O ALLAH forgive me my sins, Allah I will never do that again, I swear by Allah I was wrong, the supplication ends and the tears are wiped away. The next thing we know, we’re back to square one doing what we swore we would not do. Why is it that we return to our old ways after repenting and seeking forgiveness?

One reason could be that we are taking sins too lightly. We may be considering them insignificant, while they may not be so.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Beware of the minor sins which are often thought of as insignificant, for they are like a group of people who stopped at the bottom of a valley. One of them brought a stick, and another brought a stick until they had gathered enough to cook their food. These minor sins, if a person is called to account for them, will destroy him. According to another report, he said: Beware of minor sins, for they will pile up until they destroy a person. (Ahmad; Sahih Al-Jaami’, 2686-2687)

Also, compare our attitude with that of the Companions’. They were so careful and worried about committing sins. That is how true Iman (faith) is – full of regret and remorse even when a small mistake happens.

Ibn Mas’ood (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “The believer regards his sin as if he were sitting beneath a mountain which he fears may fall on him, whereas the sinner regards his sin as if a fly lands on his nose and he swipes it away.(Al-Bukhari)

Subhan Allah, what an excellent comparison! May Allah guide us and remove the attitude of considering sins too light from our hearts.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to seek forgiveness for over 70-100 times a day, even though Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was Ma’soom i.e. he did not commit sins. Further, Allah had already forgiven his past and future mistakes. Despite that, he used to seek Allah’s forgiveness over 70-100 times a day. If a person without any sins used to seek so much forgiveness, then what about us?

Seeking forgiveness is itself a great act of worship; one of its rewards is that Allah wipes out our sins as if we never did them. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The one who repents from his sin is like the one who did not sin in the first place.(Ibn Majah; Sahih Al-Jaami’, 3008)

No matter how great the crime or sin is, Allah can forgive it. Even the greatest crime on earth – Shirk (associating partners with Allah) – can be wiped out if one seeks forgiveness and repents during his or her lifetime.

However, there are a few conditions scholars have outlined about true repentance. First of all, repentance should be sincere for the sake of Allah. If one is leaving a sin for some other reason (e.g. a man gives up smoking because it was damaging his health or reputation among others), then it cannot be counted as repentance to Allah.

Allah said in the Qur’an:

O you who Believe! Turn to Allah with Sincere repentance! (Qur’an, 66:8)

Apart from sincerity for Allah, the conditions include:

  • Immediately ceasing from the sin
  • Regret
  • Determination not to return to the sin
  • If the sin involved a victim: restoring the victim’s rights and/or seeking his forgiveness.

It’s such a shame that sometimes we miss our prayers or we don’t get up for Fajr, and yet we feel no regret, even though neglecting prayers is such a tremendous sin. A dangerous pit we fall into when we consider sins insignificant is that we even neglect to ask Allah’s forgiveness for that sin. May Allah guide us to turn to Him in sincere repentance, to stop committing sins completely, and feel absolutely remorseful and regretful of what we have done in the past, Ameen.

We should try our best not to fall into sin, but we as human beings will make mistakes. The way out is to seek forgiveness, for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, the Most Merciful.

And all of you beg Allah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful” (Qur’an, 24:31)