By: Zaghra Savahl
As humans, we sin daily. We are flawed and no one on this Dunya is perfect. It is for this reason that Allah (SWT) gives us numerous ways through the Holy Qur’an to repent and return to becoming closer to HIM. If we are sincere in our action of repentance to the Almighty (SWT), it needs to be done with another action which is – learning to forgive yourself as well. How do we do this?
But if the thief repent after his crime and amend his conduct God turneth to him in forgiveness; for God is Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful.
Surah Al Maidah: Ayah 39
Allah (SWT) provides us with opportunities to repent as HE is Most Beneficent and Most Merciful. He knows and wants what is best for us. However, there are steps one needs to take in order to gain our Lord’s favor again after committing sins. Some sins are worse than others and require much deeper repentance and action to be able to be forgiven. For the sake of this article, we will be focusing more on major sins as these are the ones that is often most difficult for people to seek forgiveness for and to learn to forgive themselves in the process as well.
What are major sins in Islam?
In Islam, the major sins are those which Allah (SWT) warns us will receive the most severe form of punishment should the person not repent and show no remorse for their actions before their time on this Dunya has concluded. If anyone has committed a major sin, it is incumbent on Muslims to repent sincerely to Allah (SWT) and resolve to never return to it.
Major sins include (but not limited to): Associating others with Allah (Shirk), taking a life unjustly, consuming interest (Riba), consuming the wealth of an orphan, fleeing the battlefield, accusing a believing woman of adultery, practicing Sihr (magic).
Steps to be taken to repent after committing grave sins
When we commit grave sins, there are a few steps that needs to be taken to earn the favor of Allah (SWT) again. We should know that Allah (SWT) is Most Merciful and that no matter what sin is committed or how bad it is, the door of repentance to Allah (SWT) is always open.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Allah spreads out His Hand at night to accept the repentance of those who did wrong during the day, and He spreads out His Hand during the day to accept the repentance of those who did wrong during the night. (This will continue) until the sun rises from the west.
Narrated by Muslim, no. 2759
A few steps to take for repentance:
1. Become aware of the sin
We need to first become aware that we are sinning. We need to constantly seek knowledge in Islam so that we know when we are doing wrong and how great that wrong is. Once we become aware of our sins, we can humble ourselves to Allah (SWT).
2. Stop the sin immediately and resolve to never return to it again
Once we are aware of the grave sin that has been committed, we need to stop it immediately and promise ourselves to not return to it again. No matter how difficult it is, we need to consciously make this decision and know that stopping the sin will benefit us in both this life and the Hereafter.
3. Be remorseful and regretful
When we have stopped the sin, our hearts need to be remorseful and regretful for disobeying Allah (SWT). The sense of remorse and regret will help us in never returning to this grave sin again.
4. Turn to Allah (SWT) and ask HIS forgiveness
Allah (SWT) listens to all our prayers. We need to talk to Allah (SWT) and ask him to forgive us for our grave sins that we commit. We need to be sincere when we ask for forgiveness. We also need to ask for guidance and help from Allah (SWT) to give us strength to never return to that sin again.
5. Follow up a sin with a good deed
Once we seek forgiveness from Allah (SWT), our aim should be to always please HIM and do every action for the sake of Allah (SWT). We need to increase our good deeds, especially after one has committed a sin and asked for forgiveness from Allah (SWT).
6. Make amends if your action was a wrongdoing against someone else
If the grave sin that was committed was against someone else, it is important to make amends with that person so that the person affected through the consequences of those actions can achieve justice, compensation, and comfort.
How do we learn how to forgive ourselves after committing grave sins?
Allah (SWT) tells us that we should constantly repent to him and seek forgiveness from him. He reminds us that he is Most Forgiving. Why? Because he knows that we are flawed as humans and will constantly be making mistakes and committing sin. This means that we should always be seeking his forgiveness and practicing repentance. The most important part is that we should always be sincere as Allah (SWT) knows what is truly in our hearts.
If Allah (SWT) is so kind and merciful to us, why are we not kind and merciful towards ourselves? If we know that we are being sincere in our action of repentance, that we feel remorseful and regretful, we should be self-compassionate by learning to forgive ourselves as well.
Things we can do to achieve this:
An important part that helps with learning to forgive oneself is that if the action was a form of wrongdoing against another individual, one needs to make amends with that person (s). With every action, there are consequences and once we have made sincere repentance to Allah (SWT), we also need to face the consequences.
Once sincere repentance is done and amends are made, forgiving oneself will become much easier. As much as we make amends with those we transgressed against, we need to extent that same courtesy to ourselves as well. Make amends with ourselves so that we can start anew and move our life in a direction that will be pleasing to Allah (SWT).
May the Almighty (SWT) guide us all.
What are some of your main struggles when it comes to forgiving yourself after committing grave sins?
Is there any advice you could offer to Muslimahs who are struggling to forgive themselves?
The "Muslimah Worries" section of Striving Clarity is dedicated to discussing the things that Muslimahs often worry about from hijab to marriage to how to remain spiritual when you're unable to pray. Join us!