Essentials of Repentance

Essentials of Tawbah

How can I know that my repentance has been accepted? What do I need to do to move on after I have made a mistake?

repentance in islam

Which People are the closest to Allah Almighty?

Al Muhasibi[i], the founder of the Baghdad School of Islamic philosophy, had the habit of venturing into the desert with his friend Junayd al-Baghdadi where the desolate landscape bore no distractions, and they could reflect on the answers to questions that they would pose.  Muhasib means self-inspection or audit and this was a characteristic of Al Muhasibi. One question which he dwelt on was who are the closest to Allah Almighty. And these are the answers he came up with.

1) Those who fear Allah Almighty the most.

2) Those who are most truthful and sincere in repentance and their regret or their apology.

3) Those who are most observant of their future actions, i.e. they are careful about their actions after their repentance

Some examples of what you may need to repent for are:

  • Ghaflah (heedlessness)
  • Shortcomings
  • Mistakes
  • Turning your back on Allah Almighty and what pleases Him
  • Not being concerned with what pleases Allah Almighty

You need to be honest and sincere in your tawbah and careful of your future actions.

For those who have the above 3 attributes, who is the closest to Allah Almighty?

The one who is working hard on his actions.

What is a sign of acceptance of tawbah?

You do more good actions

If you follow up a bad deed with a good deed, then the bad deed is deleted.

The sign of regretting something is that you are careful and vigilant about your future actions.

What is the formula for repentance?

A – Repent / ask for forgiveness

B – Follow up a bad deed by a good deed

C – Be careful about your future actions and change your approach

4) Have a positive approach to obedience.

For example, when it’s prayer time, you don’t say ‘later’. Have determination and energy in your acts of obedience.

With sincere repentance there is huge reward and such an example is Al Fudayl bin Iyaad who died in 803 (AH187). He had been a highway robber, who had committed a catalogue of sins and was the feared leader of a gang, later repented. He said:

O Allah! I turn in repentance to You. My repentance is that I will live in the neighbourhood of the Sacred House (the Ka’bah}.

He then moved to Makkah, settled down and lived there til he passed away there. His servant, Ibrahim ibn al Ash’ath, said ‘I have not seen anyone apart from al-Fudayl in whose heart Allah was the greatest. When Allah was mentioned before him, or if he heard the Qur’an, fear and grief would become apparent on him, his eyes would shed tears and he would cry to such an extent that those who were sitting near him would feel sorry for him.’

He had became such a pious person that people wished to be like him.

It is also important to have high ambitions, as the student of a scholar once told his teacher he wanted to be like him. The scholar said that he himself had reached his position by wanting to be like Omar (may Allah be pleased with him). The higher you aim, the higher the status you can reach.

5) You should always view obedience, no matter how much it is, as little. For example, if you perform six nawafil prayers, do not consider this as a lot.

6) Think of small naimah as huge blessings. For example, the ability to see or breathe which we take for granted. We cannot count Allah Almighty’s favours. They are internal as well as external – those that we know of and those that we don’t even realise we have.

Thank Allah Almighty and feel grateful. Ask Allah to preserve these favours so that you do not lose them. No matter what we do, our actions cannot equal what Allah has given us.

The Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) said, ‘Be deliberate in worship, draw near to Allah, and give glad tidings. Verily, none of you will enter Paradise because of his deeds alone.’

They asked, ‘Not even you, O Messenger of Allah?’

He said, ‘Not even me, unless Allah covers me with His Grace and Mercy.’ (Bukhari and Muslim)

Therefore it is not our actions or extensive worship which can take us to jannah, it is only Allah’s mercy that takes us to jannah.

7) Work on your heart to soften it:

  1. Do istighfar
  2. Be conscious of your intention
  3. Remember Allah Almighty

Our hearts need softness (riqqah), clarity and purity. Clarity means not holding on to grudges.

This means continually forgiving and forgetting. The more we keep pressing rewind and replaying the hurt we have experienced the more it affects the softness of our heart. DELETE THE REWIND BUTTON!

8) Be in the status of sadness (huzn) which brings you closer to Allah Almighty. There are two types of huzn, a positive and a negative. The Prophet (peace be on him) had this quality but he also had a cheerful face. This sadness is not the sort where you are depressed, which is crippling for example worrying about what others think, or your rizq, but is a healthy quality of concern that your efforts are acceptable, and pushes you to improve them. It is like the feeling of returning from hajj, and hoping that it was accepted and missing the feeling of closeness to Allah Almighty.

9) Cry. Tears help to purify the heart and offload negative emotions. They helps you become a person of humility. If reciting the Qur’an brings tears to your eyes that is a good sign.

Repentance is about starting a new page and deleting your past record. It’s not about depression.

10) Have complete reliance on Allah Almighty. Take all necessary action and do your bit, but rely on Allah Almighty for the best outcome. Your efforts alone are not enough. Your heart should rely on Allah. Say that you have no might or power, it’s all from Allah Almighty.

11) We need sabr (patience) to follow Allah’s commands. Sabr consists of 3 elements:

  1. Being obedient
  2. Avoiding what is prohibited
  3. Accepting destiny (including all calamities, tests, and hardships)

12) Have rida, in other words being pleased with what Allah Almighty has destined for you. Saqt is the opposite of rida. It is being angry with Allah Almighty and asking ‘Why me?’, ‘What did I do to you?’ This is haram.

13) Tasleem This is to surrender your matters to Allah Almighty.

Talk delivered by Shaykh Haytham Tamim on 27th October 2018

[i]  Abu Abdullah Harith bin Asad al-Basri (781–857). Later influenced Al Ghazalali.


Shaykh Haytham Tamim is the founder and main teacher of the Utrujj Foundation. He has provided a leading vision for Islamic learning in the UK, which has influenced the way Islamic knowledge is disseminated. He has orchestrated the design and delivery of over 200 unique courses since Utrujj started in 2001.His extensive expertise spans over 30 years across the main Islamic jurisprudence schools of thought. He has studied with some of the foremost scholars in their expertise; he holds some of the highest Ijazahs (certificates) in Quran, Hadith (the Prophetic traditions) and Fiqh (Islamic rulings). His own gift for teaching was evident when he gave his first sermon to a large audience at the age of 17 and went on to serve as a senior lecturer of Islamic transactions and comparative jurisprudence at the Islamic University of Beirut (Shariah College).He has continued to teach; travelling around the UK, Europe and wider afield, and won the 2015 BISCA award (British Imams & Scholars Contributions & Achievements Awards) for Outstanding Contribution to Education and Teaching.