Repentance and Forgiveness For Your Mental Health

  1. Allah loves you
  2. How to repent to Allah
  3. What lesson are you learning?
  4. Asking forgiveness from others
  5. Staying hopeful and self-forgiveness
  6. Lessons on forgiveness from the Qur’an
  7. Letting go and forgiving others
  8. Resources to build a healthy connection with faith, spirituality, and Allah

1. Did you know Allah loves you?

““Peace!” A word from a Lord Most Merciful” – Qur’an 36:58

Guilt and shame can feel brutal, and eat away at our sense of self-worth and self-esteem. And in truth, doing bad things should not make us feel good – regret and remorse are healthy and natural feelings when we mess up. These feelings are a sign that we’ve gone wrong and an invitation to make things right with Allah and the people we’ve hurt – including our own selves.

Allah has no need of your worship. Allah has no need for your good deeds. Allah is not affected in any way when you sin. Think about that. It means that every single thing that our Creator tells us to do, is the best thing possible for us. Allah doesn’t tell us anything to gain a benefits, but because Allah loves us so much that we will benefit.

Allah loves you. Read that again.

“Allah is the Protecting Guardian of those who believe. He brings them out of darkness into light…” – Qur’an 2:257

We all make mistakes – we’re human

Remember, Allah created Adam and breathed of His Spirit into him. As a human being, you are Allah’s Steward on this earth, carrying the breath of the Divine. You are responsible for using your free will to reflect Divine Light on this earth – making our world safe, free, fair and free from evil. Every step you take towards goodness is a step nearer towards Allah. The ultimate closeness to Allah is experienced in Jannah. And every slip up and step away from what is beautiful and full of light, is a step towards darkness – distancing you from Allah.

You’re going to make mistakes – that’s ok. It’s part of being human and it’s how we learn and grow. But there is always a way back. You can turn over a new page in the story of your life and start again any time you like.

“Allah is infinitely more merciful to me than my own mother. Can I imagine my mum throwing me in a fire? No. So who better to comfort me when I go wrong than the one who made me?”

“Justice means if you do something bad you get punished. But mercy means that if you do something bad and you are genuinely sorry about it, you get forgiven. Allah is Just, and Allah is Merciful. So always throw yourself on Allah’s mercy at every opportunity!”

2. How to repent to Allah

“Then Adam received words from his Lord, and He relented to him. Indeed, he is the Relenting, the Merciful.” – Qur’an 2:37

The word repentance in the Qur’an ‘tawbah’ means to relent, or ‘to turn’. When we turn back to, Allah turns towards us, or relents. In fact one of the names of Allah is al-Tawwab – “the Turner” or “the Relenter”.

Whosoever repents after his wrongdoing, and makes amends, Allah will relent to him.” – Qur’an 5:39

In fact, we are only able to repent because Allah turns to us first, even while we are turning away:

“Then He turned to them, so that they would turn to Him. Truly Allah is the Turner, the Merciful” – Qur’an 9:118

“That twinge in your heart where you just think ‘God, I’m sorry’ that is God inviting you back. When you get that urge to pray, or put your head on the floor and ask for mercy, don’t hesitate even for a second. I personally don’t believe Allah would inspire you to do it, if He wasn’t inviting you into forgiveness and mercy.”

“Don’t second guess the urge to pray. Ever. You’re not too sinful. You’re not too broken. You’re not too dirty. Pray – speak to God wherever you are. God is closer to you than your jugular vein and can switch your life around in a second with just one dua! It’s happened for me, it can happen for you!”

Exercise: Actively engage in repentance

The first thing you can do is simple: ask Allah for forgiveness. You can ask Allah to guide you to the best way of repenting, and be open to the answer you receive – trust that Allah will always answer you.

Ask yourself: is there something I can do to make amends for my error? Is someone due an apology, can I replace something broken, etc. Or, is there a good deed I can do with the intention of turning back to Allah? For example, donating to charity, praying for forgiveness, taking steps to prevent a future error, offering to help someone with something you have struggled with.

Set your intention not to repeat the mistake. This might mean embarking on some self-discovery and spiritual exploration to help you figure out why you behaved the way you did. It might mean being intentional about the influences you let into your life. Or it could be a new strategy so that when you feel yourself about to repeat a mistake you have a plan for what to do in the moment.  

Forgive yourself. Trust that Allah has heard you and wants the best for you. Your job is not to dwell on the past mistake but grow and move on. One way to do this is to see your error as something to be grateful for because it has spurred you on to a better course of action and taught you something new.

