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Tawbah (repentance): Concept, method and benefit

Dr Muhammad Obaidullah |
Update: 2023-01-28 16:20:12
Tawbah (repentance): Concept, method and benefit [Photo Collected]

Tawbah is one of the most beautiful blessings of Allah upon His servants. It can purify anyone from sins and misdeeds and make him innocent. Allah (SWT) says: It is He who accepts the repentance of His servants and excuses their misdeeds and knows what you do. (al-Qur’an, surah al-Shurah, 42:25) He (SWT) also claims Himself as the most Merciful Accepter of repentance. (See: Surah al Baqarah, 2:37, 54, 128, 160, 222; surah al-tawbah, 9:104, 118)

Although, as an Arabic word ‘tawbah’ is commonly translated as repentance, the essence of its meaning and the wisdom behind it are more than that as same as the other shar’i terms usually have. Therefore, the term should be used as it is instead of using any other translated meanings. Terminologically, tawbah refers to repenting for a sin, seeking forgiveness, promising Allah to not repeat the same evil again and returning to Him alone.

The term tawbah and its associated other terms do appear (17+87=) 104 times in the Qur’an. The closest and most accepted synonym of the term ‘tawbah’ is used in the Qur’an as ‘bra’at’ (innocence) as its’ 9th number surah (chapter) holds both these two names. As a surah (chapter) of the Qur’an is dedicated to ‘tawbah’, anyone can easily understand its importance and benefits especially for a Muslim.

A careful study and critical observation on the Qur’an and Sunnah, it could be found that there are four principles to conduct a sincere tawbah (tawbah nasuuha) which are as follows: (1) repenting for a committed sin or wrongdoing (See: Surah al-Baqarah, 2:160; Surah Aali ‘Imran, 3:90; , (2) seeking forgiveness from Allah (See: Surah al-Ma’idah, 5:74, Aali ‘Imran, 3:135; surah al-Ma’idah, 5:74), (3) promising not to commit again the same sin (Surah al-Nahl, 16:119), and (4) returning to Allah alone (Surah al-Nisa, 4:146; surah al-Ma’idah, 5:74; Surah Taha, 20:82).

The best way for conducting a sincere tawbah can be in the following ways. Be in the state of wudu’ and say two reka’at salat (nafl) then, after mentioning and regretting the sin you committed, seek forgiveness from Allah (SWT) along with a promise that you will never do it again. Moreover, many scholars are of the opinion that getting the maximum benefit of tawbah, one should perform many good deeds as compensation of the sin that he or she had committed earlier. The Qur’an states, “And he who repents and does righteousness does indeed turn to Allah with (accepted) repentance.” (Surah al-Furqan, 25:71)

There are many benefits of tawbah. Among them, a few are as follows:

(1) Allah (SWT) loves them who repent for sin. In many places of the Qur’an, Allah (SWT) mentions that He loves the people who repent for sin and wrongdoing. It states: “… Allah loves those who are constantly repentant and loves those who purify themselves.” (Surah al-Baqarah, 2:222)

(2) Allah (SWT) pardons and forgives one who sincerely repents for sin and seeks forgiveness from Him (SWT). The Qur’an states: “Indeed, I am the Perpetual Forgiver of whoever repents and believes and does righteousness and then continues in guidance. (Surah Ta-Ha, 20:82).

(3) A sincere tawbah is a cause of refraining from anxiety, distress, worries and other associated problems. Moreover, seeking forgiveness from a sin or any wrongdoing and misdeed can be a way of getting increased livelihoods and sustenances. Ibn ‘Abbas (R) reported that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “If anyone constantly seeks pardon (from Allah), Allah will appoint for him a way out of every distress and a relief from every anxiety and will provide sustenance for him from where he expects not.” (Abu Dawud, Hadith no. 1873).

(4) A sincere tawbah and seeking forgiveness removes the black spot of sinner’s heart which was placed on it after his indulgence in the sin. Abu Hurairah (R) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: “When the believer commits sin, a black spot appears on his heart. If he repents and gives up that sin and seeks forgiveness, his heart will be polished. But if (the sin) increases, (the black spot) increases. That is the Ran that Allah mentions in His Book: “Nay! But on their hearts is the Ran (covering of sins and evil deeds) which they used to earn.” (Sahih Muslim, Hadith No. 4385)

(5) The most beautiful part of tawbah’s benefits is replacing the sin with good reward. Allah says, “Except for those who repent, believe, and do righteous work. For them Allah will replace their evil deeds with good. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful.” (Surah al-Furqan, 25:70)

To conclude, it can be stated that the tawbah (repentance) and istighfar (seeking forgiveness) should be a regular activity of believer’s daily life. It should not only for after committing any sin or doing any misdeed. Although, our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), by the grace of Allah, was innocent forever, He (PBUH) was asked by His Almighty (SWT) for seeking forgiveness. The Qur’an states, “Then exalt (Him) with praise of your Lord and ask forgiveness of Him. Indeed, He is ever accepting of repentance.” (Surah al-Nasr, 110:3) Our Lord loves tawbah, it removes our sin, replace the sin with good which is open till the day of Qiyamah or the last moment of anyone. Abu Huraira (R) reported that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “Whoever repents before the sun rises from the west, Allah will accept his repentance.” (Sahih Muslim, Hadith no. 2703). May Allah bless us to avail of all His bounties and opportunities to be successful in both worlds!

The writer is a researcher

BDST: 1620 HRS, JAN 28, 2023

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