Have you ever sinned and regretted it afterward? In our lives, we do commit many sins which might pose harm to others like killing, interest-based financial transactions, stealing, adultery, fornication, drinking alcohol, disobedience to parents, magic, hurting people, causing harm in any form, etc. which we do not even realize what impact it can form on our own lives. By the time we realize that is already late. Sometimes that guilt makes it harder to bear a single day. There are even such people who don’t even realize after doing any wrongs.
So what can we do in such a situation? Should we also do the same thing to them or leave it all to Allah?
The word ‘Tawbah’ (repentance in Arabic) means ‘to return. In an Islamic context, it refers to the act of leaving what God has prohibited and returning to what He has commanded. The subject of repentance concerns all people who believe in God and is central to Islamic belief as well. It is mentioned in the Qur’an.
“… and turn you all together in repentance to Allah O believers, that you may be successful” An-Noor (24:31)
In Surah al-Baqarah, it is written:
“Surely Allah loves those who turn unto him in repentance and loves those who purify themselves.” (2:222)
The essence of tawbah is to return to God and to adhere to what He loves and renounce that which He dislikes. Tawbah is seen as a journey from the disliked to the liked.
The word tawbah is like the word taqwa, in the sense that the latter is used sometimes in a specific sense where it means, “immediately stopping from disobeying God or carrying out an obligation.”
Muslims do not view any human being as infallible; they believe that infallibility belongs to Allah alone. Therefore, they believe that the only source of forgiveness for a human is Allah. Muslims deny the authority of men to listen to another person’s confessions and then pronounce him forgiven of his sin. Islam does not have a priest class. This has meant that the connection between Allah and man has always been a direct one. Likewise repenting to anyone besides Allah is forbidden. In the Qur’an it is stated:
“Verily, those you call upon besides Allah, are only servants like yourselves.” ( al-araaf(7):194)
Muslims view Allah as being infinitely merciful. At the beginning of every chapter (except one) of the Qur’an, the verses “In the name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful” will be found. In another saying, Muhammad has mentioned that the mercy of Allah supersedes his wrath. It is also mentioned in the Qur’an:
“Say: O my slaves who have transgressed against themselves! Despair not for the mercy of Allah, verily Allah forgives all sins. truly he is oft forgiving, most merciful.” Az-Zumar (39:53)
Islam rejects the idea of original sin, nor does it subscribe to the philosophy of one man carrying another’s burden. Everyone will be held accountable for his or her own actions on Yaum al-Qiyamah (day of judgment). Before that day occurs, however, an individual should constantly seek forgiveness from God and work to rectify the faults one finds within oneself. It is for this reason that Prophet Muhammad PBUH said
"Allah accepts the repentance of His servant, so long as death has not reached his collarbone.”
He also stated: “O people! Turn to Allah in repentance and seek His forgiveness, for surely, I make repentance a hundred times every day.”
“One who repents from sin is like one without sin.”
Muslims believe that forgiveness for one’s sins is not something that comes automatically; it is something that must be sought sincerely and with true devotion. It is only through Allah‘s mercy that one can hope to enter Paradise. Prophet Muhammad 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 Allah?” He replied, “Not even me unless Allah bestows His pardon and mercy on me.”
A Muslim’s faith may become weak and he may be overwhelmed by his desires. The Sheitan (Satan) may make sin attractive to him, so he wrongs himself (commits sin) and falls into that which Allah has forbidden. But Allah is Kind to His slaves, and His mercy encompasses all things. Whoever repents after doing wrong, Allah will accept his repentance, for Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.
“But whosoever repents after his crime and does righteous good deeds (by obeying Allah), then verily, Allah will pardon him (accept his repentance). Verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful [al-Maa’idah 5:39 – interpretation of the meaning]
Sincere repentance is not merely a matter of words spoken on the tongue. Rather, the acceptance of repentance is subject to the condition that the person gives up the sin straight away, that he regrets what has happened in the past, that he resolves not to go back to the thing he has repented from, that he restores people’s rights or property if his sin involved wrongdoing towards others, and that he repents before the agony of death is upon him.