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How do I repent to Allah?

 How do I repent to Allah?

Every action humans make has its own consequences. If they perform a good deed, they will be rewarded and if they perform a bad deed, they will be punished accordingly for it on the Day of Judgment.

The Arabic word توبة‎ Tawbah is derived from the root word تاب, which means returned back. Tawbah itself means turning back to Allah in repentance for the sins one has committed. The person feels regret and remorse for his misdeeds.

Tawbah is also mentioned with Nasuh (meaning pure, sincere and reforming) in the Quran and is used for a person who sincerely repents and then reforms and improves himself;

يٰۤاَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ اٰمَنُوا تُوبُوۤا اِلَى اللّٰهِ تَوبَةً نَّصُوحًا

“Believers, turn to God in sincere repentance.” (66:8)

How do I repent to Allah?

After committing a sin, a Muslim rightfully feels dread and guilt over his wrongdoing. Questions of how to ask Allah for forgiveness or how to repent arise in his mind and he must not delay in asking Allah for forgiveness as delaying repentance can be a sin itself and a trick of Satan to prevent the person from asking for forgiveness. Moreover, if a person’s sin affects other people as well, then it is necessary to return the rights and obligations to them before asking for forgiveness.
If a person wishes to sincerely repent to Allah, it is recommended that he makes Istighfar and offers Salat ut Tawbah (the repentance prayer) after performing ablution. He should try to distance himself from whatever provokes him to sin and sit in the company of pious and God-fearing people to further strengthen his resolve of not committing the sin again.
Abu Bakr Al Siddiq (May Allah be pleased with him), narrated:
"I heard Prophet Muhammad ﷺ saying: ‘There isn’t a man who, when he commits a sin, rises, makes ablution, and offers two rak'ahs of prayers, but Allah forgives his sins.’ [Abu Dawud]
One thing to keep in mind is that a person should not expose his sin for it is Allah who has concealed it and bragging about it may incite others to commit the sin as well.
Abdullah Ibn Umar [May Allah be pleased with them both] reported that the Messenger of Allah (Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “Avoid these filthy things that Allah has forbidden. Whoever has done any of them, let him conceal himself with the concealment of Allah and seek His forgiveness, for verily, whoever exposes his action to us, we will pass judgment against him according to the Book of Allah.” [Al Hakim and Al Baihaqi]
Abu Hurairah narrated that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:
“Verily, when the slave (of Allah) commits a sin, a black spot appears on his heart. When he refrains from it, seeks forgiveness and repents, his heart is polished clean. But if he returns, it increases until it covers his entire heart. And that is the ‘Ran’ which Allah mentioned: ‘Nay, but on their hearts is the Ran which they used to earn.’”[Jami’ at-Tirmidhi]
The First Sin and Repentance in Islam
Sinning in Islam refers to anything Allah has forbidden even if it seems agreeable to reason. For example the first sin in Islam was committed by Prophet Adam, May Allah be Pleased with him, when he ate the fruit Allah the Merciful specifically ordained him not to.
It is mentioned in the Quran that Adam (May Allah be pleased with him) was sent to Earth for his sin and asked Allah for forgiveness. Allah then taught him words of repentance and accepted them from him.
فَتَلَقّىٰ آدَمُ مِن رَبِّهِ كَلِماتٍ فَتابَ عَلَيهِ إِنَّهُ هُوَ التَّوّابُ الرَّحيمُ
 “Then Adam received some words from his Lord and He accepted his repentance: He is the Ever Relenting, the Most Merciful.” (2:37)
Will Allah forgive me?
Allah created man weak and vulnerable to his desires. While He guided us with Islam to control our desires and lead a righteous life; He does not expect perfection. Instead He loves it when his slave repents to Him sincerely. The Prophet ﷺ said: “When a person repents, Allah rejoices more than one of you who found his camel after he lost it in the desert.” (Al-Bukhari, 6309)
Muslims must never despair of Allah’s Mercy even if they have committed a grave sin. Allah the Merciful says in the Qur'an:
وَالَّذينَ إِذا فَعَلوا فاحِشَةً أَو ظَلَموا أَنفُسَهُم ذَكَرُوا اللَّهَ فَاستَغفَروا لِذُنوبِهِم وَمَن يَغفِرُ الذُّنوبَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ وَلَم يُصِرّوا عَلىٰ ما فَعَلوا وَهُم يَعلَمونَ
"Those who remember God and implore forgiveness for their sins if they do something shameful and wrong themselves– who forgives sins but God? – and who never knowingly persist in doing wrong.” (3:135)
Allah the Merciful even promises to the disbelievers that He will wipe out their past if they were to accept Islam.
قُل لِلَّذينَ كَفَروا إِن يَنتَهوا يُغفَر لَهُم ما قَد سَلَفَ وَإِن يَعودوا فَقَد مَضَت سُنَّتُ الأَوَّلينَ
“[Prophet], tell the disbelievers that if they desist their past will be forgiven, but if they persist, they have an example in the fate of those who went before.” [8:38]
Amongst the 99 names of Allah, there are 3 that remind us of His infinite mercy and generosity to forgive humans and are mentioned altogether 98 times in the Holy Qur’an;
· Al-Ghafir – the Forgiver of sins
غافِرِ الذَّنبِ وَقابِلِ التَّوبِ شَديدِ العِقابِ ذِي الطَّولِ لا إِلٰهَ إِلّا هُوَ إِلَيهِ المَصيرُ
“Forgiver of sins and Acceptor of repentance, severe in punishment, infinite in bounty. There is no god but Him; to Him is the ultimate return. (40:3)
· Al-Ghaffar – the All-Forgiving
وَإِنّي لَغَفّارٌ لِمَن تابَ وَآمَنَ وَعَمِلَ صالِحًا ثُمَّ اهتَدىٰ
“Yet I am most forgiving towards those who repent, believe, do righteous deeds, and stay on the right path.” (20:82)
· Al-Ghafour – the Oft-Forgiver
قُل يا عِبادِيَ الَّذينَ أَسرَفوا عَلىٰ أَنفُسِهِم لا تَقنَطوا مِن رَحمَةِ اللَّهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَغفِرُ الذُّنوبَ جَميعًا إِنَّهُ هُوَ الغَفورُ الرَّحيمُ
“Say, ‘[God says], My servants who have harmed yourselves by your own excess, do not despair of God’s mercy. God forgives all sins: He is truly the Most Forgiving, the Most Merciful. (39:53)
It was narrated by Anas (May Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:
“Every son of Adam commits sin, and the best of those who commit sin are those who repent.’” [Sunan Ibn Majah]
Conditions for repentance

