When Adam () mistakenly ate from the tree in Jannah, he immediately turned to God Almighty in repentance. When Yunus (pbuh) was swallowed by the whale, he too turned to God in repentance. When Musa (pbuh) accidently killed a man, guilt caused him to turn back to God in penitence. In fact, all the Prophets of God and the pious predecessors that came after them would remind the people of the ample mercy and generosity of God Almighty. They would constantly be in a state of repentance, sincerely and humbly, for even the smallest of sins. They understood that their Lord was a Merciful one, who accepted their repentance over and over and over again.
So how does one repent in Islam? The word for repentance in Arabic is ‘’Tawbah” and linguistically means to turn. Repentance in Islam has several conditions attached to it and is not to be taken lightly. Firstly, one must feel remorse for the sin that they have committed, secondly they must make the firm intention not to return to the sin again, and should have an immediate renunciation of that sin, and finally if the sin took away the right of an individual, then the right must be given back to that individual, or they must compensate for it.
Repentance is a beloved act to God as it shows the humility and sincerity of those worshipping Him and their acknowledgement of their own mistakes and God’s infinite mercy. As Muslims, we should never feel that our sins are too big, or that we will never be forgiven or shown mercy. This is contrary to our belief, as God has many names such as Al-Ghaffaar – the perpetual forgiver, and Al-‘Afuww – the Pardoner, both of which describe His forgiving nature.
God Almighty speaks to us eloquently in the Qur’an when He says:
قُلۡ يَـٰعِبَادِىَ ٱلَّذِينَ أَسۡرَفُواْ عَلَىٰٓ أَنفُسِهِمۡ لَا تَقۡنَطُواْ مِن رَّحۡمَةِ ٱللَّهِۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يَغۡفِرُ ٱلذُّنُوبَ جَمِيعًاۚ إِنَّهُ ۥ هُوَ ٱلۡغَفُورُ ٱلرَّحِيمُ
“Say: “O My slaves who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of God, verily God Almighty forgives all sins. Truly, He is oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.”
God Almighty created His slaves and knows them well, knows their every thought and every action, knows that they will sin and loves when they turn back to Him. And so He provided them with the act of Tawbah, something so beautiful, which if they practice, will not only wipe away their sins, but will increase them in blessings and bring them closer to God! Such is the mercy of God.
So Muslims are advised to repent all the time, but in Ramadan this is emphasized because it is a great opportunity to reflect upon ones deeds, actions and speech and ask for sincere, heartfelt forgiveness. For it is in Ramadan that the rewards of deeds are multiplied and God’s Mercy extends far and wide over His worshipping slaves. The door of repentance is always open and is never closed. Not until the soul reaches the collarbone, for then there is no going back.
In fact the Arch Angel Gabriel once appeared before Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), saying:
“Woe to him who found the blessed month of Ramadan and let it pass by without gaining forgiveness. “ Prophet Muhammad replied: Amen.
So dear brothers and sisters, let Ramadan be a month where you turn back to God Almighty, in a humble state, and cry and beg Him to forgive you your sins, for your Lord is awaiting your repentance. He loves when His slave turns to Him for a need. So turn to God, with a heart full of remorse, for His door of forgiveness is always wide open.
May God Almighty give us the ability to recognize when we err and allow us to immediately turn to Him in sincere forgiveness. May He forgive us and have mercy upon us and allow us to be amongst those that have our Tawbah accepted, ameen.