SUMMARY OF REPENTANCE
Repentance of a sin means the return to Allah, beseeching His Forgiveness for what one has committed. It is one's detachment from disobedience and regret for one's inadvertent behavior and a determination not to repeat that particular sin for fear of Allah's retribution.
Allah the Almighty tells us in the Holy Qur'an of a number of His Prophets that they were repenting to Him and asking for forgiveness times and again — starting with Adam, David (Dau'd), Moses (Musa), Jonas (Yusuf), Abraham (Ibra'hi'm), and Muhammad.
Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him said, "Every human being is committing sins; but the best of the sinners are the repentant." He also said, "O you people, repent to Allah and ask for forgiveness; I repent to Allah and ask for His forgiveness a hundred times, day and night'."
What is Sincere Repentance? (Tawbat-an-Nasu'ha)
‘ Sincere repentance‘ (tawba an-nasu'ha) is a transition and change in life and the nature of behavior; because it is the result of an essential ideological and psychological change which occurs deep within man.
The following conditions for repentance are suggested by the majority of scholars:-
· To feel bad for the sin and determine never to return to it.
o First and foremost, before you ask Allah, the Exalted, for forgiveness, you have to accept that, by your sinful behavior, you have been disobeying God.
o You have to make a firm resolution to quit the sin and make a strong determination never to repeat it.
o This desire to stop the offence must come from your sense of guilt and your hatred of the bad offences. It must also, essentially, be out of fear of punishment from God on the Day of Judgment.
You need to take positive action to change your entire social life, as well as your life-style, if necessary. Remember, ‘a man is influenced by the company he keeps’. It says in Su'rat Al-Furqan (Chapter 25 Verses 28-29), "Ah! Woe to me! Would that I had never taken so-and-so as a ‘Khalil’ (intimate friend)! (28). He indeed led me astray from the Reminder (this Qur'an) after it had come to me. And Shaitan (Satan) is to man ever a deserter in the hour of need (29)." (Study the Noble Qur'an — Word-for-Word).
يَـٰوَيۡلَتَىٰ لَيۡتَنِى لَمۡ أَتَّخِذۡ فُلَانًا خَلِيلاً۬ (٢٨) لَّقَدۡ أَضَلَّنِى عَنِ ٱلذِّڪۡرِ بَعۡدَ إِذۡ جَآءَنِىۗ وَڪَانَ ٱلشَّيۡطَـٰنُ لِلۡإِنسَـٰنِ خَذُولاً۬ (29)
· To hate the sin, and then seek forgiveness for it every time the thought of it occurs.
(This reminds me of a true story about a man and his cousin, who was also his playmate. One day, during their childhood, they went together to hunt birds with catapults. On the way they picked-up a smoking cigarette-butt freshly thrown away on a narrow dirt-lane in the bushes and smoked it together until the end. A few years ago, when both of them were approaching old age, the man reminded his cousin, who was a very pious man, of the incident. To his surprise his cousin was quite annoyed about it and rebuked him for reminding him of it, saying, "These are not the kind of things one wishes to remember! This became a lesson for him which he said will always remember: ‘One must not bring back any thoughts of bad things of the past, however trivial they may be, for they are actions to be hated and regretted upon’. This cousin died in the year 2004, when he was in his early sixties. (May Allah bless his soul and allow him in Jannah. AMIN).
· To be genuine, truthful and sincere in one's repentance.
Allah loves those who repent and He often accepts His servant's repentance. This is because repentance brings about humbleness and a sense of helplessness that is not easily acquired through other forms of worship. It is only while repenting that you pray to Allah and cry for forgiveness with utmost sincerity. Allah says in Su'rat AI-Furqan (Chapter 25 Verse 70), "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 (70)." (Study the Noble Qur'an — Word-for-Word).
