Tawbah: Turning in Repentance to Allaah


allaahiswatchingRepentance (Tawbah) is a spiritual necessity in Islaam. As humans, who are not infallible, we will commit sins, and we will make mistakes, even with good intentions.

There can be no sincere making of Tawbah for any sin or mistake without self-actualization, meaning that we have to first be aware that we are fallible beings, who need to take constant calculation of our intentions, thought processes and actions.

The Qur'an states (Surah Al-Hashr [59]:19):

وَلَا تَكُونُوا كَالَّذِينَ نَسُوا اللَّهَ فَأَنسَاهُمْ أَنفُسَهُمْ ۚ أُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ

"And be not like those who forgot Allah, so He allowed them to forget themselves; these it is who are the transgressors."

If we have knowledge of self, then it enables us to see our wrongdoing, which leads towards a feeling of remorse within us if we are connected to our souls. There cannot be true Tawbah without having remorse. In fact, Prophet Muhammad (prayers and peace be upon him and his family) stated, "Remorse is repentance." (Ibn Majah & Ahmad)

Besides the characteristic of remorse, fear of earning the displeasure of Allah (SWT) is an aspect of sincere tawbah. The Qur'an says (An-Naazi'aat [79]: 40 – 41),

وَأَمَّا مَنْ خَافَ مَقَامَ رَبِّهِ وَنَهَى النَّفْسَ عَنِ الْهَوَىٰ

فَإِنَّ الْجَنَّةَ هِيَ الْمَأْوَىٰ

"And as for he who fears the station of his Lord and prohibits the soul from desires, then indeed paradise will be his abode."

Sincerity in tawbah does not mean that we will become sinless for the rest of our lives or become free from error; we will not be. In fact, we may, with sincere intentions, fear committing a sin and repeat it again in the future. Though, fear is a part of Tawbah and is based upon the knowledge that if we keep committing particular sins we may not have the opportunity to seek forgiveness for them and die in a state in which our sins outweigh our good deeds, which means entrance into hell-fire.

Going back to self-actualization, not only should we be aware of our personal weaknesses but also the environments that feed those weaknesses. In other words, we need to see if we are engaged in activities and keep company with people that lead us to commit more sin. Therefore, Tawbah should also have the feature of looking at the roots of what influences us to commit particular sins or mistakes.

Let's ask ourselves some questions:

  • When we make tawbah for back-biting, are we continuing to keep company with gossipers?
  • If we have a problem with drinking or smoking hashish, do we listen to rap music that glorifies getting high?
  • If we have a problem with arrogance or conceit, is it because we suffer from low self-esteem so we seek to feel better by putting others down?

These are just some examples of the type of inventory that we have to take to look at the roots of our behaviors of why we are doing what we do. Without taking such inventory, our tawbah is deficient.

There are many supplications seeking forgiveness and Tawbah in the Qur'aan, ahadeeth and aathaar, which are good to learn. For example, the supplication of Yunus (as) when he found himself in the stomach, the belly of a whale (Al-Anbiyaa [21]:87):


وَذَا النُّونِ إِذ ذَّهَبَ مُغَاضِبًا فَظَنَّ أَن لَّن نَّقْدِرَ عَلَيْهِ فَنَادَىٰ فِي الظُّلُمَاتِ أَن

لَّا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا أَنتَ سُبْحَانَكَ إِنِّي كُنتُ مِنَ الظَّالِمِينَ

{And [mention] the man of the fish, when he went off in anger and thought that We would not decree [anything] upon him. And he called out within the darknesses,

"There is no deity except You; exalted are You. Indeed, I have been of the wrongdoers."}

In saying that, my advice to you but firstly to myself is that once we realize that we have committed an unlawful act, which requires Tawbah that we repent to Allah (SWT) with all of our hearts and in our native tongues if need be. Allah (SWT) knows what's in our hearts, and He (SWT) understands English, Farsi, Swahili, Urdu, etc. The key is to be sincere and to seek self-improvement.

The Qur'an says (2:222),

إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ التَّوَّابِينَ وَيُحِبُّ الْمُتَطَهِّرِينَ

"Surely Allah loves those who repent often and those who purify themselves."

May Allah (SWT) make us of those whom He (SWT) loves. Ameen!


disheartenedThis story is a reminder of the power of saying Istighfaar (seeking forgiveness) frequently. Let's remember that the Prophet (s.a.w) used to say Istighfaar frequently during the day.

Tafseer Al-Qurtubi states:

A man complained to Al-Hasan about a drought, and he said to him: "Pray to Allah for forgiveness."

Another man complained to him of poverty and he said to him: "Pray to Allah to forgive you."

Another man said to him: "Pray to Allah to bless me with a child." He said: "Pray to Allah for forgiveness."

Another complained to him that his garden was dry. He said to him: "Pray to Allah for forgiveness."

