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What Happens After We Repent? 6 Things

Republished with kind permission from Understand Quran.

Our faith sometimes weakens and we become overwhelmed by our desires. Satan makes sin attractive to us, so we fall into things that Allah has forbidden. Now the question is not whether or not you will sin, because mistakes are in fact part of human nature.

The question is: what will you do after you’ve sinned?

The Prophet said:

By the One in Whose hand is my soul, if you did not commit sin Allaah would do away with you and bring people who would commit sin then pray for forgiveness.” (Muslim)

It’s time to learn the secrets of an effective repentance!

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Repentance— An Opportunity!

The concept of tawbah is amazingly beautiful and unique in Islam. We don’t confess to any intermediary; we turn to our Creator directly.

Allah al-Ghaffar opened the gate of repentance to Himself and commanded us to turn to Him. This is an amazing combination! The fact that we can repent at any time and the fact that Allah gave us the knowledge of how to repent is a great mercy.  Tawbah is an opportunity!

The Wisdom Behind Repentance

Do you recognize this pattern? You commit a sin and then you feel bad afterwards, so bad that your guilt makes you feel down and so low that you feel you can’t be forgiven— so why repent?

If you’ve done something so wrong, you must be a terrible person, right? Wrong! There’s a major difference between being a bad person and doing something bad. Allah gave you the chance to repent and insha’Allah your sin will even be transformed into a good deed! Isn’t that amazing?

Recognizing your mistakes and sins, feeling ashamed of violating Allah’s trust, and making the promise to Allah never to do it again are the three conditions of your repentance being accepted. The most important thing about tawbah is that it doesn’t mean you sit down feeling sad and guilty, dwelling on your sin. It means that whenever you sin, you grab the chance to get back up and do better!

What Repentance Brings to you

Let’s look at some rewards sincere tawbah brings to you.

Repentance Brings Success

If you go on a path forbidden by Allah, you choose to miss out on Allah’s mercy, rewards, help, and protection. But at the moment that you sincerely repent, you can be assured of His help in your life.

Allah tells us:

{… And beg Allah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful.} (24: 31)

Examples of success are: wealth, children, and increased productivity and blessings:

{And O my people! Ask forgiveness of your Lord and then repent to Him, He will send you (from the sky) abundant rain, and add strength to your strength, so do not turn away as Mujrimoon (criminals, evil doers, etc).} (11:52)

Repentance Keeps you away from Hardship

The more we sin, the more we can be deprived of Allah’s blessings and the more trials we might have to endure. Tawbah can give us a way out of our troubles in life, as Allah says:  

{See they not that they are put in trial once or twice every year (with different kinds of calamities, disease, famine)? Yet, they turn not in repentance, nor do they learn a lesson (from it).} (9:126)

Repentance Earns you Allah’s Love

Do you know that repentance is one of the most beloved acts of worship to Him? Allah says:

{… Truly, Allah loves those who turn unto Him in repentance and loves those who purify themselves.} (2:222)

Repentance Makes you Feel Happy

Repentance cleans your heart. It makes you feel lighter, just as the burden of sin makes you feel heavy. Just say to yourself: who is there to stop me from turning back to Allah?

Repentance Leads to Forgiveness!

Isn’t this what you wanted? Can you imagine Allah forgiving all your sins? Do you think this is an unreachable goal? The rewards of repentance are: purity of heart, erasing of sins, and increasing of good deeds.

Both the Quran and the Hadith are clear that those who repent sincerely to Allah, acknowledging their sins, and commit to not return again to those sins will have their sins forgiven. The Prophet said: 

“If the servant acknowledges his sin and repents, then Allah accepts his repentance.”

Homework: Practical Steps to Take When You’ve Sinned 

1. Meet the conditions: 1, 2, and 3.

Repentance is returning to Allah, giving up sin and hating it, regretting falling short in obedience to Allah, and being determined not to do that sin again. If one of these three is missing, then your repentance is not sincere. If the sin has to do with the rights of another person, then there are four conditions: the three mentioned above plus restoring the rights of that person, like returning money and property.

2. Don’t worry about waswaas.

Based on the above, if these conditions are met by the person who is repenting, then there is the hope that his repentance will be accepted, by Allah’s leave. After that he should not worry about waswaas (whispers) suggesting that his repentance is not accepted, because that is from the shaytan and is contrary to what Allah and His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) have told us— repentance is accepted if it is sincere.

3. Follow up repentance with good deeds.

I once listened to a lecture and it really changed my life. The shaykh said that whenever we do a bad deed we should make sure to follow it up with as many good deeds as possible. You committed a sin, so give charity, help someone else, focus on reading the Quran— anything good. If this is your formula in life, insha’Allah you will succeed.

Allah says:

{Except those who repent and do righteous deeds, and openly declare (the truth which they concealed). These, I will accept their repentance. And I am the One Who accepts repentance, the Most Merciful.} (2:160)

So whatever bad you do, don’t stay down— get up and throw yourself on good deeds!

4. Pray the repentance prayer.

If following up a bad deed with a good one can change your sins into good deeds, what deed is better than prayer? Ali said that Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with them, told him that he heard the Prophet say:

There is no servant who commits a sin and then he purifies himself (wudu’) and then prays two rakahs and then seeks forgiveness of Allah except that  Allah forgives him.”