In that past, I made some terrible mistakes with a guy I knew. Nothing too out of line, but mistakes. After some time we both woke up and repented to Allah. However, till this day I feel guilty and worry that I might slip or that my sins are not forgiven? What steps do I take to being a better Muslim? How do I properly repent to Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (swt)?
I pray that you are well, your faith is strong and that your love of Allah is great. Such a question is a question of one seeking penance with Allah (swt), has hope in His mercy and fears His punishment. When I read your letter, I felt jealous because it is filled with the heartbreak of a sinner and the hope of a believer. These two qualities are key for a healthy robust relationship with Allah (swt).
It is important to know that no sin is greater than Allah’s mercy, no drama is greater than His benevolence and no mistake greater than His compassion, love and endurance to forgive those who turn to Him.
The Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) said:
“Allah has greater joy at the repentance of one His slaves when he turns towards Him than one of you would have over his mount, which, having escaped from him with his food and drink in the middle of the desert so that he has despaired of finding it and gone to a tree to lie down in its shade, suddenly appears standing by him while he is in that state, so that he takes its reins and then says out of the intensity of his joy, ‘O Allah, You are my slave and I am Your Lord!’ getting confused because of his intense joy.”
Allah (swt) links success with repentance
“Turn towards Allah, O believers, every one of you, so that perhaps you will have success,” (24:31)
We all stumble
The Prophet ﷺ said, “Everyone of you sins. And the best sinners are those who repent to Allah.” (sound hadith)
No sin is greater than Allah’s mercy
Abu Sa’id ibn Sa’d ibn Malik ibn Sinan al-Khudri reported that the Prophet of Allah ﷺ said, “Among those before you there was a man who killed ninety-nine people. He asked who was the most knowledgeable man in the world and was directed to a monk. He went to him and said that he had killed ninety-nine people and was repentance possible for him? The monk said, ‘No,’ so he killed him and made it a hundred. Then he again asked who was the most knowledgeable man on earth and was directed to a man of knowledge. He said that he had killed a hundred people, so was repentance possible for him? The man said, ‘Yes, who can come between you and repentance? Go to such-and-such a land, where there are some people worshiping Allah Almighty. Worship Allah with them and do not return to your own country. It is an evil place.’ So he went and then, when he was half way there, he died. The angels of mercy and angels of punishment started to argue about him. The angels of mercy said, ‘He came in repentance, turning with his heart to Allah Almighty.’ The angels of punishment said, ‘He has not done a single good action.’ An angel came in a human form and they appointed him arbitrator between them. He said, ‘Measure the distance between the two countries and whichever one he is nearer to, that is the one he belongs to.’ They measured and found he was nearer to the land to which he was going, so the angels of mercy took him.” [Agreed upon]
Thus, dearest sister, rejoice in Allah’s bounty, seek His mercy and have greater hope in His promise of forgiveness than you have in fearing your sins.
You made a mistake(s), you were young and you are struggling to get right with Allah. While you should feel guilty, and this is normal, when you have such feelings, turn to Him, cry and seek His bounty. Allah says in the Qur’an about one who turn to Him repenting: “You will find Him forgiving merciful.” Thus, when you feel saddened, pray and seek His mercy.
Imam al-Nawawi mentioned the conditions for repentance when he said:
“Scholars say that it is a duty to repent of every wrong action. If it is disobedience which occurs between a person and Allah and does not involve the right of another human being, repentance has three preconditions. The first is that one divest himself of disobedience. The second is that he regrets doing it. The third is that he resolves not to ever return to it. If one of the three is lacking, then his repentance is not sound. If it involves to another human being, repentance has four preconditions: these three and that he discharges his duty to the other person. If it is money or the like, he pays it to him. If it is a hadd-punishment because of slander and the like it, he gives him power over him or seeks his pardon. If it is slander, he undoes it, He must repent of all wrong actions. If he repents of some of them, the people of truth say that his repentance of them is sound, but he still has the rest. There is much evidence in the Book, the Sunna and the consensus of the Community about the obligation to repent.”
I would advice you to make sure that you surround yourself with good friends. Secondly, avoid mixing with the opposite sex and putting yourself in situations that may cause you to slip. I would be very cautious about things like chatting and other forms of communication that could compromise your faith. Be strong, hold to Allah’s promise and try and worship Him as best you can.
You are not alone, we are all in this struggle together and here for you.