In order to achieve repentance in Islam, there is a particular set of conditions that the sinner must follow. The conditions are:
1. Intention and regret – Repentance in Islam begins with the heart and shows the sincerity of the sinner to Allah. The Prophet ﷺ says: “Regret is repentance.” [Ibn Majah]
2. Stopping from the sin immediately – the person should completely refrain from making the mistake again and stay away from things or people that might make him fall into sin again.
3. Not committing the sin again – A person should be determined and resolute in not committing the sin again.
4. To make things right if the sin affected another person/s – The sinner must return the rights or make up for the damages or hurt caused by him to the affected individuals.
Following a sin with good deeds is also a great source of driving away bad deeds. If a sin has been committed in Islam, it should be followed up immediately with a good deed.
وَأَقِمِ الصَّلاةَ طَرَفَيِ النَّهارِ وَزُلَفًا مِنَ اللَّيلِ إِنَّ الحَسَناتِ يُذهِبنَ السَّيِّئَاتِ ذٰلِكَ ذِكرىٰ لِلذّاكِرينَ
“[Prophet], keep up the prayer at both ends of the day, and during parts of the night, for good things drive bad away– this is a reminder for those who are aware.” [11:114]
Carrying out Fard and Wajib duties also forms an essential act of getting one's sins forgiven. Righteous actions expiate the evil actions as the Prophet ﷺ said:
“The five daily prayers and one Jumu’ah to the next, and one Ramadan to the next Ramadan, is expiation for what lies between them as a long as one refrains from the major sins.” [Muslim]
Kiraman Katibin
In Islam, there are two angels, who are constantly sitting on ones shoulders throughout his lifetime. The angel on his right shoulder records his good deeds while the one on his left shoulder records his bad deeds. There is a reward in just intending to do a good deed and that reward is multiplied if the person follows his intention as many times as Allah the Merciful wills. However there is no accountability for thinking about committing a bad deed and if a person leaves the evil for Allah’s sake, it is recorded as a good deed.
Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said,
“Allah says to the angels: If my servant intends a bad deed, do not record it unless he does it. If he does it, record it as one bad deed. If he leaves it for my sake, record for him one good deed. If he intends to do a good deed and he does not do it, record for him one good deed. If he does it, record for him ten good deeds like it up to seven-hundred times as much.”
(Bukhari 7062, Muslim 128)
Furthermore, a time period is given to the sinner for repentance in Islam during which, if he sincerely repents, his bad deed won’t be written in his record.
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ once said,
“The (scribe) on the left hand raises his pen (i.e.,delays writing) for six hours (this may refer to six hours of 60 minutes as measured by astronomers, or it may refer to short periods of time during the day or night, according to Lisan al-‘Arab) before he records the sinful deed of a Muslim. If [the Muslim] regrets it and seeks God’s forgiveness, the deed is not recorded; otherwise it is recorded as one deed.” (Al Tabarani)
Whose deeds are not recorded?

