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79 - التَّوَّابُ

Bint e Aisha

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التَّوَّابُ is translated as The Acceptor of Repentance and The Oft-Forgiving. 

Different words are used in the Arabic language for forgiving i.e. الْغَفُورُ الْغَفَّارُ and التَّوَّابُ is also regarding forgiveness.


Linguistically the meaning of تَوَّاب is to return or to turn people back. The legalistic meaning is to refrain, to stay away from something. 


مَغْفِرة is to ask for forgiveness for what was done in the past. 
توبة‎ is to do with returning back to Allah ta’ala and has to do with refraining in the future. تَوَّاب is the superlative form of توبة. 



It is The One Who gives the Tawfeeq to turn back to Him and accepts the Tawbah and it is a great Ni’mat of Allah ta’ala to be granted the ability to turn back. The beautiful part of it is that it does not matter how many times one does Tawbah. People get tired if we say sorry and keep making the same mistake but Allah ta’ala accepts Tawbah again and again. 


It is The One Who returns to His slave the Fadhl of His Rahmah. This refers to the Rahmah that could have been taken away or distanced from the person after committing the sin. Allah ta’ala gives it back through His Fadhl and that is the power of Tawbah that the person is once again in the mercy of Allah ta’ala. 


Allah ta’ala being التَّوَّابُ returns the slave back to His obedience and Allah ta’ala being التَّوَّابُ will not waste their good deeds due to the sin. 


Another meaning of التَّوَّابُ is that He makes such means that when a person sees the signs of Allah ta’ala, he will turn again and again to Him. It can be any sign. Sometimes it can be a dream or something bad happening to a person who is stuck in some major sin, which makes the person repent. Therefore as التَّوَّابُ, Allah ta’ala sends a sign or warning as a direction to the person to turn back to Him.


In the Qur’an

It is mentioned 10 times in the Qur’an often with الرَّحِيمُ.


أَلَمْ يَعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ يَقْبَلُ التَّوْبَةَ عَنْ عِبَادِهِ وَيَأْخُذُ الصَّدَقَاتِ وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ التَّوَّابُ الرَّحِيمُ

Do they not know that Allah accepts repentance from His servants and takes their sadaqat (charity), and surely Allah is the One Who is the Accepter of Repentance, the Merciful. [Surah Tawbah: 104]


فَسَبِّحْ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّكَ وَاسْتَغْفِرْهُ ۚ إِنَّهُ كَانَ تَوَّابًا 

So glorify your Rabb with His praises, and pray for His forgiveness: surely He is ever ready to accept repentance. [Surah Nasr: 3]


Conditions of Tawbah

•    To leave the sin immediately 

•    To feel remorse/ shame (Nadaamat) – without feeling remorse a person will not be inspired to make Tawbah. Therefore if a person left sin due to being caught in the sin without feeling remorse then it is not true Tawbah

•    To make a firm resolution not to commit the sin again – even if there is probability of committing the sin again, the “want” to refrain has to be present. It is a great trick of Shaytaan to make a person feel what is the point of Tawbah when he is bound to commit the sin again


A fourth condition applies if the sin was in relation to Huqooqul ‘Ibaad – the rights of others, in which case one has to rectify the situation i.e. reimburse if someone was wronged or cheated, ask for forgiveness for backbiting etc. 


Allah ta’ala loves those who Repent


إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ التَّوَّابِينَ وَيُحِبُّ الْمُتَطَهِّرِينَ

Surely Allah loves those who turn to Him in repentance and keep themselves clean [Surah Baqarah: 222]


Even the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam made Dua’ for forgiveness though he was sinless. 


Even though a person may have given up sins, there is always something for which they should be asking for forgiveness. They may be performing their prayers however with little concentration or there may be Ghaflat etc. The Muqarrabeen make Tawbah for that as well.  


We should ask Allah ta’ala to forgive us even after doing good deeds i.e. to forgive the shortcomings and accept the deeds.


