ordered and by worshipping none but Allaah Alone, i.e. follow Allaah’s Religion-Islamic Monothesim.) Who feared The Most Merciful in the Unseen and came with a heart (muneeb) returning (in repentance).'”

Du’a for asking Allaah to make one a Muneeb:

Ibn ‘Abbas (Rahimahullaah) narrated that the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) used to say the following du’aa:

رَبِّ أَعِنِّي ولا تُعِنْ عَلَيّ ، وانْصُرْنِي ولا تَنْصُر عَلَيّ ، وَامْكُرْ لِي ولا تَمْكُر عَلَيّ ، وَاهْدِني وَيَسِّر الهُدَى إِلّى ، وَانْصُرْني عَلَىّ مَنْ بَغَى عَلّي ، رَبِّي اجْعَلنْي لَكَ شَكّاراً ، لَكَ ذَكّاراً ، لَكَ رَهّاباً ، لَكَ مُطْواعاً ، لَكَ مُخْبِتاً ، إليك أَوّاهاً مُنيباً ، رَبّ تَقَبّلْ تَوْبَتِي ، وَاغْسِل حَوْبَتِي ، وَأَجِبْ دَعْوَتِي ، وَثَبِّتْ حُجَّتِي ، وَاهْدِ قَلْبِي وَسَدِّدِ لِساني واسْلُلْ سَخِيمَةَ صَدْرِي

Rabbi a’inni wala tu’in alayya, wansurnee wala tansur alayya, wam-kurlee wala tamkur alayya, wahdinee wa yassir al-huda ilayya, wansurnee ala man baghaa alayya, Rabbij-‘alnee laka shakkaaran, laka dhakkaaran, laka rahhaban, laka mutwaa’an, laka mukhbitan, ilaika awwahan muneeban, Rabbi taqabbal tawbatee, wagh-sil hawbatiee, wa ajib da’watee, wa thabbit hujjatee, wahdi qalbee, wa saddid lisaanee, was-lul sakheemata sadree.

“My Lord! Help me and help not (my enemies) against me. Give me victory and give not victory against me. Plan for me, and plan not against me. Guide me (to the Right Path) and render (right) guidance easy for me. And help me against him who oppresses me. My Lord! Cause me to thank You, to remember You, to fear You, to obey You, to humble myself before You; to turn toward You tearfully and penitent. My Lord! Accept my repentance. Wash away my sins. Respond to my prayer. Make my conviction enduring (in the matter of religion). Guide my heart aright, and direct my tongue to say the right thing, and dispel ill-will from my chest.” [At-Tirmidhi and authenticated by al-Albaani who graded it Saheeh, no. 3551]

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