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The difference between tawbah and istighfar

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Question:

What is the difference between istigfar and tawbah? I want to know if I am doing a sin can I ask Allah to forgive me but without the firm resolve that I will leave it. Is this istigfaar?

Zaynab El-Kateb:

Shaikh Ibn Baz explained above saying that Istighfar by just asking Allah to forgive you without feeling any regret and without leaving the sin and without willing not to return to it again will have no effect. Just words and no outcome. Accordingly, Istighfar has to be accompanied by Tawbah and to fulfill its conditions:

  • Regretting the sin
  • Asking forgiveness
  • Quitting the sin
  • Sincerely willing not to do it again.

(Although you might fall into it again in the future but the past sin will be forgiven since you were sincere when you repented from it).

Above is explained by the following verses:

{وَٱلَّذِينَ إِذَا فَعَلُواْ فَـٰحِشَةً أَوۡ ظَلَمُوٓاْ أَنفُسَہُمۡ ذَكَرُواْ ٱللَّهَ فَٱسۡتَغۡفَرُواْ لِذُنُوبِهِمۡ وَمَن يَغۡفِرُ ٱلذُّنُوبَ إِلَّا ٱللَّهُ وَلَمۡ يُصِرُّواْ عَلَىٰ مَا فَعَلُواْ وَهُمۡ يَعۡلَمُونَ} (١٣٥) {أُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ جَزَآؤُهُم مَّغۡفِرَةٌ۬ مِّن رَّبِّهِمۡ وَجَنَّـٰتٌ۬ تَجۡرِى مِن تَحۡتِهَا ٱلۡأَنۡہَـٰرُ خَـٰلِدِينَ فِيہَا‌ۚ وَنِعۡمَ أَجۡرُ ٱلۡعَـٰمِلِينَ}

And those who, when they have committed Fahishah or wronged themselves with evil, remember Allah and ask forgiveness for their sins; – and none can forgive sins but Allah – And do not persist in what (wrong) they have done, while they know.

For such, the reward is Forgiveness from their Lord, and Gardens with rivers flowing underneath (Paradise), wherein they shall abide forever. How excellent is this reward for the doers (who do righteous deeds according to Allah’s Orders).

Surah Ali-Imraan [3:135,136]

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