How To Perform Repentance (Part 2) An Essay by

How to do Tawbah?  It’s not difficult at all, from a physical perspective.

But firstly, the scholars have derived, from the Qur’an and statements of the Prophet Muhammad, that certain conditions must accompany the tawbah for it to be valid and correct. Shaykh Ibn `Uthaymeen mentions the following in Sharh Riyaadh as-Saliheen:

1. Sincerity - It’s very important that the person is not repenting for any other purpose, or reason (for example, for the sake of reputation, to be seen by others or to get closer to them, or because one is unable to continue the sin for whatever reason); the sole intent & purpose in him doing this Tawbah has to be to return to the proper submission to Allah. He/she is doing this, to seek Allah’s forgiveness for his/her sins, and to attain His Pleasure.

2. Remorse – It is so important to feel regret and remorse for the sin that one has committed. This is based on the hadeeth of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) [recorded by Ahmad and others; Shaykh al-Albaani said it is saheeh], wherein the Prophet said: اَلنَّدْمُ تَوبَةٌ ”Remorse is repentance.”  This, by the way, is a unique hadeeth. For the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) put it in such a way that a listener would assume that remorse is all that Tawbah is. And it is. Nothing more. Just have regret, and that’s it.

So if a person doesn’t have this feeling of regret and is happy that he did what he did, then the repentance is unacceptable. This actually defeats the entire purpose of Tawbah because if you don’t truly in your heart feel bad or sorry for what you did, then why are you repenting?

3. Stop The Sin - The repenting person must stop committing the sin. Stop the sin immediately. One can’t do Tawbah and then say, ‘Yeah, I did Tawbah, but I’ll leave this sin when I graduate.’ Or, ‘Once I get married.’ Or, next year. Or tomorrow. Right away, the person should leave it. If a person does Tawbah, but he is still involved in that sin, then that Tawbah is invalid.  Note that the issue here is that it is necessary that the person leaves off the act as a starter. We’re not talking about whether the person falls back into that sin again later on (which will be discussed in the next point Insha’Allah). However, what we’re saying here is that if the person never left the sin to start with, then the Tawbah was not valid.

You know, for example, if a person is looking at something that is ‘forbidden for him to look at’  and says “O Allah, forgive me”, but simultaneously, he is continuing that act – that’s unacceptable.  Leave the act. Stop it.

This is taken from the words of Allah in Surah Aali `Imraan, verse 135:

وَلَمْ يُصِرُّوا عَلَى مَا فَعَلُوا وَهُمْ يَعْلَمُون

“And they do not knowingly persist in what they have done.”

4. Resolute Intention – One must be determined and have a resolute intention that they will never repeat that sin again, that I’m not going to return back to that particular (major) sin. If the person claims to repent, but he knows that if he could get the opportunity to perform that sin again, he would do so, then he has not repented properly. However, what if someone, after doing the Tawbah, falls back into that sin (although he did not intend to do that sin again)? Does that nullify his Tawbah? The answer is No. This won’t affect his original repentance and it is still good. However, now he/she needs to repent anew for the new sin he/she has committed. The person has to go back, do Tawbah again, and vow never to return to that sin again. One may ask, what if that person falls back into that same sin again? The Tawbah is still valid. But now they need to go back and do Tawbah to Allah again (there’s in fact a hadeeth in the Saheehs of al-Bukhaari and Muslim that describes a person in a similar situation, but I won’t mention it here).

5. Repent on time! – The Repentance has to be done in a time when it is accepted. That is all times except for the following:

a. When the sun is rising from the west – If you say, ”I believe now” at that time, it’s too late. If you repent then, sorry. The Door of Repentance is closed :(

b. When a person is in the agonies of death and sees the Angels of Death. A prime example would be Fir`awn, who, in essence, said the Shahaadah and quickly repented when he saw the Angels of Death and Jibreel – therefore, his Tawbah was not accepted. And SubhaanAllaah, even for this arrogant and oppressive tyrant, Angel Jibreel (عليه السلام) began throwing dirt and mud into the mouth of Fir`awn, “because he was afraid that Allah’s mercy may reach him”. Allah’s mercy is just so vast and incredibly enormous…

c. When the Dajjaal (the ‘Antichrist’) appears.

