This article focuses on how one can repent for the sins committed, and to earn Allah’s pleasure for asking for such forgiveness.
As Allah the Most Caring assures us:
"Say: O My slaves who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah, verily, Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Surah Az-Zumar: 39:53)
He also says in the Quran:
"Indeed Allah loves those who repent and purify themselves"
(Surah Al Baqarah, 2:222)
The following paragraphs summarize some of the steps one can take to ask Allah for His forgiveness. However, along with the following, the sinner should ensure that he or she feels sorry for the sins, desist from committing them, and make a resolve not to recommit those sins. We should also attempt to move away from situations and environments that encourage sinful behavior.
ASK FOR FORGIVENESS AFTER SALAAT (Prayers):
The best time for seeking Allah’s forgiveness is after the Salat. (It goes without saying that we should be regular in offering Salat). Allah guides us in this matter as well. He, the most Merciful, Says:
"And perform Salaat, at the two ends of the day and in some hours of the night [i.e. the five compulsory Salaat].”
ASKING ALLAH FOR FORGIVENESS DAY AND NIGHT:
Being steadfast in prayers day and night and constantly asking Allah for forgiveness can help us repent for our sins. Abu Musa Al-Ash'ari (R.A.) reported: The Prophet (S.A.W.S) said:
"Allah, the Exalted, will continue to stretch out His Hand in the night so that the sinners of the day may repent, and continue to stretch His Hand in the daytime so that the sinners of the night may repent, until the sun rises from the west (start of day of judgment)."
USING ALLAH'S NAMES TO ASK FOR HIS FORGIVENESS:
While seeking forgiveness, Allah’s names concerning His Attributes of forgiveness and kindness should be used. Among the perfect Names of Allah, the Majestic and Most High, is "Al-’Afuww" (He who pardons), and "Al-Ghafoor" (He who forgives), and "Al-Ghaffaar" (The Oft-Forgiving). Allah, the Majestic and Most High, loves our calling upon Him by His names and worshipping Him by that which His names demand.
As He said:
"And Allah has the most excellent and perfect names, so worship and invoke Him by them."
The Prophet (S.A.W.S.) has said in a hadith reported in the two Sahihs’ from Abu Hurairah (R.A.):
"Allah has ninety-nine names. Whoever memorizes and is mindful of them ("ahsaahaa) will enter Paradise.”
(Al-Bukhari, vo1. 8, no. 419 and Muslim, no.6476.)
However, ‘… memorizing and being mindful of them …’ (ihsaa), is not merely writing these names on a piece of paper and reciting them, as some people do. Scholars have explained that ‘ihsaa’ of the names comprises of three stages. The first of these is to memorize the names. The second is to understand their meanings. And the third is to call upon Allah by these names in context of the calling.