Making mistakes and falling short are undoubtedly part of human nature and no one will be free of shortcomings in his obedience to Allah, or free of mistakes or forgetfulness or sins. All of us fall short, commit sins, and make mistakes. Sometimes we turn to Allah and sometimes we turn away from Him. Sometimes we remember that Allah is watching and sometimes we become negligent. None of us is free of sin, and we will inevitably make mistakes. We are not infallible. Hence the Prophet (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “By the One in Whose hand is my soul, if you did not commit sin Allah would do away with you and bring people who would commit sin then pray for forgiveness.” [Narrated by Muslim, 2749]. And he (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Every son of Adam sins and the best of those who sin are those who repent.” [Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 2499; classed as hasan by al-Albaani].
By His mercy towards weak man, Allah has opened the gate of repentance to him, and has commanded him to turn to Him, every time sin overwhelms him. Were it not for that, man would suffer a great deal of hardship and would not have the drive to draw closer to his Lord; he would lose all hope of His forgiveness and pardon. Repentance is something that is necessary as a result of man’s shortcomings and human failings.
Allah has enjoined repentance on all kinds of people in this ummah: those who are foremost in good deeds, those who follow a middle course, and those who wrong their own selves by doing haraam things (cf. Faatir 35:32).
Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And all of you beg Allah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful.” [Surah al-Noor (24):31]
“O you who believe! Turn to Allah with sincere repentance!” [Surah al-Tahreem (66):8]
And the Messenger of Allah (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “O people, repent to Allah and seek His forgiveness, for I repent one hundred times a day.” [Narrated by Muslim, 2702 from the hadeeth of al-Agharr al-Muzani (may Allah be pleased with him)].
Allah has bestowed His mercy and encompassed His slaves with his kindness. He is Forbearing and does not punish us or destroy us straightaway, rather He gives us respite, and He commanded His Prophet (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) to proclaim His generosity:
“Say: O ‘Ibaadi (My slaves) who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah, verily, Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft‑Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [Surah al-Zumar (39):53 – interpretation of the meaning].
And He says, out of kindness towards His slaves (interpretation of the meaning):
“Will they not turn with repentance to Allah and ask His forgiveness? For Allah is Oft‑Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [Surah al-Maa'idah (5):74]
“And verily, I am indeed forgiving to him who repents, believes (in My Oneness, and associates none in worship with Me) and does righteous good deeds, and then remains constant in doing them (till his death).” [Surah Ta-Ha (20):82]
“And those who, when they have committed Faahishah (illegal sexual intercourse) or wronged themselves with evil, remember Allah and ask forgiveness for their sins; — and none can forgive sins but Allah — and do not persist in what (wrong) they have done, while they know.” [Surah Aal ‘Imraan (3):135]
“And whoever does evil or wrongs himself but afterwards seeks Allah’s forgiveness, he will find Allah Oft‑Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [Surah al-Nisa’ (4):110]
Allah calls to repentance those who committed the gravest form of shirk and sin, those who say that ‘Eesa (peace be upon him) is the son of God – exalted be Allah far above what the wrongdoers say. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Will they not turn with repentance to Allah and ask His forgiveness? For Allah is Oft‑Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [Surah al-Maa’idah (5):74]
And He opens the door of repentance to the hypocrites, who are worse than the kuffaar who openly show their kufr. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Verily, the hypocrites will be in the lowest depth (grade) of the Fire; no helper will you find for them. *Except those who repent (from hypocrisy), do righteous good deeds, hold fast to Allah, and purify their religion for Allah (by worshipping none but Allah, and do good for Allah’s sake only, not to show off), then they will be with the believers. And Allah will grant the believers a great reward.” [Surah al-Nisa’ (4):145-146]
One of the attributes of the Lord is that He accepts repentance and rejoices over it by His grace. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And He it is Who accepts repentance from His slaves, and forgives sins, and He knows what you do.” [Surah al-Shoora (42):25]
“Know they not that Allah accepts repentance from His slaves and takes the Sadaqaat (alms, charity), and that Allah Alone is the One Who forgives and accepts repentance, Most Merciful?” [Surah al-Tawbah (9):104]
It was narrated that Abu Hamzah Anas ibn Maalik al-Ansaari (may Allah be pleased with him), the servant of the Messenger of Allah (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), said: “Allah rejoices more over the repentance of His slave than any one of you who finds his camel after having lost it in a desolate land.” [Agreed upon]
According to a report narrated by Muslim (2747): “Allah rejoices more over the repentance of His slave than any one of you if he is on his camel in a desolate land, then it runs away from him and on it is his food and drink, and he despairs of finding it, so he goes to a tree and lies down in its shade, having despaired of finding his camel, then while he is like that, it suddenly appears in front of him and he takes hold of its reins and says, because of his intense joy, ‘O Allah, You are my slave and I am your lord,’ making this mistake because of the intensity of his joy.”
It was narrated from Abu Moosa ‘Abd-Allah ibn Qays al-Ash’ari (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Allah spreads out His hand at night to accept the repentance of the one who sinned during the day, and He spreads out His hand by day to accept the repentance of the one who sinned during the night, (and that will continue) until the sun rises from the west.” [Narrated by Muslim, 2759].
It was narrated from Abu ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Allah will accept the repentance of His slave so long as the death-rattle has not yet reached his throat.” [Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 3537; classed as hasan by al-Albaani].
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