The door to forgiveness is always open

Forgiveness and Repentance in Islam

Seeking forgiveness from Allah with repentance is a virtue. Human beings are not perfect. God, in His infinite wisdom, has made seeking forgiveness easy. If we were not able to seek and obtain God’s forgiveness we would indeed be miserable people, full of despair and self-loathing. It is for this reason that there are no transgressions too big or sins too small that God will not forgive. Allah says:

وَأَنِيبُوا إِلَىٰ رَبِّكُمْ وَأَسْلِمُوا لَهُ مِن قَبْلِ أَن يَأْتِيَكُمُ الْعَذَابُ ثُمَّ لَا تُنصَرُونَ

“And turn in repentance and obedience with true Faith to your Lord and submit to Him, before the torment comes upon you, then you will not be helped.” (Surah Az-Zumar 39:54)

Forgiveness is a critical aspect of Islam as everybody makes mistakes in life and unintentionally commits sins. Muslims believe that Allah is Merciful and Forgiving. When a person who has sinned turns to repentance from Allah, how would we ensure that repentance is sincere and accepted?  God knows us well, He is our Creator. Allah says:

فَتَعَالَى اللَّهُ الْمَلِكُ الْحَقُّ وَلَا تَعْجَلْ بِالْقُرْآنِ مِن قَبْلِ أَن يُقْضَىٰ إِلَيْكَ وَحْيُهُ وَقُل رَّبِّ زِدْنِي عِلْمًا

“So high (above all) (is) Allah the King, the True. And (do) not hasten with the Quran before [that] is completed to you its revelation, and say, “My Lord! Increase me (in) knowledge.” (Surah Taha, 20:114)

Seeking forgiveness is asking Allah for His forgiveness for the sins you have committed, while repentance is turning away from our faults and returning to Allah, to His path. When Allah desires good for a believer, He gives him an awareness of his faults. Sincere repentance can wipe out a person’s sins, forever and completely.

Here are some elements in an act of true Forgiveness and Repentance:

  1. Forgiveness gives dignity (Grace) from Almighty Allah
  2. Forgiveness matters as steadfast determination
  3. Forgiveness saved from Fitnah and afflictions
  4. Forgiveness is one of the Allah SWT’s quality
  5. Forgiveness reassurance and peace of mind
  6. Forgiveness free of diseases and disabilities
  7. Forgiveness gives joy and Rizq to the Prayer
  8. Forgiveness is a ticket to Heaven (Paradise)
  9. Forgiveness from Almighty Allah brings joy
  10. Forgiveness removes the burden of sins
  11. Forgiveness with lightening the heart
  12. Forgiveness is crucial for the Hereafter
  13. Repentance is linked to the message of God
  14. Repentance is inseparable from saving Faith
  15. Repentance encourages the mental disposition
  16. Repentance is a result of a change in behaviour
  17. Repentance entails putting away the sinful activities
  18. Repentance begins with a positive side of God’s law
  19. Repentance does not end with the initial conversion
  20. Repentance means to worship God in spirit and truth
  21. Repentance means turning from the way to God’s law
  22. Repentance is at the heart and core of God’s message

Every day you may sin, but if every day you come sincerely to Allah, then every day He will forgive you. Such is His love and blessings for us. If you have turned to repentance and also decided to not commit that sin again, be faith in Allah that your prayers have been accepted! Allah says:

خُذِ الْعَفْوَ وَأْمُرْ بِالْعُرْفِ وَأَعْرِضْ عَنِ الْجَاهِلِينَ

“Hold (to) forgiveness and enjoin the good, and turn away from the ignorant.” (Surah Al-A`raf 7:199)

Repentance is of immense importance in the religion of Islam. For a faithful Muslim, it is a major gateway to rectifying one’s life and amending one’s wrongful acts. To repent means to return to Allah and intend to obey Him for the rest of one’s life. Allah says:

وَسَارِعُوا إِلَىٰ مَغْفِرَةٍ مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ وَجَنَّةٍ عَرْضُهَا السَّمَاوَاتُ وَالْأَرْضُ أُعِدَّتْ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ

“And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord and a Garden – its width (is like that of) the heavens and the earth prepared for the pious.” (Surah Al-Imran 3:133)

Sins can also be forgiven by performing good deeds, again though we must strive to do these deeds completely for the sake of God not for some worldly reward. Moreover, for as many times as such people feel ashamed of their past evil deeds, they will be rewarded that same number of times for having asked for forgiveness from God. God has granted intellect to human beings. The intellect entails responsibility. The more intellect a person has, the more he/she is responsible. Allah says:

