How do I cultivate sincere remorse in order for my repentance to be accepted?

Question Summary

How do I cultivate sincere remorse for my repentance to be accepted? How can I cure my darkened heart?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate

Conditions of a Sound Repentance
However, for the repentance to be sincere and sound, one must fulfill the following conditions:
(1) Sincere remorse for the sin
(2) Immediately leaving the sin
(3) Firm resolve never to repeat the sin
True Remorse and its Signs
True remorse is explained as the pain experienced by the heart when the loss of something beloved is perceived.
One must understand the reality of sin. Sins are obstacles and impediments in our relationship with Allah Most High.
[Ghazzali, Ihya ‘Ulum al-Din]
For this, the one with a stronger understanding of the greatness of Allah Most High and how desperate we are for His mercy and nearness will have a stronger aversion for sins, remorse for committing them, and realization of what is at stake.
Its signs are:
(1) extended regret
(2) grief
(3) flowing tears
(4) deep reflection
Also:
(5) Softness of heart
(6) Establishment of the bitterness of sins in the heart and an aversion to them.
This aversion is like the aversion one would have from poison. Even if said poison were placed in something desirable like honey, one would detest the honey. So likewise, although human nature inclines toward certain sinful desires, the knowledge of the harms of those desires has on one’s relationship with Allah will prevent them from sinning.
[Ghazzali, Ihya ‘Ulum al-Din]
Cultivating Remorse
To cultivate sincere remorse, which is a condition of valid repentance, take the following steps:
(1) Reflect on the greatness of Allah Most High. Ponder over the fact that Allah does not need anything from us; rather, we are desperately in need of Allah. Think deeply of the consequences of losing or harming one’s relationship with Allah, the one whose mercy we depend on for salvation in this life and the next.
(2) Make a methodical ablution and prayer two voluntary units of prayer for repentance. Afterword.
(3) Recite Istighfar. For example:
أَسْتَغْفِرُ اللّهَ وُ أَتُوْبُ إِلَيْهِ
“I seek forgiveness of Allah, and I repent to Him.”
While reciting this, reflect on the fact that Allah Most High has blessed you innumerably throughout your life, and you respond with sheer ingratitude by using His blessings in His disobedience.
(4) Try to bring yourself to tears during the above.
This should assist you in bringing your heart to a state of real remorse.
Having A Good Opinion of Allah Most High
With all that said, know that Allah Most High intends to forgive you and accept your repentance.
Allah Most High says, “And Allah intends to accept your repentance…” [Qur’an; 4:27]
And know that Allah Most High has prohibited His slaves from losing hope in His mercy.

He says, “O My slaves who have wronged themselves! Do despair of the mercy of Allah. Verily Allah forgives all sins. Verily He is the All-Forgiving and Merciful.” [Qur’an; 39:53]

All Sound Repentance is Accepted

Know that if one makes sincere repentance, there remains no doubt of its acceptance. Just as no thirst remains after taking a drink of water. [Ghazzali, Ihya ‘Ulum al-Din]
The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “The one who repents (sincerely) from a sin is like one with no sin.” [Ibn Majah, Tabarani in al-M’ujam al-Kabir, and Bayhaqi in Sh’ib al-Iman]

Reviving A Hardened Heart

Of the most effective means of softening a hard heart and reviving a dead heart is the following:(1) Eating lawful (halal) food
(2) Lowering the gaze from the haram
(3) Restraining the tongue from sinful speech
(4) Repeat the words of istighfar above

أَسْتَغْفِرُ اللّهَ وُ أَتُوْبُ إِلَيْهِ

“I seek forgiveness of Allah, and I repent to Him.”
(5) Keep the company of the righteous
Hope this helps
And Allah knows best
[Shaykh] 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 several texts on spirituality. He joined the SeekersGuidance faculty in the summer of 2019.