Should we kneel down and open our hands when we repent? Is it permissible to repent while sitting and lying down?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

It is permissible to repent in any state. One can repent while sitting walking or lying down. It is especially important to repent before going to bed and to think about the deeds one has done that day. We are advised to repent when we go to bed in a hadith.

The value of asking for forgiveness in the eye of Allah is expressed as follows in a hadith:

"Whoever says, when he goes to his bed: ‘Astaghfirullah al-Aim alladhi la ilaha illa huwal-ayyul-Qayyum‘ (I seek forgiveness from Allah, the Magnificent, the One whom there is none worthy of worship except for Him, the Living, the Sustainer) three times, Allah shall forgive him his sins even if they are as many as the drops of the sea." (Tirmidhi, Daawat, 17)

It is not enough for a person to ask for forgiveness only through the tongue; his intention and deeds should confirm his tongue. The most acceptable repentance is the one done by giving up committing sins decisively and asking forgiveness from Allah. It is called "tawbah nasuh".

The following narration about Hz. Ali shows us how repentance should be:

"Once a Bedouin entered the mosque of the Prophet and said,

"O Allah! I repent and ask forgiveness from you." Then, he performed his prayer. When the man finished his prayer, Hz. Ali said to him,  

"O man! The repentance done only through the tongue is the repentance of liars. Your repentance needs repentance." Thereupon, the man said,

"O leader of the believers! What is repentance?" Thereupon, Hz. Ali said,  

"Repentance is possible through the following six things:

1. To regret the sins committed in the past and to perform the fard deeds that were missed in the past,

2. To stop wronging and harming others,

3. To eliminate enmity and hostility,

4. To diminish the soul that grows with sins and mistakes by making it obey Allah and to make the soul accept that it is worth nothing,

5. To make the soul that enjoys disobedience and committing sins obey Allah and keep away from sins,

6. To cry in return for each of his laughter."

In that case, a repentance in compliance with its conditions is also regarded as a deed of worshipping Allah. Thus, it will be acceptable. We do not hesitate for the acceptance of the deeds of worship that are in compliance with their conditions; similarly, it is necessary not to hesitate for the acceptance of a repentance that is in compliance with its conditions.

The following is stated in a verse:

"O ye who believe! Turn to Allah with sincere repentance: In the hope that your Lord will remove from you your ills and admit you to Gardens beneath which Rivers flow,- the Day that Allah will not permit to be humiliated the Prophet and those who believe with him. Their Light will run forward before them and by their right hands, while they say, "Our Lord! Perfect our Light for us, and grant us Forgiveness: for Thou hast power over all things." (at-Tahrim, 66/8)

A believer can repent for himself and ask for forgiveness for his parents, relatives and other believers that are dead or alive. It is expected that God Almighty will forgive them due to that prayer. There are various examples of prayers in the Quran regarding the issue:

"Our Lord!... Blot out our sins, and grant us forgiveness. Have mercy on us." (al-Baqara, 2/286);

"Moses prayed: O my Lord! forgive me and my brother! admit us to Thy mercy! For Thou art the Most Merciful of those who show mercy." (al-A'raf, 7/151);

"Forgive my father, for that he is among those astray." (ash-Shuara', 26/86);

"O our Lord! cover (us) with Thy Forgiveness - me, my parents, and (all) Believers, on the Day that the Reckoning will be established." (Ibrahim, 14/41).

Sayyidul-Istighfar Prayer:

The following hadith is reported for this prayer. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said,  

"The most superior way of asking for forgiveness from Allah is as follows: ‘Allahumma anta Rabbi, La ilaha illa anta khalaqtani wa ana abduka wa ana ala ahdika wa wa'dika mastata'tu, audhu bika min sharri ma sana'tu, abuu laka bi ni'matika alayya wa abuu bi dhanbi faghfirli fa innahu la yaghfirudh dhunuba illa anta.’"

Its meaning is as follows:

"O Allah! You are my Lord. There is no true god except You. You have created me, and I am Your slave, and I hold to Your Covenant as far as I can. I seek refuge in You from the evil of what I have done. I acknowledge the favors that You have bestowed upon me, and I confess my sins. Pardon me, for none but You has the power to pardon."

Then, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) added the following:

"He who supplicates in these terms during the day with firm belief in it and dies on the same day before the evening, he will be one of the dwellers of Paradise; and if anyone supplicates in these terms during the night with firm belief in it and dies before the morning, he will be one of the dwellers of Paradise." (Bukhari, Daawat, 2)

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