ثُمَّ أَفِيضُوا مِنْ حَيْثُ أَفَاضَ النَّاسُ وَاسْتَغْفِرُوا اللَّهَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

“Then depart from wherever depart the people and ask forgiveness (of) Allah. Indeed, Allah (is) Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:199)

He has not abandoned us to our imperfect nature; He has provided us with innumerable opportunities to turn to Him for forgiveness. All sins are forgivable and the door to forgiveness is wide open almost until the Day of Judgement is upon us. It involves showing genuine remorse, praying for God’s mercy and forgiveness, and avoiding that sin in the future.

Here are some related to Allah’s mercy and forgiveness:

  • Al-Ghafoor (The Most Forgiving): This name occurs in the Qur’an more than 70 times. God does not forgive the Shirk (without repentance) but He may forgive every other sin for whomsoever He wills.
  • Al-Tawwab (The Acceptor of Repentance): This name of God is mentioned in the Qur’an about 11 times. Allah accepts the repentance of those who sincerely repent and turn to him.
  • Al-Haleem (The Clement): This name is mentioned fifteen times in the Qur’an. This means that God is not quick to judge. He gives time. He forebears and is patient to see His servant return to Him.
  • Al-Rahman and Al-Rahim (The Most Merciful and Compassionate): These names are the most frequent in the Qur’an. Al-Rahman is mentioned 57 times and al-Raheem is mentioned 115 times. Al-Rahman indicates that God’s mercy is abundant and plenty and Al-Raheem indicates that this is always the case with God. God is full of love and mercy and is ever Merciful.
  • To be sincere to Allah: Sincerity is a precondition that must be observed in every act of worship. {Though they were not commanded but to worship One God- making the practice of their religion pure and sincere to Him alone}. (Al-Bayyinah 98: 5)
  • To regret one’s past evil deeds: This means that one should be ashamed of oneself before Allah as one has committed what he was forbidden to and has neglected what he was ordered to observe.
  • To give up sinning: If the sin involves a religious duty that has been neglected such as performing the salah or paying off the zakah, this should be corrected at once.
  • Dedicate yourself entirely to the service of Allah: Every Muslim give their faith to Allah and worship Him until the end of the world
  • Avoiding such sins in the future: This is mandatory as if one intends to return to the sins he used to commit after showing repentance whenever it is possible, he will not be considered as faithful or true in his repentance.
  • To show repentance while it is still valid: Showing repentance is always valid save in two cases:

Repentance is a twofold approach: a person first should be able to recognize and forsake his/her sins upon which Allah promises to forgive them. Islam expects Muslims to realize their mistakes and shortcomings, and to seek Allah’s Forgiveness. Allah says:

وَاسْتَغْفِرِ اللَّهَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمًا

“And seek forgiveness (of) Allah. Indeed, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Surah An-Nisa` 4:106)

Forgiveness for one’s sins is not something that comes automatically; it is something that must be sought for, with sincerity and true devotion. Becoming indifferent to one’s sins is fatally dangerous. We as human beings need both since we make mistakes in our relations to Allah as well as our relations to each other. Allah says:

أَفَلَا يَتُوبُونَ إِلَى اللَّهِ وَيَسْتَغْفِرُونَهُ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

“So will not they turn to Allah and seek His forgiveness? And Allah (is) Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Surah Al-Ma`idah 5:74)

This is good news for those whose life has been stained with various kinds of sin in the past but who later repent and firmly decide to amend their behaviour. The present verse amounts to a proclamation of general amnesty, which for millions of sinners provided a ray of hope and prompted them to reform themselves. Allah says:

وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ لَهُم مَّغْفِرَةٌ وَأَجْرٌ عَظِيمٌ

“Allah has promised those who believe and do the righteous deeds – for them (is) forgiveness and a reward great.” (Surah Al-Ma`idah 5:9)

Whoever forgive others from the heart then Allah Almighty will reward him and we know Allah’s rewards are best of all. Repentance is nothing but feeling guilty for your sins and mistakes. But do remember that Allah knows the best and repent when your heart feels guilt. Allah’s forgiveness and human forgiveness.

