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We Repent for Sins Why should we do so for Worship?

As Muslims, we know to repent to Allah when we commit sins. We also know that Allah accepts our repentance when we turn to Him sincerely and with remorse for our errors.

It is interesting, though, to consider that the topic of repentance is brought up in the Quran in another context as well – in connection with our worship and spiritual devotion.

For example, Allah says:

{When the help of Allah and the victory comes, and you see the people entering Allah’s religion in crowds, then glorify the praises of your Lord and ask His forgiveness. Truly, He is the Accepter of Repentance.} (110: 1-3)

These verses stress the importance of repentance and of seeking Allah’s forgiveness, even at times when we are actively engaged in worship, or when we have just completed our prayers. This shows us that our being allowed to repent for our sins and shortcomings is one of Allah’s greatest blessings. It is also an admission of our shortcomings in the acts of worship that we offer. Allah tells us:

{By no means has the human being fulfilled what Allah has commanded him.} (80: 23)

It also shows us how much we need to have Allah accept our worship from us. We need Allah to help us to be constant and sincere in our worship, and to never become over-satisfied with ourselves because of the worship that we do. It is for this reason that, after offering his prayer, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) used to beseech Allah’s forgiveness three times and then say:

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“O Allah! You are Peace and from You is peace. Blessed be You, possessor of glory and honor.” (Muslim 592)

Ibn `Umar, one of the Prophet’s most eminent Companion, said:

“Nothing in life would be dearer to me than knowing that Allah has accepted from me a single deed – even if only a single prostration or my spending in charity a single silver coin – because Allah says: {Allah only accepts from those who are God-fearing.} (5: 27)”

Allah also tells us to remember His name after completing our pilgrimage rites:

{So when you have accomplished your pilgrimage rites, celebrate the praises of Allah, as you used to celebrate the praises of your fathers, indeed, with far more heart and soul.} (2: 200)

It is important to conclude our acts of worship by glorifying Allah’s name and beseeching His forgiveness. Allah commanded Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to conclude his life in this way, in spite of the fact that the Prophet (peace be upon him) spent his life in worship and striving for the faith. Nevertheless, Allah commanded him, at the end of his life to:

{… glorify the praises of your Lord and ask His forgiveness.} 

When we consider that this was the case for Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who was the best of all humanity, we should realize how much more we need to beseech Allah’s forgiveness when completing our acts of worship.

In the Quran, Allah praises those God-fearing people who seek His forgiveness in the early morning hours, though they spent their nights in prayer and the recitation of the Quran:

{They were in the habit of sleeping but little by night, and in the hour of early dawn, they (were found) praying for forgiveness.} (51: 17-18)

These people had not been spending their nights in sin, but in devotion to Allah, yet, when completing their nightly worship, they would beseech Allah to forgive them. If it is this important to seek Allah’s forgiveness after engaging in acts of worship, how much more important is it for us to ask forgiveness after committing sins?


About Salman al-Ouda
Muslim scholar. Al-Ouda is a member of the International Union for Muslim Scholars and on its Board of Trustees. He is a director of the Arabic edition of the website Islam Today and appears on a number of TV shows and authors newspaper articles.