Comment/Question: How does someone express tawbah and istighfar without falling into depression?
Comment by mm — June 11, 2009
Answer: For our student based audience: many assume that tawba and istigfar are the same thing. First let us give you the distinguishing factors between the both.
Imaam nawawi states the regarding tawba (repentance):
- tawba must be sort and remains wajib (necessary) for every sin committed. Example, read salaah late, did not give zakat on time; the wretched act of adultery was committed, etc.
- Sinner must intend to uproot that wrongful action from their lives and makes a firm intention to never repeat the sin again
- Regrets the evil committed. Rectifies ill habits by seeking forgive to Allah and those s/he had hurt
- Naturally, if sin is committed again, the person goes through the same process, however, with greater levels of remorse until adverse behavior is eliminated
Iftigfar the uluma have stated is somewhat different:
In the case of istigfar (seeking forgiveness), a person is making a request to Allah (Subhanahu Wata’Ala) to help their deeds function as a barrier towards future evil. In essence, the individual is asking Allah (Subhanahu Wata’Ala) for guidance away from wrongful choices. Istigfar with the words of ‘astagfirullah’ coupled with sincerity helps in this regards. Thus, ‘astagfaar’ functions like a duaa. Thus, it can be appropriately stated: refusal to make istigfar is tantamount to arrogance. For one is acting confidant regarding the unknown future actions of themselves.
Some technical stuff, (ignore if you had enough, and move on below)
When a person makes istigfar and thereafter couples it with a tawba — as some people do after salaah, the meaning of this generally would be inclusive of the following: the astagfirulla part deals with seeking refuge from future evil whilst the tawba portion would exist as a sincere request from Allah (Subhanahu Wata’Ala) to help the person be removed from corruption. The seeker is also showing a need to gaining greater closeness towards Allah (Subhanahu Wata’Ala) with their good deeds.
Dealing with depression:
Once a person has buried the evil with a genuine tawba coupled with repeated istgfaars, they must not let shaytan hinder them from getting to Allah (Subhanahu Wata’Ala). Shaytan wants a past sinner to brood upon their wrongs. For shaytans ploy is to keep a person on the negative rather then the Positive Allah! Your solution would be to seek refuge in the Mercy and Compassion of Allah once tawba and istigfar has been made.
Allah (Subhanahu Wata’Ala) in the Quran mentions regarding His punishment to those that have wronged. But Allah (Subhanahu Wata’Ala) does not just focus of the negatives of humanity, He immediately moves away from the mention of punishment to the following:
إِلاَّ مَن تَابَ وَءَامَنَ وَعَمِلَ عَمَلاً صَـلِحاً
Exempted are those who repent and believe in Allah, and do righteous deeds
We too are to do likewise. For in reality, depression is a result of a confused state which sometimes results when 1) we are not firm on seeking methods of 100% change from the dangling attempts of shaytan. 2) When we are successful with our change but accept the manipulations of shayan 3) when we allow shaytan to place guilt upon ourselvs for committed wrongs of the past.
Thus Allah (Subhanahu Wata’Ala) thus states:
قُلْ يَاعِبَادِي الَّذِينَ أَسْرَفُوا عَلَى أَنْفُسِهِمْ لَا تَقْنَطُوا مِنْ رَحْمَةِ اللهِ إِنَّ اللهَ يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ جَمِيعًا وَلَا يُبَالِي إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ
Say (oh Muhammad SAW): O My slaves (servants) who have been reckless to themselves (doing evil)! Despair not (grieve not, depress not, relinquish not) in the Mercy of Allah, Verily Allah forgives all sins. Verily Allah is the most Forgiving, Most Merciful
وَمَن يَعْمَلْ سُوءاً أَوْ يَظْلِمْ نَفْسَهُ ثُمَّ يَسْتَغْفِرِ اللَّهَ يَجِدِ اللَّهَ غَفُوراً رَّحِيماً
And whoever does evil or oppresses himself (herself), thereafter seeks forgiveness in Allah, he (they) will find Allah Most forgiving, Most Merciful
Be thankful Allah (Subhanahu Wata’Ala) has you focusing on a spiritually healthier positive life. Do not despair in His Mercy. Depression is indicative of giving up hope; a believer never gives up hope upon Allah (Subhanahu Wata’Ala). This shows Allah (Subhanahu Wata’Ala) loves you as His servant. You are blessed indeed. May we be too, Ameen.
Allah Certainly Knows Best.