1. Realise the grave consequences of sinning
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Verily, when the slave commits a sin, a black dot appears on his heart. When he desists, seeks forgiveness and repents, his heart is polished clean. But if he sins again, it increases until it covers his heart. And that is the ‘rān’ (rust) which Allah mentioned: ‘No indeed! Rather what they have been doing has rusted their hearts (83:14).’” (Tirmidhī)
2. Don’t belittle a sin
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Beware of sins which are deemed as insignificant because indeed they gather on a person until they destroy him.” (Ahmad)
‘Abdullah ibn Mas‘ūd (raḍiy Allāhu ‘anhu) said: ‘The believer regards his sin equivalent to a mountain, beneath which he is seated, and fears that it will collapse on him, whilst the sinner regards his sin to be equivalent to a fly which lands on his nose and he swats it away.’
‘Don’t look at any sin as being insignificant. Rather, look at the greatness of the One you disobeyed.’ (Bilāl ibn Sa’īd raḥimahullāh)
3. Stop sinning & resolve to never return to the sin
Al-Fudhayl (raḥimahullāh) said: ‘Asking for forgiveness without abandoning sin is the repentance of liars.’
4. Regret your sins and cry over them
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Regret is repentance.” (Ibn Mājah)
‘People! Your hearts are essentially pure, but they have been stained with splashes of sins. So splash on them in turn the tears of your eyes and you will find your hearts purified.’ (Ibn Rajab raḥimahullāh)
Ibn al-Qayyim (raḥimahullāh) said: ‘The pleasure one feels at sinning is more harmful than the sin itself. A believer never enjoys the fruit of his sins, but rather feels a remorseful ache within him. If this ceases to occur, and the joy of sinning overpowers any feeling of remorse, then that is a sign of a dead heart.
To rectify this situation, one must do the following three things:
- Fear dying in such a state before having the chance to repent.
- Regret over what one missed out on by disobeying Allah.
- Work very hard to atone for the sin and to avoid it in the future.’
5. Perform wudhū and pray two rak‘ahs
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “When a servant commits a sin, and he performs wudhū well, and then stands and prays two rak‘ahs, and asks forgiveness from Allah, Allah forgives him.” (Abū Dāwūd)
6. Follow the bad with good & atone for your sins
Allah says: “Indeed good deeds erase bad deeds.” (11:114) If one has wronged another person, one should atone for the sin e.g. ask their forgiveness or supplicate for them.
7. Seek forgiveness during the best time
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Our Lord – Glorified and Exalted is He – descends every night to the lowest heaven when one-third of the night remains and says: ‘Who will call upon Me, that I may answer Him? Who will ask of Me, that I may give him? Who will seek My forgiveness, that I may forgive him?’” (Bukhārī)
8. Seek forgiveness in the best manner
(See Sayyid al-Istighfār)
9. Make repentance your constant companion
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Whoever wants to be pleased with his scroll of deeds should increase in seeking forgiveness.” (Tabarānī)
‘The state of tawbah is at the beginning, the middle and the end of the slave’s journey to his Creator. The servant who seeks the pleasure of Allah never abandons tawbah. He remains in the state of tawbah until his death.’ (Ibn al-Qayyim raḥimahullāh)
Allah says: “Indeed, Allah loves those who are constantly repentant and loves those who purify themselves.” (2:222)
10. Seek forgiveness for others
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Whoever seeks forgiveness for every male and female believer, Allah will record a good deed for him for every male and female believer.” (Tabarānī)