How Does One Have Sincere Remorse for Sins When Repenting?

Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch

Question

I can see how you could have remorse for sins if you are I’m hellfire, but when you are doing Tawba, how can you have remorse for sin? It’s not like you are in hell yet and can still gain forgiveness.

Also, I do not mean to seem arrogant; that happens to me when I do Tawba; I only feel remorse for my sin because Allah would have been angry at me for that duration. Is this right? If not, how can I learn to make Tawba well?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate

Remorse is a natural outcome in the heart when one realizes their sin has caused them to lose something beloved. Being in jeopardy of entering the hellfire due to one’s sins is only a tiny part of the potential loss caused by sin. [Ghazali, Ihya ‘Ulum al-Din]

The Worse Loss (al-Khusran al-Akbar)

The worse loss is to lose nearness to Allah Most High by one’s heart becoming veiled from Allah Most High due to the spiritual damage of the sins. [Ibid.]

Allah Most High says, “But no! infact, their hearts have been stained by all ˹the evil˺ they used to commit! Undoubtedly, they will be sealed off from their Lord on that Day.” [Quran, 83:14-5]

The worse punishment of hellfire is that the permanent inhabitants of hellfire will never see Allah Most High. This is another implication of the above verse. [Ghazali, Ihya ‘Ulum al-Din]

Remorse is a Result of Gnosis

Those who genuinely know Allah Most High love Him and fear Him. Both love and fear of Allah Most High lead one to sincere remorse when one transgresses the limits set by Allah Most High. [Ibid.]

To the extent that one is ignorant of Allah Most High, they will fall short in all the praiseworthy qualities: repentance, hope, fear, patience, gratitude, asceticism, reliance, contentment, and love. [Ibid.]

Once one knows Allah Most High (gnosis), they automatically will have the above traits. [Ibid.]

Summary

If one was given something to drink, and after drinking it, it is shown to them without a shadow of a doubt that there was poison in the drink – the resultant pain in their heart over the consequences of drinking that drink is remorse. The same idea can apply to sins. Sins are poisons for the soul. [Ibid.]

When one realizes that sins destroy the heart and distance oneself from Allah Most High, one will have remorse over those sins. If they continue to take sins lightly and only think of their harms in regards to the Hereafter (which should instill fear in one also) – they will not have sincere remorse, and they will not have sincere repentance. [Ibid.]

Hope this helps
Allah knows best

[Shayh] Yusuf Weltch
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a teacher of Arabic, Islamic law, and spirituality. After accepting Islam in 2008, he then completed four years at the Darul Uloom seminary in New York where he studied Arabic and the traditional sciences. He then traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he stayed for three years studying in Dar Al-Mustafa under some of the greatest scholars of our time, including Habib Umar Bin Hafiz, Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf, and Shaykh Umar al-Khatib. In Tarim, Shaykh Yusuf completed the memorization of the Qur’an and studied beliefs, legal methodology, hadith methodology, Qur’anic exegesis, Islamic history, and a number of texts on spirituality. He joined the SeekersGuidance faculty in the summer of 2019.