Life is not a rehearsal

River beneath a stone arch

By Wael Abdelgawad for

Constant Regret is Mental Suicide

You can look so hard and long at the door that has closed, that you miss the fact that another has opened before you. In the end you remain stuck in one place. That’s why it’s been said that regret is a form of mental suicide.

This might be fine if you’re Woody Allen, who said, “My one regret in life is that I am not someone else.”

For the rest of humanity (including myself), if you’ve made mistakes, do your sincere tawbah, ask forgiveness, then forgive yourself (and others) and reconcile with your own soul.

Life is not a rehearsal. You get one shot. This is your chance to demonstrate your character, worship your Lord, leave behind a legacy of kindness and love, and save your soul. This is it, and it will be over before you know it.

You can’t go back and change anything, not the smallest frown or wrong word, so don’t sit around wishing you could. Regret for the past and fear for the future are two thieves who work together to siphon away every last ounce of your will, heart and hope, until you are immobilized, unable to change your life for the better.

The point in between, the point that allows you to live positively and move forward with hope, is this moment, today. Doing your very best each day, moment to moment, is all you can do, and all you are expected to do.

It’s Not Easy

Someone said to me, “I wish it were that easy to shake off feelings of regret and guilt.”

It’s not easy. It starts with tawbah (repentance), then a commitment to change your life one step at a time. Sometimes a person needs tools and assistance to change, including salat (prayer), dua, meditation, affirmations, counseling or therapy, Islamic study groups and good friends. In order to do any of this you have to stop staring at that closed door behind you, and commit to walking through the open one before you. It starts with a choice.

For me personally, the four things that allowed me to move forward from an extremely painful situation in 2009 were prayer, poetry, martial arts and taking care of my daughter. Though I was simmering in self-pity and anger, I knew I had to be strong and healthy for my daughter, so I did the work. It took a year for me to get past it, but now Alhamdulillah I am wiser, and a better father and better martial artist.

For someone else it might be writing, art, work, going back to school, running, reading Quran, or dhikr (praising God). Everyone is different, but the common factor is that moving forward requires a choice, and some sort of action.

Be Intrepid

Do better now and tomorrow. Be intrepid in Allah’s cause. Live your life fearlessly. When you walk fee-sabeel-illah you cannot be harmed, not because you are impervious to pain but because every situation either brings you blessings or makes you stronger, and so it’s a barakah…

Abu Suhayb ibn Sinaan narrated that the Prophet (pbuh) said: “How amazing is the case of the believer; there is good for him in everything, and this characteristic is exclusively for him alone. If he experiences something pleasant, he is thankful, and that is good for him; and if he comes across some diversity, he is patient, and that is good for him.” [Muslim]

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Article by Wael

Wael Abdelgawad is an Egyptian-American living in Fresno, California. He is the founder of several Islamic websites, including and, and also of various technology and travel websites. He is a writer and poet, and has been a web developer since 1997. This project,, is very dear to his heart, as it has allowed him to express ideas that have growing inside him for many years. Wael is divorced and has one lovely young daughter. He practices and teaches martial arts (somewhat obsessively), and loves Islamic books, science fiction, and vanilla fudge ice cream. Wael is an advocate for human rights and blogs about these issues at He is also a volunteer with the MyDeen Muslim youth organization in Fresno. Wael tagged this post with: , , , , , Read 266 articles by
2 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Tony Olivas says:

    Asalamu Alaykum Wael, 🙂 Very nice article. Fits like a glove. 🙂

  2. Muslim says:

    Best thing i ever read :

    Life is not a rehearsal. You get one shot. This is your chance to demonstrate your character, worship your Lord, leave behind a legacy of kindness and love, and save your soul. This is it, and it will be over before you know it.

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