So now, having said all the conditions for repentance, here is how to actually do it:

It’s mentioned in 1 simple hadeeth of the Prophet (may Allah send peace & blessings on him). The Hadeeth is saheeh and is recorded by Abu Dawood & An-Nasaa`ee. Abu Bakr narrated that the Prophet (صلوات الله وسلامه عليه) said:

“There is no one who commits a sin, goes and performs Wudoo`(ritual ablution), and then prays 2 Rak`ahs (two units of prayer) after which they seek Allah’s forgiveness, except that He forgives them.”

After this, the Prophet recited the Words of Allah (3:135):

والذين إذا فعلوا فاحشة أو ظلموا أنفسهم ذكروا الله, فاستغفروا لذنوبهم – ومن يغفر الذنوب إلا الله – ولم يصروا على ما فعلوا وهم يعلمون

“And those (people) who, when they have committed a Faahishah (a major sin, an immoral sin) or wronged themselves, remember Allah and implore forgiveness for their sins - And who can forgive sins but Allah alone? – and do not knowingly persist in the wrong that they did.”

And based on this hadeeth, some of the Fuqahaa` have derived what is called as-Salaat at-Tawbah (The Prayer for Repentance). This Salaah is done after a person does a sinful act that requires repentance [i.e. a major sin].

So if a person wants to show remorse and do sincere Repentance, then he/she should simply, as the Prophet said, perform wudoo`, pray these 2 Rak`ahs, and after the Prayer, sincerely ask Allah to forgive him/her for that sin. The person should also mention the sin before Allah; a person shouldn’t just say, “O Allah, forgive all the sins I’ve done”, but rather he should do muhaasabah & and recall the major sin he did and mention it to Allah & seek His forgiveness for it. No doubt, when one does this Tawbah sincerely, with the conditions of Tawbah in mind, his/her sin will be forgiven by the Most Merciful & Most Forgiving.

Note: There are some scholars who say that one cannot definitively say that a repentance that meets all of its necessary conditions will be accepted by Allah. Instead, the person hopes for this. He is under the will of Allah – if Allah wills, He may punish him, and if He wills, He may forgive him. However, Ibn Rajab (رحمه الله تعالى) answers their arguments and refutes them by stating that one can definitively say that a true repentance is accepted by Allah. This is also supported by the statement of the Prophet wherein he said: اَلتَّائِبُ مِنَ الذَّنْبِ كَمَنْ لاَ ذَنْبَ لَهُ “The one who repents (does Tawbah) from a sin, is like one who did not sin at all” (Recorded by Ibn Maajah, and has a hasan chain of narration). Of course, we hope in Allah and have the best hopes. However, it is a promise from Allah that the one who sincerely does Tawbah to Him will be forgiven. And Allah wants and loves to forgive the person, as Allah said: والله يريد أن يتوب عليكم ”Allah wants to accept your repentance.” (4:27)

> Shaykh Sidenote -  Some have also commented on the part of the Hadeeth where the Prophet said, ”goes and performs Wudoo`”, and have said that after this Wudoo` particularly, the person should recite the du’aa’ that the Prophet (ص) taught us to say:

اَللَّهُمَّ اجْعَلْنِي مِنَ التَّوَّابِيْنَ, وَاجْعَلْنِي مِنَ الْمُتَطَهِّرِيْنَ

O Allah! Make me from those who constantly repent to You, and from those who purify themselves.”

So this is, by Allah’s permission, the way to perform Tawbah.

