The gift of Allah to the real repentant
One of the infallible imams (s) says, ‘Allah the Almighty has given the repentant three advantages. If He has given one of them to all the inhabitants of the heavens and the earth, they will be saved by it. Allah has said,
“Surely Allah loves those who turn much (to Him), and He loves those who purify themselves.” Qur'an, 2:222
He, whom Allah loves, will never be tortured. Allah has said too:
“Those who bear the power and those around Him celebrate the praise of their Lord and believe in Him and ask protection for those who believe: Our Lord! Thou embracest all things in mercy and knowledge, therefore grant protection to those who turn (to Thee) and follow Thy way, and save them from the punishment of the hell. Our Lord! and make them enter the gardens of perpetuity which Thou hast promised to them and those who do good of their fathers and their wives and their offspring, surely Thou are the Mighty, the Wise. And keep them from evil deeds, and whom Thou keepest from evil deeds this day, indeed Thou hast mercy on him, and that is the mighty achievement.” Qur'an, 40:7-9
Allah has also said,
“And they who do not call upon another god with Allah and do not slay the soul, which Allah has forbidden except in the requirements of justice, and (who) do not commit fornication and he who does this shall find a requital of sin. The punishment shall be doubled to him on the day of resurrection, and he shall abide therein in abasement. Except him who repents and believes and does a good deed; so these are they of whom Allah changes the evil deeds to good ones; and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.” Qur'an, 25:68-70
The Holy Qur'an and repentance
The word “repentance” and its derivatives have been mentioned in the Qur'an about eighty-seven times. It has been mentioned so much and this shows the greatness of this fact near Allah the Almighty.
We can classify what has been mentioned in the Qur'an concerning the matter of “repentance” into five parts:
- The command of repentance
- The way of the real repentance
- Accepting repentance (by Allah)
- Turning away from repentance
- The reason of not accepting repentance
1. The command of repentance
Allah has said,
“…and ask forgiveness of your Lord, then turn to Him.” Qur'an, 11:3
“…and turn to Allah all of you, O believers, so that you may be successful.” Qur'an, 24:31
Ar-Raghib al-Isfahani says in his book Mufradat al-Qur’an,
‘Success on the Day of Resurrection is life without death, honor with no ignominy, knowledge with no ignorance and wealth with no poverty.’
Allah has also said,
“O you who believe! turn to Allah a sincere turning.” Qur'an, 66:8
From these Qur’anic verses it is understood that Allah the Almighty has ordered the believers and other than believers of repentance. It is well-known that obeying Allah is something obligatory and it leads man to the way of forgiveness and mercy and on the contrary that disobeying the order of Allah is impermissible and it leads to Allah’s wrath and torment and brings disgrace in this life and in the afterlife and causes eternal perishment.
2. The way of the real repentance
Repentance is not an easy matter. It is not achieved except by certain and practical conditions.
Among the elements that form the basic adobes in building the real repentance are regretting, determining to give up sin forever, changing one’s bad morals into good ones, repairing one’s deeds and past and relying on believing in Allah and the Day of Resurrection in following the straight path and the way of perfection.
Allah has said,
“Except those who repent and amend and make manifest (the truth), these it is to whom I turn (mercifully); and I am the Oft-returning (to mercy), the Merciful.” Qur'an, 2:160
“Repentance with Allah is only for those who do evil in ignorance, then turn (to Allah) soon, so these it is to whom Allah turns (mercifully), and Allah is ever Knowing, Wise.” Qur'an, 4:17
“But whoever repents after his iniquity and reforms (himself), then surely Allah will turn to him (mercifully); surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.” Qur'an, 5:39
“And (as to) those who do evil deeds, then repent after that and believe, your Lord after that is most surely Forgiving, Merciful.” Qur'an, 7:153
“But if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, they are your brethren in faith.” Qur'an, 9:11
According to these verses we notice that the conditions of the real repentance are: believing in Allah and the Day of Resurrection, reforming one’s faith, morals and doings, prompt turning (to Allah) without any delay, cutting one’s relation with injustice and sin, offering prayers, paying zakat and giving the rights of people back to them. Whoever repents in this way his repentance no doubt is a real repentance and then it will definitely be accepted by Allah.
3. Accepting repentance
When a sinful one obeys the order of Allah concerning the matter of repentance, tries to act according to the conditions of repentance and to follow the way that the Holy Qur'an has determined for the repentant, definitely his repentance will be accepted by Allah for Allah has promised sinful people who repent to accept their repentances. Such one is fit so that Allah purifies him from the consequences of sin and changes the darkness of his inners into light and brightness.
Allah has said,
“Do they not know that Allah accepts repentance from His servants…” Qur'an, 9:104
“And He it is Who accepts repentance from His servants and pardons the evil deeds.” Qur'an, 42:25
“The Forgiver of the faults and the Acceptor of repentance.” Qur'an, 40:3
4. Turning away from repentance
If turning away from repentance is due to despair of the mercy of Allah, then such a person should know that despairing of the mercy of Allah is one of the aspects of disbelief and the disbelievers.
If a sinful turns away from repentance thinking that Allah is unable to accept his repentance and forgive him, he should know that this matter is from the morals of the stubborn Jews.
If a sinful turns away from repentance out of pride, defiance and impudence before his generous Lord, he should know that Allah is mighty and powerful and He does not like such pride and impudent persons to be in His sacred yard. A person, who lives outside the circle of the love of Allah, lives a dry spirituality and is stuffed inside his dark soul besides that he is saved neither in this life nor in the afterlife.
A sinful one has to know that his turning away from repentance-in spite of that the door of repentance is always open and one is able to repent with the previous mentioned conditions and that Allah accepts repentance from His people-is the very injustice against oneself and distorting and destroying the high Divine facts. Allah has said,
“…and whoever does not turn, these it is that are the unjust.” Qur'an, 49:11
“Surely (as for) those who persecute the believing men and the believing women, then do not repent, they shall have the chastisement of hell, and they shall have the chastisement of burning.” Qur'an, 85:10
5. The reason of not accepting repentance
When a sinful one finds the opportunity of repentance and he repents of his sins following all the conditions of repentance, definitely his repentance will be accepted by Allah the Almighty but if he wastes the opportunity of repentance and procrastinates it until the signs of his death come and then he announces repentance of his previous sins or his repentance is not according to the actual conditions or he disbelieves after his believing, his repentance will not be accepted. Allah has said,
“And repentance is not for those who go on doing evil deeds, until when death comes to one of them, he says: Surely now I repent; nor (for) those who die while they are unbelievers. These are they for whom We have prepared a painful chastisement.” Qur'an, 4:18
“Surely, those who disbelieve after their believing, then increase in unbelief, their repentance shall not be accepted, and these are they that go astray.” Qur'an, 3:90