Q & A
Q. Salam. People think that Allah SWT is AR-Rahim (merciful) and thus they say he will forgive me so they go and commit sin. Knowing it is haram so they will go clubbing and come back and pray salah? Is this a correct mentality to have?
Imam Ibn Qudamah al-Maqdisi – one of the greatest Hanbali scholars of Islam –discusses in his book Mukhtasar Minhaj al-Qasidin about Muslims who are deluded (maghrur) and it is extremely pertinent to your question. Indeed, Allah (SWT) gave deep insight, grace and tawfiq to our noble scholars! Ibn Qudamah mentions the following:
“Some sinners delude [themselves] and say that Allah is Generous and we rely upon His forgiveness while the scholars say that if one hopes [or desires] for something, then one pursues it and if one fears something then one shuns it. Whoever hopes for forgiveness while continuing to persist in sin [and wrongdoing] is [utterly] deluded. One must know that Allah (Most High) with His vast mercy is [also] severe in punishing…”
و من العصاة من يغتر فيقول: إن الله كريم و إنما نتوكل على عفو و قد قال العلماء: من رجا شيئا طلبه و من خاف شيئا هرب منه . و من رجا الغفران مع الإصرار فهو مغرور . و ليعلم أن الله (تعالى) مع وسعة رحمته شديد العقاب…
Thus, just as Allah (SWT) created us, loves us, sustains us, provides for us and cherishes us as well as being Oft-Forgiving, He (SWT) is also reminds us that He can be severe and swift in His punishment. Hence, we have to combine a dual emotion of fear/khawf (i.e. of Allah’s punishment) and hope/raja (i.e. of Allah’s sustaining grace, reward and mercy) and these emotions in turn should impact our behaviour, i.e. our actions and stir us to move and act correctly. Imam Ibn Qudamah then continues:
“And then there is someone who thinks that his obedience numbers more than his disobedience the reason for that being he counts the number of his good deeds and does not take himself to task for his bad deeds and does not even consider his sins. For example, he seeks Allah’s forgiveness and glorifies Allah a hundred times a day, but then spends the rest of his days slandering Muslims and making ugly remarks. [Thus], he sees the virtues of glorifying Allah and seeking his forgiveness but not the punishment for slandering and forbidden speech.”
و منهم من يظن أن طاعته أكثر من معاصيه . و سبب ذلك أنه يحفظ عدد حسناته و لا يحاسب نفسه على سيئاته، و لا يتفقد ذنوبه، كالذي يستغفر الله و يسبح مائة مرة في اليوم ثم يظل طول نهاره يغتاب المسلمين و يتكلم بما لا يرض، فهو ينظر في فضائل التسبيح والإستغفار ولا ينظر في عقوبة الغيبة و الكلام المنهي عنه .
This is a clear form of delusion and may Allah protect us from it. Just like the individual in Imam Ibn Qudamah’s example does tasbih and istighfar but slanders and speaks ill of Muslims, likewise the brothers you mentioned go clubbing at night and commit sin but come home and pray as well, they see and know the benefits, rewards and extreme importance of Salah but are ignorant of the punishment for going to such places and committing such acts thinking that the salah the night before will clearly wipe away the sin(s) of the night before. And it is this that is sheer folly and delusion as Allah’s (SWT) mercy does is not at the willful behest and caprice of a holder of a fake trump card for disobedience.
To these brothers, one can only give sincere advice based on compassion and concern for them with the real hope that Allah (SWT) enables them to mend their ways and to instill both fear and hope of Him (SWT) together so they may act accordingly. Amin!
And Allah knows best
 See Ibn Qudamah, Mukhtasar Minhaj al-Qasidin, p.237.
 Meaning he says ‘astaghfirullah/استغفر الله’ (‘Allah pardon me!’).
 Meaning he says ‘subhanallah/سبحان الله (‘Glory be to Allah!).
 See Ibn Qudamah, Mukhtasar Minhaj al-Qasidin, pp.237-238.