Allah’s name I begin with, and blessings and salutations on the best of all creation, Muhammad, May Allah bless him and grant him peace.
Repentance is a very important part of a Muslim`s life. No matter how sinful a person may be, if one turns towards Allah (The Exalted) and asks for forgiveness with sincerity and will not go back to that sin, Insha-Allah, Allah (The Exalted) will forgive. There is a chapter in the Qur`an regarding repentance (Surah Tawbah) and it is worth reading with its commentary. There are many ahadith regarding the virtues and importance of repentance of which we will mention some:
The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said:
“There was a man from among a nation before you who killed ninety-nine people and then made an enquiry about the most learned person on the earth. He was directed to a monk. He came to him and told him that he had killed ninety-nine people and asked him if there was any chance for his repentance to be accepted. He replied in the negative and the man killed him also, making it an even one hundred. He then asked about the most learned man in the earth. He was directed to a scholar.
He told him that he had killed one hundred people and asked him if there was any chance for his repentance to be accepted. He [the scholar] replied in the affirmative and asked, `Who stands between you and repentance? Go to such and such land; there (you will find) people devoted to prayer and worship of Allah (The Exalted), join them in worship, and do not come back to your land because it is an evil place.` So he went away and hardly had he covered half the distance when death overtook him. There was a dispute between the angels of mercy and the angels of torment. The angels of mercy pleaded, `This man has come with a repenting heart to Allah (The Exalted),` while the angels of punishment argued, `He never did a virtuous deed in his life.` Then there appeared another angel in the form of a human being and the contending angels agreed to make him an arbiter between them.
He said, `Measure the distance between the two lands. He will be considered belonging to the land to which he is nearer.` They measured and found him closer to the land (land of piety) where he intended to go, and so the angels of mercy collected his soul.”
Another version says: “Allah (The Exalted) commanded [the land which the man wanted to leave] to move away and commanded the other land (his destination) to draw nearer, and then He said, ‘Now measure the distance between them.` It was found that he was nearer to his goal by a hand`s span and was thus forgiven.” (Bukhari & Muslim)
A Muslim must always have hope in the Mercy and Forgiveness of Allah (The Exalted) . In fact, it is sinful to despair the Mercy of Allah (The Exalted) . No matter what we might have done in the past, we should always have hope that Allah (The Exalted) will accept our tawbah.
Let us never forget the words of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), “He who repents before the sun rises from the West (i.e. the end of the world), Allah (The Exalted) will forgive him.” (Muslim)
May Allah (The Exalted) give us the ability to repent and save us from sin, Ameen.
And Allah (The Exalted) and the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) know best.
[Answer provided by: brother Abd al Mannan]