Since human beings are created with some weakness and limitations, mistakes and failing are part of their nature. Some of the mistakes are between them and their Lord, while others are between them and their fellow human beings. No one is infallible. However, the better our relationship is with Allah, the less mistakes we commit.

But all sinners are not the same. There are people who make mistakes unintentionally while others with ill intentions. There are the ones who make mistakes with knowledge while others make mistakes because of their ignorance (Jahl) and because they lack the understanding of what is lawful (Halal) and what is unlawful (Haram).

As it can be seen, there are people who follow the path of evil yet still refuse obedience to Allah and repentance to Him, out of conceit. On the other hand, there are people who make mistakes but are always aware of their Creator and go back to Him and begging for forgiveness.

They turn back to Him for forgiveness and ask from Him pardon for the wrong deeds they have done. Almighty Allah informs us about them in the following verse of the Qur’an: “Verily, those who are aware of Allah (Al Muttaqun), when an evil thought comes to them from Shaytan, they remember Allah, and indeed they then see aright.” {Al A’raf 201}

In His ultimate mercy, Almighty Allah has provided us with many means to escape punishment in the Akhirah. One of such means is At Tawbah – the repentance to Almighty Allah.

All scholars of Islam agree that through sincere Tawbah Allah will relieve us of some possible punishment in the Akhirah for He says in the Qur’an: “Say: O my servants (‘ibad) who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah, Who forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, the Most-Merciful. And turn in Tawbah and in obedience with true faith to your Lord and submit to Him, before the torment comes upon you, then you will not be helped.” {Az Zumar 53}

As it was mentioned earlier, At Tawbah literally means ‘turning back’. Since sins put distance between the soul and Allah, during At Tawbah the servant turns back to the Creator, seeking refuge in His forgiveness. And when a soul repents and turns to Him, Allah turns back to His servant in acceptance and forgiveness.

At Taib is the servant of Allah who returns from what Allah forbade him/her into that what Allah has ordered him/her to do – from sin into obedience and His pleasure. Thus Almighty Allah has named Himself ‘At Tawwab – the Constant Acceptor of At Tawbah’. For these reasons, At Tawbah, according to the scholars of Islam, is Wujub (obligation) for all sins, open or hidden.

A prerequisite to At Tawbah is the knowledge and admission of sin, for ignorance and denial are barriers which prevent return to Allah. Knowledge of the consequences of sin, both in Duniya and in the Akhirah, will make one most anxious to escape the result of his/her carelessness. And where can one find refuge and protection from that except with Allah. Therefore, one should consider the reason he/she fell into sin, which is that he/she, at least temporarily, forgot Allah. And when a servant forget Allah and drifts away, Allah removes His protection from such a soul, leaving him/her to depend only upon himself/herself.

Thus one becomes a prey to his/her own desires and to Shaytan. If he/she had remembered the Lord at the time of temptation, he/she would have retained Allah’s protection from sins. Indeed, every moment of his/her life, one is either in one of the two states: that of remembrance, holding fast to Allah and thereby placing his/her soul under His custody, or that of forgetfulness, breaking away from the protective custody of Almighty Allah.

A temporary slip into some form of sin is usually checked by the believer before too long. No sooner has he/she committed the sin than he/she feels pain. Even the pleasure expected from than sin which initially tempted him/her eludes him/her, and he/she finds in his/her heart only sadness at the realization that Allah has left him/her to himself/herself.

Certain souls, however, find pleasure in disobedience. They are like those people who, although harboring a fatal illness, refuse to admit it or to seek treatment. The amount of pleasure reflects: a) the extent of one’s desire for the unlawful; b) one’s ignorance concerning the Creator Whom he/she has disobeyed and c) one’s ignorance in the Akhirah.

One’s happiness is indeed more harmful to him/her that the sin itself, for it shows a conscience which is lifeless and devoid of functions. When unawareness has reached such a degree that it finally becomes persistence in sin and insistence upon it, Allah’s punishment is swift. He allows that soul to fall even deeper into sin until it reaches the state described in the Qur’an in the following words: “Nay! But on their hearts in the Ran (covering of sins and evil deeds) which they used to earn.”         {Al Mutaffifin 14}

The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (S) explained the word ‘Ran’ in the following Hadith narrated by Abu Hurayrah (r.a), saying: “When a servant commits a sin (an evil deed), a black dot is dotted on his heart. Then if that person leaves that evil (sin), asking Allah’s forgiveness, and repents, then his heart is cleared (from that hearet covering dot). If, however, he repeats the evil deed (sin), then that black dot increases until it eventually envelops the heart. That is the Ran (dot or stain) which Allah mentioned in His Book: Nay! But on their hearts is Ar Ran which they used to earn.” {Ahmad, At Tirmithi, An Nasai}

The Qur’anic commentators describe the stain as ‘sin upon sin’, which finally blackens the heart until no light of truth can penetrate into it and until the soul subsequently rejects truth and guidance altogether. Imam Al Hassan Al Basri said: “It is a case of a sin on top pf another until the heart is blinded and until it dies.’ The greatest sins, however, are those done publicly. It is then that the offending soul is either in open rebellion against Allah or complete disbelief.

At Tawbah is accepted only from the true believers who submit themselves fully to Allah. Since At Tawbah is a return to Allah, it requires a knowledge of Him and the knowledge that the erring soul has been very distant from its Creator. Such a soul has been a prisoner of its enemy, Shaytan, due to its unawareness of Allah and its own insolence.

Thus, it requires an extensive search into how and why that came about and an acceptance of the knowledge that there can be no excuse for disobedience after an order or prohibition is known. It also requires a realization that true repentance is a difficult task, demanding great effort and consciousness, and that the effort must be in direct proportion to the distance of one’s deviation from the Siratil Mustaqim.

In conclusion on the issue, let us say that Almighty Allah did not create human beings in a state of Malaikah (angels) neither in a state of the Cursed Shaytan. Indeed, human beings are facing the forces of good as well as forces of evil. Sometimes the forces of good win, another time the forces of evil overcome human beings. But at this point of time, human beings must correct their mistakes, cure the sickness, and purify the soul from the rust of sins and evil deeds or the Cursed Shaytan will put them under his control.

Let us pray to Almighty Allah to help us in purifying ourselves from the mistakes we have committed intentionally or unintentionally that we could return to Him in a state of full submission. Allahumma Amin.