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What should I do when I have sinned? Print E-mail
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You might ask: “If I commit a sin, how can I repent from it straightaway? Is there anything that I should do straight after committing a sin?”

The answer is that there are two things which should be done after committing a sin. The first is to feel remorse in one's heart and to be determined not to repeat the sin. This is the result of fearing Allaah. The second is to undertake some physical action to do different kinds of good deeds, such as praying salaat al-tawbah (the prayer of repentance). Abu Bakrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “I heard the Messenger of Allaah (may Peace Be Upon Him) say: ‘There is no man who commits a sin, then gets up, purifies himself, prays two rak’ahs then asks Allaah to forgive him, but Allaah will forgive him.’” (Reported by the authors of Sunan; see Saheeh al-Tagheeb wa’l-Tarheeb, 1/284). Then he recited this aayah (interpretation of the meaning): “And those who, when they have committed faahishah (illegal sexual intercourse, etc.) or wronged themselves with evil, remember Allaah and ask forgiveness for their sins; - and none can forgive sins but Allaah – and do not persist in what (wrong) they have done, while they know.” [Aal ‘Imraan 3:135]

Other saheeh reports describe how to perform the two rak’ahs which will expiate for sin. In summary:

He should perform wudoo’. “There is no-one who performs wudoo’ and performs it well, but his sins will fall from the washed limbs with the water or with the last drop of water.”

He should do wudoo’ well. Doing wudoo’ well includes saying “Bismillaah” at the beginning, and reciting some du’aa’s afterwards, such as “Ash-hadu an laa ilaaha ill-Allaah wahdahu laa shareeka lah, wa ash-hadu anna Muhammadan ‘abduhu wa rasooluhu” or “Allaahumma’j’alni min al-tawwaabeen wa’j’alni min al-mutahhareen (O Allaah, make me one of those who repent and make me one of those who are purified)” or “Subhaanak Allaahumma wa bi hamdika ash-hadu an laa ilaaha illa anta, astaghfiruka wa atoobu ilayk (Glory and praise be to you O Allah. I bear witness that there is no god but You. I seek Your forgiveness and I repent to You).” Saying any of these du’aa’s after wudoo’ will bring a great reward.

He should stand and offer two rak’ahs of prayer.

He should not make any mistakes or forget any part of the prayer.

He should not let his thoughts wander.

He should concentrate properly and think of Allaah whilst praying.

Then he should seek the forgiveness of Allaah.

The result will be that his previous sins will be forgiven, and he will be assured of Paradise. (Saheeh al-Targheeb, 1/94,95)

This should be followed with more good deeds and acts of obedience to Allaah. When ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) realized that he had made the mistake of disagreeing with the Messenger of Allaah (may Peace Be Upon Him) during the Campaign of al-Hudaybiyah, he said: “Because of that I did many deeds,” i.e., righteous deeds, as expiation for that sin.

Think about the example given in the following saheeh hadeeth:

The Prophet (may Peace Be Upon Him) said: “The one who does bad deeds then does good deeds is like a man who wears a tight coat of mail which almost chokes him; when he does a good deed, it becomes a little looser, and as he does more good deeds it becomes even looser, until it falls off him and drops to the ground.” (Reported by al-Tabaraani in al-Kabeer; see also Saheeh al-Jaami’, 2192).

So good deeds release the sinner from the prison of disobedience, and bring him forth into the brave new world of obedience to Allaah.

Ibn Mas’ood said: “A man came to the Prophet (may Peace Be Upon Him) and said: ‘O Messenger of Allaah, I found a woman in a garden and I did everything with her (kissing and fondling) except that (intercourse), so do with me as you will.’ The Messenger of Allaah (may Peace Be Upon Him) did not say anything, and the man went away. ‘Umar said: ‘Allaah covered his sin. He should have covered it himself.’ The Messenger of Allaah (may Peace Be Upon Him) followed the man with his gaze and said: ‘Bring him back to me.’ So they brought him back, and (the Prophet (may Peace Be Upon Him) recited to him: ‘And perform al-salaah (prayer) at the two ends of the day and in some hours of the night. Verily, the good deeds remove the evil deeds (i.e., small sins). That is a reminder for the mindful (those who accept advice)’ [Hood 11:114 – interpretation of the meaning].” According to the report narrated by ‘Umar, Mu’aadh said: “O Messenger of Allaah, is this just for him or does it apply to all the people?” The Prophet (may Peace Be Upon Him) said: “No, it applies to all the people.” (Reported by Muslim)

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