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How do you do general Tawbah?

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by Fatwa.ca


How do you do general tawbah for all past sins forgotten and remembered?
How should one feel regret for forgotten sins?
Is salatul tawbah necessary for tawbah itself?
What do I do when a past sin is remembered after general tawbah?


In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Assalaamu `alaykum waRahmatullahi Wabarakatoh

Alhamdulillah, Allah Ta’ala instills the desire and tawfeeq for Tauba (Repentance) for the one who he pleases. And the desire itself is a sign that Allah has special interest in forgiveness.

My respected teacher, Mufti Ebrahim Desai was asked about the general procedure for making tauba and he replied[1]:

The scholars state that there are three conditions for the validity of taubah (repentance):

  1. Leaving the sin
  2. Regretting committing the sin
  3. Making a firm intention not to commit the sin again.

If one did not offer salat, fast, give zakat etc, the sin of leaving these obligatory acts will be forgiven inshallah  by sincerely doing taubah with all its conditionsHowever, one will still have to offer the qadha of the missed salat and fast, and he will still have to give the zakat for each year that he missed. And if any kaffarah became necessary on him, he will still have to give/offer the kaffarah. In short, the sin of leaving the obligatory act itself will be forgiven by the taubah, however the qadha and kaffarah will still need to be offered.

If one wrongfully took another person’s right such as money etc. then there is an additional condition: that he returns the right to its owner or that he seeks his forgiveness.

If any of the above conditions are not fulfilled then the taubah will not be valid. If one fulfills all the conditions then inshallah he/she will be forgiven, for Allah is the Most Merciful, the Compassionate.

After the taubah, if one happens to commit the same sin again, he should do taubah again. As long as he does taubah sincerely with the above conditions, Allah will forgive him.

حدثنا إسحاق أخبرنا حبان حدثنا همام حدثنا قتادة حدثنا أنس بن مالك عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم  و حدثنا هدبة حدثنا همام حدثنا قتادة عن أنس رضي الله عنه قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم الله أفرح بتوبة عبده من أحدكم سقط على بعيره وقد أضله في أرض فلاة ( رواه البخاري الرقم: 6309 )

 Anas bin Malik (Radiyallahu Anhu) narrates that Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) said, “Allah is more happy with the repentance of his slave than one of you (would be happy) if he suddenly stumbled upon (i.e. found) his camel after having lost it in a desert (and given up any hope).” (Bukhari #6309)

قال الحافظ ابن حجر: والتوبة ترك الذنب على أحد الأوجه.وفي الشرع ترك الذنب لقبحه، والندم على فعله، والعزم على عدم العود، ورد المظلمة إن كانت أو طلب البراءة من صاحبها ( فتح الباري: ج 14 ص 123 – دار الكتب العلمية )

Many sins in our past are forgotten, and perhaps it is a mercy of Allah that we are not constantly plagued with our own dhulm which we have committed. If we were to constantly remember all our sins, depression would over rule us. Nonetheless, our tauba demands that we seclude ourselves, and seek Istighfaar from Allah of that which we know, and that which we do not know.

Apply one’s mind and ponder over one’s sins which we may have done, and then specifically ask Allah to forgive us. This is muraqabah of istighfaar.

Another extremely important aspect of Tauba/Istighfar aside from the advises mention by my teachers is to make active efforts to divert away from the committed sin. So for example if one was involved in watching haram, then one should make all efforts and physical means of deterrence from that sin. Get rid of the TV, or put some firewalls or restriction on haram websites etc. If one knows that one will be triggered in a particular venue towards the sin, then avoid that place. All these are measures of making sure that one does not go back to committing a sin for which one is so regretful and remorseful.

Salat al Tauba (two rak’at) may be performed, but are not necessary for one’s tauba. The Salaat al-Tauba is to physically show to Allah that one is now subjugated to his orders, and starts one’s tauba with a good action of praying to Allah. This acts as a beseechment towards Allah’s forgiveness.

If one is reminded of one’s sins later in life, then lament on one’s action, say Alhamdulillah and be grateful to Allah, for indeed Allah has saved oneself from that regret of disobedience since the last time.

And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best

Mufti Faisal bin Abdul Hameed al-Mahmudi


[1] http://www.askimam.org/public/question_detail/17136

This answer was collected from Fatwa.ca, which is a fatwa portal operated by Mufti Faisal al Mahmudi from Canada. 

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