A reflection after having discussed all of this – Isn’t it interesting how easy ‘Repentance’ is? How preposterously simple it is to have one’s sins forgiven and erased? How Merciful Allah is!  And we know that if a person did this Tawbah during their life from their sins, then by Allah’s Mercy, their Hereafter will be good and happy. However, if a Muslim died without ever doing this ‘Repentance’ from their sins, then they have no guarantee; Allah may forgive them, or punish them first.

How simple, but the striking question is: “When Tawbah is so easy, how come so many Muslims die without performing it?”  I want to repent, but… In fact, that is the title of the beautiful book by Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid   (أريد أن أتوب ولكن). And al-hamdulillaah, the book is available in English, and is also available online (free) for anybody to read & benefit from – at the Shaykh’s website: www.islamqa.com.

So I say, in conclusion, every sinner, which is all of us, should do his best to turn to Allah and seek forgiveness from Allah. Allah is so pleased with the repentance of His servants and is willing to forgive them. Instead of feeling complete despair for past sins, everybody should realize that the door to repentance is open. Furthermore, due to the effects of repentance and the change in one’s heart in the process, one may be in a better state after repentance than he was before he committed the sin. This was the case, for example, with Adam (عليه الصلاة والسلام). Adam committed a sin. He then felt remorse and his heart turned sincerely to Allah with repentance. Thereafter, his faith & belief were better than before. Allah says:

وعصى آدم ربه فغوى – ثم اجتباه ربه فتاب عليه وهدى

“Thus Adam disobeyed his Lord, and so he went astray. Then his Lord chose him, and accepted his repentance, and gave him guidance.”  (20:121-122)

And really, this is true. As Ibn al-Qayyim said, one of the righteous predecessors said:

“Surely, a servant commits a sin by which he enters Paradise. And another servant does a good deed by which he enters the Fire.” So the people around him were shocked! They knew that good deeds bring one to Paradise, while sins bring one to the Fire. So they said to him: ”How is this? How can that be?”  So then he explained the situation of both. He said: “The one who committed the sin, constantly thought about it, which caused him to fear it, regret it, weep and cry over it, and feel ashamed in front of his Lord because of it. He stood before Allah, broken-hearted, with his head lowered in humility. So this sin was more beneficial to him than many acts of obedience, since it caused him humility & humbleness, to the extent that this sin became the cause for him entering Paradise. And as for the doer of good, he didn’t consider that good to be a favor from his Lord. Rather, he became amazed with himself. This increased his arrogance & pride, which lead him to destruction in Hell.”

I ask Allah to make you and me from those who continually do Tawbah to Him, and have humility, for that is the key to success in this world & the next.


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  • http://www.youtube.com/abdelbaasit1 Abd Al-Baasit

    Reflection from myself: In Surat Yusuf (Chapter 12), a serious point is brought up regarding Tawbah. In v. 9, Allah mentioned that the brothers of Yusuf plotted against him & said: اقتلوا يوسف, أو اطرحوه أرضًا يخل لكم وجه أبيكم وتكونوا من بعده قومًا صالحين ”Kill Yusuf. Or, just cast him out to some (far away) land – so that the face of your father may be given to you alone (i.e. the love of your father). And after that, you will become righteous people.”

    I read that & was like, ‘What kind of people are these?! How could they say such an evil statement?’ We’ll kill Yusuf – to achieve this goal of ours – then we’ll start doing good deeds, repent & be pious. But then I realized that so many Muslims today (and I’m talking to myself) are doing the exact same thing. But we don’t realize it. Just replace “murder” with another Major Sin. “I’ll just do this (deal with riba, for example) and then I’ll do Tawbah. And subhaanallaah, Ramadaan is coming any way.” So that’s like a double incentive. Laa ilaaha illaa Allaah!! This is exactly what these brothers of Yusuf were saying. And that’s why you’ll find, in Muhsin Khan’s translation, he adds at the end of the verse in parenthesis: (by intending repentance before committing the sin).

