Conditions for the Acceptance of Repentance
Verily is Allah’s mercy to man boundless and plentiful. At the Day of Judgement He is prepared to forgive our sins and grant us admittance to the heavenly garden of Jannah provided we bring Him our repentance and demonstrate our contrition upon having transgressed His laws. “Allah the Almighty said: O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as it.” (40 Hadith an-Nawawi, 42)
How sweet are those words, how mightily do they overwhelm our hearts! Can there be anything sweeter than hearing Allah Himself say to us: come to My heavenly abode, your sins are forgiven? The promise of forgiveness upon repentance is a never-ending hope for us Muslims, an incentive to carry on, to right the wrongs we commit, to seek the path of the virtuous. Allah promises to accept our repentance, however for that several conditions need to be met.
The most important condition is true faith in Allah. There are two states of man which bar for him entry into Heaven forever, they are the worst abhorred sins of disbelief in God (kufr) and belief in other gods apart from Allah (shirk). These two are the worst sins. If you let either of them take even the slightest root in your heart, it is useless to try and plead with Allah – your doom is sealed without pardon.
Once you are firm and steadfast in your faith and are prepared to prostrate yourself in front of Allah the Almighty in deep remorse and with a weeping heart, then you may consider the other conditions for your repentance to be accepted.
1) Do not put off repentance until later, repent your sins now, remember, sins can be repented only in this life, there is no repentance after death. We do not know our fate, we cannot read in the Book of Qadar and thus cannot know when Allah has appointed for us to die. Putting off repentance until later may thus be too late. Death without repentance is the worst of fates. Therefore, repentance is not tomorrow, repentance is not tonight, repentance is now;
2) The repenting person must have true remorse in his heart. Repenting is not ticking off a box with Allah, if you do not feel bad about what you have done, your repentance shall not be accepted, because you are faking it, Allah holds such deeds in great contempt;
3) Repentance means cessation of the continuation of the sin you are repenting for. If you repent for something which you repeat immediately afterwards, the value of your repentance is debased with the Lord;
4) There must be firm resolve in your mind never to do the same thing again. Man is feeble, man commits sins and will continue to commit them because of his infirmity, but his resolve to take the path of the righteous is his shield against evil. If this resolve is strong, it will count in the eyes of God Almighty and it will be your path to repentance.
Praised be Allah the Creator of Heavens and Earth Who has granted us the chance to be pardoned at the Day of Judgement. The key to it is proper repentance. “So will they not repent to Allah and seek His forgiveness? And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” (5:74)