Allah wants to help you

You can always ask your Lord to pour peace into your heart over the matter and resolve any loose ends in the most beautiful and beneficial way for you. Allah says: “Fear not! I am with you; I hear and I see.” – Qur’an 20:46

“My favourite thing I learnt about repentance is that it counts as a good deed! So not only does your sin get wiped, the net result is a positive in your favour! Allah is truly merciful.”


Today’s thoughts—“My faith is my lens.” 💭 — #islam #muslim #Allah #islamicreminder

♬ original sound – subhi 🇵🇸

3. What lessons are you learning?

“Say: Oh My servants who have transgressed against themselves, do not despair of the Mercy of Allah, for Allah forgives all sins. He is the All-Forgiving, All Merciful!” – Qur’an 39:53

Sometimes we have to go wrong in order to learn a lesson. The lesson is never that you are a bad person. Sometimes we are so hung up on guilt that it makes it difficult to understand the lesson we are supposed to learn.

Exercise: Focus on the lesson

Pick a sin or error you are feeling guilty about

  • Are you clear about your part in the wrongdoing? You might find it helpful to write it down, and take time to think about if anything feels unclear.
  • Have you taken the time to speak with Allah about what went wrong? How did you feel after?
  • If you could go back and relive the moment, what would you do differently?
  • What knowledge, insight or skills would you have needed to act differently at the time?
  • Can you think of any new insights, knowledge or skills you have now because of your error? How might this lesson or skill benefit you going forward?
  • What strategies will you use try to avoid repeating similar errors again? Are there any practical steps or spiritual exercises that might help you?
  • Do you have faith that Allah, the Most Forgiving, the Loving, wants the best for you and to forgive you?

“The expiation of sin is regret. If you never sinned, Allah Almighty would surely come with people who would sin, and He would forgive them.” – Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)

“We know things by their opposites. We recognise light because experience darkness. Softness compared to hardness, cold compared to heat… In the same way we have to go through bad times to experience the good. Sin to stray further from God in order to repent and come back next time even closer.”

Finding areas in your behaviour or character that you want to work on can feel daunting, and affect your self-esteem. But we all have things we can improve. If you approach this in a positive and healthy way, you can even start to enjoy the process.

4. Asking for forgiveness from others

“The recompense of an evil is an evil like unto it. Yet whosoever pardons and sets matters aright, his reward is with Allah. Truly He loves not the wrongdoers. And whosoever defends himself after having been wronged, for such there is no way against them. There is only a way against those who wrong people tyrannically upon earth without right. For them there is a painful punishment. And whosoever is patient and forgives, that indeed is a course worthy of resolve.” – Qur’an 42:40-43

Repentance isn’t just about asking Allah to forgive you. It’s important to be humble enough to ask forgiveness from people you’ve wronged. The hard part about saying sorry is that they don’t owe you their forgiveness. You can’t choose how people react to you, but you can choose your intention.

Some tips that can help:

  • Try writing down all the things you want to say first to get things clear in your mind. You could send and email or text if you are not comfortable or able to speak face to face.
  • Don’t make assumptions about their thoughts feelings on the matter – you don’t get to decide how much or how little someone is affected by your actions.
  • Use the word ‘sorry’ and say exactly what it is you have done wrong – apologies should be clear!
  • Show remorse – make it clear that you regret your actions.
  • Ask how you can make it up to the person. You don’t have to do anything unreasonable, but mending a relationship might take a little bit of work and honest communication. Tell the person if your relationship with them is important to you and you would like it to continue.
  • Prepare for conversation to be uncomfortable, but remember if the person you are apologising to is prepared to talk honestly with you, you will get clarity about where you stand with this person and whether they still want to maintain their connection with you. You could try to role play the conversation first with someone you trust.

“The good deed and the evil deed are not equal. Repel [evil] by that which is better. Then behold, the one whom between you and him is enmity shall become your intimate friend! But none shall receive it except those who are patient, none shall receive it except those of good fortune.” – Qur’an 41:34

“I’ve learnt that some of the conversations I’ve dreaded the most, are the ones that brought me closest to people.”

“Saying sorry is the biggest relief for me. I can’t stand the weight on my shoulders of knowing I hurt someone – saying sorry is just as much for me as it is for them.”

“I think it’s really important to show the person you hurt that you acknowledge your role in causing them pain. Take responsibility. Own up to your mistakes. Don’t be defensive. Wrong is wrong. Even if they were in the wrong too – don’t make it about them when it’s your turn to say sorry!”

5. Staying hopeful and self-forgiveness

“You will surely journey from stage to stage.” – Qur’an 84:19

Change can happen when you least expect it. You won’t always feel or think the way you do now. Your circumstances won’t always be this way either. Some days for you. Other days against you. You will face ups, downs, challenges and setbacks.