He was asked about it and he said:

"This is not my personal opinion, for Allah says in Surah Nooh (interpretation of the meaning): 'Ask forgiveness from your Lord, verily, He is Oft Forgiving; He will send rain to you in abundance. And give you increase in wealth and children, and bestow on you gardens and bestow on you rivers." Tafseer Al-Qurtubi (18/301-302)

One of the narrators of a Hadith was asked about the manner in which forgiveness is to be sought, to which he answered:

"The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) used to say: 'Astaghfirullah! Astaghfirullah! (I beseech Allah for forgiveness, I beseech Allah for forgiveness)'. [Saheeh Muslim].


miscarriageMost people are aware of the conditions people must fulfill before their repentance is accepted, namely giving up the sin, regretting the sin, and determining never to commit it again.

However, in this article we will highlight some practical steps people should follow in order to help achieve sincere repentance.

Let us go through these practical steps together with the permission of Allaah The Almighty:

First: Trying to count all the sins that you have committed since adulthood until the present time.

This is an introduction to repenting for all these sins, because when the soul considers all its sins, it will be humble and tend to repent as soon as possible. Here is a list of the categories of sins to help you remember your past sins:

- Sins of the body such as the tongue (backbiting, tale-bearing, lying, and ridiculing others); the eyes (looking at what is prohibited), ears, hands, feet and private parts.

- Sins of the heart, such as arrogance, envy, aggression, self-conceit, and so on.

- Negligence in performing your duties towards one’s parents, relatives and negligence regarding the other duties such as enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil, as well as Da'wah (calling to Islam).

- Negligence in the acts of worship like delaying the prayer after its due time.

Second: Try to count all the blessings of Allaah The Almighty upon you.

You should keep counting these blessings until you realize how negligent you are towards the rights of Allaah The Almighty and until you despair of counting. Allaah The Exalted Says (what means): {And He gave you from all you asked of Him. And if you should count the favor of Allaah, you could not enumerate them. Indeed, humankind is [generally] most unjust and ungrateful.} [Quran 14:34]

Then, you should make a comparison between the blessings that Allaah The Almighty sends down to you, and your misdeeds that are being sent to Him in return. In this case, you will not be able to resist your tears, your heart will be soft and you will say: “I acknowledge the favors that You have bestowed upon me, and I confess my sins. Pardon me, for none but You has the power to pardon.” [Al-Bukhaari]

When you shed tears and feel remorse, you should then move to the third step.

Third: Repentance Prayer

After deserting the sin, you should immediately implement the advice of the Prophet, , who said: “Whenever one commits a sin, and then performs ablution perfectly, and prays two Rak’ahs (units of prayer) after which he seeks the forgiveness of Allaah He will forgive him.” [Al-Albaani: Saheeh]

Then, you should determine that you would never return to sins. In this way, you will live the best day of your life since your birth.

Fourth: Keep away from bad friends and evil companions.

Sever your relationship with them, because they will prevent you from returning to your Lord. If you succeed in getting rid of them, then this is a great sign that Allaah The Almighty has accepted your repentance.

Fifth: You should have a daily program of acts of worship to perform.

This program aims at helping you make up for what you missed and compensate your negligence towards the rights of Allaah The Almighty. This program should include reading parts of the Quran, Dhikr (words of remembrance) reported from the Prophet, night prayer and fasting. However, the most important thing is that this program should be gradual and realistic.

Sixth: You should attend a religious lecture in a masjid once a week on a regular basis.

This step aims at strengthening your relationship with your Lord and the righteous people who are your companions on the road to faith. Accompany those righteous people and never keep away from them.


Finally remember that you are in need of the Lord of the heavens and the earth, and that without Him, you are impoverished in every way.

Remember that you have wronged yourself, so be humble in front of your Lord. Listen to the teacher, Ibn Al-Qayyim who was an excellent example of humble servitude in front of Allaah The Almighty. While referring to some signs of sincere repentance, he said:

"The prerequisites of sound repentance include a special kind of humility in one’s heart that does not resemble any other feeling, because it only occurs to the sinful slave. Such a feeling cannot be obtained through hunger, or mere love; rather, it is a feeling beyond all of this. It breaks the heart completely, grabs it and throws it humbly in front of the Lord.

There is nothing dearer to Allaah The Almighty than this feeling, humility and submission on the part of His slave.

How sweet the words of the slave in this state are when he says:

I ask You by Your grandeur and my humility to have mercy on me….

I entreat You by Your strength and my weakness, by Your richness and my poverty to pardon me….

Here I am, the wrongful and sinful slave, before You… You have many slaves other than me, but I have no Lord but You…

I have no shelter other than with You, as there is no escape from You, except to You….

I ask and entreat You, as I am humble, poor, frightened and blind…

I ask You while I am surrendering completely to You, and weeping out of fear of You…. to pardon me...

Such a feeling is a sign of accepted repentance, so, if you lack this feeling, accuse your sincerity and correct your repentance.:"


SISTERreadingqOne of the things that stops me from praying Salaah is that my mother will taunt me,” said a college-going girl to me once, “I know I should pray, but I am afraid that she will say, “After doing so many wrong things, now you are praying?””

