All praises and thanks are due to Allah(swt) who has created humankind in the best of form and has also provided for the guidance through his words (the Glorious Qur’an). May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon the noble Prophet Muhammad(sallah Allah alayhi wasallaam). Allah says in the glorious Qur’an:
Q 3:102-O ye who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared, and die not except in a state of Islam.
Q 4:1-O mankind! reverence your Guardian-Lord, who created you from a single person, created, of like nature, His mate, and from them twain scattered (like seeds) countless men and women;- reverence Allah, through whom ye demand your mutual (rights), and (reverence) the wombs (That bore you): for Allah ever watches over you.
Q 33:70-1-O ye who believe! Fear Allah, and (always) say a word directed to the Right: That He may make your conduct whole and sound and forgive you your sins: He that obeys Allah and His Messenger, has already attained the highest achievement.
Verily, the best speech is Allah’s speech; the best guidance is Muhammad’s (saw) guidance: and the worst matters (in creed or worship) are those innovated (by the people), for every innovated matter is bid’ah ( prohibited innovation), and every bid’ah is an act of misguidance that(whoever initiated it) will reside in the Fire.
WHAT IS REPENTANCE (AL-TAWBAH)?
The concept of repentance is very central to the creeds of Islam and it is the action or process of turning from sin. Repentance is the dedication of self to the amendment of one's life. It also means to feel regret and sorrow’. The Arabic word Tawbah, is derived from the verb Taaba, Yatoobu, which literally means "to return." Tawbah refers to the act of leaving what God has prohi¬bited and returning to what He has commanded. In a more comprehensive form, tawbah is a return to the state of Fitrah(nature). The Prophet is reported to have said according to the narration of Abu Hurayrah who reported that; "Every child is born in a state of Fitrah, then his parents make him a Jew or a Christian[ Sahih al- Bukhari, Arabic-English , vol. 8, no. 597) and Sahih Muslim, English Trans. vol. 4, no. 6423.
It is crystal clear that through sin man turns away from God, and by repentance he turns from sin and returns to the path of God. Hence, repen¬tance is a means by which man may strive to purify himself and return to his original sinless state of the Fitrah. Allah in Q. 24:31 says, ‘And all of you beg Allah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful’. In the same vein The Prophet (sallah Allah alayhi wasallaam) said,"Oh people, turn to Allaah in repentance and seek His forgiveness, for surely I make repentance one hundred times every day."[ Sahih Muslim,(EnglishTrans.), vol. 4, no. 6523
The act of Tawbah or repentance is important in Islam because it is worship of Allaah as there is no one who is capable of forgiving sins except Allah and no one can forgive the sins of the sinners on behalf of Allah. Islam wants humankind to seek repentance always as Abu 'Ubaidah ibn 'Abdullaah reported that Allaah's Messenger (sallah Allah alayhi wasallaam) said,"One who repents from sin is like one without sin [Ibn Majah no. 3427]. Aadam, along with his wife Hawaa (Eve) set the example for all mankind with regard to human failing, its solution and the magnificence (magnanimity) of God's Grace. The story of Aadam stresses the fallibility of man and Allaah's readiness to forgive him. In Q.2:35-36, Allah says:
And We said: "O Adam! Dwell you and your wife in the Paradise and eat both of you freely with pleasure and delight, of things therein wherever you will, but come not near this tree or you both will be of the Zalimin (wrongdoers). Then the Shaytan made them slip therefrom (the Paradise), and got them out from that in which they were. We said: "Get you down, all, with enmity between yourselves. On earth will be a dwelling place for you and an enjoyment for a time.''
Again in Q.2:37:
Then Adam received from his Lord Words. And his Lord pardoned him (accepted his repentance). Verily, He is the One Who forgives (accepts repentance), the Most Merciful.)
Aadam taught humankind the Dua of Forgiveness as contained in Q.7:23, ‘They said: "Our Lord! We have wronged ourselves. If You forgive us not, and bestow not upon us Your mercy, we shall certainly be of the losers.''
