Is it too late or too much to ask for God’s forgiveness?
Humans make mistakes and commit sins. That’s natural. But what is not natural is that we sometimes don’t ask for forgiveness afterwards. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Every son of Adam sins, and the best of those who sin are those who repent.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 2499; classed as hasan by al-Albaani. It is expected to fall short sometimes. Therefore, we should be ready and eager to repent once a sin is committed.
The questions that you may be posing now are: “Is it too late to ask for forgiveness? Is it too much to ask for forgiveness as I have committed a lot of sins?” The answer to the first question is in the following Hadiths. It was narrated by Abu ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab (may Allaah be pleased with them) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Allaah will accept the repentance of His slave so long as the death-rattle has not yet reached his throat.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi. As long as there is no gurgling or rattling made in the throat (which is an indication of near death), we can repent. Moreover, there is another condition for repentance to be accepted. One can’t ask for forgiveness when the sun rises from the West (which is one of the Hour’s big signs- and the hour refers the end of life and the beginning of the Resurrection and Judgment). Al-Bukhaari (4635) and Muslim (157) narrated that Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The hour will not come until the sun rises from its Maghrib (West). When people witness this, they will believe. This will happen when ‘faith no longer benefits the soul that did not believe before’”.
These two hadiths teach us that we still have the chance to go back to Allaah and repent provided that there is no death rattle in our throat, and the sun hasn’t yet come from its west.
As for the answer to the second question, there are many verses in the Quran and many hadiths that tackle this point. In Soorat Al Zumar, Allah says what can be interpreted as; “Say: O ‘Ibaadi (My slaves) who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allaah, verily, Allaah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft‑Forgiving, Most Merciful” [39:53].
Allaah forgives not just the small sins but even the gravest sins. In Soorat Al Maa’idah, Allaah calls those who committed the gravest sin of shirk ( associating other gods with Allaah, as they claimed Prophet Essa (Jesus) to be the son of God, exalted be Allaah far above this saying) to repent. Allaah says: “Will they not turn with repentance to Allaah and ask His forgiveness? For Allaah is Oft‑Forgiving, Most Merciful”[5:74].
There is no graver sin than shirk. Allaah is calling those who committed shirk to return to Him and ask for His forgiveness. This indicates that no matter how many sins you have committed or how bigger your sins are, Allaah is Oft-Forgiving and Most Merciful. You need to remember Him, fear Him and return to Him by asking for His forgiveness.
Even hypocrites can repent. Hypocrites are actually worse than Kufaar (disbelievers) because hypocrites don’t show their kufir (disbelief) and appear as if they were believers. However Allaah gives them the chance to repent:
“Verily, the hypocrites will be in the lowest depth (grade) of the Fire; no helper will you find for them.
146- Except those who repent (from hypocrisy), do righteous good deeds, hold fast to Allaah, and purify their religion for Allaah (by worshipping none but Allaah, and do good for Allaah’s sake only, not to show off), then they will be with the believers. And Allaah will grant the believers a great reward” [al-Nisa’ 4:145-146] Allaah is Kind, Forgiving and Merciful. The Prophet himself used to ask for Allaah’s forgiveness one hundred times a day. Although Allaah had forgiven the Prophet, the Prophet repented because he wished to show his thanks and gratitude to Allaah. So even if you think you didn’t make any mistakes, it is still a good idea to keep asking for Allaah’s forgiveness. But who didn’t make mistakes? Who didn’t fall short? Who didn’t forget to … ? We all need to repent and return to Allaah. “And It is He Who accepts repentance from His slaves, and forgives sins, and He knows what you do”[al-Shoora 42:25] .
Repentance is beloved to Allaah. Interestingly, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “By the One in Whose hand is my soul, if you did not commit sin Allaah would do away with you and bring people who would commit sin then pray for forgiveness.” Narrated by Muslim, 2749. Allaah loves to see us repent. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Allaah rejoices more over the repentance of His slave than any one of you who finds his camel after having lost it in a desolate land.” Agreed upon.
The question now is how to repent. Alhamdulillah we have made our minds to repent. What should we do? Well, there are sins that are between the slave and Allaah and some other sins are between the wrongdoer and other people. If the sin we committed are between us and Allaah, there are three things we must do in order to repent and so that our repentance can be considered correct. First, we should give up the sin. Second, we should regret having done it. Third, we should be determined to never go back to it. If any of these conditions are not fulfilled, the repentance is not sincere. If it is between us and other people, then along with the previous three conditions there is a fourth condition; we should restore the rights of those we did wrong to. If it is their money you took, then give it back to them. If you have been backbiting them, ask for their forgiveness. If you have slandered them, give them the chance to insult you or apologize to them and ask for their forgiveness.
If one committed a lot of sins, he or she should repent from them all. If one repents from some of those sins, the repentance from these sins which they repented from is valid. But they better repent from all their sins. We should do as Allaah says solely because it is His order and we are His slaves. We abide by Allaah’s instructions with the hope that we may win His pleasure and to be saved from Hell Fire. Repentance helps us to return back from disobeying Allaah to obeying Him. So when we repent from a sin, we are trying to go back on the right track, we are just doing our homework. However, subhan Allah and Alhamdulillah Allaah rewards those who repent. It is out of His kindness and grace that those sinners who repent are rewarded in this life and in the hereafter. Allaah says:
“O you who believe! Turn to Allaah with sincere repentance! It may be that your Lord will expiate from you your sins, and admit you into Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise) the Day that Allaah will not disgrace the Prophet (Muhammad) and those who believe with him. Their Light will run forward before them and (with their Records Books of deeds) in their right hands. They will say: ‘Our Lord! Keep perfect our Light for us [and do not put it off till we cross over the Siraat (a slippery bridge over the Hell) safely] and grant us forgiveness. Verily, You are Able to do all things’” [al-Tahreem 66:8]
Those who repent will lead a good life in the shade of faith, contentment, peace of mind and tranquility. Allaah says:
“Seek the forgiveness of your Lord, and turn to Him in repentance, that He may grant you good enjoyment, for a term appointed, and bestow His abounding Grace to every owner of grace (i.e. the one who helps and serves the needy and deserving, physically and with his wealth, and even with good words)”[Hood 11:3].
Repentance is indeed a blessing from Allaah. If there was no such a blessing, what would we do after making a mistake? Alhamdulillah for this blessing and all His blessings. May Allaah forgive us all, amen.