What this girl was saying is true, although it isn't a good enough excuse to stop praying. Many people, often even your close friends and well-wishers, don’t let you forget your past misdeeds if they see you start to turn over a new leaf by praying regularly or donning the hijab. “Hundreds of men have seen you uncovered for years. Now you decide to cover yourself?” comes the taunt with a cocked eyebrow and a smirk.

One of the major obstacles that people face when they feel regret in their heart for disobeying Allah and then turn back to Him to start a new life with religious vigour, is that the people around them — their family and friends — most of whom were their companions and supporters in their “non-Islamic” lifestyle and habits — will ridicule them, throw their past in their faces, and outright relinquish their company.

Fear of people and of being socially ostracized keeps hundreds of believers from turning back to their Lord in sincere Taubah (repentance); the kind of repentance that brings about in them a permanent change for the better.

What is absolutely amazing is that the One being disobeyed has such a just system of retribution that He, despite being the Greatest Being of all, whose wrath is also the greatest, forgives in such an all-inclusive way that He erases a person’s sins and past misdemeanours entirely, without a trace, from their book of deeds. That person becomes as if he had never committed those sins in the first place. And this applies even to major sins, or “Kabaa’ir”, if their required expiation, if any, is given.

The pre-requisite for acceptance of repentance is that it is absolutely sincere and that the person compensate for his/her past misdeeds by rushing forth in good deeds.

However, one of the unique characteristics of Allah’s all-encompassing forgiveness is what no mortal or human system of justice, no matter how benevolent and lenient, could ever do: on the sincere repentance of a believer that is followed by an absolute turnaround and rushing forth in good deeds, Allah actually converts his or her past sins into good deeds!

sistersstudyingquranhifdhAllah says in the Qur’an: “Except him who repents and believes and doth righteous work; as for such, Allah will change their evil deeds to good deeds. Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful.” (25:70)

So, for example, if someone used to lie a lot in their past, or a woman did not observe hijaab during most of her youth, then they sincerely repent and do the opposite, Allah will write off all their lies as truths, and replace the woman’s years of staying uncovered as having instead been spent in dressing modestly.

Is there any system of human justice today in this world that takes a convicted criminal’s past “criminal record” and converts it into a record of honorable achievements? Nay, the world and its inhabitants are, on the contrary, quick to permanently label and tarnish individuals who commit crimes or misdemeanours, so much so that once their vice or mistake is well-known and out in the open, people don’t let them forget it — ever. Media and publications record and report the event to all corners of the globe. History writes them off as people who did such-and-such crimes, even if they changed for the better before they died.

Consequently, criminals and sinners are forever judged for the wrong things that they did in the past, so much so that it seems useless and futile for them to even try to turn over a new life. Even if they have a rare flicker of hope for renewal, it quickly wanes as they give in to the insinuations of Shaitan when he tells them: “There is no going back now. You are tainted for life as a thief/prostitute/atheist/polytheist. You might as well continue as you are.”

It is only Allah’s magnificent forgiveness and His benevolent system of retribution that can provide solace and often the only hope to regretful people who have committed crimes and indulged in vices.

Consumed with guilt, as they slump with tears of regret pouring down their cheeks, they can feel peace descend in their heart just by the knowledge that, even if the world shuns them, labels them, tarnishes their past reputation and refuses to forgive or forget their mistakes, the One above has not just forgiven them and wiped out their misdeeds from their records, but — depending on their sincerity and steadfastness on the path of righteousness — He will convert their past sins into good deeds!

And yet, how many of us who have gone far, far ahead in a life of vice and disobedience to Allah, often get deluded by thinking: “But I can’t turn back now. Allah won’t possibly forgive all the wrongs I have done.”

Well, think again. It is never too late.


muslimah-at-sunset2Imaam Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in his famous book Al-Waabil As-Sayyib Min Kalaam At-Tayyib:

…So if Allaah intends goodness for His slave [after he has fallen into a sin], He opens up the doors of repentance for him and puts [in his heart] the feeling of need [for Allaah] and makes him dependant upon Allaah. Allaah grants him humbleness and brings him closer to Himself through enabling him to preform good deeds, and this one sin was the reason behind a [mountain] of good deeds, so much so that the enemy of Allaah [Iblees] will say, "O how I wish I had never made him commit that one sin!"

This is the meaning of some of the Salaf's saying:

"Verily, a slave commits a sin and thereby enters Jannah [because of it] and he preforms a good deed and enters Hell because of it."

They said, "And how is this?"

And it was said:

"[This is because] he commits the sin and he does not cease shedding tears concerning it, fearing [its consequence] regretting it, feeling shameful before his Lord the Most High. Hanging his head low with a broken heart, because of this, the sin is in truth more beneficial for him as it is the source of many good deeds after it. And through it the slave attains salvation and success, so much so that this sin becomes the reason for the slave to enter jannah [i.e through the mercy of Allaah].
And he [might] preform a good deed and does not cease in mentioning that, and feeling full of pride and is amazed at himself saying "I did and I did!" [i.e boasting] so pride enters [his heart] which results in his destruction."