Repentance in Islam (Tawbah, Taubah, Tobah): Seeking Forgiveness (Al-Istighfaar, Istighfar)
Repentance in IslamAllah (SWT) Most High says in Noble Qur’an, “Ask your Lord for forgiveness and then turn in repentance to Him…” (11:3)
Also Allah (SWT) Most High says in Noble Qur’an, “O you who believe! Turn (in repentance) to Allah with sincere repentance; Perhaps your Lord will remove your evil from you… ” (66:8)
It should not be forgotten that we, being human beings are prone to committing sins. Sinless are nobody in the universe except the Masumeen and the Noble Prophet Muhammad (saw). To seek pardon from Allah (SWT) is the instant remedy for every problem. Once a person came to Imam Ali (as) and asked him for the solution of repaying the debts, Imam Ali (as) was told to do Tawbah and seek repentance from Allah (SWT). The other person came asking for the remedy of a sickness, Imam Ali (as) was prescribed the same Tawbah and seek repentance from Allah (SWT). Yet another person came asking for the bestowing of an offspring from Allah (SWT) and Imam Ali (as) was also told to do Istighfar as much as possible.
The Noble Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: “The sign of the people of Hell is mostly because of the postponement of repenting (Tawbah and Istighfar).”
The Noble Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: “A sincere repentant never sins again as the milk drawn from the breast never can go back to its source.”
The Noble Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: “The repentant from a sin is as same as him who did not commit it.”
The Noble Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: “Nothing is more favorable to Allah (SWT) than a male or female repentant believer.”
The Noble Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: “There are four signs of one who is repentant: (1) He is sincere to Allah (SWT) in his actions (2) He shuns falsehood (3) He is firmly attached to truth and (4) He is eager to do good.”
Imam Ali (as) said: “The sin that makes you sad and repentant is more liked by Allah (SWT) than the good deed which turns you arrogant.”
Imam Ali (as) said: “A sincere repentant: (1) is ashamed of his past sins (2) takes up the duties overlooked and fulfils them (3) makes good the willfully ignored conditions of a trust managed by him (4) forgives those who provoke him (5) does not demand repayment of loans from those who are in financial distress (6) makes firm determination not to sin ever again (7) surrenders his self to the adoration, devotion and service of Allah (SWT) when it had swelled to the point of exploding due to inordinate consumption of worldly pleasures, transgression and disobedience.”
Imam Zainul Abideen (as) said: “My God! You are He who has opened a door to Your pardon and named it ‘repentance’ for You said, ‘Repent to God with unswerving (sincere) repentance’ (66:8). What is the excuse for him who remains heedless of entering the door after its opening?”
Imam Jafar Sadiq (as) said: “If a servant repents sincerely, Allah (SWT) loves him (and) so conceals his sins.”
Tawbah, Taubah, TobahRepentance is the cord of Allah (SWT) which those repenting must necessarily grasp; they need to clean their interior of their sins and testify against themselves before their Lord.
They should be repentant from the depths of their hearts with regards to their past misdeeds, and fearful with regards to the remaining period of their lives. The Auliya Allah (Friends of Allah (SWT)) repent for the (inappropriate) thoughts that may have passed through their minds, while the special ones repent for engaging themselves in anything other than Allah (SWT), even as the general masses repent for the sins committed by them.
It is vital that, in order to make amends for past (mis)deeds and refrain from committing sins in the future, the person repenting should not look upon any sin as being trivial and insignificant, but should always experience regret over his past lapses, keep his soul away from various kinds of lust and guide it towards struggle (against lust) and worship.
Allah (SWT) loves a believer who seeks forgiveness by asking for Tawbah and Istighfar. Tawbah is among the most praiseworthy acts of virtue for the believers.
Allah (SWT) is more pleased with the repentance of His servants than a person who found his lost camel in a waterless desert. In fact, Allah (SWT) loves to see the believer repent more than He hates to see him sin.
Allah (SWT) accepts the repentance of a believer for as long as he is not at the point of death. He (or she) who repents of a sin is like him who has committed no sin. Indeed Allah (SWT) loves a believing servant who sins and then realizes his mistake and greatly repents with a true heart and seeks His forgiveness, mercy, and intends with a true heart to never repeat the sin.
When a believer commits a sin and seeks Tawbah, Allah (SWT) becomes so happy and says: “My servant committed a sin and then he came to realize that he has a Lord who holds the sinner responsible and accountable, and also that He has a Lord who forgives the sins if asked for forgiveness: So let him be forgiven.”
Believers are on a path of continual improvement. People do make mistakes, but believers analyze their mistakes and take positive actions to correct them. This examination is critical for creating purity in every action. In this way, believers develop a lifestyle which is firmly grounded in the principles of faith, and as loved by Allah (SWT) and His Noble Prophet Muhammad (saw). All the sons of Adam are sinners, but the best of sinners are those who repent.
Dua: Oh Allah (SWT), let us become better Muslims by repenting for our sins, major and minor, intentionally or unintentionally, openly or secretly, and accept our repentance, and save us from repeating our sins. Aameen.
