Tauba means to return from sin to the obedience of Allah Ta'aala.
VERSES ON TAUBA
Allah Ta'aala says, "SURELY ALLAH LOVES THOSE WHO REPENT" (2:222)
In explaining the magnitude of Allah's love for a repenter, Nabie (salallahu alai wasallam) said, "Allah is happier with the repentance of a repenter more than a thirsty person finding water, a barren father at the birth of his child, and a stray person finding his way. Whoever repents sincerely, Allah will cause his recording angels, his limbs and the earth (on which the sins were committed) to forget his sins." (Jami us sagheer)
In one ayah Allah Ta'aala says: "AND VIE WITH ONE ANOTHER FOR FORGIVENESS FROM YOUR RABB AND FOR JANNAH WHICH IS AS WIDE AS THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH." (3:133)
In this ayah we are exhorted to compete with one another to seek forgiveness from Allah Ta'aala.
The Ulama have stated that certain Sahabah envied the Bani Isra'eel that whenever a person committed a sin, he found it written on his door along with its atonement, also indicating the way it was to be carried out e.g. by cutting off the nose or ear, etc. The Sahaba envied them for the fact that the forgiveness of the sin (after the atonement) was certain, as they viewed the gravity of any sin so serious that punishment for it in this world was considered not only light but enviable, compared to the punishment in the Akhirah. When any of the Sahabah out of human weakness committed a sin, he would be overwhelmed by fear of its punishment. Not only the men, even the women felt the same way. Once a woman committed adultery and presented herself before Nabie (salallahu alaihi wasallam). She confessed her sin and asked for its atonement, which was death by stoning; and that punishment was ultimately carried out. This was because the fear of future retribution for the sin committed was far greater than the fear of death.
Allah Ta'aala, by His Grace and Benevolence, revealed the above ayah. Hazrat Sa'eed Ibne Jubair (rahmatullah alaih) in explaining this Ayah said, "One must hasten, with ones good deeds, towards the forgiveness of Allah Ta'aala and for Jannah, the expanse of which is equal to the seven heavens joined together like a single sheet of cloth stitched out of several pieces and the seven earths also similarly joined with them."
Hazrat Ibne Abbas (radhiyallahu anhu) has also been quoted to say that the seven heavens and the seven earths joined together as one, make up the width of Jannah. Its length is only known to Allah Ta'aala.
In another ayah Allah Ta'aala Says: "ALLAH ACCEPTS THE REPENTANCE OF THOSE WHO DO EVIL IN IGNORANCE AND REPENT SOON AFTERWARDS, TO THEM WILL ALLAH TURN IN MERCY; FOR ALLAH IS FULL OF KNOWLEDGE AND WISDOM." (4:17)
1. The Sahaba (radhyallahu anhum) were unanimous that all sins are committed out of ignorance because at the time of embarking on a sin one is ignorant of its consequences in the Hereafter. Hazrat Mujahid (rahmatullah alai) said, "A person is regarded as ignorant when embarking on any action which is contrary to the commandments of Allah Ta'aala." (Ibne katheer)
2. In the ayah, Allah Ta'aala made IMMEDIATE tauba the prerequisite of acceptance. Hazrat Abdullah Ibne Umar (radhyallahu anhu) relates that Nabie (salallahu alai wasallam) said, "If a person makes tauba even seconds before his death,Allah ta'aala will accept it on condition it is done with sincerity." (Ibne Katheer)
Since the hour of death is not known, a true believer should hasten towards repentance. Hadhrat Abdullah ibn Mas'ood [radhiallaahu anhu] said, "The sign of a true believer is when he commits a sin he becomes so restless he feels as though a mountain is suspended above his head and he has the fear of it falling on him, i.e. he trembles out of the fear of Allah Ta'ala. And when a transgressor commits a sin, he feels as though a fly is on his nose, i.e. because he has no fear of Allah Ta'ala, he treats sins very lightly."
A Hadith says, 'When two thirds of the night had passed, Rasulullah [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] would say, 'O people, remember Allah! Remember Allah! The quake of doomsday will occur soon. The time for blowing the trumpet is drawing near! And everybody's hour of death along with its pangs and throes has come.' (Mishkaat)
Abul Haamid Lafaf [rahimahullah] said, 'Allah Ta'ala bestows three favours on a person who frequently remembers death;
a) He readily turns to Allah in repentance;
b) He is granted contentment;
c) He shows greater enthusiasm in all modes of Ibaadah.
And he who is heedless of death is punished by Allah Ta'ala in three ways;
a) He persists in sin and is reluctant to offer tawbah;
b) He is not content with his income;
c) He is apathetic in his devotions. (Tanbihul Ghaafileen)
In another aayat, Allah Ta'ala says: 'Say (O Nabi), O my servants who have transgressed against their souls! Do not despair of the mercy of Allah, for Allah forgives all sins. He is oft forgiving, most merciful.' (Zumar 53)
Hadhrat Thawbaan [radhiallaahu anhu] relates that he heard Rasulullah [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] saying, 'I do not love owning anything in the world more than this aayat.'
Hadhrat ibn Mas'ood [radhiallaahu anhu] said, 'This is the most delightful aayat of the Qur'aan.'
Hadhrat Abdullah ibn Umar [radhiallaahu anhu] said, 'This is the most inspiring aayat for the sinners.'