إِلَّا مَن تَابَ وَءَامَنَ وَعَمِلَ عَمَلاً۬ صَـٰلِحً۬ا فَأُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ يُبَدِّلُ ٱللَّهُ سَيِّـَٔاتِهِمۡ حَسَنَـٰتٍ۬ۗ وَكَانَ ٱللَّهُ غَفُورً۬ا رَّحِيمً۬ا (70)
· To be concerned about one's repentance not being accepted.
o Although God assures us of His Mercy and Forgiveness, one can never be sure if one's repentance is accepted or not; especially so if the sin involves another person. That is the reason why the repentant is required to ask for God's Forgiveness every time the thought of the sin occurs to him.
· To be made out of fear and hope, and be accompanied by consistency in worship.
o Every time one asks for God's Forgiveness one must hope that Allah will accept his repentance. However, he should also be in a constant fear that he might not have done enough in the way of repentance and so needs to perform more and more prayers to the Almighty, asking for His Mercy.
o Now, in case a sin which is connected to another person is committed such as, if one has taken something that does not belong to him, he should return it. If he has committed backbiting regarding someone and thereby has hurt his feelings, he will have to ask for forgiveness from the person he has offended first and then from Allah.
o However, as we said earlier, this may not always be possible. For example, asking for forgiveness from a husband or wife for having unlawful sex with one of them. One ought to continue, therefore, asking God's Mercy.
A repentant should try to make up for the sins he has committed in every way possible. For example, he should try to pray as much as possible the voluntary prayers (Nawafil: Tattawwa'a, Dhuha, Tahajjud and Taraweih). Abu Huraira narrated: Allah's Apostle, peace be upon him, said, "Whoever establishes the prayers on the night of Qadr out of sincere faith and hoping to attain Allah's rewards (not to show off) then all his past sins will be forgiven." The Qur'an also says in Su'rat Al-Imran )Chapter 3 Verse 17), "(They are) those who are patient, those who are true (in Faith, words and deeds), and obedient with sincere devotion in worship to Allah. Those who spend (give the Zaka‘t and alms in the way of Allah) and those who pray and beg Allah's pardon in the last hours of the night (17)." (Study the Noble Qur'an — Word-for-Word).
ٱلصَّـٰبِرِينَ وَٱلصَّـٰدِقِينَ وَٱلۡقَـٰنِتِينَ وَٱلۡمُنفِقِينَ وَٱلۡمُسۡتَغۡفِرِينَ بِٱلۡأَسۡحَارِ (17)
A repentant should also try to fast on days recommended for fasting besides the month of Ramadhan, such as, three days in the middle of each lunar month (Ayaam al-Baidh), the nine days of the month of Dhul-Hijja, recite and study the Qur'an as much as he can, perform Umrah (small Hajj) and glorify Allah as much as he can. This is the only way he can get his bad deeds wiped out and increase his good ones. The Holy Quran says in Su'rat Hud (Chapter 11 Verse 114), "And perform As-Sala't ((lqa'mat as-saIa't), at the two ends of the day and in some hours of the night [i.e. the compulsory five sala't (prayers)]. Verily, the good deeds remove the evil deeds (i.e. small sins). That is a reminder (an advice) for the mindful (those who accept advice) (114)." (Study the Noble Qur’an — Word-for-Word).
وَأَقِمِ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ طَرَفَىِ ٱلنَّہَارِ وَزُلَفً۬ا مِّنَ ٱلَّيۡلِۚ إِنَّ ٱلۡحَسَنَـٰتِ يُذۡهِبۡنَ ٱلسَّيِّـَٔاتِۚ ذَٲلِكَ ذِكۡرَىٰ لِلذَّٲكِرِينَ (114)
It also says in Su'rat Adh-Dhariya't (Chapter 51 Verses 17-18), "They used to sleep but little by night [Invoking their Lord Allah) and praying, with fear and hope] (17). And in the hours before dawn, they were (found) asking (Allah) for forgiveness (18)." (Study the Noble Qur'an — Word-for-Word).
كَانُواْ قَلِيلاً۬ مِّنَ ٱلَّيۡلِ مَا يَہۡجَعُونَ (١٧) وَبِٱلۡأَسۡحَارِ هُمۡ يَسۡتَغۡفِرُونَ (18)
Major Sins & Sincere Repentance, by Abdullah Amor Al-Marhuby, pg: 166-173.