It is narrated in Divine Victory (Fath-e-Rabbani) that a person bought a slave and asked him as to what he wants to wear? Answer : Whatever you dress me with. Then he asked the slave as to which type of work he'd like to do. Answer : Whatever you order. He asked further as to where would he like to live. The slave said that wherever you ask me to live. The owner said that you are a very strange person that you have no choice. The slave requested , "O my Syed! Is there any choice for a slave is presence of his owner?" Hearing this the Nobleman said that alas me too was acting in the same manner with my Lord as you have acted with me. Go I have freed you at this behaviour of yours and now it is my desire that you sit at my chair and I serve you for you are my lord because you reminded me my forgotten lesson and thus you deserve that I serve.
Imam Ghazali (RA) says that an overall effect of the whisperings of the Baser Self and insinuations of Satan is that they say to the sinner that do not repent till you are not sure that the sin will not be committed again because what is the use of such a repentance that will be broken. This is one of the treacheries of Satan and from the bunch of Baser Self's dirty tricks. Thus a man must hurry to repent and in case it is broken then the repentance must be renewed. The reason is that this condition of man is very dear to Lord Most High because this what breaks the pride of obedience in man. Now as far as the sin is concerned then that is drowned by repentance! Finally both are destroyed, that is, neither Self Praise (ujb) remains nor the sin survives. This is the training by Lord Cherisher. When he is purified this way then it is obvious that he is included amongst the dear ones.
One thing that becomes clear from this is that when a person indulges in a good deed then because of that some Self-Praise (ujb) occurs and it becomes necessary to remove that. And the Self-Praise induced by obedience does not go away till man sees himself getting swayed by sins. So because of this fault of sins the fault of Self-Praise is cleaned. Now as far as the sins are concerned then for their removal One True Lord has already proposed repentance. Thus when a slave repents sincerely and because of that a condition of fear and danger is produced in his heart then that sin too is forgiven. This is the thing that has broken the back bone of the Friends of Allah. In other words these people want that no sin should be committed by them while Allah Most High wants that they must not get involved in appreciation of their acts of obedience and therefore they too end up committing sins. And though these people are aware of Lord in their acts of obedience but fear is not present and man might get involved in Self-Praise (ujb). This is in contrast to the consciousness of God that comes to a sinner after committing a sin, that has fear too in it. Indeed this consciousness is ahead of the other one where a person is indulging in a good deed and he thinks that he is really delivering the Rights of Allah's obedience. And this (the higher consciousness) produces fear in his heart. This is something that is rather difficult.
The reason for that is that obedience produces a sort of seduction or ecstasy in heart. Fear of Lord is not the thing that is induced by it. Except in those cases that are blessed by Lord Most High. Because of this the Worshiper is reduced in stature. Not because he worshiped but because he included sin in his worship. Thus a sinner who is endowed with fear and danger of God in his turning to God after his sin, he reaches a higher stature than a Worshiper. This higher stature is not a reward if his sin but because he followed it by hidden acts of obedience like returning to Lord and fearing him. This is what lead to a higher stature being assigned to him.
Today the absence of progress in our faith that we see can be traced to the fact that we are unaware of our inner self. And if the earlier people made so much of progress then the reason for that was that they had paid attention to their inner actions too. And the nature of the inner actions is such that the people think that the person is not indulging in that but it is working in the background.. For example take this fear of Lord and returning to Lord. In which ever heart it will get entry then it will not allow that person any rest. This person has put his heart and mind into turmoil because of fear of Allah Most High. This is in deed faith and no one else came to know of his heart being filled with that. Thus fear and hope are always present in the heart of a believer and it is because of that he keeps the balance of his mental state. If any Self-Praise is produced by acts of obedience then he brings fear of Lord to the fore and if fear and despair try to dominate then he turns towards hope from Lord.
That is why you might have heard that faith is the state between fear and hope. In other words the very meaning of faith is that a person remains in the middle of fear and hope. The meaning is that he is always in fear of the warnings of God and because of His Promises he is always hopeful. Allah Most High has promised Jannah and He also has warned about Hell. A believer has faith on both of them and in his heart both of these properties are present.
(T'amir-e-Hayat, Lucknow, August 25, 2010AC, p.26. The byline for this article says Editorial. The editor of this periodical (published every fifteen days) is Maulana Shams-ul-Haq Nadawi. The periodical is published by Nadwat-ul-Ulama, Lucknow)