Sins in Islam

Seeking repentance from sins you have forgotten

Salamalaikum. How do you repent from major sins you don't remember? Because when I do taubah I focus on the sin in question and there is guilt associated with my contemplation. I can't get that same feeling from all the unknown sins I have forgotten when I ask forgiveness for all my sins. I keep getting signs from Allah to repent and ask forgiveness but I am at a loss as to what to do next.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

According to a fatwa on IslamWeb (operated by the Qatari Islamic Affairs Ministry), it is sufficient to perform a general repentance from all sins. This would apply to the sins you remember and the sins you have forgotten. There is no need to go over them one by one.

It is, of course, best to make it a habit to ask for God’s forgiveness many times every day, both for recent sins and past sins. From Sahih al-Bukhari:

I heard Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) saying: "By Allah, I seek Allah's forgiveness and repent to Him more than seventy times a day." (Sahih al-Bukhari 6307)

Hardships are not always punishments. They could be tests meant to help form your character into something even better by teaching you lessons and showing you your own flaws and errors.

Best wishes.

Sources:

What if a person’s sins are due to mental illness?

if one were to have a mental illness that causes them to be very impulsive such as they engage in zina/drugs/etc... are they charged by Allah the same as one who commits these acts but does not have a mental illness that sometimes impairs their judgement or that makes abstaining from these acts difficult? i read somewhere that one accrues a bigger sin if it is easy for them to abstain but choose not to than one who it is difficult for them to abstain.

The Quran says:

God does not burden any soul beyond its capacity (The Quran, verse 2:286.)

We do not burden any soul beyond its capacity (The Quran, verse 6:152.)

We never burden any soul beyond its capacity (The Quran, verse 7:42.)

God never burdens a soul beyond what He has given it. (The Quran, verse 65:7.)

Each person is judged according to their own abilities and weaknesses. A sin that is easy to avoid for one person may be very difficult to avoid for another. The same applies to good deeds. A very rich person who gives away $1000 in charity is very different from someone who only has a little money saved and gives away $1000. The second person is making a much greater sacrifice and will be rewarded differently.

Most sins and good deeds are partly because of human nature, partly because of free will. If a person is almost overwhelmed by human nature to commit a sin so that there is little room left for free will (such as a person who takes drugs for Parkinsons’ disease, which can cause compulsive behaviors like gambling), then their responsibility will be much less than another person who chooses to sin when they can easily avoid it.

What is the best way to avoid habitual sins?

Assalamu’alaykum, I wanna ask how to find myself and get back on the right path back? Im lost. Like so lost. Ive been feeling so tired with life and everything but i still keep on sinning. Like why is it so hard for me to understand that this life is temporary. Im sorry im emotional. I just needed to let this thing out. Can you please make dua for me. I just want to be a good servant of Allah ((you dont have to reply)) thank you. May Allah bless you.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

You cannot stop sinning just by wishing for it or by trying to use your willpower. That never works. You must instead try to become the type of person who needs no effort to avoid sins. And this can only be achieved by setting aside an hour or so every day for extra worship (Quran-reading and praying).

Being unable to stop sinning is a sign that you are distant from God. The sinning is just a sign of a bigger problem. And the solution is to come closer to God. Once you achieve this, you will automatically avoid sinful things without having to think about it. Stop worrying about sins (God forgives all sins) and start worrying about your relationship with God.

For more details please see my essay God has not abandoned you

Best wishes.

Why is it so difficult to stop repeating sins?

I have questions about repeating sins. I clearly know that being in a haram relationship is wrong and awful and I keep asking forgiveness from Allah swt and I pray for Him to protect me from the whispers of shaytaan. But why do I keep repeating the same sins over & over again. I am always sad whenever I do it but I feel like I fell deep down and He won’t forgive me. Please help me.

The reason is that avoiding sin requires feeling deep sense of loyalty toward God. It is not sufficient to merely acknowledge in your mind that God exists and that sins are wrong. You need to make His presence feel real to you, and that requires daily work.

Trying to avoid repeating sins is similar to trying to lose weight by eating less when your house is filled with delicious things like cake and ice cream. Today you might watch a very inspiring lecture or short film that motivates you to lose weight so that you avoid eating the foods you like. But tomorrow, your motivation will have evaporated, and unless you do the necessary work to feel motivated again, you will likely start eating those foods again.

It is in human nature to be attracted toward certain sinful things. Unless we work every day to keep our motivation for avoiding sins, our human nature reasserts itself so that we end up engaging in those sins. What I recommend is to perform at least an hour of tahajjud and Quran reading before bed (see here for the details). If you maintain that just for a week, you will likely be able to effortlessly avoid all sins because you will feel close to God and loyal to Him throughout your day so that it feels out of character to sin.

However, if you start doing that and it helps you avoid repeating sins, if stop doing it then you will again start sinning. If you are truly intent on avoiding sins, you have to make the decision to spend a certain amount of time every single day in extra worship for the rest of your life. There are no short-cuts, no permanent solutions. It is a daily challenge and we have to meet it every single day if we want to remain spiritual and pure of sin.