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TAUBAH - How to seek sincere repentance!

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Every human being is a sinner

It is human to commit sin. Every person errs and no one is perfect. Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, “All the children of Adam are sinners (prone to sinning), but the best of sinners are those who make Taubah (repent with remorse).” (Tirmizi)

Taubah means to truly feel the grief and pain of breaking the command of Almighty Allah.

A true Muslim feels hurt and ashamed over sins. When a sin is committed, sincere Taubah must be made and the sin must be abandoned. Literally, Taubah means to return and to become close after having distanced one's self (from the Mercy of Allah Ta'ala).

Seeking forgiveness and repentance

The Noble Qur'an makes reference to two terms - Istighfar and Taubah. Istighfar is to seek forgiveness for past sins with words of forgiveness, and Taubah is to feel remorse and ashamed of breaking the covenant with Allah Ta'ala.

With Taubah, a person pledges not to return to sins in future. This is deduced from a verse in Surah Hud: “And seek forgiveness of your Lord, and turn unto Him (in repentance). For my Lord is indeed full of Mercy and most loving.” (Surah 11 – Verse 90)

Never become despondent of Allah's mercy

“And do not lose hope in the mercy of Allah, for no one loses hope in Allah's mercy except those with no faith.” (Surah 12 – Verse 87)

A commonly asked question by those who wish to repent: 'Will Allah forgive me?' The answer is a resounding YES. There should never be any doubt or despondency in one's forgiveness. Always focus on Allah Ta'ala's mercy and be fully hopeful of being forgiven. Allah rejoices when His slave repents to Him. His Mercy is described in various Ahadith;

“Allah is more compassionate towards His slaves than (this) mother towards her child” (Muslim)

“O my slave, you err night and day, but I forgive all sins. So ask Me forgiveness and I shall forgive you.” (Muslim)

Qur'anic verses expounding His Mercy and Forgiveness

“And most surely I am most Forgiving to him who repents and believes and does good, then continues to follow the right direction.” (Surah 20 - Verse 82)

“And whoever does a wrong or wrongs himself but then seeks forgiveness of Allah will find Allah Forgiving and Merciful.” (Surah 4 – Verse 110)

“It is He who accepts the repentance of His worshipers and pardons their evil deeds. He has knowledge of what you do.” (Surah 42 – Verse 25)

What should I do when I have committed a sin?

At the earliest opportunity, if not immediately, make Taubah. There is no specified time, place or state for Taubah. Repent from the heart.

The preferred method of Taubah is to perform 2 rakats (units) of Salatut Taubah. Then repent by expressing shame and regret for committing the unlawful act.

Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “There is no man who commits a sin, then gets up, purifies himself, prays 2 rakats (of Taubah Salah) then asks Allah to forgive him, but Allah shall forgive him.” (At-Targheeb wat-Tarheeb)

Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “The one who repents is like the one who never sinned in the first place.” (Ibn Majah)

Taubah is a critical component of faith. Sin draws the displeasure of Allah Ta'ala. A Muslim can never feel at ease or succeed with sin. Taubah gives us the opportunity to cleanse our souls and leave the wrong behind us.

What are the requisites for Taubah to be accepted?

  • Scholars of Islam have outlined the conditions which will complete one's repentance,
  • To feel ashamed and truly remorseful about committing the sin/s
  • To abandon the sin immediately
  • To avoid deliberately committing the sin again
  • Formula for preserving Taubah
  • “Except for those who repent and correct themselves and declare (the truth). For them, I will accept their repentance, and I am the receiver of repentance, the Merciful.” (Surah 2 – verse 160)
  • Once a person has sincerely repented, this Taubah must now be protected. In order to preserve Taubah, the following should be adopted,
  • Develop an appetite for good deeds and sustain these good actions
  • Join good company and stay as much as possible in the company of the pious and righteous
  • Distance yourself from people, places and avenues of sin

The sign of accepted Taubah

A sign of accepted Taubah is when the sin is abandoned and forsaken. Another sign is for the imprint of the sin to be erased. This means that the natural discomfort no longer hinders one from good deeds, although a person may remember the sin and experience some discomfort from this memory.

What if I sin again?

Do not be concerned about what may happen if one commits the sin again. If it happens such, that after a sincere and determined effort of abstaining from sin, one happens to 'slip' again, then repent immediately. In this way, even if one has to slip or err a hundred times, then renew the Taubah each time. Just as we continuously wash our clothes when they need washing, similarly wash the heart with Taubah when it gets dirty.

Say, "O My servants who have transgressed against themselves (by sinning), do not despair of the Mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins.” (Surah 39 – Verse 53)

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