The deeds of 3 people are not recorded; they are:
1. A person who is sleeping
2. A child who has not yet learnt to differentiate between right and wrong. Many scholars agree that while a child’s good deeds are recorded, his bad deeds are only recorded when he reaches an age of sound mind.
3. A person is not in their right state of mind.
The Prophet ﷺ has stated this,
 “The pen has been raised for three persons (meaning they are not held accountable for what they do): one who is sleeping until he gets up, a child until he reaches the age of puberty, and an insane person until he becomes sane.” (Ahmad, Abu Dawood, At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasa’i, Ibn Majah, and Al-Hakim)
It is mentioned in the Quran that every individual will be held accountable for their own actions only.
وَلا تَكسِبُ كُلُّ نَفسٍ إِلّا عَلَيها وَلا تَزِرُ وازِرَةٌ وِزرَ أُخرىٰ
“…Each soul is responsible for its own actions; no soul will bear the burden of another…” (6:164)
Whose repentance is not accepted in Islam?
There are two conditions when repentance in Islam will not be accepted. They are:
· Repentance at the face of death. The case of Pharaoh was similar, he was too arrogant
to repent to Allah the Merciful and when he realized that he was drowning only did he turn to his Lord.
إِنَّمَا التَّوبَةُ عَلَى اللَّهِ لِلَّذينَ يَعمَلونَ السّوءَ بِجَهالَةٍ ثُمَّ يَتوبونَ مِن قَريبٍ فَأُولٰئِكَ يَتوبُ اللَّهُ عَلَيهِم وَكانَ اللَّهُ عَليمًا حَكيمًا
وَلَيسَتِ التَّوبَةُ لِلَّذينَ يَعمَلونَ السَّيِّئَاتِ حَتّىٰ إِذا حَضَرَ أَحَدَهُمُ المَوتُ قالَ إِنّي تُبتُ الآنَ وَلَا الَّذينَ يَموتونَ وَهُم كُفّارٌ أُولٰئِكَ أَعتَدنا لَهُم عَذابًا أَليمًا
But God only undertakes to accept repentance from those who do evil out of ignorance and soon afterwards repent: these are the ones God will forgive, He is all knowing, all wise. It is not true repentance when people continue to do evil until death confronts them and then say, ‘Now I repent,’ nor when they die defiant: We have prepared a painful torment for these. (4:17-18)
· When the Sun rises from the West; this is the last major sign of the Day of Judgment and no one will be granted forgiveness after this time.
Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said,
“Whoever repents before the sun rises from the west, Allah will accept his repentance.” (Muslim 2703)
Falling back into sinning in Islam
Despite making a firm resolve to stay away from sinning, a person may find himself falling into temptation and end up committing it again.
‘Uqbah ibn ‘Amir reported: A man came to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, and he said, “O Messenger of Allah, one of us has committed a sin.” The Prophet ﷺ said:
 It will be written against him. The man said, “Then he has sought forgiveness and repented.” The Prophet ﷺ said: He will be forgiven and his repentance accepted. The man said, “Then he returns to committing a sin.” The Prophet ﷺ said: It will be written against him. The man said, “Then he has sought forgiveness and repented.” The Prophet ﷺ said: He will be forgiven and his repentance accepted. Allah will not tire of forgiveness unless you tire of asking. (Al-Mu’jam Al-Awsaṭ 8918)
Such is the beauty and mercy of Allah the Merciful.

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