‘Tawbah’ refers to asking repentance from Allah for the sins that we commit. Making sincere repentance or Tawbah raises a Muslim’s stature with Allah because the process of making Tawbah involves the following three steps:
- Recognizing ones mistakes and sins,
- Feeling ashamed of violating Allah’s trust of complete submission to His commands, and
- Making a promise never to repeat such behavior.
According to many scholars, if one of these three is missing, then the repentance is not sincere. If the sin has to do with the rights of another person, then the fourth condition is added, which is to restore the rights of that person. For example, if violating of rights involves money or property, etc, it must be returned to him; if it had to do with slandering him etc, then his forgiveness must be asked, and so on.
We know both from Quran and Hadith that Allah gets very pleased when we leave all that is undesirable to Allah, and revert to the straight path. The prophet (s) said in a Hadith:
“Every son of Adam sins, and the best of those who sin are those who repent.”
Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 2499; classed as hasan by al-Albaani.
This article reviews some of the merits and blessings of Tawbah.
‘Tawbah’ paves the way for success
By choosing to stay the course prohibited by Allah, we consciously forego Allah’s mercy and the associated benefits and rewards, His protection and help. However, the moment we sincerely repent, we can be assured of Allah’s help in our lives that in turn is a precursor to success in this life and the hereafter. Allah tells us in the Quran:
“…And beg Allah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful. “
Quran (Surah An-Noor, Verse 31)
Repentance, therefore, paves the way for Allah’s Grace in this life and the hereafter. Within this world, Allah promises us of wealth, children, and increased blessings. Consider the following verses from the Quran:
“Seek the forgiveness of your Lord, and turn to Him in repentance, that He may grant you good enjoyment, for a term appointed, and bestow His abounding Grace to every owner of grace. But if you turn away, then I fear for you the torment of a Great Day (i.e. the Day of Resurrection).”
Quran (Surah Hood, Verse 3)
Allah also tells us in the Quran that Prophet Hood told his people:
“And O my people! Ask forgiveness of your Lord and then repent to Him, He will send you (from the sky) abundant rain, and add strength to your strength, so do not turn away as Mujrimoon (criminals, evil doers, etc)”
Quran (Surah Hood, Verse 52)
Tawbah keeps us away from hardships and trials
We know that our sins can haunt us in this life and the hereafter. The more sins we commit, the more we could be deprived of Allah’s blessings and the more trials and challenges we could be put through. Repentance, therefore, can provide us a way out of our miseries and troubles of this life. Allah tells us in the Quran:
“See they not that they are put in trial once or twice every year (with different kinds of calamities, disease, famine)? Yet, they turn not in repentance, nor do they learn a lesson (from it).”
Quran (Surah At-Taubah, Verse 126)
Tawbah helps clear our conscience
We know that sins are always associated with an accompanying sense of guilt that gets lodged into our hearts. While we can always turn a blind eye to those guilty feelings, we know from experience that such guilt is responsible to slowly chip away at our happiness. Tawbah, on the other hand, by its very nature, removes that guilt and fills our hearts with happiness.
Tawbah pleases Allah
Let’s remind ourselves that turning to Allah in repentance greatly pleases Him because it is one of the most beloved acts of worship to Him. By joining the rank of those who repent, we also earn Allah’s love. Allah says in the Quran:
“…Truly, Allah loves those who turn unto Him in repentance and loves those who purify themselves”
Quran (Surah Al-Baqarah, Verse 222)
In narrating one of the popular hadith, Ibn Masud stated that Allaah’s Messenger (sal allaahu alaiyhi wa sallam) said:
Allah is more pleased with the repentance of his slave than a man who encamps at a place where his life is jeopardized. But he has his riding animal carrying his food and water. He then rests his head and sleeps for a short while and wakes up to find his riding animal missing. He starts looking for it and suffers from severe heat and thirst or what Allah wished him to suffer from. He then says: ‘I will go back to my place.’ He returns and sleeps again. Then when he wakes up, he raises his head to find his riding animal standing besides him. So one can imagine the happiness that this brings to him. (The prophet continued by stating that) Allah is more pleased with the repentance of His slave than the situation of happiness that this person experiences after he was saved from death.’
The scholars have also observed that those who make a sincere Taubah (repentance) also experience such happiness, and it has a profound influence on one and the person’s heart.
Tawbah is a life transformational process
Tawbah, by its very nature requires one not just to abandon the old ways of sinful behavior but instead requires us to replace those with righteous deeds. Turning to Allah in repentance, therefore, is a truly transformational process. Allah says in the Quran:
“Except those who repent and do righteous deeds, and openly declare (the truth which they concealed). These, I will accept their repentance. And I am the One Who accepts repentance, the Most Merciful.”
Quran (Surah Al-Baqarah, Verse 160)
Tawbah makes our Duas more ‘worthy’ of a response
We know from many of the prophet’s Hadith that Allah is more responsive to the Duas and calls of those who are oppressed, travelers, the ones who ask Allah in a state of prostration, the ones who are fasting, and so on. This is because such states bring out humility and humbleness in a person’s heart and Allah thus responds more to people in such states. Many scholars have thus noted that as repentance and Tawbah also bring forth humility and humbleness in a person’s heart, our Duas are more likely to be heard in such a state.
Sincere Tawbah (repentance) leads to forgiveness of ones sins
Both Quran and Hadith are clear that those who repent sincerely to Allah, acknowledging their sins, and commit not to return again to those sins will have their sins forgiven. The Prophet (s) said: “If the servant acknowledges his sin and repents, then Allah accepts his repentance.” (Reported by Muslim, End; Trans. vol. 4, no. 6673)
Finally, let’s remember that Allah has reminded us repeatedly in the Quran about repentance and that His doors for accepting repentance are always open. All that’s needed from us is to let go of our stubbornness and use the opportunity to turn to Him in repentance. Allah says in the Quran repeatedly:
“Verily, He is the One Who forgives (accepts repentance), the Most Merciful.”
Quran (Surah Al-Baqarah, Verse 37)
He also tells us in the Quran:
Say: “O Ibadee (My slaves) who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah, verily Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
Quran (Surah Az-Zumar, Verse 53)
The question we ought to ask ourselves is that if we know we are engaged in certain sinful behavior, why wouldn’t we then stop and ask Allah’s forgiveness? As Allah says in the Quran:
Will they not repent to Allah and ask His Forgiveness? For Allah is Oft Forgiving, Most Merciful.
Quran (Surah Al-Maeda, Verse 74)