Mansur Ahmad

If you are like most other people, like you and me, then there is a fair chance that you have sinned. I may have missed salat, may have lied, may have done some thing else that I should not have done. Since we are human beings, we can not claim ourselves to be pure and fault free. Our injudicious actions increase our sins.

We know the result of our sins, at least we should be able to comprehend the results to some extent. And we realize that this result is definitely not pretty. If we become careful, and live Islamically, the likelihood of future sins will decrease. The troubling question is how to get rid of the past sins? Some of those sins may be really bad. How can we erase those sins that we committed earlier?

Of course, we do not have to search for somebody's blood on the cross to clear us off our sins. This approach is not going to work. Such approach, if undertaken, will definitely increase the burden of our sins.

Are we in a hopeless situation that we will remain sinful till we die and we will be doomed to jahannam?

Would it not be our greatest delight to find we are sinless as an infant? That Allah(swt) has forgiven our sins? How do we achieve this? Obviously, the answer to this question comes from Allah(swt) Himself. Allah(swt) tells us how to become sinless. Muhammad, Sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam, showed by action how to earse our sins.

This can be done by tawbah or repentance. The word tawbah (repentance) in Arabic literally means 'to return'. In the religious context, it refers to the act of leaving what Allah(swt) has prohibited and
returning to what He has permitted.

In Surah Al-Maidah, Allah(swt)said:
Faman -taaba mim-ba'-di zulmihii wa 'aslaha fa-'innallaaha yatuubu 'alayhi, 'innallaaha Gafuurur-Rahim.

But whoever (i) turns after his wrongdoing and (ii) amends, then surely Allah turns to him. Allah is truly most Forgiving, most Rewarding. (5:39)

If we analyze this ayah, then we find there are only two criteria:

  • if we have commited any wrongdoing, we should turn, i.e. make tawbah
  • we should amend ourselves from doing such sins, i.e. we should never commit such sins again.This may also involve some extra work or charity, as the case may be.

If we continue reading this ayah, we see that Allah(swt) guarantees that He will return to people making tawbah. Let's pay some attention to the sentence construction. Allah(swt) is insisting that He is most Forgiving - He said 'innallaaha Gafuur. Then He adds that He is not only Gafuur, but also most Rewarding, Rahim. Do we really need any more assurance?

Did Allah(swt) exclude any type of sins that He would not forgive? Not really. The most serious sin is shirk. People who commit shirk may have their sin forgiven if they sincerely declare Shahada and refrain from associating anybody with Allah (swt). We should remember that Allah(swt)'s quality of Forgiveness is so great that He can easily erase our worst sins if He so desires.

Instead of being in despair, we should never lose hope or stop asking for Allah's forgiveness. As we see in a Hadith in Sahih Muslim that the Prophet, Sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam said: "O people! Turn to Allaah in repentance and seek His forgiveness, for surely I make repentance a hundred times every day."

Repentance is such a great act of worship that doing it can totally erase our sins altogether, as the Prophet, Sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam said: "One who repents from sin is like one without sin." This hadith was reported by Abu 'Ubaidah ibn 'Abdullaah & collected by Ibn Majah.

A cautionary word is that we should never take tawbah lightly. If we make tawbah, then we must amend ourselves. In Surah Al-i-'Imran, Allah(swt) said:
Innal-laziina kafaruu ba'da 'iimaanihim summaz- daaduu kufral-lan tuq-balataw-batuhum; wa 'ulaaa-ika humuz-zaaal-luuun

Surely those who disbelieve after their belief, then go on increasing in disbelief, their repentance will not be accepted; and these are themselves the gone astray. (3:89)

Allahu alam, Allah (swt) knows the best.


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