Repentance in Islam (Tawbah, Taubah, Tobah): Inventor of a Religion and Repentance
Al-Istighfaar, IstighfarImam Jafar Sadiq (as) related: “In ancient times there lived a man who sought to earn his livelihood and procure great wealth by lawful means but was unsuccessful. He then strived to achieve his objectives by unlawful means but once again failed.
Shaitan (Satan) appeared before him and said to him: “You tried to acquire great wealth by lawful as well as unlawful means but were unsuccessful. Do you want me to show you a way by which you would not only become wealthy but you would also attract numerous followers?”
The man expressed his willingness to know how he could get rich.
“Concoct a religion and invite people to follow it,” suggested Shaitan (Satan).
The man fabricated a religion and soon, he had a lot of followers through whom he became rich.
One day he realized that he had made a mistake by leading numerous people astray so he resolved to inform the people of the falsity of his religion and the error of his ways. But however hard he stressed and emphasized, the people simply refused to accept his word.
“Your previous views were correct; have you become skeptical of your own religion now?” they asked. When he heard these words, he got some shackles and chained himself. He pledged that he would not unchain himself until Allah (SWT) accepted his repentance (Tawbah and Istighfar).
Allah (SWT) revealed to the Prophet of the time to convey the following message to the person: “By My Honour! Even if you weep and supplicate to the extent that every ligament of your body falls apart, I shall never accept your repentance, till you inform those people who have died after having been led astray by you of the reality and they turn back from your religion.”
Repentance in Islam (Tawbah, Taubah, Tobah): Seeking Forgiveness (Al-Istighfaar, Istighfar)
Seeking Forgiveness (Al-Istighfaar, Istighfar)A person once heard a pious Muslim say that “For the last thirty years I am repenting for a sin and I don’t know how Allah (SWT) will deal with me regarding it?”
The listener asked: “What was your sin?”
The pious Muslim said: “I used to have a shop in the Bazaar. One day I heard that the whole Bazaar was burning so I rushed to see my shop. When I reached there I saw that except my shop all the shops were razed to the ground. I said ‘Al-Hamdulillah’ (All praise to Allah (SWT)); but immediately I realized my mistake. How can I call myself a Muslim when I couldn’t feel the loss of my neighbors? That is why I am repenting (Tawbah and Istighfar) for that lapse on my part for the last thirty years”.
Companion of Prophet Abu Lubabah: Seeking Forgiveness (Al-Istighfaar, Istighfar)
Abu Lubabah was one of the distinguished companions (Sahaba) of the Noble Prophet Muhammad (saw) and had participated in the battle of Uhud and the conquest of Makkah. One of the sensitive aspects of his life was the incident of his repentance (Tawbah and Istighfaar).
When the tribe of Bani Quraidhah violated their covenant with the Noble Prophet Muhammad (saw), the Noble Prophet Muhammad (saw) initiated a military expedition against them and besieged their fort. Some persons from the tribe of Aus approached him and requested: “Just as you had handed over the fate of the tribe of Bani Qainaqa’a to be decided by the tribe of Khazraj, leave it upon us to decide the fate of the tribe of Bani Quraidhah.”
“Will you be satisfied if I were to appoint one person from your tribe to rule in the matter?” the Noble Prophet Muhammad (saw) asked.
They agreed. The Noble Prophet Muhammad (saw) suggested Sa’d ibn Mu’adh, chief of the Bani Aus tribe in Yathrib but the Bani Quraidhah refused to accept him. They told him to send Abu Lubabah to them so that they could confer with him. The Noble Prophet Muhammad (saw) assigned Abu Lubabah, who had his house, property and family in the fort of Bani Quraidhah, the task of conducting consultations with them.
As soon as Abu Lubabah entered the fort, men and women, old and young, surrounded him and began lamenting and complaining to him (over the state of affairs) with the intention of attracting his pity and compassion. Then they asked: “Should we submit before the rule of the Noble Prophet Muhammad (saw)?”
“You could do that,” he replied, making a gesture (by pointing to his neck) to indicate that submission was equivalent to death.
Abu Lubabah quickly realized that by performing this act, he had been unfaithful and disloyal to the Noble Prophet Muhammad (saw). It was on this occasion that the following verse was revealed: “O you who believe! Be not unfaithful to Allah and the Messenger, nor be unfaithful to your trusts while you know. Know that your property and your children are a temptation, and that Allah is He with Whom there is a mighty reward.” Noble Qur’an (8:27-28)
Overcome with shame, he came out of the fort and proceeded straight towards the mosque of Madina and, tying himself to one of its pillars in the mosque, called out: “None should untie me till Allah (SWT) accepts my repentance (Tawbah and Istighfaar).”
Abu Lubabah remained in that state for ten to fifteen days, allowing himself to be untied only for prayers or to go to the washroom.
“If Abu Lubabah had come to me, I would have sought forgiveness for him but since he himself awaits Allah’s (SWT) forgiveness, leave him alone till Allah (SWT) forgives him,” the Noble Prophet Muhammad (saw) commented when he came to know what Abu Lababah had done.
