The Merits of Repentance
By: Shaheed Ayatullah Abdul Husain Dastghaib Shirazi
1. It makes man a beloved of God
Allah (S.w.T.) says in Surah al-Baqarah, Verse 222: Surely Allah loves those who turn much (to Him).
Imam Sadiq (a.s.) said, Allah becomes pleased with the Tawba of a Mu’min just as you are pleased on finding your lost thing. (al-Kāfi)
2. Evils are turned into good deeds
Tawba does not only removes the darkness of sins but it also replaces the darkness with light. The Almighty says, “Except him who repents and believes and does a good deed; so these are they of whom Allah changes the evil deeds to good ones; and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. And whoever repents and does good, he surely turns to Allah a (goodly) turning.” (Surah Furqān 25:70-71)
3. Praiseworthy Prayer of Angels
Allah Almighty says, “Those (angels) who bear the (Arsh) power and those around celebrate the praise of their Lord and believe in Him and ask protection for those who believe: Our Lord! Thou embraces all things in mercy and knowledge, therefore grant protection to those who turn (to Thee) and follow Thy way, and save them from the punishment of the hell...” (Surah Ghāfir, 40:7)
4. The repentant will go to Paradise
Allah Almighty says, “And those who when they commit an indecency or do injustice to their souls remember Allah and ask forgiveness for their faults – And Who forgives the faults but Allah, and (who) do not knowingly persist in what they have done. (as for) these – their reward is forgiveness from their Lord, and gardens beneath which rivers flow, to abide in them, and excellent is the reward of the labourers.” (Surah Āli- ‘Imran 3:135-136)
5. Tawba gives happiness in life
Almighty Allah has said, And you that ask forgiveness of your Lord, then turn to Him; He will provide you with a goodly provision to an appointed term and bestow His Grace on everyone with Grace). (Surah Hūd 11:3)
Imam Ja’far Sadiq (a.s.) says, “The lifespan of some gets shortened because of their sins and some pass away at their appointed hour.”
Sins can shorten life span.
6. Prayer are accepted by Tawba
This will be discussed at length afterwards. It will be explained in detail how Tawba makes a supplication acceptable.
7. Tawba Brings good tidings from God
Allah Almighty says: And He it is Who accepts repentance from His servants and pardons the evil deeds and He knows what you do. (Surah Ash-Shūrā 42:25)
Imam Ja’far Sadiq (a.s.) says, Allah told Dawūd (a.s.); O Dawūd (a.s.)! Give good tidings to the sinners and show a ray of hope to the pious people. He said: My Lord! How shall I give good tidings to the sinners and show hope to the pious? The Lord said: Give good tidings to the sinners that I will accept their repentance and give hope to the pious so that they may not become proud of their piety and may not become self-centred because there is no one who may not be destroyed if I insist on taking his account.
8. Any number of sins will be pardoned through Tawba
Allah Almighty says: Say: O My servants! Who have acted extravagantly against their own souls, do not despair of the mercy of Allah; surely Allah forgives the faults altogether; surely He is the Forgiving, the Merciful. And return to your Lord time after time and submit to Him before there comes to you the punishment, then you shall not be helped. (Surah az-Zumar 39: 53-54)
This Ayat has put much emphasis on repentance.
It is the Ayat after which the Messenger of Allah (S) was satisfied regarding the sinners of his Ummah. The faithful should ponder upon the meaning and the commentary of the above verse.
Imam Riďa (a.s.) heard his companions say: May Allah curse those who fought against ‘Ali (a.s.). He said that they should add: Then he did not reform his soul by repentance.
Then he added, The sin that someone did not help ‘Ali (a.s.) nor did he regret it is greater than the sin of one who fought with ‘Ali (a.s.) and felt ashamed and performed Tawba.
This hadith shows that Tawba can cause even the most serious sin to be pardoned.
9. Breaking of Tawba does not nullify repentance
If a repentant breaks his promise or resolution and goes against it, his earlier Tawba will not be nullified. So he should take this opportunity to repent for his later sin and try his utmost to suppress sin and refrain from it.