In Islamic teachings no man will be held responsible for the sin of another; nor can he carry the sin of others, even if he wished to. Islam flush into the drain the often brandish story of original sin. In Q.6:164, Allah says, ‘No person earns any (sin) except against himself (only), and no bearer of burdens shall bear the burden of another.’ The position of Islam is found in previous scripture before the Qur’an as corroborated in the Bible thus:
The soul that sinneth, the same shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father. The justice of the just shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him." (Ezechiel 18: 20)
Allaah is a loving and merciful God and He is pleased when a sinner turns to Him in repentance, because He created man with a natural tendency to err, in order that he would repent and be forgiven from Allaah's infinite mercy. In Q 2:222, Allah says, "Surely Allaah loves those who constantly turn to Him in repentance and those who keep themselves pure.” In Islamic creeds, there are no bar¬riers between the repentant sinner and God what-so-ever and who¬ever turns to God in true repentance will be pardoned. The door of salvation through repentance is wide open for all who truly seek to enter. The Prophet (sallah Allah alayhi wasallaam)said:
"If one of Aadam's descendents had a valley of gold, he would wish for two valleys, for nothing will end his greed except the dirt (of his grave). But Allaah pardons whoever repents. [Sahih a!-Bukhari, (Arabic-English), vol. 8, nos. 444 & 446), Sahih Muslim (English Trans.), vol. 2, 3413)"
In Q.3:135 Allah clearly states that, ‘ And none can forgive sins but Allah’. It is this vein that the Prophet (sallah Allah alayhi wasallaam) taught Abubakr this du’aa:
"Allaahumma inne dhalamtu nafsee dhulman Katheeraa, wa laa yaghfirudh-dhunooba illaa anta"
Oh Allaah, Truly I have wronged myself much, and none can forgive sins except You.[Sahih al-Bukhari, (Arabic-English), vol. 1, no. 796, and Sahih Mus¬lim (English Trans.), vol. 4, no. 6533)
True repentance according to Islamic tenets must be addressed directly to God alone and it must be realized that no one besides Allaah can absolve humankind of their sins. There is no barrier between humankind and God and hence no one is unable to approach God directly, due to their sinful state as Allah says in Q. 12: 87 , “No one despairs of Allaah's mercy except those who have no faith ." In the same vein in Q 15: 56, "And who despairs of the mercy of his Lord except those who are astray”. The same message is emphasised in Q. 39:53 thus:
Say: "O My servants who have transgressed against themselves! Despair not of the mercy of Allah, verily, Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.'')
Every human being needs the forgiveness of Allaah as the Prophet said:
Do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately, and rejoice, for no one's deeds will put him in paradise." They asked, "Not even you, Oh Messenger of Allaah?" He replied, "'Not even me unless Allaah bestows His pardon and mercy on me. [Sahih a!-Bukhari (Arabic-English), vol. 8, no. 474 ),
In another Apostolic tradition, Abu Hurayrah quoted Allaah's Messenger as saying:
"The day when Allaah created mercy He made it in one hundred parts. Ninety-nine parts He kept with Himself and one part He sent to all His creatures. [Sahib al-Bukhari (Arabic-English), vol. 8, no. 476).
The noble Prophet Muhammad (sallah Allah alayhi wasallaam) taught humankind the prayer of repentance . In one of the dua(prayer) the Prophet (sallah Allah alayhi wasallaam) taught us to say:
"Allaahumma anta rabbee laa elaaha illaa anta khalaqtanee wa ana ‘abduka wa ana `ala adika wa wadika mastatat. A‘oodhu bika min sharri ma sanatu. Aboo laka bi nit matika alayya wa aboo bi dhambee. Faghfir lee. Fa innahoo laa yaghfirudh-dhunooba illaa anta.
Oh Allaah, You are my Lord. There is no god besides You. You created me and I am Your slave, following your covenant and (my) promise as much as I can. I seek refuge in You from the evil I have done. I acknowledge before You Your blessings bestowed on me and I confess to You my sins. So forgive me, for surely no one can forgive sins except You.")
The Prophet (sallah Allah alayhi wasallaam) then added:
"Anyone who says it during the day, firmly believing in it and dies before the evening; or says it in the evening, firmly believing in it and dies before the following morning, will be among the people of paradise."[ Sahih al-]Bukhari (Arabic-English), vol. 8, no. 318)
The teachings of Islam inculcate in believers just like the Prophet, sallah Allah ‘alayhi wa sallam, said to Ibn ‘Umar, “Be in this world as if you were a stranger or a passer-by.” Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree (Eng.): vol. 8, no. 425). One of our predecessors in faith, Al-Fudayl Ibn ‘Iyaad (rahimahullaah) said, “The believer in this world is worried and distressed. His main concern is to repair his equipment (as one who is stranded fixes his vehicle).” Again, Al-Hasan al-Basri (rahimahullaah) said, “The believer in this world is like the stranger. He does not become upset when it degrades him, nor does he compete with others with regard to what it gives of honor. For him is a condition and for the people is a condition.” Let us prepare individually and collectively to repent from our sins. Allah who forgives sins is ready to accept our repentance. May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon the noble Prophet Muhammad (sallah Allah alayhi wasallaam), his family, his companions and all those who follow his path till the day of reckoning.