Repentance by Sufi Sage

Taubatun-Nusuuh, True Repentance

Allah Almighty says in The Holy Qur’an:

“O ye who believe! turn to Allah a sincere turning; maybe your Lord will remove from you your evil and cause you to enter gardens beneath which rivers flow, on the day on which Allah will not abase the Prophet and those who believe with him; their light shall run on before them and on their right hands; they shall say: Our Lord! make perfect for us our light, and grant us protection, surely Thou hast power over all things.”

In this verse, God Almighty refers to the act of repentance as something we are required to do for our own good. Allah mentions that the type of repentance would have to be sincere and true. I find it interesting that Allah has mentioned it this way because so many a time have I sought forgiveness simply by saying ‘sorry’ without actually divulging into a detailed thought on it. Here, I will try to present my understanding of the term “Taubatun-Nusuuh”- or True Repentance.

In Arabic, Taubah (repentance) means ‘returning’, and that is why in the Holy Quran God’s name is also Al-Tawwab, which means, He Who is Oft-Returning with compassion. This means that when a person discarding sin turns to God with a sincere heart, God Almighty turns even more to him.

In a well-known Hadith Qudsi, related also by Bukhari it is written, “The Holy Prophet said: Allah said: If the servant draws near to Me a hand span, I draw near to him an arm’s length; and if he draws near to Me an arm’s length, I draw near to him a fathom’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I come to him running.”

This shows how God is receptive to the effort of His servant. This is also in accord with the law of nature. God Almighty has made it part of human nature that when a person turns to another with a sincere heart, the latter’s heart is also softened for him. This is what we all experience when we are asked for something from a dear friend; our hearts begin to experience a sense of warming in the direction of the subjects intentions. Then, how can reason accept that when a servant turns towards God Almighty with a true heart God should not turn to him?

It should be borne in mind that there are three conditions for repentance, without fulfilment of which true repentance is not achieved.

The first condition is to get rid of wicked desires which arouse evil propensities. Desires have great influence. Every action is preceded by a desire. This is something which the verse “And every man has a goal which dominates him” (2:149) alludes to. Thus the first condition for repentance is that evil thoughts and desires should be discarded. For instance, if a person has an illicit relationship with a woman and desires to repent, it is necessary that he should conceive of her as ugly and should call to mind all her low qualities. As desires and fancies exercise a powerful influence; the practice of conception is elemental to the success of true repentance.

The second condition is remorse. Everyone’s conscience admonishes him over every evil, but an unfortunate person leaves his conscience suspended. Indeed we read in a hadith (from Tirmadhi, No: 1311) that a sin is that which pricks at your conscience. This is true as we have an inherent system of right and wrong. We know when we have done wrong because we feel the guilt that sin places in the heart. Therefore, remorse serves as the driving key of repentance and opens up the last stage.

The third and final condition is a firm resolve that he will not revert to those vices. If he adheres to this resolve, God will bestow upon him the strength for true repentance and he will be rid altogether of his vices which will be replaced by good morals and praiseworthy actions. This is a moral victory. It is for God Almighty to bestow the power and strength for it for He is the Master of all power and all strength, as He has said: All power belongs to Allah (2:166)


Topics researched in these books of The Promised Messiah-
Spiritual Treasures, vol. 23. pp. 125-126
Malfoozat, Vol. I, pp.132-134