It is returning from such a thing that is despised by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, in its appearance and concealment. It is turning to such a thing that pleases Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala in its appearance and concealment. The real meaning of Tawbah [repentance] is to return. It is said that he who turns away from opposition, out of shyness for Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and fearing His punishment, is indeed the real repentant. Repentance is Fard ‘Ayn on every Muslim, as proven from the Qur’an, Sunnah and Ijma [consensus of Muslim scholars].
Evidence from the Qur’an
In the Qur’an, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,
“And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed.” [an-Nur 24: 31]
And He says,
“O you who have believed, repent to Allah with sincere repentance.” [at-Tahreem :8]
In both the ayaat, we find clear instruction for the believers to repent. It is the evidence for Tawbah being obligatory. And it is also the proof that repentance is not only for the disobedient and those who mix good deeds with bad deeds because Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is addressing the People of Emaan [faith]: O believers.
And that thing which additionally makes repentance obligatory is the statement of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala,
“And whoever does not repent – then it is those who are the wrongdoers.” [al-Hujarat 49: 11]
From here He divides His servants into two categories: one repentant [ta’ib] and the other unjust [zalim]; when injustice is haram [impermissible] than Tawbah becomes mandatory.
In fact, when one does not repent he is committing an injustice against himself. The remorse of sin takes over us, when we don’t turn to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, the guilt takes the form of depression. Through Tawbah, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala wants us to free ourselves from misery and pain. But man falls for Satanic traps and does not think of repentance.
When one commits one mistake, in order to conceal that error he utters lies or commits another sin. In doing so, sometimes he is unjust with other people and harms them. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala commands us neither to be unjust to ourselves nor to others.
Evidence from the Sunnah
The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam instructed to repent when he said, “O people! Repent before Allah. Indeed, I seek forgiveness from Him hundred times a day.” [Saheeh Muslim]
The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam used to seek repentance 70-100 times a day. Because he was concerned about his Hereafter. He who is concerned about his Hereafter, will be conscious of doing Tawbah regularly. It does not require more than sincere regret of one’s mistakes and attentiveness of the heart while making Tawbah.
ACTIVITY: Make it your habit to do istighfar 100 times a day every morning after Fajr prayer and every evening after ‘Asr. You can also do istighfar when you lie down to sleep.
Evidence from Ijma
Ibn Qadamah said that there is consensus of Muslim scholars over repentance. [Mukhtasir Minhaj al-Qasideen]
Shaikh ul Islam, Ibn Taimiyyah said, “For every person there is no way out except through repentance. It is obligatory on both the predecessors and successors.” [Majmuh al-Fatawa]
Qurtabi said, “There is no disagreement regarding repentance being obligatory on the Ummah, and indeed it is Fard ‘Ayn.” [Al-Jami’ ul Ehkam al-Qur’an]
My Dear Brother!
It is the mercy of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala over you that He declared repentance to be obligatory. It is so that He can forego and forgive your sins and remove your evil doings. Thus, Allah azwa jala is independent of our obedience and actions. As Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said,
“Their meat will not reach Allah, nor will their blood, but what reaches Him is piety from you. Thus have We subjected them to you that you may glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and give good tidings to the doers of good.” [al-Hajj 22: 37]
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala made Tawbah compulsory out of His mercy for us. He desires that we should be cleansed of our filth and return to Him pure. We spend so much time on our physical appearance but what about our heart’s state? We know all the beauty treatments to improve our complexion while our heart is being blackened with sins. The cleansing of our heart deserves more attention than our physical beauty. When the heart is cleansed of its filth, the outward will become beautiful on its own.
So, o my dear brother! Hasten toward sincere repentance. And every day and all the time make fresh Tawbah because he who returns from his sin and he who is ashamed of it, is not called the persistent one even if he errs more than seventy times a day.
We are all sinful people. No one should consider himself free from making Tawbah. Shed honest tears of repentance and sincerely turn to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala with renewed commitment. Take Tawbah seriously.