‘When we are doing wrong, Allah afflicts us with guilt, thereby calling us back to Him. Yet some of us fight this internal reminder by using our tongues to defend our wrong, hoping to quiet the guilt and convince ourselves that we are right.
Then Allah uses the tongues of others, thereby calling us back to Him. Yet some of us fight this external reminder by using the same arguments we used to quiet our guilt—or by pointing out the faults of the one who is speaking. “They’re being judgmental!” we say. “They have no wisdom or compassion!” We then arrogantly return to wrong, justifying our sin because of the faults we see in those who heeded the advice of their Lord, “And remind, for verily the reminder benefits the believers” (51:55).
Yet Allah continues to call us back to Him, as our hearts are continuously afflicted with guilt, and the tongues of others continuously remind us of our wrongs. Yet so many of us relentlessly fight the internal and external reminders…until our hearts become deaf to both.
Then Allah afflicts us with the harshest lesson—that of life itself—sending into our lives the storms of suffering in response to our sins. And only then, for so many of us, do our hearts hear for the first time Allah’s call. But even in this, there is mercy.
For surely, those who ignore the mercy of Allah—manifested in the internal and external reminders of guilt, others’ words, and the storms of life—have only Allah Himself as their teacher, when He calls them back to Him one final time.’
—from the journal of Umm Zakiyyah