In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
1- Dearest sister, your question definitely shows your sense of guilt and your desire to improve yourself; this definitely is a step in the right direction. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Feeling true sense of remorse is (a step toward) repentance.” (Ibn Majah)
2- After sinning, one should not feel despair. Rather one should forward sincere repentance to Allah and rest assured that Allah Almighty will forgive his sin, as long as his repentance is sincere. Try to look forward, with full hope in the overflowing mercy of Allah, and rest assured that as long as you are true with Allah, He will be very kind with you, for surely He is full of love, especially to His penitent servants.
Responding to the question in point, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:
As human beings we may fall into sins, in spite of our best efforts. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “All human beings are liable to commit sins, but the best of them are those who repent and return to Allah.” (Ibn Majah)
Repentance, however, is not simply feeling sorry or uttering some words; rather it consists of turning our life around for the better.
In other words, we cannot be true and sincere in our repentance unless we have taken the following steps: Shun the sin altogether; feel deep sorrow and remorse for the sin we have committed, resolve never to do it again, and finally, follow it up by good deeds.
Once we have followed through the above requirements, we must never look back.
In order to make sure that we remain always in a state of confession and clear conscience, read sayyid al-istighfar (listed below) both in the morning and at night, before retiring to bed.
Allaahummaanta rabbi la ilaha illa anta khalqtani wa ana `abduka wa ana `ala `ahdika wawa`dika mastata`tu a`udhu bika min sharri ma sana`tu abu’u laka bi ni`matika `alayyawa abu’u bi dhanbi faghfir li fa innahu la yaghfiru adh-dhunuba illa anta
(O Allah, You are my Lord; there is no god but You; You have created me, and I am Your servant; I stand by my covenant with you as best as I can; I seek refuge in You from the evils of my actions; I acknowledge Your favors upon me, and I confess my sins to You, so forgive me, for You alone can forgive sins.) The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said if a person were to read the above duaa sincerely in the morning, and if he were to die during the day he would enter Paradise; likewise, if he were to read it before retiring to bed and he were to die during the night, he would enter Paradise.
Once we do our part, we must never despair of Allah’s mercy. Allah says, “…surely none despairs of Allah’s mercy except the unbelieving people.” (Yusuf 12:87)
Reading and reflecting on the following verse is bound to rekindle your spirit of hope. “O My Servants, who have wronged their souls, do not despair of Allah’s mercy! For Allah forgives all sins; for He is indeed Forgiving, Compassionate. Turn to your Lord in repentance, and submit to Him, before the torment overtakes you when you shall not be helped.” (Az-Zumar 39:53-54)
Almighty Allah knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.