Tawbah of the Ambiyaa

Adam AS & Hawwa AS’s Du’a

قَالَا رَبَّنَا ظَلَمْنَا أَنْفُسَنَا وَإِنْ لَمْ تَغْفِرْ لَنَا وَتَرْحَمْنَا لَنَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ

They both replied: “Our Rabb! We have wronged our souls. If You do not forgive us and have mercy on us, we shall certainly be of the losers.” [Surah A’araaf: 23]


Musa AS’s Du’a

قَالَ رَبِّ إِنِّي ظَلَمْتُ نَفْسِي فَاغْفِرْ لِي فَغَفَرَ لَهُ ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ

Then he prayed: "O my Rabb! I have indeed wronged my soul, please forgive me." So Allah forgave him, surely He is the Forgiving, the Merciful. [Surah Qasas:16]


Yunus AS’s Du’a in the stomach of the fish

وَذَا النُّونِ إِذْ ذَهَبَ مُغَاضِبًا فَظَنَّ أَنْ لَنْ نَقْدِرَ عَلَيْهِ فَنَادَىٰ فِي الظُّلُمَاتِ أَنْ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ سُبْحَانَكَ إِنِّي كُنْتُ مِنَ الظَّالِمِينَ

And (mention) Dhun Nun, when he went off in anger and deemed that We had no power over him, but he cried out in the darkness, saying: There is no God save Thee. Be Thou glorified! I have been a wrong-doer [Surah Ambiyaa: 87]


Story of the Man who killed 99 people

The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wassallam said,

“There was a man from among a nation before you who killed ninety-nine people and then made an inquiry about the most learned person on the earth. He was directed to a monk. He came to him and told him that he had killed ninety-nine people and asked him if there was any chance for his repentance to be accepted. He replied in the negative and the man killed him also completing one hundred.


He then asked about the most learned man in the earth. He was directed to a scholar. He told him that he had killed one hundred people and asked him if there was any chance for his repentance to be accepted. He replied in the affirmative and asked, `Who stands between you and repentance? Go to such and such land; there (you will find) people devoted to prayer and worship of Allah, join them in worship, and do not come back to your land because it is an evil place.’


So he went away and hardly had he covered half the distance when death overtook him; and there was a dispute between the angels of mercy and the angels of torment. The angels of mercy pleaded, ‘This man has come with a repenting heart to Allah,’ and the angels of punishment argued, ‘He never did a virtuous deed in his life.’ Then there appeared another angel in the form of a human being and the contending angels agreed to make him arbiter between them. He said, `Measure the distance between the two lands. He will be considered belonging to the land to which he is nearer.’ They measured and found him closer to the land (land of piety) where he intended to go, and so the angels of mercy collected his soul”. [Bukhari and Muslim]


The story shows that some places may not be conducive to a person’s spiritual progress as the environment can have an effect on people. Another point from the above story is that one should never despair of the mercy of Allah ta’ala. 


Forgiveness comes from Allah ta’ala

Only Allah ta’ala can accept Tawbah and forgive our sins. No pious saint or Scholar can do so unlike Christianity where there is the concept of the confession and being forgiven. The Pious Scholars can guide on how to make Tawbah and how to refrain from sins and we can ask others to make Du’a for us to be forgiven but actual forgiveness comes from Allah ta’ala. No one has the power to forgive anyone’s sins no matter who they are. Allah ta’ala says in the Qur’an, 


وَهُوَ الَّذِي يَقْبَلُ التَّوْبَةَ عَنْ عِبَادِهِ وَيَعْفُو عَنِ السَّيِّئَاتِ وَيَعْلَمُ مَا تَفْعَلُونَ

It is He Who accepts repentance from His servants and pardons their sins, and He knows whatever you do. [Surah Shura:25]


Sometimes people have a need to be told they are forgiven but no one can tell them they are forgiven. In another verse Allah ta’ala says, 


إِلَّا مَنْ تَابَ وَآمَنَ وَعَمِلَ عَمَلًا صَالِحًا فَأُولَٰئِكَ يُبَدِّلُ اللَّهُ سَيِّئَاتِهِمْ حَسَنَاتٍ ۗ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ غَفُورًا رَحِيمًا

Except the one who repents, becomes a true believer, and starts doing good deeds, for then Allah will change his evil deeds into good, and Allah is Most Forgiving, Most Merciful. [Surah Furqaan: 70]


One is to say, “I forgive you” but to change the sins to good deeds is Allah ta’ala’s extreme mercy. Allah ta’ala is التَّوَّابُ in this way as well. 


