“And seek forgiveness of your Lord, and turn unto Him in repentance, for my Lord is indeed full of mercy and loving-kindness.” (Quran 11:90) “He accepts repentance from His servants and pardons their sins. He knows everything you do.” (Quran 42:25)
All mankind desire to be successful in life and for Muslims (those who surrender to the Will of the Creator) success in this life and the Hereafter should be and must be their goal in life. But mankind is weak to resolve, heedless, and fluctuating between the evil of the devils and the pure characteristics of the angels. Sometimes man slips so low that you consider him like a devil rushing to respond to his passions and desires — not distinguishing the lawful from the unlawful — as there is no Lord watching over him or punishment in front of him. At times, he awakens to obedience and is constant in performing worshipping and righteous deeds. To sin is part of being human, but it is important to remember that when we sin we should not be despondent, for Allah is Merciful to His servants, Benevolent to His creation, overlooking their (wrong) actions, knowledgeable about their weaknesses, He loves for them uprightness and guidance and He hates for them crookedness and corruption. Allah has provided us a way for salvation from our evil deeds through tawbah (repentance) literally means to return.
When we commit a sin we usually have a feeling of guilt and remorse. If this feeling of regret is present after committing a sin, then there is hope that we can reform ourselves. When a person persistently keeps sinning without feeling of guilt and remorse then avenues of reform are closed. The Prophet (pbuh) has said: “Remorse is a kind of repentance.” (Ibn Majah) Repentance after committing sin and promising oneself not to do it again means that a person has reverted to piety, and when one returns to piety from sinning, Allah also returns to him with His mercy. Thus, when we feel guilty and remorseful after committing any mistake we should repent as quickly as possible and have the determination to avoid making that mistake again.
Allah has prescribed for sinners the way of returning back and opened for them the door of repentance. Repentance washes away their mistakes and clean themselves of their misdeeds. Of course, repentance has to be in sincerity and good faith. Allah says in the Quran: “O you who believe! Turn to Allah with sincere repentance.” (Quran 66:8) Thus, repentance to be effective requires to purify one’s intention. Along with repentance, one should seek Allah’s forgiveness and mercy. Allah says in the Quran: “If they repent and amend, leave them alone; for Allah is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful.” (Quran 4:16) “And seek forgiveness of Allah, for Allah is Oft-Forgiving and Most Merciful.” (Quran 4:106)
Four conditions of tawbah are: cessation of the sin, regret and remorse of the heart, firm resolve to return to the sin, and returning the right of the oppressed (if the sin is connected to other individuals). After repentance, we should seek Allah’s pardon since Allah loves His servants who seek His forgiveness. The Quran says, “Allah loves those who repent constantly and He loves those who keep themselves pure and clean.” (Quran 2:222)
Allah’s Mercy and His Love for repentance of His servants is illustrated by the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) in his narrating of a story of a traveller who lost his camel and provisions in a desert whilst asleep. Totally dejected and lost hope, he lay down thinking surely he was going to die in the wilderness. When he woke up he unexpectedly saw his camel returned fully laden with his provisions. His happiness new no bounds and he was extremely grateful to Allah. The Prophet said that Allah would be by far happier than this traveller would be if one of His servants were to return to Him in repentance.
Allah says: “Say, “O My servants, who have committed excesses against their own souls, do not despair of Allah’s mercy, for Allah surely forgives all sins. He is truly the Most Forgiving, the Most Merciful” (Quran 39:53) But Allah also says: “Forgiveness is not for those who continue to do evil deeds until, when death comes upon one of them.” (Quran 4:18) Allah also says in the Quran: “We have created man — We know the promptings of his soul, and We are closer to him than his jugular vein.” (Quran 50:16) In another place, “When My servants ask you about Me, say that I am near. I respond to the call of one who calls, whenever he calls to Me…” (Quran 2:186)
Islam requires no confession of one’s sins to another human being. Muslims repents to God directly and ask Him for forgiveness, as He is near to us and He responds to our calls. He wants us to ask Him directly for anything… for forgiveness… for guidance… for paradise… for health… for wealth… for long life… for good life in this world and in the Hereafter.
Finally, Allah has connected forgiveness with repentance, faith and righteous deeds: “And verily I am indeed forgiving to him who repents, believes and does righteous deeds and then remains constant in doing them.” (Quran 20:82)
By: Hafidh bin Saif Al-Rawahy