“One is not a stubborn sinner if he sincerely seeks forgiveness from Allah, even if he were to do it seventy times in a day.” – Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)

Repentance and forgiveness are two essential tools you need to navigate life and stay anchored in the beautiful presence of Divine Love, and stay true to your authentic mission on this earth.

Your faith in Allah is not supposed to be a burden, but a source of true empowerment.

As you learn to process guilt and shame, you are also learning to appreciate strength, dignity, honour, truth and goodness. As you learn how it feels to forgive and be forgiven, you are learning the wonders of mercy and compassion.

Repentance is to the soul, what rain is to the desert

Let go of self-judgement and harshness. Forgiving yourself means acknowledging that even though you have sinned, your capacity for goodness is greater. And that even though Allah could punish you, Allah’s Compassion, and love for you and your willingness to do good, is greater still. Self-forgiveness is about trusting in Allah’s promise that if you are sincere in your faith and deeds, you will have nothing to fear.

Embrace the Divine qualities you hope to receive and speak with Allah about how to better incorporate those qualities in your life, for the sake of your mental wellbeing, peace and spiritual growth. Your success relies on love, not fear.

“Indeed, deeds are only judged by their endings.” – Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)

“I found that in life you keep getting the same test until you finally learn the lesson. You’ll keep failing the test until you go through it with Allah, instead of running away. Allah’s not here to trip you up, but to build you up.”

“It’s ok if you go wrong a thousand times. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try again. Allah literally does not want you to fail so KEEP GOING.”  

“Everything happens for a reason. Are you really going to put your life on hold over something that has passed? No.”

“I wanted to pick up a conversation with someone I hadn’t spoken to in years. The cloud of what happened between us was still hanging over me, and the guilt was eating me up inside. But I had no idea if it was something that still bothered them too. I found out it was. And I was so glad I made the call. It was awkward at first, but we both needed to speak it out. Hearing their perspective was unexpected – I had seen the situation so differently and assumed a lot of things that were wrong.”

6. Forgiveness and repentance in the Qur’an

“And whoever does a wrong or wrongs himself but then seeks forgiveness of Allah will find Allah Forgiving and Merciful.” – Qur’an 4:110

Forgiveness is mentioned in the Qur’an literally hundreds of times, and if you’ve never read the Qur’an before you might well be surprised! Allah uses different words to describe ways of forgiving: to overlook, to cover up one’s sins, to pardon lovingly. As a starting point you could explore and study:   

  • Allah forgiving Adam for being misled by his enemy Shaytaan.
  • Cain and his regret over killing his brother Abel.
  • Prophet Yunus (pbuh) calling out from the mouth of the whale in repentance.  
  • Prophet Yusuf (pbuh) gracefully forgiving his brothers who placed him in the well.  
  • God forgiving the people of Musa (pbuh) when they worshipped the calf even after being saved from Pharoah and shown Allah’s miracles.

What other notable moments can you find, and how do they shape your understanding how human psychology, and our relationship with Allah?

“I was taught Islam is doom and gloom. Everything is a sin. Everything will land you in Hell. I felt guilty about everything. I was too scared to read the Qur’an – I didn’t want to be told how bad I was. But when I did read it, I was overwhelmed by how much it’s about mercy. Now when I sin I want to read the Qur’an, instead of hiding from God. It calms me and gives me hope.”

7. Forgiving others and letting go

Forgiveness is not the same as excusing, and doesn’t necessarily mean forgetting. By its very nature, the act of forgiveness reaffirms that something wrong took place, but flips the balance of power. By forgiving, you get to choose to let go of the pain someone caused you and decide that their action against you no longer has the power to affect you – it’s over.

Exercise: Should I forgive?

  • Do I want to complain to Allah about this person on the Day of Judgement?
  • Do I want to see this person punished?
  • Do I care even care either way what happens to them?
  • Have I done something similar to someone else and would I hope to be forgiven?
  • What would it take for them to earn my forgiveness?
  • How would I benefit personally from forgiving them?

It’s ok if you don’t want to, or you’re not ready to forgive someone. You do not owe anyone forgiveness if they have wronged you. The decision is yours and it is between you and Allah.  

8. Resources to build a healthy connection with faith, spirituality, and Allah

People can’t tell you what to believe – even though many might try! It’s up to you to make your best efforts to learn about your own faith, explore your spirituality, and develop your own personal connection with Allah.

Here are five resources to help you with repentance, forgiveness and self-compassion: