Reparation is a practical aspect of tawba

The Concept of Repentance in Islam

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 own wrongful acts. Verily, repenting of one’s sins is the first step toward seeking forgiveness from Allah. To repent means to return to Allah and intend to obey Him for the rest of one’s life. For repentance to be valid and, thus, accepted. Sincerity is a precondition that must be observed in every act of worship. Allah says:

إِنَّمَا التَّوْبَةُ عَلَى اللَّهِ لِلَّذِينَ يَعْمَلُونَ السُّوءَ بِجَهَالَةٍ ثُمَّ يَتُوبُونَ مِن قَرِيبٍ فَأُولَٰئِكَ يَتُوبُ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِمْ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ عَلِيمًا حَكِيمًا

“Repentance with Allah is only for those who do evil in ignorance, then turn (to Allah) soon, so these it is to whom Allah turns (mercifully), and Allah is ever Knowing, Wise.” (Surah Nisa, 4:17)

Repentance plays an essential role in shaping a believer’s outlook on life, making it a means of fortifying one’s faith, such that without it, one is susceptible to doubt and despair. The core beliefs in regard to repentance from Islam’s primary sources, the Quran and the Sunnah, are described along with their distinct features. It is ultimately one’s self-awareness and conviction in repentance which naturally guide one’s approach to life and provide the moral compass by which to live. Allah says:

وَالَّذِينَ عَمِلُواْ السَّيِّئَاتِ ثُمَّ تَابُواْ مِن بَعْدِهَا وَآمَنُواْ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ مِن بَعْدِهَا لَغَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

“But those who committed misdeeds and then repented after them and believed – indeed your Lord, thereafter, is Forgiving and Merciful.” (Surah Al-Araf: 153)

Repentance is performed by a Muslim, Allah generally accepts it as long as it is sincere and true. On the other hand, if a person is not ashamed of his past misdeeds, or does not intend to forsake these misdeeds, then his verbal announcement of repentance is an open mockery of repentance. Mere verbal repentance does not account for true repentance. Surely, sincere repentance must have some criteria. It is the act of leaving what God has prohibited and returning to what he has commanded.

Here are some repentance and the forgiveness of sins:

  1. Repentance means turning to a life of faith and obedience
  2. Repentance motivates us to obey God’s commandments 
  3. Repentance means to worship God in spirit and in truth
  4. Repentance is at the heart and core of God’s message
  5. Repentance begins with a positive side of God’s law
  6. Repentance does not end with the initial conversion
  7. Repentance entails putting away the sinful activities
  8. Repentance is a result of a change in behaviour
  9. Repentance encourages the mental disposition
  10. Repentance is linked to the message of God
  11. Repentance means surrendering one’s life
  12. Repentance means turning from sin
  13. Repentance is a gift of God
  14. Repentance is necessary for salvation
  15. Repentance is the fruit of Godly sorrow
  16. Repentance is a high-value truthfulness
  17. Repentance is the fruit of  God’s goodness
  18. Repentance is inseparable from saving Faith
  19. Repentance always willing to put aside grievances
  20. Repentance is an action requiring deliberate choices
  21. Repentance means turning from the way to God’s law
  22. Repentance provides an overview of the changes of mind
  23. Repentance is a change of attitude and mental perspective
  24. Repentance means God’s will as expressed in His revealed Word
  25. Repentance involves both a turning from sin and a turning to God

Allah created people as very weak beings. People indulge in negligence due to ignorance or unawareness; they can be mistaken forgetting even the subjects they know best, they can think in a wrong or mistaken way, take the wrong decisions, or act in an unsound manner knowingly or unknowingly. This is because people have a vicious enemy like Satan who is trying to drag them into rebellion. It is a great blessing that our Lord is All-Merciful, Allah says:

إِلَّا مَن تَابَ وَآمَنَ وَعَمِلَ عَمَلًا صَالِحًا فَأُولَٰئِكَ يُبَدِّلُ اللَّهُ سَيِّئَاتِهِمْ حَسَنَاتٍ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمًا 

“Except for those who repent, have faith and good deeds, those Allah will change their sins for good deeds. Certainly, Allah is most forgiving and merciful.” (Surah Al-Furqan 25:70)

Allah SWT has created humans as the Supreme Creations. A man is given enough consciousness to make his own decisions as the brain of a human being is the most highly developed. But that does not guarantee that they are perfect in every sense. We, humans, are always under a constant threat of transgression one way or the other. Sometimes, it is down to our own will and we can control things but still, due to forceful satanic influence, sins are committed by most of us. It may also be because of the lack of compactness of one`s religious faith.