We are all sinners but the best are those who repent. The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam said, 


كُلُّ ابْنِ آدَمَ خَطَّاءٌ وَخَيْرُ الْخَطَّائِينَ التَّوَّابُونَ

“All of the children of Adam are sinners, and the best sinners are those who repent.”


Tawbah comes from the Heart

Tawbah is from the heart. The number of Istaghfaar and Salaatut Tawbah etc. can be done however that is to show what is in the heart. It is not a substitute for the feelings of the heart. 


Emotional & Psychological Benefits of Tawbah

•    It is a detoxification and cleanliness

•    It becomes a trigger and a motivation factor for one’s good deeds to be improved. Those who make Tawbah after leading a sinful life become better Muslims, even become very pious or Scholars 

•    Regular Tawbah brings humility in the heart and improves one’s character


Istaghfaar for every Problem

It is related in Tafsir al Qurtubi that Hasan al-Basri (r.a) was once seated. A man came saying “O Master, I’m very sinful do tell me an act which I can do to be forgiven”. Hasan al-Basri (r.a) replied, “Go and do Istighfar”.


Second person came and said, “O Master, for many days rains have stopped and there is drought. Tell me an action through which Allah (s.w.t) will send down rain to us”. Hasan al-Basri (r.a) replied, “Go and do Istighfar”.


Third person came and said, “I am under a lot of debt. I am working, but please make dua that Allah (s.w.t) give me wealth so I can be saved from debts”. Hasan al-Basri (r.a) replied, “Go and do Istighfar to Allah”.

Fourth person came and said, “It is a wish of mine that Allah (s.w.t) give me an offspring. So please make dua that Allah (s.w.t) gives me pious offspring”. Hasan al-Basri (r.a) replied, “Go and do Istighfar”.


Fifth person came and said, “I have an orchard please make dua that it gives more fruits, so that the return will be more.” Hasan al-Basri (r.a) replied, “Go and do Istighfar”.


Sixth person came and said, “If I was to get water spring in my house, I will be so pleased”. Shaykh Hasan replied, “Go and do Istighfar”.


Shaykh Hasan al-Basri’s (r.a) disciple, Ibn Sabih (r.a) who was sitting close, was very surprised thinking, “Why is it that Shaykh Hasan al-Basri (r.a) is giving the same solution of Istighfar to whoever comes to him”? So Ibn Sabih (r.a) eventually asked “Why are you giving one response for all the problems”? On hearing this Shaykh Hasan al-Basri (r.a) recited what Allah ta’ala said in Qur’an,


فَقُلْتُ اسْتَغْفِرُوا رَبَّكُمْ إِنَّهُ كَانَ غَفَّارًا - And I have said: Seek pardon of your Lord Lo! He is ever Forgiving.

يُرْسِلِ السَّمَاءَ عَلَيْكُمْ مِدْرَارًا - He will let loose the sky for you in plenteous rain,

وَيُمْدِدْكُمْ بِأَمْوَالٍ وَبَنِينَ وَيَجْعَلْ لَكُمْ جَنَّاتٍ وَيَجْعَلْ لَكُمْ أَنْهَارًا - And will help you with wealth and sons, and will assign unto you Gardens and will assign unto you rivers.
(Surah Nooh: 10-12]


Therefore Astaghfaar benefits us in different worldly ways.


Best Time for Istaghfaar

The best time for Istaghfaar is at the time of Tahajjud. Allah ta’ala says in Surah Dhaariyaat (verse 18),


وَبِالْأَسْحَارِ هُمْ يَسْتَغْفِرُونَ - pray for forgiveness in the early morning (Before dawn).



A person who makes Tawbah regularly will never be humiliated. 



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