What is Sincere Repentance?
وَأَنِ اسْتَغْفِرُوا رَبَّكُمْ ثُمَّ تُوبُوا إِلَيْهِ يُمَتِّعْكُمْ مَتَاعًا حَسَنًا إِلَىٰ أَجَلٍ مُسَمًّى وَيُؤْتِ كُلَّ ذِي فَضْلٍ فَضْلَهُ ۖ وَإِنْ تَوَلَّوْا فَإِنِّي أَخَافُ عَلَيْكُمْ عَذَابَ يَوْمٍ كَبِيرٍ
“(And to preach thus), ‘Seek ye the forgiveness of your Lord, and turn to Him in repentance; that He may grant you enjoyment, good (and true), for a term appointed, and bestow His abounding grace on all who abound in merit! But if ye turn away, then I fear for you the penalty of a great day:” (Surah Hud 11:3)
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا تُوبُوا إِلَى اللَّهِ تَوْبَةً نَصُوحًا عَسَىٰ رَبُّكُمْ أَنْ يُكَفِّرَ عَنْكُمْ سَيِّئَاتِكُمْ وَيُدْخِلَكُمْ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِنْ تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ يَوْمَ لَا يُخْزِي اللَّهُ النَّبِيَّ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مَعَهُ ۖ نُورُهُمْ يَسْعَىٰ بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَبِأَيْمَانِهِمْ يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا أَتْمِمْ لَنَا نُورَنَا وَاغْفِرْ لَنَا ۖ إِنَّكَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ
“O ye who believe! Turn to Allah with sincere repentance: In the hope that your Lord will remove from you your ills and admit you to Gardens beneath which Rivers flow,- the Day that Allah will not permit to be humiliated the Prophet and those who believe with him. Their Light will run forward before them and by their right hands, while they say, “Our Lord! Perfect our Light for us, and grant us Forgiveness: for Thou hast power over all things.”” (Surah Tahrim 66:8)
Rasulullah (SAW) said, “The one who repents from sin is like the one who never sinned.” (Ibn Majah)
Rasulullah (SAW) said, ‘Remorse is repentance.’ (Ibn Majah)
Abu Hurairah (RA) reported that Rasulullah (SAW) said, “Allah will turn towards anyone who turns in repentance before the sun rises from the place it set.” (Muslim)
Imam Barkawi, the great Ottoman fiqhi and grammarian, defined repentance (tawba) in his Tariqa al-Muhammadiyya as, “Going back from desire to sin, with the determination of not returning to it, in exaltation of Allah and out of fear of His punishment.”
If one keeps repeating the sin, then one should find the root cause(s) of the sin and eliminate them. For example, if one falls into a certain sin because of the company one keeps, then it would be necessary to either stop keeping their company.
What is true repentance?
Ibn Hajar mentioned that Qurtubi quoted 23 different definitions of true repentance (al-tawba al-nasuh) in his tafsir. Ibn Hajar mentioned the most important of these:
1) Umar’s words (RA) that it is, “To sin and then never to return to it.”
2 Hasan al-Basri “To hate the sin, and the seek forgiveness for it every time it occurs to one”
3. Qatada words, “To be genuine and truthful in one’s repentance,” (which is what Imam Bukhari chose as the definition of true repentance in his chapter heading.)
4) To have sincerity in one’s repentance.
5) To be concerned about one’s repentance not being accepted.
6) To be such that it does not need another repentance after it.
7) To be made out of fear and hope, and be accompanied by consistency in worship.
8) Like the seventh, but with the added condition that one deserts those who assisted one in sin.
9) That one’s sin be between one’s eyes. (That is, one does not forget it.) (Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari)
“May Allah truly accept our sincere repentance, and save us from committing those deeds displeasing to Allah .Aameen Thuma Aameen”