The word Tawbah
(Repentance) in Arabic literally means 'to return'. In an Islamic context, it
refers to the act of leaving what Allaah has prohibited and returning to what He
The subject of repentance is one which concerns all
people who believe in God, and is vital one for the Muslims to understand
because our salvation in the hereafter is dependent on our repentance to Allaah,
as is shown by Allaah's order:
"AND TURN YOU ALL TOGETHER IN
REPENTANCE TO ALLAAH O BELIEVERS, THAT YOU MAY BE SUCCESSFUL" [An-Noor (24):31]
In Soorah al-Baqarah, Allaah tells us:
"SURELY ALLAAH LOVES THOSE
WHO TURN UNTO HIM IN REPENTANCE AND LOVES THOSE WHO PURIFY THEMSELVES." [2:222]
This shows how pleasing our repenting is to Allaah.
Also, the Prophet, Sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam gave us an example of just how pleasing
to Allaah our repenting is an authentic hadeeth in which he, said:
"Allaah is more delighted with the repentance of His
servant than one of you would be, who suddenly finds his camel laden with
supplies after losing it in a barren land" (1)
Try to imagine your joy if you were to suddenly
retrieve everything you ever possessed after losing all hope of recovering what you had
lost. Then think that Allaah's delight is even greater than this when His slave repents to
Him. So much so, that if man stopped repenting to Allaah, He would replace us with another
creation that would turn to Him for forgiveness. The Prophet said:
"If you did not commit sins, Allaah would sweep you
out of existence and replace you by another people who would commit sins, ask
for Allaah's forgiveness and He would forgive them." (2)
The problem with many of us today, is that we don't fear
Allaah, which means that we don't think twice about disobeying Him and therefore
falling into sin, which we give no real tought to. So perhaps we should think
about the statement which Ibn Mas'ood (3) radi Allaahu 'anhu, made: "A
believer sees his sins as if he were sitting under a mountain which he is
affraid may fall on him, whereas the wicked person considers his sins as flies
passing over his nose and he just drives them away like this (and he moved his
hand over his nose in illustration)." (4)
Someone might say, 'I want to repent but my sins are too
many.' But Allaah says:
"SAY: O MY SLAVES WHO HAVE TRANSGRESSED AGAINST
THEMSELVES! DESPAIR NOT FOR THE MERCY OF ALLAAH, VERILY ALLAAH FORGIVES ALL
SINS. TRULY HE IS OFT FORGIVING, MOST MERCIFUL." [Az-Zumar (39):53]
Therefore, we should never lose hope or stop asking
for Allaah's forgiveness. Its importance is shown to us in a hadeeth in which the Prophet said:
"O people! Turn to Allaah in repentance and seek His
forgiveness, for surely I make repentance a hundred times every day." (5)
Repentance is such a great act of worship that doing it
can totally erase our sins altoghether, as the Prophet, Sallallaahu 'alaihi wa
sallam said: "One who repents from sin is like one without sin." (6)
ONLY ALLAAH CAN FORGIVE SINS
Forgiveness for our sins is not something that comes
automatically, it is something that must be sought sincerely and with consciousness. Also
we should remember that it is only through Allaah's Mercy that anyone will ever enter
Paradise. The Prophet advised: "Do good deeds properly, sincerely and
moderately, and rejoice, for no one's good deeds will put him in Paradise."
The Companions asked, "Not even you O Messenger of Allaah?" He
replied. "Not even me unless Allaah bestows His pardon and mercy on
Therefore in Islaam, salvation rests on faith (which
includes), good actions and hope in Allaah's mercy, all combined in truly unique
manner which is not found in any other religion or system.
Furthermore, it is only Allaah who can forgive our
sins and He is not in need of any intercessor. The proof for this is in a du'aa
(supplication) which the Prophet taught his closest
Companion Abu Bakr(8):
"O Allaah, truly I have wronged myself and none can
forgive sins except you." (9)
Therefore it is a complete waste of time asking
forgiveness from the people such as "saints", pious people or even the Prophet . Allaah say in reply to people who do such
"VERILY, THOSE YOU CALL UPON BESIDES ALLAAH, ARE
ONLY SLAVES LIKE YOURSELVES." [a;-A'raaf (7):194]
It is important that we never despair of Allaah's Mercy -
no sin is too great to repent for... or too little for that matter. As one of
the salaf (Pious predecessors) said: "Do not look at the insignifance of
your sins, but consider the greatness of The One you are disobeying."
1. Narrated by Anas and collected in the hadeeth
collection of al-Bukhaaree (eng. trans. vol.8 p.214 no.321) & Muslim (eng. trans.
vol.4 p.1434 no.6611)
2. Marrated by Aboo Ayyoob & Aboo Hurayrah & collected by Muslim (eng. trans.
vol.4 pp.1436-7 nos.6620-2).
3. ABDULLAAH IBN MAS'OOD (d. 32H) was one of the earliest six to embrace Islaam. Amongst
the virtuous things that the Prophet
said about him, was his saying: "Affirm that which Ibn Mas'ood informs you."
[Saheeh - Ahmad & Others].
4. Collected by al-Bukhaaree (eng. trans. vol.8 p.214 no.320).
5. Reported by al-Aghaar ibn Yasaar & collected in Saheeh Muslim (eng. trans. vol.4
6. HASAN - Reported by Abu 'Ubaidah ibn 'Abdullaah & collected by Ibn Majah
Authenticated by al-Albaanee
7. Reported by Aboo Hurayrah & 'Aa'ishah & collected by al-Bukhaaree (eng. trans.
vol.8 p.315 no.474).
8. ALL of Ahl-us-Sunnah are agreed on the fact that Abu Bakr, radi Allaahu anhu was the
most superior amongst all the Companions. The Prophet, said, "There is no one of
greater help to me than Abu Bakr & he assisted me with his person, his property &
he married his daughter [Aa'ishah] to me." [HASAN - at-Tabaraanee]. He was appointed
Khaleefah after the death of the Prophet & died two years after him at the age of 63.
9. The full text of this du'aa can be found in Saheeh al-Bukhaaree (vol.1 p.442 no.776),
Muslim (vol.4 pp.1419-20 no.6533), at-Tirmidhee & Ibn Majah.
10. Collected in
al-Baihaqee's 'Sh'abul Eemaan' (5/430).
AS DA'WAH ILALLAAH: The Call to Allaah
AHL US-SUNNAH WAL JAMAA'AH: A title used by the people
who hold firmly to the SUNNAH of the Prophet in the way of the Companions of the
Prophet and their sucessors (al Jamaa'ah). It is a name which distinguishes the
people of truth from the people of innovation.
HASAN: Good; an authentic hadeeth - not as good as a
'saheeh' hadeeth, but neverless authentic.
RADEEALLAAHU ANHU/ANHA.ANHUM: May Allaah be pleased with
him/her/them. Usually said after mentioning the name of a Companion(s).
SAHEEH: Authentic; the highest category of authenticity