Q: When I was a young man, I committed some sins. Alhamdulilaah [All praise is due to Allah], for having guided me to make Tawbah (repentance to Allah). However, I still have doubts about whether Allaah has accepted my Tawbah or not. Kindly enlighten me regarding Salat ut-Tawbah (Prayer of Repentance). May Allaah reward you with the best!

A: Alhamdulillaah, tawbah wipes out all one’s past sins. Therefore, you should give up your doubts that Allaah has turned your Tawbah away. Rather, you have to expect good from your Lord and have firm belief that He has accepted your heartfelt Tawbah. This is based on the ayah in which Allaah says:

And all of you beg Allaah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful.” [Suraat un-Nur (24): 31]

In the above aayah, Allaah has made success contingent upon making Tawbah. Anyone who turns in Tawbah to Allaah, will achieve success. Allaah (Glorified be He) says:

And verily, I am indeed forgiving to him who repents, believes (in My Oneness, and associates none in worship with Me) and does righteous good deeds, and then remains constant in doing them, (till his death). Allaah is the Ever-Truthful Who never breaks His Promises.” [Suraat Ta­-Ha (20): 82]

Allaah (Glorified be He) also says:

O you who believe! Turn to Allaah with sincere repentance! It may be that your Lord will expiate from you your sins, and admit you into Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise)” [Suraat ut-Tahrim (66): 8]

In the above aayah, Allaah’s Promise, as indicated by the words “It may be …”, should be understood to mean that He will surely fulfill His Promise.

Therefore, you have to expect good from Allaah and assume that He has accepted your Tawbah provided that you are sincere and full of remorse for committing these past sins. You also have to be determined not to return to doing them again. You have to be aware of incitements of Satan. In one hadith qudsy (revelation from Allaah in the prophet’s (‘alayhi ssalaatu wassallam) words), Allaah (Glorified and Exalted be He) says:

I am near to the thought of My Servant as he thinks about Me.”

Therefore, you ought to have firm belief that Allaah has accepted your Tawbah. The Messenger of Allaah (peace be upon him) said:

Let none of you die without expecting good from Allaah (may He be Glorified and Exalted).” (Related by Muslim in his Saheeh)

As for Salaat ul-Tawbah, it was authentically reported on the authority of Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

Anyone who commits a sin, performs Wudu’ (ablution) properly, and then offers two Rak’ahs (units of Prayer) wherein he asks Allaah to forgive his sins, Allaah will accept his Tawbah.” (Related by Ahmad)

May Allah grant us success!

Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah (751H):

There are two types of Istighfar;
1. Istaghfar that is mentioned alone.
2. Istaghfar that is mentioned with Taubah.

The Istaghfar that is mentioned alone is found in the words of Nuh (peace and blessings be upon him):

I said (to them): ‘Ask forgiveness from your Lord; Verily, He is Oft-Forgiving; ‘He will send rain to you in abundance [Nuh: 10-11]

and in the words of Saalih (peace and blessings be upon him) :

“Why seek you not the Forgiveness of Allah, that you may receive mercy?” [An-Naml 46]

Allaah also said:

“…and ask Allah for His Forgiveness. Truly, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most-Merciful. [Al-Baqarah: 199]

And Allaah would not punish them while you (Muhammad) are amongst them, nor will He punish them while they seek (Allaah’s) Forgiveness.” [Al-Anfaal 33]

Istaghfar mentioned with Taubah is found in the following verses from the Most Merciful’s speech.

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” [Huud: 3]

Ask forgiveness of your Lord and then repent to Him, He will send you (from the sky) abundant rain.” [Huud: 52] .

Also Prophet Saalih’s words to his people have Taubah and Istaghfar mentioned together:

He brought you forth from the earth and settled you therein, then ask forgiveness of Him and turn to Him in repentance.” [Huud: 61]

and Shuaib’s speech as well has these two actions joined together.

And ask forgiveness of your Lord and turn unto Him in repentance. Verily, my Lord is Most Merciful, Most Loving.” [Huud: 90]

Al-Istaghfar is like Taubah and in reality it is. Contained in Istaghfar is the request of Allah’s forgiveness. Allah’s forgiveness is the removal of the sin, its affect and protection from the sin’s harm…

Al-Istaghfar contains At-Taubah and vice versa. Both of these actions are included in each other. Whenever both of these words are mentioned together Al-Istaghfar is protection from the consequence of any previous evil. At-Taubah on the other hand is to return to Allah obediently and the search of His protection from the sin’s effect in the future.

There are two sins. The sin that was committed. Hence a person does Al-Istaghfar- seeking protection from its harm and evil. And then there is the second sin which is the one that is feared to occur in the future.

At-Taubah is the resolution to avoid the sin and penitence to Allah. Penitence to Allah holds two things. The first is the act of returning to Allah in order to be protected from the result of previous sin and evil. The second thing held in At-Taubah is the search for protection against evil that might befall you in the future resulting from the evil of yourself and deeds.

