The word Tawbah (Repentance) in Arabic literally means ‘to return’. In an Islamic context, it refers to the act of leaving what Allah has prohibited and returning to what He has commanded. The subject of repentance is one which concerns all people who believe in Allah, and is central to Islamic belief as well.
It is mentioned in the Qur’an
“… and turn you all together in repentance to Allah O believers, that you may be successful”
“Surely Allah loves those who turn unto him in repentance and loves those who purify themselves.”
Surah al-Baqarah (2:222)
Feelings of remorse and guilt are natural reflections of sinning, if the person who has sinned has a conscious which is alive.
After committing a sin, a person who fears Allah and give high respect to Him would feel a sense of hopeless and despair thinking, “How will Allah forgive me for this sin?” However, it is noteworthy that despairing of Allah’s mercy is in itself one of the major sins in Islam for Allah is ever merciful, ever forgiving.
As He says in the Qur’an:
“Tell them (oh Muhammad): ‘My (Allah’s) Servants, who have committed excesses against themselves, do not be in despair in the mercy of Allah – surely, Allah forgives all sins. Verily Allah is the Most Forgiving, the Most Merciful
Surah Az-Zumar (9:53)
In another verses, Allah says:
“Except for those who repent after that and do righteous deeds. Verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful”.
“He forgave them (accepted their repentance), that they might beg for His pardon [repent (unto Him)] Verily, Allah is the One Who forgives and accepts repentance, Most Merciful”.
Islam fully understands the temptations that come in the way of everyone of us, and that which some of us might go for. Only through repentance, that one can wipe out those sins and past misdeeds and gradually get freed from the clutches of the ego.
Repentance is the most noble and beloved form of obedience in the eyes of Allah the All Mighty. He loves those who repent. Repentance has a status that no other form of worship has. This is why Allah is extremely happy when a servant repents just as a traveler is happy when he finds his lost mount in the desert.
Feeling Allah’s satisfaction has its great impact on the heart of the one repenting. Hence, the repenting person reaches the status of being amongst the beloved through his repentance.
Moreover, repentance brings about humbleness and a sense of helplessness to the only Creator; Allah, and that is not easily acquired through other forms of worship.
Allah says in the Qur’an
“Except those who repent and believe, and do righteous deeds, for those, Allah will change their sins into good deeds, and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”
This is a greatest glad tiding for those who repent and combine their repentance with deep faith and good deeds.
Repentance breeds good deeds, whilst sinning (without repentance) can cause deprivation of obedience altogether. It has been said that committing sins regularly will darken and harden the heart and make purifying it once again a difficult mission. It may even lead a person to reject Allah completely (Allah forbid) or lead him to commit a bigger sin. There is no recourse for a sinner except to ask Allah for forgiveness and to feel great regret for his actions.
Repentance is to repent from the heart, to train the heart into obedience and to make a firm resolution never to commit the sin again.
How to repent?
For repentance to be accepted by Allah, one should go through these four stages:
1- Stop the sin.
2- Regretting deeply and truly for the sin you committed.
3- Return to Allah for forgiveness.
4- Strong intention never to return to that same sin again.
What would help in fulfilling the above four stages?
The repenting person should remember three facts:
1. The grave consequence of sins.
2. The painful punishment for sins and
3. How week a person is when committing such sins.
Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said, “Every son of Adam is a sinner, and the best of sinners are those who turn (to Allah) in repentance.”
(Mishkatul-Masabih, Vol. 3, p. 360)
Allah says in the Qur’an:
“Those (are the true believers) who, when they commit an evil deed, or wrong their souls, remember Allah, and seek forgiveness for their sins and none can forgive sins but Allah – And do not persist in what (wrong) they have done, while they know..
We may tire committing sin but Allah does not tire forgiving us.
O’ slave of Allah! Allah has opened the door of repentance, so why should you not enter?
“Repentance has a door whose span is the distance between East and West,” says a hadith (and in another version, its span is the distance traveled in 70 years). “It will not be closed until the sun rises from the west.” Listen to the call of Allah, “O’ my slaves! You sin morning and evening and I forgive all your sins. So call on Me, I’ll forgive you all your sins