Here are the signs Quran and hadiths quoted for sincere repentance:

  1. Forgiveness from Almighty Allah brings joy reassurance and peace of mind. {And [saying], “Seek forgiveness of your Lord and repent to Him, [and] He Will Let you enjoy a good provision}(Quran 11: 3)
  2. Forgiveness from Lord Results in a healthy and strong body free of diseases and disabilities.
  3. “That [is so]. And whoever responds [to injustice] with the equivalent of that with which he was harmed and then is tyrannized – Allah will surely aid him. Indeed, Allah is Pardoning and Forgiving.” (Quran, 22:60)
  4. Forgiveness saved from Fitnah and afflictions.“…Verily, the good deeds remove the evil deeds (small sins). This is a reminder for the mindful (those who accept advice).” (Quran 11:114)
  5. If someone wants righteous kids, lawful money and expanded sustenance then he/she should ask forgiveness from Almighty Allah.
  6. “. . . And let them pardon and overlook. Would you not like that Allah should forgive you? And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” (Quran 24:22)
  7. Want to increase rewards and sins to be forgiven ask forgiveness from Almighty Allah. The Almighty Allah says: “And say, ‘Relieve us of our burdens.’ We will [then] forgive your sins for you, and We will increase the doers of good [in goodness and reward].”(Quran 2: 58)
  8. In Holy Quran, Allah Almighty says: “Kind Speech and Forgiveness are better than Charity “A kind and courteous word and forgiveness are (much) better than the charity that is followed by (such an emotional) abuse. Allah is free of all wants and the Most Forbearing.”(Quran, 2:263)
  9. The door to forgiveness is always open. “Indeed, the hypocrites will be in the lowest depths of the Fire – and never will you find for them a helper” (Surah Nisa, verse 146)
  10. Obtaining God’s forgiveness is easy. “Except those who repent and believe and do righteous deeds; for those, God will change their sins into good deeds, and God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Quran 25:70)
  11. Major and minor sins. “Ask forgiveness of your Lord, surely He is the Most Forgiving. He will send down upon you the cloud, pouring down abundance of rain and help you with wealth and sons, and make for you gardens, and make for you rivers.” (Surah Nuh, verse 10 – 12)
  12. We may try to hold our tongues. “The reward of the evil is the evil thereof, but whosoever forgives and makes amends, his reward is upon God.” (Quran, 42:40)

God also forgives us of our sins through the difficulties that we face in our lives. When we are stricken with illness or suffering from unfavourable circumstances, we will earn forgiveness if we bear our difficulties patiently, all the time seeking a reward from God. Allah says:

فَسَبِّحْ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّكَ وَاسْتَغْفِرْهُ إِنَّهُ كَانَ تَوَّابًا

“Then glorify with (the) praises (of) your Lord and ask His forgiveness. Indeed, He is Oft-Returning.” (Surah An-Nasr 110:3)

According to Islamic scholars, if Allah accepts the taubah or repentance, the most evident sign of it is the heart of a person feeling calm. This sincere repentance enables him to keep away from his sons in future. God loves that we feel remorse, and turn to Him seeking His forgiveness and comfort.  Allah says:

وَمَا كَانَ اللَّهُ لِيُعَذِّبَهُمْ وَأَنتَ فِيهِمْ وَمَا كَانَ اللَّهُ مُعَذِّبَهُمْ وَهُمْ يَسْتَغْفِرُونَ

“But not is (for) Allah that He punishes them while you (are) among them, and not is Allah the One Who punishes them while they seek forgiveness.” (Surah Al-Anfal 8:33)

Feeling ashamed of one’s sins and asking for forgiveness is, in itself, a good deed.  In this manner, all of one’s evil deeds will eventually be replaced by good deeds and one will not only be saved from punishment but will also be amply rewarded. In Islam, all that is needed is to recognize the mistake or sin, improve it and seek forgiveness from Allah Almighty and also from other human beings. Allah says:

وَمَا خَلَقْنَا السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا إِلَّا بِالْحَقِّ وَإِنَّ السَّاعَةَ لَآتِيَةٌ فَاصْفَحِ الصَّفْحَ الْجَمِيلَ

“And not We created the heavens and the earth and whatever (is) between them except in truth. And indeed, the Hour (is) surely coming. So overlook (with) forgiveness gracious.” (Surah Al-Hijr 15:85)

God has made it easy for us to seek and obtain His forgiveness however it does not come automatically; one must seek God’s forgiveness sincerely, knowing that it is only through God’s supreme mercy that anyone will enter Paradise. May Allah accept our prayers and forgive us!