    And really, when a person behaves like this, he’s walking in very dangerous territory. 1stly, he has no idea whether he’ll live long enough to perform that Tawbah; so he should fear Allah & remember death. 2ndly, Allah knows best if such a Tawbah will even be accepted.

  • http://www.youtube.com/abdelbaasit1 Abd Al-Baasit

    Reflection from myself: In Surat Yusuf (Chapter 12), a serious point is brought up regarding Tawbah. In v. 9, Allah mentioned that the brothers of Yusuf plotted against him & said: اقتلوا يوسف, أو اطرحوه أرضًا يخل لكم وجه أبيكم وتكونوا من بعده قومًا صالحين ”Kill Yusuf. Or, just cast him out to some (far away) land – so that the face of your father may be given to you alone (i.e. the love of your father). And after that, you will become righteous people.”

    I read that & was like, ‘What kind of people are these?! How could they say such an evil statement?’ We’ll kill Yusuf – to achieve this goal of ours – then we’ll start doing good deeds, repent & be pious. But then I realized that so many Muslims today (and I’m talking to myself) are doing the exact same thing. But we don’t realize it. Just replace “murder” with another Major Sin. “I’ll just do this (deal with riba, for example) and then I’ll do Tawbah. And subhaanallaah, Ramadaan is coming any way.” So that’s like a double incentive. Laa ilaaha illaa Allaah!! This is exactly what these brothers of Yusuf were saying. And that’s why you’ll find, in Muhsin Khan’s translation, he adds at the end of the verse in parenthesis: (by intending repentance before committing the sin).

    And really, when a person behaves like this, he’s walking in very dangerous territory. 1stly, he has no idea whether he’ll live long enough to perform that Tawbah; so he should fear Allah & remember death. 2ndly, Allah knows best if such a Tawbah will even be accepted.

  • hopeful

    Assalaamu alaikum,

    About a year ago I got a credit card to help me pay for my rent until I received my first pay check. At the time I didn’t think that I was dealing with riba because the card had 0% interest for 6 months and I figured as long as the bill is paid in full on time I won’t pay any interest. It came to my attention that just signing a contract agreeing to pay interest if I was late, is wrong according to some opinions. I ran into some financial difficulties and ended up paying late. So now I have paid interest and I still must pay the card off which will include interest. This is a major sin. I have since cut up my card and I don’t use it. My goal is to pay it off iA and never come near interest again with the help of Allah. So the article said that we have to stop doing the sin. I must pay the card off so do I delay my repentance until the card is paid off. I could die before this happens. Death comes unannounced. Or should I repent now, continue to pay it off and when it is paid off repent again for this sin? I am trying to stay hopeful but I feel like sA I am in Ramadan and I have this huge sin. I wanted to have it paid off by Ramadan but it was not. I feel like perhaps I will leave Ramadan not forgiven because I have this credit card which I still have to make interest payments on. Jazakallah khair. Looking forward to your response iA.

  • hopeful

    Assalaamu alaikum,

    About a year ago I got a credit card to help me pay for my rent until I received my first pay check. At the time I didn’t think that I was dealing with riba because the card had 0% interest for 6 months and I figured as long as the bill is paid in full on time I won’t pay any interest. It came to my attention that just signing a contract agreeing to pay interest if I was late, is wrong according to some opinions. I ran into some financial difficulties and ended up paying late. So now I have paid interest and I still must pay the card off which will include interest. This is a major sin. I have since cut up my card and I don’t use it. My goal is to pay it off iA and never come near interest again with the help of Allah. So the article said that we have to stop doing the sin. I must pay the card off so do I delay my repentance until the card is paid off. I could die before this happens. Death comes unannounced. Or should I repent now, continue to pay it off and when it is paid off repent again for this sin? I am trying to stay hopeful but I feel like sA I am in Ramadan and I have this huge sin. I wanted to have it paid off by Ramadan but it was not. I feel like perhaps I will leave Ramadan not forgiven because I have this credit card which I still have to make interest payments on. Jazakallah khair. Looking forward to your response iA.