The sinner is like a driver who takes a road that leads to his death. That road doesn’t take him where he intended to go. He is ordered to take alternative route and travel the road that leads to his safety. That alternative route takes him where he wanted to go and as a result he is successful.

Therefore in this instance there are two things that are necessary;

  1. Separation from something
  2. Recourse to a different way

At-Taubah is the recourse and Al-Istaghfar is the separation. Whenever these words are mentioned separately one is included in the other. Allah knows best, but that’s why He said,

And ask forgiveness of your Lord and turn unto Him in repentance”  [Huud: 90]

This is the recourse to the path of truth after separation from the path of falsehood.

In conclusion, Al-Istaghfar is from the chapter of the removal of harm. And At-Taubah is from the chapter of requesting a good outcome. Therefore Al-Maghfirah is protection against sin’s evil and At-Taubah is the obtainment of good after the protection is sought. Each one is included in the other when mentioned alone. Allah knows best.

  • Transcribed from: Madarajus Sallikeen, Ibn Qayyim | Translated by Abu Aaliyah Abdullah ibn Dwight Battle

Ibn ul-Qayyim || Al Fawaa’id [pg. 111-112]

Whosoever desires to purify his heart, then let him prefer Allaah to his desires.

The heart which is clinging to its desires is veiled from Allaah, commensurate to the degree that it is attached to them, the hearts are the vessels of Allah upon his earth, hence the most beloved of them to him, are the ones most compassionate, pure and resistant to deviation. They (the transgressors) preoccupied their hearts [in the pursuance] of the Dunya, would that they preoccupied them with Allah and the hereafter, then surely they would have reflected upon the intended meaning of his poignant words and verses. Their hearts would have returned to their masters with wisdom, marvelously curious and [in possession] of the rarest of precious gems.If the heart is nourished with remembrance, its thirst quenched with contemplation and cleansed from corruption, it shall witness remarkable and wondrous matters, inspiring wisdom.Not every individual who is endowed with knowledge and wisdom, and assumes its character is from amongst its people. Rather the people of knowledge and wisdom are those who infused life into their hearts by slaying their desires. As for the one who slays his heart and vitalized his desires, then knowledge and wisdom is naked upon his tongue.

The destruction of the heart occurs by security [in this Dunya] and negligence, its fortification occurs by fear and remembrance. If the heart renounces the pleasures of the Dunya, it settles upon the [pursuance of] pleasures of the Hereafter, and amongst those who call towards it. Should the heart become content with the pleasures of the Dunya, those pleasures [of the hereafter] cease [to continue].

Yearning for Allaah and his meeting is like the gentle breeze blowing upon the heart, extinguishing the blaze of the Dunya. Whosoever caused his heart to settle with his Lord shall be in a state, calm and tranquil, and whosoever sent it amongst the people shall be disturbed and excessively perturbed.For the love of Allah shall not enter a heart, which contains the love of this world, except as a camel, which passes through the eye of a needle.Hence, the most beloved servant before Allah is the one whom He places in His servitude, whom He selects for His love, whom He causes to purify his worship for Him, dedicates his objectives for Him, his tongue for His remembrance, and his limbs for His service.

The heart becomes sick, as the body becomes sick, and its remedy is al-Tawbah and protection [from transgression]. It becomes rusty as a mirror becomes rusty, and its clarity is obtained by remembrance. It becomes naked as the body becomes naked, and its beautification is at-Taqwa. It becomes hungry and thirsty as the body becomes hungry and thirst, and its food and drink are knowledge, love, dependence, repentance and servitude.

Ibn Qayyim said: Your life in the present moment is in between the past and the future. So what has preceded can be rectified by tawbah (repentance), nadam (regret) and istighfar (seeking Allaah’s forgiveness). And this is something that will neither tire you, nor cause you to toil as you would with strenuous labour. Rather it is an action of the heart.

Then as regards the future (then it can be corrected) by withholding yourself from sins. And this abandonment is merely the leaving of something and to be at ease from it. This also is not action of the limbs, which requires you to strive and toil. Rather this is a firm resolve and intention of the heart – which will give rest to your body, heart and thoughts.

So as for what has preceded, then you rectify it with repentance. And as for the future – then you rectify it with firm resolve and intention. Neither of these involves any hardship or exertion of the limbs. But then your attention must be directed to your life in the present – the time between two times. If you waste it, then you have wasted the opportunity to be of the fortunate and saved ones. If you look after it, having rectified the two times – what is before and after it, as we have said – then you will be successful and achieve rest, delight and ever-lasting bliss.

However, looking after it is harder than that which comes before and after it, since guarding it involves keeping to that which is most befitting and beneficial for your soul, and that which will bring it success and well-being.

  • Transcribed from: Al-Fawaaid || Imam Ibn ul Qayyim al Jawziyyah – al-Fawaa’id, p151-152
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