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Sincere Repentance

Repentance (tawbah) means “sincerely turning to Allah”, and a repentant person is one who gives up sins and unbelief and turns to Allah in repentance.

A Muslim needs to repent and seek Allah’s forgiveness at practically all stages of his life; because it is only human to err, a Muslim is required to repent and beg Allah’s pardon every time he commits a sin.

What Are the Conditions of Sincere Repentance?

For repentance of all sins, including the sin of unbelief and shirk, to be valid and acceptable to Allah, a number of conditions must be met, including the following:
  1. To give up the sin immediately
Sincere repentance from sin with the deliberate desire to continue to commit it is not valid and will not possibly take place; if, however, a person commits the sin again after sincerely repenting from it, his earlier repentance will still be valid but he will need fresh repentance, and so on.
  1. To feel deep sorrow and regret for having committed it
True repentance cannot possibly take place without feeling deep remorse for having committed the sin. A person who talks about his past sins and brags about committing them is in no way considered penitent. As the Prophet ﷺ once stated, “Remorse is repentance.” (Sunan Ibn Maajah: 4252)
  1. To sincerely resolve not to commit it again
Sincere repentance cannot possibly take place if a penitent person intends to repeat the sin.

Steps towards Acquiring Determination

  • Pledging oneself not to repeat the sin under any circumstances and obstacles, not even for an instant, for the Prophet ﷺ said, “Whoever possesses the following three qualities will relish the sweetness of faith.” Of these three characteristics, he mentioned “to hate to return to unbelief (kufr) after Allah has saved him from it, as much as he would hate to be thrown into the Fire.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree: 21; Saheeh Muslim: 43)
  • Keeping away from people and places that are bound to decrease his faith and tempt him to commit sins.
  • Repeatedly begging Allah ﷻ to keep him on the right path and adhere firmly to Islam until death, in any language or form. Examples from the Qur’an and the Prophet’s Sunnah include the following:
    • “Rabbanaa laa tuzigh quloobanaa ba‛da idh hadaytanaa” (Our Lord, do not make our hearts deviate after You have guided us) (SooratAal-‛Imraan, 3:8)
    • “Yaa muqallibal-quloob, Thabbit qalbee ‛alaa deenik” (O Allah, Controller of hearts, make my heart adhere firmly to Your religion) (Sunan At-Tirmidhee: 2140)
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