Hadhrat Ali [radhiallaahu anhu] used to recite the following couplet, 'O Sinner, do not despair for Allah is most kind. Do not depart from this world without provisions (repentance), for the path to the hereafter is most dangerous.'
Allah Ta'aala says, "MY MERCY EXTENDS TO ALL THINGS." (7:156)
In another ayah Allah Ta'aala says, "YOUR RABB HAS INSCRIBED FOR HIMSELF MERCY; IF ANY OF YOU DID EVIL IN IGNORANCE,AND THEREAFTER REPENTED,AND AMENDED HIS CONDUCT THEN HE IS OFT FORGIVING MOST MERCIFUL. " (6:186)
Rasulullah (salallahu alai wcsallam) said, "When Allah created the creation, He inscribed above His Arsh (throne), Verily My Mercy surpassed My wrath." (Bukharie, Muslim)
In a Hadith-e-Qudsi Rasulullah (Salalahu alaihi wasallam) said, 'Allah Ta'aala says, "O son of Adam! I will forgive you as long as you implore me and have hope in me inspite of what you have done, and I don't care how great a sin you have committed. O son of Adam! If your sins reach the clouds and you seek forgiveness from me, I would forgive you and I don't care. O son of Adam! If you were to meet Me with the earth full of sins, I would certainly come to you with an earth full of forgiveness on condition you do not ascribe partners to me."' (Mishkaat)
Certainly Allah Ta'aala is Most Merciful and Oft Forgiving, but it will be foolish for one to follow his sensual desires without bothering about what is Halaal and Haraam thereby flagrantly violating the laws of Allah Ta'aala and yet entertaining high hopes that Allah Ta'aala will forgive his sins. This is nothing but beguilement.
Nabie (salallahu alai wasallam) said, "A wise person is he who controls his lowly desires and perform deeds which are of value after death, and a fool is he who follows his baser desires and places false hopes in Allah Ta'aala." (Mishkaat)
Allah Ta'aala says, "LET NOT THE LIFE OF THIS WORLD BEGUILE YOU, NOR LET THE DECEIVER (SHAITAAN) BEGUILE YOU WITH REGARD TO ALLAH.." (31:33)
Commenting on this ayah, Sa'eed bin Jubair (rahmatullah alai) says, "Shaitaan beguiles a person, with regard to Allah, by seducing him to persist in sins and giving him false hope of Allah's forgiveness."
In another ayah Allah Ta'aala says, "YOU TEMPTED YOURSELF INTO ERROR,AND HESITATED, AND DOUBTED, AND VAIN DESIRES BEGUILED YOU." [57:14]
Abu Sufyan [radhiyaltahu anhu] commented on this ayah thus, "You were led astray owing to your persistence in sins and you were beguiled by false hopes, for you used to say, "Allah will forgive us our sins." [Durre Manthur)
Sheikh Shazli [rahmatullah alai] said, "The Divines say that "RAJAA" (hope in Allah's Mercy) does not consist in entertaining false hopes of Allah's Mercy which beguile a person into neglect of virtues, and lend him the audacity to commit sins. Such hopes are, in reality, vain desires, employed by Shaitan as a means of deceiving people." Ma'roof Karkhi [rahmatullah alai] says, "It is sinful to yearn for Jannah without performing good deeds; it is a kind of self-deception to entertain hopes of intercession by a pious being, without having any affinity or spiritual link with him; and holding hopes of Allah's Mercy without obeying His commandments is mere folly and sheer ignorance." Hasan Basri [rahmatullah alai] says, "Some people neglect virtuous deeds and entertain vain hopes of Allah's Mercy and Forgiveness, so much so that they leave the world without having performed any act of virtue." On another occasion he said, "O servants of Allah! Beware of entertaining vain hopes of Allah's Mercy. For, those who hold such hopes without performing good deeds are living in a fools paradise. By Allah, no person was 'ever granted good reward by Allah Ta'aala, neither in this world nor in the next, merely for having vain hopes of His Mercy." [Mazaahir]
Imaam Ghazali [rahmatullah alai] says, "The hearts of those who have been beguiled into vain hopes of Allah's Mercy are lost in abysmal darkness, where there are layers upon layers of darkness and they can hardly see anything."
Hasan Basri was asked, "What do you think of the people who do not perform good deeds but say that they have expectations of Allah's Mercy?" He replied, "They are deluded by vain hopes. For, he who expects to gain a thing must struggle to achieve it, and he who fears a thing [the punishment of Allah Ta'aala] must struggle hard to escape it."
Once, Sheikh Muslim Yasaar [rahmatullah alai] laid prostrate so long in Sajda that his teeth began to bleed and two of them fell off because of the pressure. Someone said to him, "I am not capable of such devotions but I do have expectations of Allah's Forgiveness." The Shaikh replied, "You are far from entertaining hopes of forgiveness, very far indeed! He who expects to gain something must struggle to achieve it and he who fears a thing tries to escape it."
In short, Allah Ta'aala promised to forgive all the sins of His servants if they turn to Him in repentance and thereafter follow the path of virtue. He says, "VERILY I AM FORGIVING TOWARDS HIM WHO REPENTS AND BELIEVES, AND DOES GOOD AND THEREAFTER FOLLOWS THE PATH OF GUIDANCE. [20:82]