Conditions to Get Your Repentance Accepted:

  • To regret one’s past evil deeds: 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 regret one’s past evil deeds: To ask forgiveness of a person who has been wronged by him, physically or verbally
  • To make a firm resolve of avoiding the sin in future: To employ oneself in Allah’s obedience, as he previously employed himself in Allah’s disobedience
  • To be sincere to Allah: Making the practice of their religion pure and sincere to Allah alone
  • To give up sinning: One should return it to its rightful owner; and, it is an act of slander or backbiting, one should seek the offended person’s pardon
  • To make a firm resolve of avoiding such sins in the future: This is mandatory if one intends to return to the sins he used to commit after showing repentance whenever it is possible
  • To show repentance while it is still valid;  At the time of death, one’s repentance becomes of no avail
  • Sin breeds sin: Sin breeds sin until it dominates a person and he cannot escape from it. True repentance must come to each individual.

Repenting frequently is a sign of a believer’s humility and awareness of his weakness in front of Allah. It is a behaviour that pleases Allah. In return for this act of worship, Allah gives relief, lifts the burdens and opens the minds of those who repent often. One of the wisdom of repentance is that the believer experiences real regret and turns to Allah without wasting any time and strives not to repeat that mistake. Allah will forgive those who do good deeds, pay alms and live the moral values of the Qur’an and take them under His grace. Allah says:

وَهُوَ الَّذِي يَقْبَلُ التَّوْبَةَ عَنْ عِبَادِهِ وَيَعْفُو عَنِ السَّيِّئَاتِ

“And it is He who accepts repentance from his servants and pardons misdeeds, and He knows what you do.” (Surah Ash Shuraa: 25)

Repentance is the noblest and most beloved form of obedience in the eyes of Allah. Allah always gives people the opportunity to ask for forgiveness and repent for their mistakes and sins. The believers have to take notice of their mistakes, which they made knowingly or unknowingly by falling into negligence or listening to their inner selves. They have to regret their mistakes and direct themselves to the right path and turn to our Lord as soon as possible and strive not to make that mistake again.

Allah reveals in many verses of the Qur’an that He is “Forgiving,” “Merciful,” the “Protector” and “Compassionate.”

  • “And He wishes to forgive you” (Quran 4:146)
  • “Allah wishes to accept your repentance…” (Quran 4:27)
  • “Do not despair of God’s mercy; He will forgive you of all your sins.” (Quran:39:53)
  • “Allah intends to make things easy on you. And man has been created weak.” (Quran 4:28)
  • “Those who avoid major sins and acts of indecencies and when they are angry they forgive.” (Quran 42:37)
  • “Except those who repent after that and amend, then surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.” (Quran 3:89)
  • “Surely, Allah loves those people who constantly repent to Him (do Tawbah to Him).” (Quran, 2:222)

Faith and repentance at the moment of death may not be accepted in the sight of Allah. Mistakes increase the degrees of believers, who immediately abandon their mistakes and compensate for these by displaying the right attitude in line with the Quran, in the hereafter; make them more mature and help His servants better understand their weaknesses and helplessness. The important thing is to regret and repent without insisting on one’s sins. Allah says:

فَمَن تَابَ مِن بَعْدِ ظُلْمِهِ وَأَصْلَحَ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ يَتُوبُ عَلَيْهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ 

“Whoever repents after his transgression and corrects himself, then Allah shall relent towards him. Surely, Allah is Most-Forgiving, Very-Merciful.” (Surah Al-Ma`idah 5:39)

We need to behave like he will die at any moment and strive to edify. It should not be forgotten that a person can make small or big mistakes throughout his life, but as long as he repents and submits to Allah Who forgives and accepts repentance and turns evil into good with a sincere heart, he can hope that his mistakes will be forgiven. Allah always answers for repentance. Allah forgives his mistakes and turns them into good and rewards his good deeds with the best. May Allah help us all to protect the purity of our hearts, and may He grant us forgiveness and mercy. Ameen.