Umm al-Momineen Umm Salamah states: “One day, at dawn, I saw the Noble Prophet Muhammad (saw) happy and smiling. May Allah (SWT) always keep you smiling! What is the reason for it?” I asked him.
The Noble Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: “Jibril (Gabriel) has informed me that Abu Lubabah’s repentance has been accepted.”
Companion of Prophet Abu Lubabah”Do I have your permission to inform him of the good news?” I asked.
“You may if you wish,” he answered. From inside the room I called out: “Glad tidings, O’ Abu Lubabah! Allah (SWT) has accepted your repentance.”
The people rushed forward to untie him but he ordered: “I place you under the oath of Allah (SWT) that none, except the Noble Prophet Muhammad (saw), should untie me.”
When the Noble Prophet Muhammad (saw) arrived in the mosque for the morning prayers, he untied Abu Lubabah from the pillar which stands even today, in the Mosque of the Noble Prophet Muhammad (saw) and is popularly known as the ‘Pillar of Repentance’ or the ‘Pillar of Abu Lubabah’.
Buhlul, the Gravedigger: Seeking Forgiveness (Al-Istighfaar, Istighfar) Repentance in Islam
Note: Not to be confused with Buhlul who lived during the time of Imam Musa Kadhim (as)
Mu’adh ibn Jabal was in tears when he arrived in the presence of the Noble Prophet Muhammad (saw) and greeted him. The Noble Prophet Muhammad (saw) replied to his greeting and asked: “What makes you cry?”
“At the door of the mosque, there is a good-looking youth who weeps as intensely as a mother whose young son has died, and he wishes to meet you,” replied Mu’adh ibn Jabal
The Noble Prophet Muhammad (saw) agreed to meet him.
The youth entered and greeted the Noble Prophet Muhammad (saw) who returned his greeting and enquired: “Why do you weep?”
“Why should I not weep? I have committed sins which Allah (SWT) will never forgive and He is bound to hurl me into Hell,” said the youth.
“Have you associated someone with Allah (SWT)?”
“Have you killed anybody?”
“Even if your sins are of the magnitude of mountains, Allah (SWT) shall forgive them,” said the Noble Prophet Muhammad (saw).
“My sins are greater than the mountains,” the youth explained.
“Are your sins in the magnitude of the seven earths, the seas, the sands, the trees, all that lies on the earth, in the skies, the stars, the Throne and the Chair?” asked the Noble Prophet Muhammad (saw).
“My sins are greater than all of these things.”
“Woe unto you! Are your sins greater than your Lord?”
The youth lowered his head and replied, “Allah (SWT) is devoid of all blemishes; it is my Lord, who is greater.”
“Would you not relate one of your sins to me?” enquired the Noble Prophet Muhammad (saw).
“Why not?” responded the youth, whose name was Buhlul. “For seven years I used to dig up the graves of the newly buried, take out their shrouds and sell them. One night, a maiden from amongst the Ansar (The Helpers) died and was buried in the cemetery. When I dug open her grave to remove the shroud from her body, the Shaitan (Satan) tempted me and I committed a grave sin. As I was turning back, the body called out to me: “O’ Youth! Don’t you fear the Ruler of the Day of Judgment? Woe unto you of the fire of the Day of Judgment!”
Having narrated this, the youth wanted to know what he should do to avoid punishment.
Buhlul, the Gravedigger: Seeking Forgiveness (Al-Istighfaar, Istighfar)”O’ Sinner! Stay away from me for I fear that I might burn in your fire too!” cried out the Noble Prophet Muhammad (saw).
The youth, Buhlul left, heading straight towards the mountains. He tied his hands to his neck and became engrossed in worship, supplications and seeking forgiveness.
For forty days, he wept day and night to the extent that even the wild beasts were affected by his weeping. After forty days he asked Allah (SWT) to either punish him by means of fire or forgive him, so that he might not have to face humiliation on the Day of Judgment.
Allah (SWT) revealed the following verse, which refers to the forgiveness of Buhlul: “And those who, when they commit an indecency or do injustices to their souls, remember Allah and ask forgiveness for their faults and who forgives the faults but Allah…” Noble Qur’an (3:135)
The Noble Prophet Muhammad (saw) recited this verse with a smiling face and then asked: “Who can take me to that youth?”
Mu’adh ibn Jabal agreed to take him. Accompanied with Mu’adh ibn Jabal, the Noble Prophet Muhammad (saw) went to the place where the youth was. The Noble Prophet Muhammad (saw) saw him standing between two boulders, hands tied to his neck and engaged in supplication. His face had become dark due to the scorching sun and all his eyelashes had fallen off due to the intense weeping. Wild beasts had gathered around him while the birds circled over his head, all of them weeping over his distressed and pitiable state.
The Noble Prophet Muhammad (saw) advanced towards him, untied his hands and cleared the soil from the top of his head.
“O’ Buhlul! Glad tidings for you; you have been liberated by Allah (SWT) from the fire (of Hell),” the Noble Prophet Muhammad (saw) said.
Then, turning to his companion (Sahaba), Mu’adh ibn Jabal the Noble Prophet Muhammad (saw) said, “This is how you should make amends for your sins.”