  • http://www.youtube.com/abdelbaasit1 Abd Al-Baasit

    Ma sha Allah – may Allah reward you for your intention (determination) to leave the sin as soon as possible, and to fix up this problem Allah willing. You said that your goal is to never come near interest again. This, in and of itself, is a sign of a good Tawbah. Where the person is determined to leave the sin, and also he is feeling remorseful.

    As for the condition of Tawbah that you must “stop the sin”, this is according to capacity and ability. If one is able, and he does not, then his Tawbah may not be accepted. But if one is unable at the current time, then لا يكلف الله نفسا إلا وسعها Allah does not burden a person more than his capacity.

    So I understand that its gonna take some time to get out of this… a person should never ever delay the Tawbah (Repentance). One should repent immediately to Allah – and as for the leaving of this sin, it will happen in due course (in sha Allah). * And by Allah’s mercy, He will accept your Tawbah because of your remorse and your determination to leave the sin. He will not leave you unforgiven, or out of His mercy, because of this matter which is out of your hands now. Rather, I’m confident that He will accept your repentance due to the previously mentioned factors.

    May Allah reward you for your concern & bless all of us with a Sincere Tawbah this Ramadaan :)

  • http://www.muslimyouthmusings.com/ Arif Kabir

    In Surah Zumar, Ayah 53, Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) says, “Say: “O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah. for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” Other than Shirk, no sin is too great for the Most Merciful to forgive. We pray that Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) forgives all of our sins, keeps us away from all types and forms of Shirk, and gives us Jannatul Firdaus. Ameen…

  • otalieb

    Ma-sha’Allah!

    Thank you brother for helping teaching us our deen. This is information I have been pondering myself for some time now. May Allah make it beneficial to myself and us all. Amin.

    Jazakallah-Khairun

  • otalieb

    Ma-sha’Allah!

    Thank you brother for helping teaching us our deen. This is information I have been pondering myself for some time now. May Allah make it beneficial to myself and us all. Amin.

    Jazakallah-Khairun

  • shiney

    masha’allah! lol I am about to write about repentance and seems like you have covered all the points brother! haha, this is gonna be tough!

  • Nawab irshad

    will allah forgive a person who commits shirk and then repents?

    • Abd Al-Baasit

      Dear Nawab irshad,

      Yes – as Allah said in the verse quoted by Br. Arif (Zumar, 53): إن الله يغفر الذنوب جميعا “Surely, Allah forgives all sins”, and as He (جَلَّ جَلاَلُه) said in (Surah Tawbah, 104): ألم يعلموا أن الله هو يقبل التوبة عن عباده “Don’t they know that it is Allah who accepts the repentance from His slaves?”

      And Allah told his Prophet Muhammad to say to the Kuffaar (staunch disbelievers) who had been fighting against him for years and years (8:38): قل للذين كفروا, إن ينتهوا, يُغفَر لهم ما قد سَلَف “Tell the people who have disbelieved (rejected Allah, committed Kufr), that if they desist (if they stop their evil), everything that has preceded will be forgiven for them!”

      * So YES, Allah will forgive the repentance of anyone – from any sin, no matter how big (because that sin can never be Bigger & Greater than Allah’s mercy), so long as the person is not in the throes of death… as the Prophet said: إن الله عَزَّ وَجَلَّ يقبلُ توبَةَ العَبْدِ ما لَمْ يُغَرْغِرْ {Undoubtedly Allah continues to accept repentance from the servant as long as he has not began gargling – in the throes of death as his soul comes out of his throat.}

      WHAT then does the oft-repeated statement, “Allah Forgives All Sins Except for Shirk” – mean?? It means that, in the Hereafter, on the Day of Judgment, Allah is willing to forgive any & all sins, as He wishes, except for someone who died on Shirk. ** Someone who died as a disbeliever without repenting, someone who committed Shirk & died without repenting from it. [That's the unforgivable sin]

      + But as long as you’re breathing… there’s Always hope. Never despair.

