Tawbah (Repentance)

“Wherever you are, death will overtake you even if you are in lofty towers”. (4:78)

[One day Israel – the Angel of Death entered the court of Prophet Sulayman (as), stared at everyone who was present in the court and then left.

When the court was over, a person came to Prophet Sulayman (as) and asked,

“O Sulayman! Who was this man who entered your court today abruptly and then departed abruptly?”

Prophet Sulayman (as) replied, “He was Israel – the Angel of Death”.

When the man heard this, he started trembling in fear and then asked, “O Sulayman! Can you tell me why was he staring at me? He gave me the feeling as though he was seeking my soul”.

In order to console him, Prophet Sulayman (as) asked, “Now what do you want me to do about it?”

The man said, “O Sulayman! I need a big favour from you. Allah (SWT) has given you the power over everything including the wind. Could you please command the wind to carry me to the soil of Hind (where I can save myself from dying)?”

Being a prophet, Prophet Sulayman (as) knew for certain that there is no escape from death. Nevertheless, he (as) granted the wish of this man who happened to be one of his followers.

Few days later, when Prophet Sulayman (as) met the Angel of Death, he (as) was curious to find out about the plight of that man. So he (as) asked,

“O Angel of Death! Can you tell me why were you staring at such and such person the other day when you had entered in my court?”

And this is what the Angel of Death had to say. He said,

“O Sulayman! Allah (SWT) had commanded me to remove the soul of that person on the soil of Hind. When I came to your court and saw him there, I was wondering as to how would I be able to discharge my duty. However, since it was the command of Allah (SWT), I went to Hind and (guess what?) I found him there and extracted his soul there”.]

(Barzakh Chand Qadam Par)

“Wherever you are, death will overtake you even if you are in lofty towers”. (4:78)

Therefore, wisdom dictates that we prepare for our death. Couple of weeks ago, when we had the Isaal-e-Thawaab Majlis for this same Marhuma – we discussed about TAQWA being one of the most important provision for the Hereafter.

Another thing, which will also be of great advantage after death and that is TAWBAH & ISTIGHFAR. These two are inter-related. In Arabic, the term TAWBAH has been derived from TAABA, which means ‘to return’; and the term ISTIGHFAR from GHAFARA, which means ‘to forgive’. Thus, when we are told to do TAWBAH & ISTIGHFAR, it implies that: [We must return to the obedience of Allah (SWT) after having disobeyed Him and seek forgiveness for our sins from Him.]


Imam Ali (as) has said,

“Tawbah is established through four things”.

Unless one does all these four things, his or her Tawbah is NOT accepted. What are those four things? Imam (as) says:

The first thing is Nadamun bil-Qalb, which means ‘to be sincerely remorseful about the sins from the heart’.

Some people commit sins and do TAWBAH, but they are NOT sincerely remorseful about their actions. They cherish the memory of their sins and look forward for an opportunity to repeat them.

For example, in the months of Rajab, Sha’ban and Holy Ramadhan, we do certain A’maal in which we do Istighfar. We recite the Tasbeeh of Astaghfirullaha Wa Atoobu ilayhi but as soon as the A’maal are over or the Holy Ramadhan is over, we are back to our old sins. Such Tawbah & Istighfar is just a mockery and does NOT benefit us. One must be sincerely remorseful about his previous wrongdoings.

“And those who, when they commit an indecent act or wrong themselves, remember Allah, and plead Allah’s forgiveness for their sins- and who forgives sins except Allah?..” (3:135)

The second thing for Tawbah is Istighfarun bil-Lisaan, meaning ‘seeking forgiveness with the usage of one’s tongue’.

In other words, a person must say, ASTAGHFIRULLAHA RABBEE WA ATOOBU ILAYHI (I seek forgiveness from Allah, my Lord and return to Him –in obedience) Or to say, “Yaa Allah! I have committed such and such disobedience, please forgive me”.

Imam Ja’ffar as-Sadiq (as) has said,

“The Holy Prophet (saww) used to seek forgiveness for 70 times everyday without committing any sin”. (Wasail al-Shia’h)

It is also reported from the same Imam (as) that:

“Whenever the Holy Prophet (saww) participated in any gathering – however short the gathering – he (saww) would do Istighfar for atleast 25 times”. (Wasail al-Shia’h)

In some other Riwayaat, it is also mentioned that the Holy Prophet (saww) had the habit of reciting daily: 70 times – ASTAGHFIRULLAH & 70 times – ATOOBU ILALLAHI

So after being sincerely repentant from heart, one must then express his remorsefulness with his tongue.

The third thing for Tawbah is ‘Amalun bil-Jawaarih meaning ‘ proving through actions that one is remorseful’.

In this life, when we wrong somebody and we want to patch up the differences with him, we usually ask, “What can we do to compensate for the wrongdoing?”

Why? Because it will be a way of showing our remorsefulness. The same goes with Allah (SWT). How is this done? Our Aimma (as) have told us that: If you have skipped any of your Wajibaat such as Salat, Fasts, Hajj or payment of religious dues – perform them in Qadha; If you have confiscated the properties of people, return the same to their rightful owners; If you have backbited, slandered or abused someone, seek his forgiveness; If you have severed your ties with your relatives, resolve your differences and patch up with them. Your actions must prove that you are sincere in your Tawbah & Istighfar.

It is reported that:

[There was a person who worked as an Accountant for one of the Umayyad rulers for some years. One day, he came to Imam Ja’ffar as-Sadiq (as) and said,

“May my parents be sacrificed for your sake O son of the Prophet! I have worked for very long with Umayyads and benefited from their wealth extensively and used that wealth in all my personal affairs. Is there any outlet for me now so that my Tawbah is accepted?”

Imam (as) told him, “If I tell you something, will you do it?”

The man said, “Yes! I will do it”. Imam (as) told him, “Many people were denied their rightful shares by the Umayyads. Now people whom you know, give them their shares from your wealth and people whom you do not know, give alms in their names from your wealth. If you do this, I guarantee salvation from Allah (SWT) for you”.]

And the fourth thing for Tawbah is ‘Azm An Laa Ya’ood meaning ‘firm determination of not repeating the sin’.

“But whoever repents after his wrongdoing and reforms, then Allah shall accept his repentance. Indeed Allah is All-forgiving, All-merciful”. (5:39)

A person asked Imam Musa al-Kadhim (as) to explain him the verse in which Allah (SWT) says: “O you who have faith! Repent to Allah with sincere repentance…” Imam (as) said, “A person should repent and then NOT repeat the sin”.

Mulla Mujahidali Sheriff


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