Islamic Teachings on Repentance5 min read

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Islamic Teachings on Repentance

Repentance is described as; with remorse, seeking forgiveness from Allah Almighty for one’s sins with the resolution not to commit them again in the future. That means having true shame for one’s sin, resolving not to commit the sin again in the future, and sincerely asking Allah Almighty for forgiveness for one’s sins.

Types of Repentance

There are two types of repentance:

1. Outward repentance, apparently, is that a person verbally and practically removes all their external organs (eyes, nose, ears, hands, feet, etc.) from sins and evils and dedicates them to the obedience and following of Allah, and inclines themselves towards virtues. Moreover, they repent from actions opposing the Shariah of Mustafa () and follow the Shariah commands.

2. The concept of inner repentance is that a person purifies their heart from the filth and impurities of sins and adheres to righteous deeds in accordance with Shariah. When a person’s external self becomes in accordance with the command of Allah and the heart and inner self also mold into the obedience of Allah, the Exalted, and evil is replaced by goodness, then they will attain perfect repentance.

The worldly and otherworldly benefits of repentance

Among the countless benefits and virtues obtained through repentance, some are mentioned below:

(1) – Repentance is a means to attain the love of Allah Almighty.

وَيَسْـَٔلُونَكَ عَنِ ٱلْمَحِيضِ ۖ قُلْ هُوَ أَذًۭى فَٱعْتَزِلُوا۟ ٱلنِّسَآءَ فِى ٱلْمَحِيضِ ۖ وَلَا تَقْرَبُوهُنَّ حَتَّىٰ يَطْهُرْنَ ۖ فَإِذَا تَطَهَّرْنَ فَأْتُوهُنَّ مِنْ حَيْثُ أَمَرَكُمُ ٱللَّهُ ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يُحِبُّ ٱلتَّوَّٰبِينَ وَيُحِبُّ ٱلْمُتَطَهِّرِينَ

They ask you about menstruation. Say: “It is an impurity. So, keep away from women during menstruation; and do not have intimacy with them until they are cleansed. But when they are cleansed, then go to them from where Allah has commanded you. Surely Allah loves those who are most repenting, and loves those who keep themselves pure. (2:222)

(2) – By repenting, Allah Almighty is immensely pleased. Allah Almighty becomes as pleased with His servant’s repentance as one of you would be upon finding his lost animal in the barren land.

(3) – Repentance is the cause of success and prosperity.

وَقُل لِّلْمُؤْمِنَـٰتِ يَغْضُضْنَ مِنْ أَبْصَـٰرِهِنَّ وَيَحْفَظْنَ فُرُوجَهُنَّ وَلَا يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلَّا مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا ۖ وَلْيَضْرِبْنَ بِخُمُرِهِنَّ عَلَىٰ جُيُوبِهِنَّ ۖ وَلَا يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلَّا لِبُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ ءَابَآئِهِنَّ أَوْ ءَابَآءِ بُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ أَبْنَآئِهِنَّ أَوْ أَبْنَآءِ بُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ إِخْوَٰنِهِنَّ أَوْ بَنِىٓ إِخْوَٰنِهِنَّ أَوْ بَنِىٓ أَخَوَٰتِهِنَّ أَوْ نِسَآئِهِنَّ أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَـٰنُهُنَّ أَوِ ٱلتَّـٰبِعِينَ غَيْرِ أُو۟لِى ٱلْإِرْبَةِ مِنَ ٱلرِّجَالِ أَوِ ٱلطِّفْلِ ٱلَّذِينَ لَمْ يَظْهَرُوا۟ عَلَىٰ عَوْرَٰتِ ٱلنِّسَآءِ ۖ وَلَا يَضْرِبْنَ بِأَرْجُلِهِنَّ لِيُعْلَمَ مَا يُخْفِينَ مِن زِينَتِهِنَّ ۚ وَتُوبُوٓا۟ إِلَى ٱللَّهِ جَمِيعًا أَيُّهَ ٱلْمُؤْمِنُونَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ

And tell the believing women that they must lower their gazes and guard their private parts, and must not expose their adornment, except that which appears thereof, and must wrap their bosoms with their shawls, and must not expose their adornment, except to their husbands or their fathers or the fathers of their husbands, or to their sons or the sons of their husbands, or to their brothers or the sons of their brothers or the sons of their sisters, or to their women, or to those owned by their right hands, or male attendants having no (sexual) urge, or to the children who are not yet conscious of the shames of women. And let them not stamp their feet in a way that the adornment they conceal is known. And repent to Allah O believers, all of you, so that you may achieve success. (24:31)

(4) – Repentance is a means of obtaining divine mercy and forgiveness.

