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The Gift of Repentance

By Farhan Ahmed, Student of Islamic Studies, Institute of Islamic Education

New Years, the start of a fresh semester, and birthdays: What do they all have in common? Days like these signify a fresh start for almost every human being. We look forward to these days because they give us an opportunity to restart. For example, a couple of months ago a New Year just passed, leaving most of us feeling disappointed that we didn’t achieve the goals we wished we had. This New Year 2010, gives us the opportunity to start over and try to achieve new goals. It gives us the opportunity to leave whatever went wrong in the past and start over. We look forward to these days rightfully or wrongfully so, but we forget the bounties that Allah Exalted place within our din. He has given us a gift far greater than any of these days. This gift allows us to start over without any problems. This is the gift of repentance.

Unlike marked days, which we have to wait for to come, repentance is not restricted to day or time. If a person repents he or she can start over as if nothing ever happened. All that person must do is be sincere, and Allah willing, their sins will be forgiven. The problem is that many of us commit so many sins that we lose hope in this magnificent gift that was bestowed upon us. We may commit a sin so great that we believe that we can never be forgiven and end up persisting in that sin, never asking for forgiveness. Instead we should never give up hope and repent.

The gift of repentance is great, but we should not be satisfied with repeating wrong and then seeking forgiveness. Instead we should strive for perfection, and though we will never truly reach it, striving for it will only raise our ranks. And if we happen to commit a sin again, then we shall find ourselves immediately turning to Allah Exalted. Just as we strive for perfection in our material condition, we should try twice as hard to perfect our spiritual condition. Imam Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) stated in his commentary on Sahih Muslim that there are three conditions for acceptance of repentance:

1. To remove oneself from the sin

2. To express remorse and regret for committing the sin.

3. To make firm intention not to repeat the sin.

Additionally, if one’s wrong is against someone else, he or she must also ask for that person’s forgiveness.

Repentance is very easy to seek. Allah Exalted has bestowed this blessed gift upon us, and we should be continually thankful for it. We should try our best not to commit any sins because this just takes us farther from our ultimate goal, which is to gain closeness to Allah Almighty. As a general rule, we should never feel hopeless over our mistakes because fate changes by the supplication of a sincere believer.