Short Answer: “If you’re saying, ‘I want forgiveness from God because there’s no more opportunity for sin,’ then that is not really a genuine and sincere repentance. But… when a person… has been given treatment all the while and that person now feels that nothing else will work, and here he resigns himself or herself to dying, still repentance would be accepted.”
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Dr. Shabir Ally addresses this question in the video below:
Aisha Khaja: Dr. Shabir, the question we have today from our viewer is: when is tawbah or repentance of a person accepted?
The viewer says, “I have heard of some traditions which say tawbah is accepted until the ruh or the soul reaches the throat, and also heard that it is not accepted if a person sees the Angel of Death. Kindly shed some light on this.”
Dr. Shabir Ally: Yeah, I know there are various reports about this.
And a good summary of this is found in the commentary on the Quran by Mufti Taqi Usmani.
Actually, [the] commentary was done by his father, but translated by him for English readers.
On his commentary on the 19th verse of the fourth chapter of the Quran, he gives a summary of all of these various reports that indicate different things.
And it seems that the best way of putting this is to say that what that verse of the Quran actually refers to is that God will not accept the repentance of a person who is now faced with death and then he says, “I repent now.”
And the idea here is that if you were living your life of sin and you want to continue with your sins as long as you had hope of life, and now that you realize there is no life left for you and you’re gonna be dying the next moment–
Aisha Khaja: So, at the last moment.
Dr. Shabir Ally: Yeah, now you’re saying, “I want forgiveness from God because there’s no more opportunity for sin,” then that is not really a genuine and sincere repentance.
The example in the Quran is given of the confrontation with Farun [Pharaoh] between Moses and Pharaoh.
Pharaoh, at the moment of drowning, said, “Now I believe.” And God’s reply to him is—”now? And you were rejecting all of this time?”
So, according to Mufti Taqi Usmani in this commentary, the repentance of the Pharaoh was not accepted because this is now the time of death. It is very clear.
So, he distinguishes between that sort of moment that reaches, when a person… has been given treatment all the while and that person now feels that nothing else will work, and here she resigns himself or herself to dying, still repentance would be accepted.
But then, when it is understood that the soul comes out of the body and there is a gargling sound of the person when he’s about to die, that is the moment when it’s absolutely cut off.
The person will not get forgiveness after that.
I hope this helps answer your question. Please keep in touch.