How Can I Heighten My Feeling of Remorse When Repenting from Sins?

Answered by Ustadh Irshaad Sedick


When repenting from sins, I recognize that I have done some wrong deeds, but I feel that I merely recognize them, and thus it is not genuine regret. I recognize that I have done something disliked and that Allah Most High does not like it, but I feel no change.

How can I make this emotion deeper so that it permeates throughout me and creates a change in my actions?


In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate.

May Allah reward you for your desire to repent and facilitate ease in your actions to fulfill a sincere and accepted repentance.

Allah Most High says, “O My slaves who have wronged themselves! Never lose hope in the mercy of Allah. Verily Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, He is the Most Forgiving and the Most Merciful.” [Quran, 39:53]

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “The one who repents from sin is like one who never sinned.” [Ibn Maja]

Conditions of Repentance

The following are conditions for genuine repentance when one’s sins are between oneself and Allah:

One must immediately cease sinning.
One must regret one’s sins.
One must resolve never to return to the sins.

Without any of the conditions mentioned above, repentance will not be valid.

Repentance from Sins Connected to the Rights or Property of Others

When one’s sins involve the rights or property of others, then the three conditions mentioned above apply, along with the following:

One must absolve oneself from the rights of the person/s affected. If, for example, the sin is stealing wealth or property, you should return the items to their rightful owner.

Repentance without the fourth condition would not be sufficient to waive any rights owed to others. One must restore the rights of the victim/s. [Nawawi, Riyad al-Salihin]


Regret is the primary condition, or the most significant aspect, of repentance. Therefore, the Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: “Regret is repentance.” [Ibn Maja]

One of the scholars said: “Regret is enough to achieve repentance, for it implies giving up the sin and resolving not to go back to it, which stem from regret and do not occur independently of it.” [Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari]

Mulla Ali Qari (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “‘Regret is repentance:’ because this will lead to the other essential components of repentance – namely giving up the sin and resolving not to go back to it, and restoring people’s rights wherever possible… The above refers to remorse for sinning because it is sinful and for no other reason.” [Mirqat al-Mafatih]

Refocus to Feel Remorse

Regret (nadam) is sorrow or deep sorrow. [Lisan al-‘Arab]

If one cannot feel sad about one’s sins, it usually means that the seriousness of the sin has not been recognized by the heart. There is, however, a solution to that problem. One must refocus one’s attention away from the sin toward the One disobeyed. Al- Awzaʿi said: “Once I heard Bilal Ibn Saʿd saying, ‘Do not look at how small the sin is but instead look at how great is the One that you have disobeyed.’” [Al-Hilya]

Anyone who feels sorrow for having sinned has attained the regret that is referred to in the case of repentance. If this regret is sincere, the sinner will give up the sin and resolve not to do it again. Thus, his repentance will be complete, and he has met all the necessary conditions.

Based on that, everyone who gives up sin because it is disobedience to Allah, Most High – in other words, out of fear of Allah and in obedience to Him –hates the fact that he fell into sin and disobeyed the Lord of the Worlds, and wishes that he had obeyed Allah instead of disobeying Him, and resolves not to do it again, has attained regret. Regret is what made him give up the sin.

How to Develop Regret for Sinning

Imam Abu Hamid, Muhammad bin Muhammad Al-Ghazali (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “Repentance is something that evolves from one stage to another in three stages: knowledge, awareness, and action. Knowledge is the first, awareness is the second, and action is the third.”

The first leads to the second, and the second leads to the third in an inevitable sequence ordained by Allah.

As for knowledge, it means coming to know of the great harm that sins may cause and the fact that sins form a barrier between a person and everything he loves and to which he aspires.

Once he becomes confident of this knowledge at a level of certainty that overwhelms him, there will result from this knowledge, remorse, and pain in the heart for missing out on what he loves and aspires to, because when the heart realizes what he has missed out on of what he loves, there will be a pain. If his missing out on it resulted from some deed that he did, he will feel sorrow for doing the deed that caused him to miss out on that. This pain is called regret.

Once this pain becomes so intense that it overwhelms the heart, it will lead to another emotion in the heart, called resolution and the will to do something connected to the present, the past, and the future.

Regarding the present, he will resolve to give up this sin that he was committing.

Regarding the future, he will resolve to refrain for the rest of his life from that sin that caused him to miss out on what he loves and aspires to.

Regarding the past, he will resolve to rectify the situation and make up for what he missed out on if it can be rectified.

Knowledge, regret, and resolution are connected to abstaining from sin forever and rectifying the past. All of that together is called repentance (tawba).

The word repentance often refers to regret only, and awareness and knowledge are precursors, whilst giving up the sin is regarded as the result and outcome. Based on that, we may understand what the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) meant when he said: “Regret is repentance,” because regret cannot take place unless one attains knowledge that leads to it, and it cannot but be followed by resolution, so regret has a precursor and an outcome. [Ihya’ ‘Ulum al-Din]

I pray this is beneficial, that Allah guides you and accepts your repentance.

[Shaykh] Irshaad Sedick
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar, Shaykh Taha Karaan. Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. For the last five years till present, he has served as the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town. Shaykh Irshaad has thirteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic online learning and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and pursuing his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.