#355: Signs A Person’s Repentance Is Accepted


Assalamualaikum ustaz. What are the signs that a person’s repentance is accepted after he has sincerely repented?


Waalaikumussalam wrt. wbt.,

Alhamdulillah, praise and gratitude to Allah SWT for His countless blessings for us all. Praise and salutations to our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions, and all those who follow his footsteps until the Final day.

According to Kamus Dewan, repentance means regretting a sin (evil deeds and others) and a resolve to never commit it (the sin) again, deep regret for the mistake and determination to not repeat it again. It also means to return to God (by leaving the act – and others that are prohibited and obeying all the commandments). (See 4th Edition of Kamus Dewan). [1]

According to Ibn Manzur, repent means to return to Allah from sin or return to obedience after sinning or it also means returning from sin. [2] Repentance also means coming back to Allah with a true retuning. It also means leaving sin. While the word istitabah means asking a person to repent. [3]

Whereas the terminology repentance is a form of regret that results in a determination and resolution (to leave the sin), concurrently, the regret leads to understanding that the sins are preventing a person from his one true lover. [4]

Repenting from sin is obligatory. Allah SWT commanded us to repent through His statement:

وَتُوبُوا إِلَى اللَّـهِ جَمِيعًا أَيُّهَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ

“And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed.” [5]

Ibn Kathir said: It means to do everything that has been commanded on you from beautiful and commendable manners and character. Leave what is the norm of the Jahiliyyah who displayed despicable character, for success can only be attained by following all the commandments of Allah SWT and His Messenger and leaving the prohibitions of Allah and His Rasul. [6]

Allah SWT also states:

وَأَنِ اسْتَغْفِرُوا رَبَّكُمْ ثُمَّ تُوبُوا إِلَيْهِ يُمَتِّعْكُم مَّتَاعًا حَسَنًا إِلَىٰ أَجَلٍ مُّسَمًّى وَيُؤْتِ كُلَّ ذِي فَضْلٍ فَضْلَهُ

“And [saying], “Seek forgiveness of your Lord and repent to Him, [and] He will let you enjoy a good provision for a specified term and give every doer of favor his favor.” [7]

Ibn Kathir said: It means and I have commanded you to repent to Allah SWT for all your past sins and repent from those actions and you remain and continue this way. [8]

Imam al-Nawawi stated in his book Riyadh al-Salihin: Scholars said that repenting from every sin is obligatory. If the transgression (sin) is between a slave and Allah SWT – doesn’t involve the rights of others – then there are three conditions for it:

  • Distancing and avoiding the sin
  • Regretting for ever committing the sin
  • Determined and set a resolve to never repeat the sin forever

If one of the conditions isn’t fulfilled, then his repentance is invalid.

However, if the transgression involves the rights of others, then there are four conditions. They are the first three conditions with the addition of:

  • He should ask to be freed from the right of the person he has wronged. If it is in the form of property or something similar, then he should return it (to the person he has taken it from unjustly). If it is in the form of a false accusation or others like it, then he should clear his name or seek his forgiveness. If it is in the form of ghibah, then it must be asked to be made halal. [9]

Thus, in the effort of attaining forgiveness from Allah SWT, one’s repentance must fulfil at least the four above-mentioned conditions.

Signs One’s Repentance is Accepted

Coming back to the above question, regarding the signs that Allah SWT has accepted a person’s repentance is when his attitude and character change, his soul became closer and his love for the mosque increases, his manners and language improve, he feels happy when worshipping and he continues to seek for forgiveness from Allah SWT. Hence, these are among the signs that Allah SWT accepted his worships.

Abu al-Laith al-Samarqandi in his book Tanbih al-Ghafilin stated that some jurists stated: A person’s repentance can be known in four matters:

  • When he is able to control his tongue from lies, ghibah and uselsss words.
  • When there is no more jealousy, animosity, and envy towards everyone.
  • When he has distanced himself from bad company or friends.
  • When he is always prepared to face death and always recites istighfar, regretting his past sins and is determined in performing worships to his Lord. [10]

Some wise man said: “Are there signs to know when a person’s repentance is accepted?” They replied: “Yes, there are four signs that one’s repentance is accepted, they are:

  • Severing ties with bad friends and making friends with pious and righteous people.
  • Stop any type of sin and always perform worship.
  • Loving and anticipation for worldly matters disappear from his heart and is always reminded of the trial in the hereafter.
  • Firm and resolute belief in the guarantee of Allah in matters of sustenance and busies himself with only the commandments of Allah SWT. [11]

Thus, they said that when all these attributes are present, they will then be included as the people mentioned by Allah SWT:

إِنَّ اللَّـهَ يُحِبُّ التَّوَّابِينَ وَيُحِبُّ الْمُتَطَهِّرِينَ

 Indeed, Allah loves those who are constantly repentant and loves those who purify themselves.” [12]

Atha’, Muqatil bin Sulaiman and al-Kalbi interpreted this verse by saying that Allah SWT loves those who always repent from sin and like to purify themselves with water from hadas and najis. [13]

Furthermore, it doesn’t mean that a person who has the signs that his repentance is accepted by Allah SWT should stop repenting. Moreover, the clearest sign that he has repented is he is istiqamah and continuous in repenting to Allah SWT throughout his life as displayed by the prophet PBUH himself who was reported to repent 100 times a day.

This is as stated in a hadith narrated from al-Aghar al-Muzani, where Rasullullah PBUH said:

إِنَّهُ لَيُغَانُ عَلَى قَلْبِى وَإِنِّى لأَسْتَغْفِرُ اللَّهَ فِى الْيَوْمِ مِائَةَ مَرَّةٍ

“It is a heavy thing for my heart if I do not seek Allah’s forgiveness a hundred times a day.” [14]

Imam al-Nawawi stated citing the opinion of linguists: the word ليغان means anything that covers the heart. While Al-Qadhi ‘Iyadh stated that it means times of weakness and distracted from dhikr that should be continuous. When this happens, he considered it a sin, thus, immediately recites istighfar. There is an opinion that states, it is said Rasullullah PBUH is very concerned and worried about his ummah. [15]

What is meant by الغين is times that pass without dhikr, of which a person is always in dhikr. When his time passes without dhikr due to a certain reason, he promptly performs istighfar for it. Likewise, according to the opinion of Ibn al-Jauzi, الغين is with the meaning of a distracted attitude of people that none could escape.

The prophets, although ma’sum from major sins, however, they aren’t ma’sum from minor sins. This is based on a part of the chosen khilaf. However, the most rajih opinion states that the prophets are also ma’sum from minor sins. Ibn Battal said: the prophets are the strongest of people in terms of performing worship, for the blessing from Allah to them through makrifah. Thus, they are always grateful and acknowledged their God for their weaknesses.

Furthermore, it is explained that istighfar is from taqsir or deficiencies in fulfilling the rights that are obligatory for Allah and it is assumed that it is due to a person being busy with permissible matters such as eating, drinking, being with one’s wife, sleep, rest or socialize with people and considering their maslahah and fighting their enemies. [16]

May all of us are included among those who always repent and repentance is accepted by Allah SWT. Amin. We end with the supplication:

رَبَّنَا ظَلَمْنَا أَنفُسَنَا وَإِن لَّمْ تَغْفِرْ لَنَا وَتَرْحَمْنَا لَنَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ

“Our Lord, we have wronged ourselves, and if You do not forgive us and have mercy upon us, we will surely be among the losers.” [17]

Wallahu a’lam.

[1] http://prpm.dbp.gov.my/Cari1?keyword=taubat

[2] See Lisan al-Arab, 2/61

[3] See Basa’ir Zawi al-Tamyiz, 2/304

[4] See al-Mughni, 14/192

[5] (Surah al-Nur: 31)

[6] See Tafsir al-Quran al-‘Azim, 10/225

[7] (Surah Hud: 3)

[8] See Tafsir al-Quran al-‘Azim, 7/411

[9] See Riyadh al-Salihin, pg. 41-42

[10] See Tanbih al-Ghafilin bi Ahadith Sayyid al-Anbiya’ wa al-Mursalin, pg. 109

[11] See Tanbih al-Ghafilin110

[12] Surah al-Baqarah (222)

[13] See Ma’alim al-Tanzil, 1/259

[14] Narrated by Muslim (7033) and Abu Daud (1517)

[15] See Syarh al-Nawawi ‘ala Sahih Muslim, 17/23

[16] See Tuhfah al-Ahwazi, 9/103

[17] Surah al-A’raf (23)