      • shiney

        OMG, 2 days ago, I had the exact same question, that what does it mean when people say that Shirk is the “Unforgivable Sin”? Then I just found out. Jazakallah Khair brother, it solved all my problems.

  • Sausagepants

    May Allah (SWT) reward you for this article and make us all of those who seek His repentance.

  • Honepentance

    It is indeed hard except for those who are humble. Who bear in mind it is to Allah they belong and to Allah one day they must return. The moral perspective is the core of things. Tawba starts from within. No regrets = arrogance. No gimmicks = Know my sins. Then regret and stop them to the end. Oh Allah please Help us repent. Audhoo billah. Astaghfirullah.

  • Sam

    thank so so much brother, I honestly appreciate this article…may Allah subhana wa ta3ala grant you and your family paradise”

  • diamilatou sow

    mashaallah very good essay may allah have mercy on all of us on the day of qiama

  • Chantelle

    Hi my arabic reading isnt the best, could you please translate the arabic in english just like you have translated the meaning. But if you could translate in english writting but in arabic.

  • Ibrahim

    Thanks for Jazakallah-Khairun

  • Zain

    May Allah Bless you for this well documented article , I am about to Perform My Tepentance . Allah Wills , My Sins will be Forgiving . Insha Allah this will be a continual act in my life . Not just today. Thanks a lot
    May Almighty Allah accept our Ibadah

  • Zain

    I meant Repentance  .

  • mohammed shameer

    masha allah. thank you brother for sharing good information.

  • sana

    Few monthes ago I did something very childish that now when I look back I don’t even know why I did it. I stole some things from my roommate and I have them away to people. I was supposed to keep her things in my room but I took somethings from them. I went back home to have my engagement and I saw hell with my eyes. Everything was going wrong. Our engagement event was all messed up. The best time of my life turned out to he the worst part of my life . At the time I didn’t realize it. But now when I look back I realize it was because of what I did. I got my lesson I want to do repentance. I want to ask Allah for forgiveness. My roommate sees me as her sister she doesn’t have anyone here but me. I don’t want to tell her anything. Even though I think she knows it was me and not anyone else. I regret what I have done everyday. I want to pay her the money some how. And just do towbah. Please help me. Please.

  • http://www.youtube.com/abdelbaasit1 Abd Al-Baasit

    Ma sha Allah – may Allah reward you for your intention (determination) to leave the sin as soon as possible, and to fix up this problem Allah willing. You said that your goal is to never come near interest again. This, in and of itself, is a sign of a good Tawbah. Where the person is determined to leave the sin, and also he is feeling remorseful.

    As for the condition of Tawbah that you must “stop the sin”, this is according to capacity and ability. If one is able, and he does not, then his Tawbah may not be accepted. But if one is unable at the current time, then لا يكلف الله نفسا إلا وسعها Allah does not burden a person more than his capacity.

    So I understand that its gonna take some time to get out of this… a person should never ever delay the Tawbah (Repentance). One should repent immediately to Allah – and as for the leaving of this sin, it will happen in due course (in sha Allah). * And by Allah’s mercy, He will accept your Tawbah because of your remorse and your determination to leave the sin. He will not leave you unforgiven, or out of His mercy, because of this matter which is out of your hands now. Rather, I’m confident that He will accept your repentance due to the previously mentioned factors.

    May Allah reward you for your concern & bless all of us with a Sincere Tawbah this Ramadaan :)

  • http://youthmusings.wordpress.com/ Arif Kabir

    In Surah Zumar, Ayah 53, Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) says, “Say: “O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah. for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” Other than Shirk, no sin is too great for the Most Merciful to forgive. We pray that Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) forgives all of our sins, keeps us away from all types and forms of Shirk, and gives us Jannatul Firdaus. Ameen…