Islamic concepts

Tawbah توبة — returning to/near (Allāh)

and the Almighty says, "Ask your Lord for forgiveness and then turn in repentance to Him," (11:3)

What's stronger? Your evil deeds or Allāh’s mercy?

When a Muslim falls off track, the appropriate action is to return to Allāh, to make Tawbah. When you fall down, you get back up and get back on track. Tawbah is the opposite of going astray.

The act of returning from the disobedience of Allah, the Most High, to His obedience.

After error, you ask Allāh for amnesty, and you return to correct action.

There is also a chapter of the Qurʾān titled Sūrat al-Tawbah (chapter 9).

  • Does the Divine consider that bringing Muslims into compliance with a law is more important than punishing them for past offences?
  • does it erase the wrongdoing?

The prophet said "All humans are sinners, and the best of sinners are the repenters". In fact, for sins that are very difficult for a person to quit, Ibn Taymiyah says that merely asking for forgiveness constantly (istighfar) can be a way to wipe those sins, without the condition of quitting the sin permanently, and he cited a verse to support this opinion, I forgot the verse now though. He also said that sins are inevitable, and the smart ones are those who do enough good to wipe away the bad."

Even if you quit the sins for a while then do them again, that's much better than not even trying.

Q1: I fall into sin, then I repent, but my human soul which is prone to evil (my nafs) gets the better of me and I repeat the sin! Does this mean that my first act of repentance is cancelled out and that I still bear the burden of the earlier sin as well as the later sin?

A1: Most of the scholars say that it is not a condition of valid repentance that the person should never commit the sin again. The conditions of valid repentance are that the person should stop the sinful action immediately, feel sincere remorse for having done it, and be determined not to repeat it. If he does repeat it, he is then like a person who has committed a new sin, for which he must repent anew; his previous repentance, however, is still valid.

In Islam, a person and his/her soul can be one of three: good, bad and in-between.

The first one can be seen in the last part of Surat Al Fajr: "[To the righteous it will be said], "O reassured soul, Return to your Lord, well-pleased and pleasing [to Him], And enter among My [righteous] servants, And enter My Paradise.". That's the first kind, the good soul, the reassured soul (reassured with happiness). This one belongs to the prophets and the best of people.

The bad soul is the one that is constantly telling you to do sin and you happily obey. This one can be found in Surat Yusuf, verse 53: "Nor do I absolve my own self (of blame): the (human) soul is certainly prone to evil, unless my Lord do bestow His Mercy: but surely my Lord is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful." That's the second kind, the bad soul, the evil soul. This one belongs to the malevolent and the disbelievers.

The third one is the one that most Muslims have, which can be found in the second verse of Surat Al Qiyama: "And I do call to witness the self-reproaching soul". That's the self-accusing spirit, the one that sins but has a conscience, so the person constantly reproaches himself/herself for doing the sin and constantly tries to repent and be good. It's a life-long struggle, and it's self-jihad, the most difficult jihad of all.

“Allaah is more compassionate towards His slaves than this mother towards her child.” (Reported by Muslim).

How beautiful to Allaah are the words of the one who repents: “O Allaah, I ask You by Your power and by my own shame to have mercy on me. I ask You by Your strength and my own weakness, by Your self-sufficiency and my own dependence. To You I submit my lying, sinful forelock. You have many slaves besides me, but I have no Master except You. I have no refuge or escape from You except with You. I beseech you in the manner of a poor and destitute man, I pray to you with the prayer of one who is humble, I call upon you with the supplication of one who is blind and afraid. This is a plea from one whose head is humbled before You, whose nose is in the dust, whose eyes are filled with tears and whose heart has submitted to You.”