وَٱلَّذِينَ عَمِلُوا۟ ٱلسَّيِّـَٔاتِ ثُمَّ تَابُوا۟ مِنۢ بَعْدِهَا وَءَامَنُوٓا۟ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ مِنۢ بَعْدِهَا لَغَفُورٌۭ رَّحِيمٌۭ

As for those who do evil, and repent thereafter, and embrace faith, your Lord is then most forgiving, very merciful (for them). (7:153)

(5) – Repenting turns sins into good deeds.

يُضَـٰعَفْ لَهُ ٱلْعَذَابُ يَوْمَ ٱلْقِيَـٰمَةِ وَيَخْلُدْ فِيهِۦ مُهَانًا

the punishment will be doubled for him, and he will remain there disdained, for ever, (25:69)

إِلَّا مَن تَابَ وَءَامَنَ وَعَمِلَ عَمَلًۭا صَـٰلِحًۭا فَأُو۟لَـٰٓئِكَ يُبَدِّلُ ٱللَّهُ سَيِّـَٔاتِهِمْ حَسَنَـٰتٍۢ ۗ وَكَانَ ٱللَّهُ غَفُورًۭا رَّحِيمًۭا

except the one who repents and believes and does good deeds, then Allah will replace the evils of such people by good deeds, and Allah is Most-Forgiving, Very-Merciful. (25:70)

(6) – Repentance is the essence of all that is good and beneficial.

وَأَذَٰنٌۭ مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِۦٓ إِلَى ٱلنَّاسِ يَوْمَ ٱلْحَجِّ ٱلْأَكْبَرِ أَنَّ ٱللَّهَ بَرِىٓءٌۭ مِّنَ ٱلْمُشْرِكِينَ ۙ وَرَسُولُهُۥ ۚ فَإِن تُبْتُمْ فَهُوَ خَيْرٌۭ لَّكُمْ ۖ وَإِن تَوَلَّيْتُمْ فَٱعْلَمُوٓا۟ أَنَّكُمْ غَيْرُ مُعْجِزِى ٱللَّهِ ۗ وَبَشِّرِ ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا۟ بِعَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ

And here is an announcement, from Allah and His Messenger, to the people on the day of the greater Hajj, that Allah is free from (any commitment to) the Mushriks, and so is His Messenger. Now, if you repent, it is good for you. And if you turn away, then be aware that you can never frustrate Allah. And give those who disbelieve the ‘good’ news of a painful punishment. (9:3)

The Method of Repenting from Sins

The esteemed scholars have stated that the method of repentance for the sins one was involved in is to first determine whether the sin relates to the rights of Allah or the rights of His servants.

If it is a matter of the rights of Allah Almighty, such as being guilty of abandoning prayers, then repentance for this sin cannot be valid until one prays the missed prayers with heartfelt remorse. Similarly, this applies to fasting and Zakat etc., for until the previous fasts and Zakat are paid, the repentance will not be complete. If the sin involves unjust killing, then along with seeking forgiveness, one should present oneself for retribution, if the heirs demand it; otherwise, one should pay blood money. If the sin involves falsely accusing someone which necessitates legal punishment, then while seeking forgiveness, one should present oneself before the rightful claimant for the execution of the legal penalty. If one is pardoned for murder and false accusation, then sincere remorse and the resolution not to repeat the act will suffice. Likewise, thieves, bandits, alcoholics, and adulterers should repent, forsake their sins, and reform themselves, then their repentance will be accepted.

And if the sin relates to the rights of other people, then if one is capable, he should immediately fulfill the right of the rightful owner. If he is not immediately able to fulfill it, he should resolve to do so as soon as he is able. If one has chosen a cause that harmed a Muslim, he should immediately remove that cause of harm, then seek forgiveness from that Muslim brother and pray for his forgiveness, and if the rightful owner has pardoned him, then he will be absolved from that sin. Likewise, if one has caused any kind of harm or unjustly oppressed another and seeks forgiveness from the rightful owner with remorse and resolves not to do so in the future and continues to seek forgiveness until the oppressed has pardoned, then his sins will be forgiven.

This is the same for all other sins and transgressions: if they relate to the rights of Allah, then repent as per the mentioned conditions, and if it involves the rights of other people, then adopt the mentioned method of repentance along with fulfilling or obtaining forgiveness for those rights.

JazakAllahu Khairan for reading. If you have found this information beneficial, please share it with your loved ones and friends. May Allah reward you abundantly for your efforts.

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Talha Siddiq

I am an Islamic Scholar. I have expertise in Ahadith, Fiqh, Logics, and the Arabic language. I have a specialty in Islamic finance and Islamic study. To get started with me, Book Now one-to-one Session, or let us know what do you like in the contact form.

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