Don’t navigate to another page or tab thinking this is meant for sinners, wrongdoers and those who’ve been misguided. This is for you, dear descendant of Adam. Yes, *you*. Don’t mistake istighfar and tawbah to be exclusive rituals of Ramadan and Hajj alone. They are, in fact, a way of life.
As humans, we are bound to err and sin.
It was narrated from Anas that the Messenger of Allah said:
“Every son of Adam commits sin, and the best of those who commit sin are those who repent.’” 1
Each and every Muslim commit minor sins, whereas only a small percentage of the Muslim population commit major sins. Regardless of how small or big it is, a sin, as the name implies is a sin. Because, it is all about disobedience to Allah.
Deprived rizq, reduced blessings, loss of peace, depression, anxiety, worries, emptiness are some of the numerous side effects of sins, and the list is endless. A soul cannot be healthy with all those scars of sins. The only treatment for souls with traces of transgression is istighfar and tawbah. Istighfar and tawbah are not something strange, new or person specific. Rather, all the prophets and messengers of Allah had employed this in their lives. Yes! Even the Prophets and Messengers are not exceptions.
“Our Lord, we have wronged ourselves, and if You do not forgive us and have mercy upon us, we will surely be among the losers”” (Al-A’raf, 7:23)
“O people, seek repentance from Allah. Verily I seek repentance from Him a hundred times a day.” 2
Allah willed the prophets to err and then repent. He has His divine wisdom by telling us their stories, so that we may derive lessons from them. This makes it crystal clear that istighfar and tawbah are mandatory, not optional.
Istighfar – Seeking Allah’s forgiveness
It’s the process of admitting our sin and being painfully apologetic for the sin we have committed. We should have some moments of privacy with our Lord, and beg Him to purify us by forgiving our misdeeds. We can plea in any language we like, for He knows them all.
“And ask Allah for His forgiveness. Truly, Allah is oft-forgiving, most merciful” (Al Baqarah, 2:199)
Tawbah – Turning back to Allah
Tawba is a journey (Hijra) from the disliked to the liked; from disobedience to obedience; from Allah’s anger to His grace. 3
Tawbah completes the purification of soul and it has got a sequence of requisites to be fulfilled. Some of the steps mentioned below are in and of themselves istighfar.
- Guilty about the past and urgency for a sinless future.
We are expected to feel sorry for what we have committed, develop a need for change and get motivated towards a life without sins. Guilt is but a blessing and thus, we should make it our motivator for change.
- Pure intentions made only for the sake of Allah.
- A strong will not to do it again!
We should vow not to return back to the sin once again. Without this determination, our tawbah isn’t completed. The more we sin, the more our hearts become rusty.
It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah said:
“When the believer commits sin, a black spot appears on his heart. If he repents and gives up that sin and seeks forgiveness, his heart will be polished. But if (the sin) increases, (the black spot) increases. That is the Ran that Allah mentions in His Book: “Nay! But on their hearts is the Ran (covering of sins and evil deeds) which they used to earn.” [83:14] 4
- A promise not to repeat it again!
“O you who have believed, repent to Allah with sincere repentance.” (At-Tahreem 66:8)
To do this, you have to:
- Recognize the sin you do: You know about yourself better than anyone. You know what creates a gap between you and your Rabb. Therefore, it’s you who must diagnose the root cause of the problem and remove it once and forever.
- Find out what motivates you to commit the sin: It’s very easy to sin. It is you who should figure out what time, which situation, which feeling and what thought makes you commit a sin. Lock all those doors for verily, you have their keys with you.
By doing these, you can implement tawbah throughout your life.
- Compensation for the companion of the act.
If the sin you have committed involves another human being, you should do justice to him/ her by seeking forgiveness from them.
Except for those who repent, believe and do righteous work. For them Allah will replace their evil deeds with good. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful. (Al Furqan, 25:70)
Possible pitfall of tawbah.
The most common pitfall we fall into while doing istighfar and tawbah is losing hope in Allah . Shaitan targets such souls and whispers that their sins are too big to be forgiven by Allah. However, most of the time, we fail to realize that it’s shirk to think that the power of Allah’s forgiveness is lesser than the power of our sins!
Say, “O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah . Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.” (Az-Zumar, 39:53)
Messenger of Allah said, “Verily, Allah is more delighted with the repentance of His slave than a person who lost his camel in a desert land and then finds it (unexpectedly)”. 5