64. What is, and how does, one seek repentance?
If a driver diverts from the right road, after noticing the diversion, they would go back on to the right road to continue on to their destination. However, if the river continues on the wrong road just announces that “I am on the wrong road, I am on the wrong road, and the car just won’t go back on the right road”, no passenger would accept that excuse.
Repentance (Tawbah/توبه) means to return from offending and to compensate for previous offences, in which case Allah SWT will accept this form of repentance;
أَنَّ اللَّـهَ هُوَ يَقْبَلُ التَّوْبَةَ
“Certainly God is He who accepts the repentance.”1
And not only that, but in fact Allah SWT loves those who repent2;
إِنَّ اللَّـهَ يُحِبُّ التَّوَّابِينَ
If one has wrongly taken the money of another person, that money must be returned and if necessary, through an anonymous bank transaction if one wants to remain anonymous in such an instance.
If you have upset someone, you need to seek their forgiveness. If you have incomplete prayers, they must be prayed. If there is a fact that needs to be revealed, but have so far been reserved, then it needs to be stated. Anything that has been said or done contrary to what should have occurred needs to be fixed accordingly.
The Qur’an, next to the word تَابُوا has the word أَصْلَحُوا (repent and make amends respectively)3. That means repentance needs to be accompanied with the correction and compensation of any shortcoming.
Repentance also needs to be quickly acted upon, because when sins start to accumulate, they become problematic and harder to correct. Dust on clothes can easily be removed with a little dusting, but when it settles as soil on the ground, it becomes hard to remove it by just dusting it.