Sincere Repentance – The Aftermath


We should know that repentance is a great act of worship, and that Allah promises those who med their ways and repent that He will forgive them.

Allah says: “Say: ‘O my servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of Allah’s Mercy. Truly, Allah forgives all sins. Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.” [Sûrah al-Zumar: 53]

He says: “Announce (O Muhammad) to my servants that I am indeed the Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful” [Sûrah al-Hijr: 49]

He says: “And most surely I am most forgiving to the one who repents and believes and does good, then continues to follow right guidance.” [Sûrah TâHâ: 82]

The Prophet (peace be upon him) tells us how much Allah loves our repentance:
A believer sees his sins as if he is standing beneath a mountain that he fears is about to fall on top of him. A wanton sinner sees his sins as if they were like a fly that settles on his nose that he can easily shoo away…

Allah is so happy when His servant repents – He is as happy as a man who is wandering in a barren wasteland after waking from a nap to find his steed had wandered off with all his food and provisions. Then, after the heat and his thirst become severe, he falls asleep in the same place and wakes to find his steed standing before him.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (6308) and Sahîh Muslim (2744)]

For repentance to be sincere, the person must desist from committing the sin with a sincere resolve never to go back to the sin again.

Allah says: “And those who, when they commit an indecency or do injustice to their souls, remember Allah and ask forgiveness for their sins – and who forgives sins but Allah – and (who) do not knowingly persist in what they have done. For such the reward is forgiveness from their Lord, and Gardens with rivers flowing underneath – an eternal dwelling. How excellent a recompense for those who work (and strive)!” [Sûrah Al `Imrân: 135-136]

When a person repents sincerely, he can look forward to Allah’s forgiveness and His reward.

However, the person should be aware that just because he has resolved himself to stay away from sin – this does not mean that Satan is going to give up on him. He should not expect that everything is going to be smooth sailing from then on.

Satan and his minions form both men and jinn do everything they can to encourage us to fall into sin. This is Satan’s purpose ever since Allah expelled Satan from His grace. Satan wants nothing other than to lead Adam’s descendants astray. He will even try to lead us astray on the very straight path we are striving to follow.

Allah tells us: “He said: Now, because You have sent me astray, verily I shall lurk in ambush for them on Your straight path. Then I shall come upon them from before them and from behind them and from their right hands and from their left hands, and You will not find most of them grateful.” [Sûrah al-A`râf: 16-17]

After repenting for our sins and starting anew, we may find that some of the old sinful days creep into our memories from time to time. This happens to a lot of people. There are some things that we can do to avoid this problem or at least minimize it:

1. We can find other things to occupy our minds. When our minds are not busy with something, they are like an empty container that will get filled with something. If we do not fill our minds with good thoughts, bad ones will certainly creep in. We should keep ourselves occupied with either our worship or our livelihood, or in study, or even with sports.

2. Our greatest weapon against those bad and tempting thoughts is the remembrance of Allah. We should keep up His remembrance and be constant in seeking forgiveness.

Allah says: “Those who fear Allah, when a thought of evil from Satan assaults them, bring Allah to remembrance, when lo! they see (aright)!” [Sûrah al-A`râf: 201]

Commentators on this verse say: “Whenever the feel the inclination to commit a sin – or actually fall into sin – the recall Allah’s punishment as well as His immense reward. They remember His promise of good and His threat of what befalls sin. Because of this, they turn to Him in repentance.”

We can look again at where Allah says: “Allah says: “And those who, when they commit an indecency or do injustice to their souls, remember Allah and ask forgiveness for their sins…” [Sûrah Al `Imrân: 135]

3. When thoughts of our past sins come to mind, we should bring into our thoughts how ugly those sins were and how shameful. We should remind ourselves how much our Lord hates those behaviors. We should remind ourselves to feel gratitude that Allah has spared us from those sins and promised us His forgiveness.

4. We should cultivate the habit of reading the Qur’ân with understanding, and of contemplating on its teachings, especially the verses that speak of Allah’s reward in the Hereafter for the righteous and His punishment for the iniquitous.

5. We should seek out good company who will strengthen our resolve to stay away from sin and encourage us to be good people.

6. We should seek Allah’s help in patience and in supplication. We must ask Allah to strengthen our hearts and make us constant.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), in spite of his being divinely protected from error, used to beseech Allah saying: “O Allah, You who turn our hearts, turn my heart toward Your religion.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhî (2140)]