One of the most important characteristics that distinguishes unbelievers from believers is that believers repent often as an act of worship. As unbelievers consider themselves faultless and sinless, they do not feel the need to repent. Believers, on the other hand, do not want to commit any sins against Allah. However, by their nature, people can sin temporarily by following their inner selves. They can be lax in carrying out Allah’s commands. But in the end they regret and turn to Allah and ask for our Lord’s forgiveness.
Allah created people as very weak beings. People indulge in negligence due to ignorance or unawareness; they can be mistaken forgetting even the subjects they know best, they can think in a wrong or mistaken way, take the wrong decisions, or act in an unsound manner knowingly or unknowingly. This is because people have a vicious enemy like satan who is trying to drag them into rebellion and divert them from the true path by giving them suggestions. The inner self also commands evil all the time. People can earn the good pleasure of Allah to the extent that they can protect themselves from these two negative Powers. His Highness Master Bediuzzaman says, “In these times of distortion and misery where this world has many captivating attributes, our basic action point must be to dismiss evil and abandon sins”. However no matter what happens, Allah always guides people to make up for their mistakes; this guidance is repentance.
It Is a Great Blessing That Our Lord is All-Merciful, All-Compassionate and Kind and Protective to His Servants
Allah always gives people the opportunity to ask for forgiveness and repent for their mistakes and sins. A person who sincerely abandons his mistakes and repents to Allah can hope that Allah will forgive him. Allah reveals in many verses of the Qur’an that He is “Forgiving”, “Merciful”, the “Protector” and “Compassionate”. Allah’s names of “At-Tawwab” meaning “The One Who Accepts Repentance” and “Al-Gaffar” meaning “All-Forgiving” and “Ar-Rahman” meaning “All-Merciful” manifest on all those who regret and repent. In one verse Allah heralds His servants by saying, “Tell My servants that I am the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Merciful.” (Surat al-Hijr, 49).
It is impossible to claim that a person has not made any mistakes and been faultless and perfect throughout his entire life, because people are created as beings capable of making mistakes. Our Almighty Lord is the One Who is All-Forgiving and All-Merciful. Therefore, believers have to take notice of their mistakes, which they made knowingly or unknowingly by falling into negligence or listening to their inner selves. They have to regret their mistakes and direct themselves to the right path and turn to our Lord as soon as possible and strive not to make that mistake again. Of course a person has to be careful not to make mistakes and commit sins and protect the boundaries of our Lord; but when he makes a mistake in spite of this, it is a great characteristic of a believer to ask forgiveness from Allah. Our Lord’s names “The One Who Accepts Repentance” (At-Tawwab), “All-Forgiving” (Al-Gaffar), “All-Merciful” (Ar-Rahman) manifest on believers who regret their mistakes, repent and turn to Allah.
Repenting Very Often Is an Important Believer Characteristic
Repenting frequently is a sign of the believer’s humility and awareness of his weakness in the face of Allah. It is a behavior that pleases Allah. In return for this act of worship, Allah gives relief to, lifts the burdens on and opens the minds of those who repent often.
With Repentance Allah Wants People to Learn Lessons and Notice Their Mistakes
One of the wisdoms of repentance is that the believer experiences real regret and turns to Allah without wasting any time and strives not to repeat that mistake. Therefore, he repents in a true and sincere manner. He repents and keeps his word that he will remain on the right path until the end of his life. In the Qur’an, the point of view of someone who sincerely repents is described in the verse, “Allah only accepts the repentance of those who do evil in ignorance and then quickly make repentance after doing it. Allah turns towards such people. Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise...” (Surat an-Nisa’, 17) In another verse, Allah reveals how a believer should behave, “Those who, when they act indecently or wrong themselves, remember Allah and ask forgiveness for their bad actions (and who can forgive bad actions except Allah?) and do not knowingly persist in what they were doing.” (Surah Al ‘Imran Suresi, 135).
Submitting to Allah right after making mistakes and not delaying repentance is an important point. This is because as Master Bediuzzaman describes, “(If mistakes) are not erased with repentance, they turn into a poisonous snake that bites the heart. Once the heart is stained it becomes open to further stains. So man falls into a (corrupt) circle. Every sin brings a new one; not only this but also it destroys the feelings of repentance and regret (jealousy). In the end the secret behind the verse “Their hearts have rusted” (Surat al-Mutaffifin, 14) becomes visible.”
Of course, even if a person who experiences true regret carefully strives not to repeat that mistake or sin, he can still fall into the same mistake. This situation should not lead to this person losing his self-confidence. For every person there is an opportunity to repent and sincerely submit to Allah until death.
However a person should not be mistaken for the time he has been given. He should not behave in a ways to abuse Allah’s mercy, forgivingness, grace. He should use the time Allah grants him and find guidance by repentance and asking for forgiveness while there is still time. This is because faith and repentance at the moment of death may not be accepted in the sight of Allah. Therefore he needs to behave like he will die any moment and strive to edify.
It should not be forgotten that a person can make small or big mistakes throughout his life, but as long as he repents and submits to Allah Who forgives and accepts repentance and turns evil into good with a sincere heart, he can hope that his mistakes will be forgiven. Allah always answers for repentance. Allah forgives his mistakes and turns them into good and rewards his good deeds with the best.
Every Mistake Is Created for a Reason
Allah’s merciful name is one of the greatest blessings and conveniences our Lord bestowed on people. It is an ill conjecture that people fall into hopelessness and think that they will never recover from their mistakes. A person who ignores Allah’s mercy, compassion, forgivingness torments himself and acts in a way not in line with the morality of the Qur’an. Mistakes increase the degrees of believers, who immediately abandons their mistakes and compensates for these by displaying the right attitude in line with the Qur’an, in the hereafter; make them more mature and help His servants better understand their weaknesses and helplessness. The important thing is to regret and repent without insisting on one’s sins. In the verses, our Lord reveals that He will forgive those who do good deeds, pay alms and live the moral values of the Qur’an and take them under His grace:
“But I am Ever-Forgiving to anyone who makes tawba and has faith and acts rightly and then is guided.” (Surah Ta Ha, 82)
One of the reasons that distract people from the morality of religion is to see themselves as people “who are compulsive and will never get better” as a result of guilt due to their sins. Satan constantly provokes these people who forget the Ar-rahman and Ar-Rahim names of Allah and that Allah is the One Who accepts repentance and has infinite mercy and suggests them the idea “you are already a sinner, it is impossible for you to recover, accept it as it is.” Then satan pulls them into a greater mire with deceptions like “you have sinned once, it is okay to do it again”. He uses the feeling of embarrassment a person feels in the face of Allah because of his sin and abuses this feeling to draw that person away from Allah completely. But this practice is weak like satan’s every trick, because when a person sins it does not mean that this person will not find the right path from now on. Allah reveals in the Qur’an that He will forgive all who sincerely repents for their sins, ask for forgiveness and strive not to commit that sin again as such: “But if anyone makes tawba after his wrongdoing and puts things right, Allah will turn towards him. Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Surat al-Ma’ida, 39)
Adnan Oktar's piece in The Gulf Today: