The penitent is a person who repents of sin, one who is sorrowful because of his transgressions. Not only the person who is conscious of his sins, but every believer should ask pardon. And those who do not desist are (indeed) doing wrong. (49/11)
GOD LOVES THE PENITENT
For Allah loves those who turn to Him constantly and He loves those who keep themselves pure and clean. (2/222)
…: for Allah is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful. (9-118)
The penitents are happy beings favored by God. They turn toward God and continuously ask pardon. As a matter of fact one of His attributes is 'The Merciful', the Forgiver.
TO ASK FOR PARDON IS A KIND OF PRAYER
And O ye Believers! turn ye all together towards Allah, that ye may attain Bliss. (24/31)
And in the hour of early dawn, they (were found) praying for Forgiveness; (51/18)
Penitence is not merely to be cleansed from sins, but is also a kind of prayer. God invites all men to beg forgiveness. This act also strengthens one's faith. A tradition says: “The repentant is like someone who has not committed any offense.” The Qur'an wishes that the persons willing to repent should preferably express their request for pardon during the early hours of the dawn. This is not obligatory, only preferable. The Prophet used to say that he repented every day seventy times at least.
PENITENCE IS THE PATH TO FAITH
Why turn they not to Allah, and seek His forgiveness? For Allah is Oft- forgiving, Most Merciful. (5/74)
See they not that they are tried every year once or twice? Yet they turn not in repentance, and they take no heed. (9/126)
But those who do wrong but repent thereafter and (truly) believe,- verily thy Lord is thereafter Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (7/153)
God Almighty invites the sinners and those in error to repent. Do they not realize that every year they are faced with disasters and trials? Sickness, accidents, catastrophes are their daily bread; and yet they still refrain from repenting. Only a sparkle of faith may induce them to confess and made them to say: “I have offended, done evil things, I am filled with remorse, I repent”. Whereupon God's mercy will encompass them. The mystery of feeling that sparkle in one's heart will serve the repentant as a bridge between him and God.
FORGIVENESS MUST BE ESSENTIAL
Hold to forgiveness; command what is right… (7/199)
The recompense for an injury is an injury equal thereto (in degree): but if a person forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from Allah. (42/40)
The recompense for an injury is an injury equal thereto (in degree): but if a person forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from Allah. (3/134)
… let them forgive and overlook, do you not wish that Allah should forgive you? For Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (24/22)
The Qur'an lays down retributive justice, but is particular about exercising restraint in inflicting the punishment. However, the reward of one's forgiveness of the offender shall originate from God Himself. The pious will be inclined to be lenient and exercise forbearance. Just as God is disposed to forgive us, so must we show mercy to our fellow men.
Say: "O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah. for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. "Turn ye to our Lord (in repentance) and bow to His (Will), before the Penalty comes on you: after that ye shall not be helped. (39/53-54)
So say: "O my Lord! grant Thou forgiveness and mercy for Thou art the Best of those who show mercy!" (23/118)
The scholars confer on that even the most abject of capital sins may be forgiven by God. This should not be interpreted as leaving a loophole for future offenses, but an indication that sincere refuge with God is amenable to salvation. All sins, including attribution partners to God, may be pardoned by God. The verse "Allah forgiveth not (The sin of) joining other gods with Him…" (4/116) one must read it with the reservation 'unless one repents.'
Those whose repentance is disregarded
But those who reject Faith after they accepted it, and then go on adding to their defiance of Faith,- never will their repentance be accepted; for they are those who have (of set purpose) gone astray. (3/90)
If one recants after one has avowed allegiance to the Muslim creed and carry too far one's tergiversation one will find the door of repentance closed for him. Such people are transgressors and their hearts are 'sealed' to use the expression of the Qur'an. "… Thus doth Allah seal up the hearts of those who reject faith." (7/101)
REPENTANCE IN DEATH BED
We took the Children of Israel across the sea: Pharaoh and his hosts followed them in insolence and spite. At length, when overwhelmed with the flood, he said: "I believe that there is no god except Him Whom the Children of Israel believe in: I am of those who submit (to Allah in Islam)." (It was said to him): "Ah now!- But a little while before, wast thou in rebellion!- and thou didst mischief (and violence)! (10/90-91)
Of no effect is the repentance of those who continue to do evil, until death faces one of them, and he says, "Now have I repented indeed;" nor of those who die rejecting Faith: for them have We prepared a punishment most grievous. (4/18)
If an offender happens to be in the throes of death and repents, his supplication will be turned down. If, however, one is still in good health, and is sane of mind, he may be pardoned if he takes refuge in God.
THE FIRM AND THE STEADFAST