#49: Recurring Sin and Repentance

Question:

If a person has repented multiple times but then he sinned yet again. Is his repentance accepted?

Answer:

Allah SWT states:

وَتُوبُوا إِلَى اللَّـهِ جَمِيعًا أَيُّهَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ

“And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed.”

Surah al-Nur (31)

Imam al-Nawawi stated: “Scholars said repenting from every sin is obligatory. If the transgression (sin) is between a slave and Allah SWT – of which isn’t related to the rights of others – then there are three conditions: (i) avoiding and leaving the sin, (ii) regret committing the sin (iii) decided with determination to never repeat the sin ever again.”

If one of the conditions isn’t fulfilled, then his repentance is invalid. However, if the sin is related to the rights of others, then the conditions became four. They are the previously mentioned three conditions (with one added condition) and:

He has to ask to be freed from the right of the person he violated the right from. If it is in the form of property or similar, then he must return it (back to the person he unfairly took it from). If it is in the form of a false accusation or something similar then he must clarify or explain the truth or apologize. If it is in the form of ghibah, then he must ask for it to be forgiven. [1]

In a hadith narrated from Abu Hurairah RA, he heard Rasullullah PBUH say:

إِنَّ عَبْدًا أَصَابَ ذَنْبًا ، وَرُبَّمَا قَالَ : أَذْنَبَ ذَنْبًا ، فَقَالَ : رَبِّ أَذْنَبْتُ ، وَرُبَّمَا قَالَ : أَصَبْتُ ، فَاغْفِرْ لِي ، فَقَالَ رَبُّهُ : أَعَلِمَ عَبْدِي أَنَّ لَهُ رَبًّا يَغْفِرُ الذَّنْبَ وَيَأْخُذُ بِهِ ، غَفَرْتُ لِعَبْدِي ، ثُمَّ مَكَثَ مَا شَاءَ اللَّهُ ، ثُمَّ أَصَابَ ذَنْبًا أَوْ أَذْنَبَ ذَنْبًا ، فَقَالَ : رَبِّ ، أَذْنَبْتُ أَوْ أَصَبْتُ آخَرَ ، فَاغْفِرْهُ ، فَقَالَ : أَعَلِمَ عَبْدِي أَنَّ لَهُ رَبًّا يَغْفِرُ الذَّنْبَ وَيَأْخُذُ بِهِ ، غَفَرْتُ لِعَبْدِي ، ثُمَّ مَكَثَ مَا شَاءَ اللَّهُ ، ثُمَّ أَذْنَبَ ذَنْبًا ، وَرُبَّمَا قَالَ : أَصَابَ ذَنْبًا ، قَالَ : قَالَ رَبِّ ، أَصَبْتُ أَوْ قَالَ أَذْنَبْتُ آخَرَ : فَاغْفِرْهُ لِي ، فَقَالَ : أَعَلِمَ عَبْدِي أَنَّ لَهُ رَبًّا يَغْفِرُ الذَّنْبَ وَيَأْخُذُ بِهِ ، غَفَرْتُ لِعَبْدِي ثَلَاثًا ، فَلْيَعْمَلْ مَا شَاءَ

“If somebody commits a sin and then says, ‘O my Lord! I have sinned, please forgive me!’ and his Lord says, ‘My slave has known that he has a Lord who forgives sins and punishes for it, I, therefore, have forgiven my slave (his sins).’ Then he remains without committing any sin for a while and then again commits another sin and says, ‘O my Lord, I have committed another sin, please forgive me,’ and Allah says, ‘My slave has known that he has a Lord who forgives sins and punishes for it, I, therefore, have forgiven my slave (his sin). Then he remains without Committing any another sin for a while and then commits another sin (for the third time) and says, ‘O my Lord, I have committed another sin, please forgive me,’ and Allah says, ‘My slave has known that he has a Lord Who forgives sins and punishes for it I, therefore, have forgiven My slave (his sin), he can do whatever he likes.” [2]

Badr al-Din al-‘Aini said: “Every time you sin, then repent. Allah will forgive your sin. Imam al-Nawawi mentioned this hadith saying, ‘Indeed, although the sin recurred or repeated, a hundred, a thousand or more times and he repented each time, then his repentance is accepted. Or he repents from all (his sins) with one repentance after all (the sins), then his repentance is valid.’” [3]

Likewise, in another hadith conveyed by Anas bin Malik, he said: I heard the Messenger PBUH said:

” قَالَ اللَّهُ تَبَارَكَ وَتَعَالَى: ‌يَا ‌ابْنَ ‌آدَمَ ‌إِنَّكَ ‌مَا ‌دَعَوْتَنِي ‌وَرَجَوْتَنِي ‌غَفَرْتُ ‌لَكَ عَلَى مَا كَانَ فِيكَ وَلَا أُبَالِي، يَا ابْنَ آدَمَ لَوْ بَلَغَتْ ذُنُوبُكَ عَنَانَ السَّمَاءِ ثُمَّ اسْتَغْفَرْتَنِي غَفَرْتُ لَكَ، وَلَا أُبَالِي، يَا ابْنَ آدَمَ إِنَّكَ لَوْ أَتَيْتَنِي بِقُرَابِ الأَرْضِ خَطَايَا ثُمَّ لَقِيتَنِي لَا تُشْرِكُ بِي شَيْئًا لَأَتَيْتُكَ بِقُرَابِهَا مَغْفِرَةً “

“Son of Adam, as long as you supplicate me and hope in me, I will pardon you in spite of what you have done, and I do not care. Son of Adam, if your sins were so numerous as to reach the lofty regions of the sky, then you asked my forgiveness, I would forgive you, and I do not care. Son of Adam, if you were to meet me with enough sins to fill the earth, then met me not associating anything with me, I would bring you as much pardon as would fill the earth.” [4]

Ibn Daqiq al-‘Id said this hadith is great news of the glorious, mercy, tenderness, honoured greatness as well as favours, ihsan, forgiveness, blessings and uncountable acknowledgement [from Allah SWT]. [5]

With such vast blessing and forgiveness of Allah SWT, there is no excuse for us to delay our repentance towards Allah SWT. Wallahu a’lam.

 

[1] Riyadh al-Salihin, p. 41-42

[2] Narrated by al-Bukhari, no. 7507.

[3] Umdat al-Qari fi Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari, 25/163.

[4] Narrated by al-Tirmizi, no. 3540.

[5] Sharh al-Arba’in al-Nawawiyyah, p. 137.

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