[11:3] "You SHALL seek your Lord's forgiveness, THEN repent to Him. He will then bless you generously for a predetermined period, and bestow His grace upon those who deserve it. If you turn away, then I fear for you the retribution of an awesome day."
One of the systems designed by God Almighty to purify the souls of believers and ultimately redeem them is repentance. God has instructed the believers to use this divine system while they are on earth for their own benefit. Repentance is a process which logically starts with the acknowledgement of sin and apology; expression of remorse; an honest plea of guilt to God almighty with a request of forgiveness (3:135). After that, believers consciously repent, which means expressing the intention to God that they will not repeat the same sin. The final step to follow is active reform. Reform is the believers' chance to prove to God almighty that their intention of repentance is sincere by striving hard to not repeat that mistake and by succeeding in that; firm repentance.
Quran clearly states that God forgives all sins of the believers as long as they follow that procedure - implore Him for His forgiveness (acknowledgement & apology), repent to Him then strive and succeed in reforming. Going back to the same sin after repenting would nullify the believers' repentance and indicate their failure to reform. They must re-try over and over again- His doors of repentance for the believers are wide open (39:52). On the other hand, being firm in repenting indicates the success of their reform. Repentance to God is an exclusive trait of true believers. God is Most Gracious, Most Merciful, and He rewards the believers who repent by transforming their sins into credits:
[4:146] Only those who REPENT, REFORM, HOLD FAST to GOD, and DEVOTE their religion absolutely to GOD alone, will be counted with the believers. GOD will bless the believers with a great recompense.
God's Infinite Mercy [39:53] Proclaim: "O My servants who exceeded the limits, never despair of God's mercy. For GOD forgives all sins. He is the Forgiver, Most Merciful."
The Believers Repent [66:8] O you who believe, you SHALL repent to GOD a firm repentance. Your Lord will then remit your sins and admit you into gardens with flowing streams. On that day, GOD will not disappoint the prophet and those who believed with him. Their light will radiate in front of them and to their right. They will say, "Our Lord, perfect our light for us, and forgive us; You are Omnipotent."
[25:70] Exempted are those who repent, believe, and lead a righteous life. GOD transforms their sins into credits. GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful.
The steps of repentance are to be taken during our time on earth. Once we leave the earth, our records are final and we can’t edit them. We are redeemed, doomed, or awaiting God's mercy in Purgatory.
The system of repentance is clearly detailed in Quran so believers can also learn how to deal with situations when they transgress against others and violate God's laws and ethics. In such cases, damage extends beyond their souls to others. These three steps teach the believers the acceptable behavior according to God and the best way to deal with those they have harmed. They offer a healthy procedure for the remedy of the damage resulted from the believers' transgression. Once the believers recognize their transgressions and become sincerely remorseful, they apologize to those they have harmed by admitting their wrong actions or words and seeking their forgiveness. They, then, express that they intend to not repeat such mistakes. In some cases, they might need to fix any damage they have caused. They, then, have to strive to keep their word. God educates the believers in Quran that this basic procedure brings them peaceful closure, emotional healing and spiritual growth:
- Quran contains examples which show how important it is to strive to repair any public damage resulting from our sins. Quran associates these same three steps with the sin of "concealment of the truth." The public harm from concealing the truth includes misleading others, a consequence which God warns us, warrants severe punishment. Therefore, while following the three basic steps to redeem our souls, believers must deal with the public consequences by acknowledging their transgression, fixing the damage, admitting and proclaiming the truth:
[2:159] Those who conceal our revelations and guidance, after proclaiming them for the people in the scripture, are condemned by GOD; they are condemned by all the condemners.
[2:160] As for those who REPENT, REFORM, and PROCLAIM, I redeem them. I am the Redeemer, Most Merciful.
- Another example that proves the validity of these three basic steps in achieving peace is set in 49:9-10. Peace cannot be achieved between disputing parties as dictated in 49:10 until justice is achieved and correcting measures are taken against the aggressive party. Being just towards our souls and others is the essence of our apology, repentance, and reform. These procedures are the only acceptable path believers are given to do justice towards their souls and end their disputes with others in a healthy fashion in pursuit of real peace:
Reconcile The Believers
[49:9] If two groups of believers fought with each other, you shall reconcile them. If one group aggresses against the other, you shall fight the aggressing group until they submit to GOD's command. Once they submit, you shall reconcile the two groups equitably. You shall maintain justice; GOD loves those who are just.
[49:10] The believers are members of one family; you shall keep the peace within your family and reverence GOD, that you may attain mercy.
Some believers think that repenting to God is enough of a closure even if there were other parties that suffered from their transgression besides their own souls! God differentiates between the apology/seeking forgiveness and the repentance. They are two different steps. Believers recognize their transgression and offer their sincere apologies, then express their intentions of repenting and reform (3:135, 11:3). Repenting to God , by itself, when others are involved, does not correct any caused damage and does not bring closure or peace in cases of dispute and transgression as indicated in the above two examples.
NO apologies will be accepted on the Day of Judgment. It will be too late to repent, and no one will have further chances of reform. This is why the Day of Judgment is titled by God as the "Day of Remorse." Remorse is an awful and intolerable feeling that would torture the guilty ones who constantly failed to overcome their egos, apologize, and repent for their transgressions on earth.
[19:39] Warn them about the Day of Remorse, when judgment will be issued. They are totally oblivious; they do not believe.
[25:14] You will not declare just a single remorse, on that day; you will suffer through a great number of remorses.
[30:57] Therefore, no apology, on that day, will benefit the transgressors, nor will they be excused.
[66:7] O you who disbelieved, do not apologize today. You are being requited only for what you did.
[77:34] Woe on that day to the rejectors.
[77:35] That is the day they do not speak.
[77:36] Nor are they given permission to apologize.
Peaceful Friday, salaam and God bless.