Muhammad bin Muslim relates from Imam Baqir (a.s.) that the Imam said, O Muhammad bin Muslim! Every sin of a Mu’min for which he has repented is forgiven. For the future after repentance and forgiveness they must continue good deeds. By Allah no one has this merit except the faithful.
I inquired; what if someone does Tawba and Istighfar and then commits a sin and again repents? In response, the Imam said, O Muhammad bin Muslim! You know very well that a Mu’min can honestly be ashamed for his deeds. Then if he repents, will Allah not accept his Tawba?
I asked what if he sins a number of times? He said, Even then his Tawba will be accepted. Allah (S.w.T.) will pardon his sins because He is very kind. He will surely accept repentance and overlook our misdeeds. Beware! You may not make a Mu’min disheartened.
Abu Basīr says: I requested Imam Ja’far Sadiq (a.s.) to explain what was ‘Tawba Nasūh’ ordered by Allah? He said, “A repentance after which he never commits that sin again.”
I said, “Master! Is there anybody among us who would not sin ever again? The Imam replied,
“O Abu Basīr! Verily God loves His slave who gets deceived more and then repents over it.”
Another Hadith says that begging pardon after an error is the best course.
10. The Door of Tawba is open forever
Imam Baqir (a.s.) said, Adam (a.s.) requested God Almighty: My Lord! You have imposed Satan on me. So grant something to me also. Allah Almighty replied: O Adam! Yes, I have appointed something for you also. It is that if anyone from your progeny intends to sin, his sin will not be recorded. If he has sinned actually that sin (one only) will be noted. But when he will intend to do a good deed a good will instantly be noted in his account. Then if he will actually do that good deed, ten rewards will be credited to his account. Adam (a.s.) said: My Lord! Grant me something more. Allah responded: another bounty for you is that if, after committing a sin, they will seek pardon from Me, I will forgive them. Adam (a.s.) requested: My Lord! Add something more. Allah said: I have provided Tawba for your progeny and it is so vast that even if they beg My pardon at the last moment of their life, I will forgive them. He said: My Lord! This is enough.
The Holy Prophet (S) said, “Anyone who does Tawba a year before his death, it will be accepted by God.”
Then he (S) repeated, “A year is a long time. If he begs pardon only a month before his end he will be forgiven.”
Then he said, “A month is also too much. Even if he begs pardon only a week before his departure it will be accepted.”
Then he said, “A week is also much more. If the sinner prays for pardon only a day before his death, his repentance will be accepted.”
Then he said, “A day is also a long time. Even if a man repents just before the arrival of the angel of death, his Tawba will be accepted.” (Usul al-Kāfi: Chapter of Tawba)
Regarding this hadith, Allamah Majlisi (a.r) comments: The stages of Tawba will depend on perfection and acceptance because a perfect repentance will wash out all the dirt from the mirror of the soul. Therefore, make the mirror of your heart shining with weeping before Allah, with good deeds and with humility. If one is unable to repent in the last year of his life he can do so in the last month. If not in the last month then in the last week. If not even in the last week prior to death then just one day before the final departure. If he cannot repent even a day before death then he may do so only an hour before his demise. The Most Merciful Allah will forgive him. But traditions have pointed out even the particular moment at which it will be of no use.
Shaykh Bahai writes in his book Arbaīn that the particular moment is the time of seeing the angel of death. It maybe the time when one becomes sure of his death or he may feel that all bonds with life are breaking off. There is general agreement among religious scholars that Tawba of the last moment of death will be of no avail.
Verse 17-18 of Surah an-Nisā’ state: Repentance with Allah is only for those who do evil in ignorance, then turn (to Allah) soon, so these it is to whom Allah turns (mercifully), and Allah is ever Knowing, Wise. And repentance is not for those who go on doing evil deeds, until when death comes to one of them. He says: Surely now I repent; nor (for) those who die while they are unbelievers. These are they for whom We have prepared a painful chastisement.