Allah has made the ways of tawbah for the sinner easy. He has prescribed for them the acts of worship that not only drives a sinner close to his lord but also makes his repentance being accepted. This form of worship is Salaat al-Tawbah(the prayer of repentance).
Some of the issues that have to do with this salaat are as:
1 – The prayer of repentance is prescribed in sharee’ah
Some people may question this form of prayer but it is prescribed in shareeah.
Abu Dawood (1521) narrated that Abu Bakr al-Siddeeq (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: I heard the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say:
“There is no one who commits a sin then purifies himself well and stands and prays two rak’ahs, then asks Allaah for forgiveness, but Allaah will forgive him. Then he recited this verse: ‘And those who, when they have committed Faahishah (illegal sexual intercourse) or wronged themselves with evil, remember Allaah and ask forgiveness for their sins; — and none can forgive sins but Allaah — and do not persist in what (wrong) they have done, while they know’ [Aal ‘Imraan 3:135].”Classed as sahaah by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood.
Ahmad (26998) narrated that Abu’l-Darda’ (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: I heard the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say:
“The one who does wudoo’ and does it well, then stands and prays two rak’ahs or four (one of the narrators was uncertain), in which he remembers Allaah and focuses well, then asks Allaah for forgiveness, He will forgive him.” The editor of al-Musnad said: its isnaad is hasan. It was also quoted by al-Albaani in Silsilat al-Ahaadeeth al-Saheehah (3398).
2 – The reason for the prayer of repentance
The reason for which this prayer can be said is that a believer may fall into a sin, it can be a major or minor sin. A sinner thus wants to repent for his sins then, he may offer two rakaahs and repent sincerely. It doesn’t end here, a believer has to do good deeds and never return to the sins ever. Hence the return to the sin must be avoided. So a believer may draw close to Allah by means of this in the hope that He may accept his repentance and forgive his sin.
3 – The time for the prayer of repentance
The repentance to sin must be hastened and not delayed. If it is delayed, it is still accepted because repentance is accepted as long as one of the following things does not occur.
1. When Death has approached:
The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:
“Allaah will accept the repentance of His slave so long as the death rattle has not yet begun.” Classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi (3537).
2. When the sun rises from the west:
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:
“Whoever repents before the sun rises from the west, Allaah will accept his repentance.” Narrated by Muslim (2703).
The salat-al-Tawbah can be prayed at all times even when other prayers are disallowed, such as after Asr Prayer. It is because. It is one of the prayers that are done for a reason, so it can be done when the reason for it is present.
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said:
Prayers which are done for a reason, such as the prostration of recitation, greeting the mosque, the eclipse prayer, prayer immediately after purifying oneself, as mentioned in the hadeeth of Bilaal, and istikhaarah prayer should not be delayed if the reason comes up at a time when prayer is disallowed, because delaying them may cause one to miss them, such as if the one who is praying istikhaarah may miss the thing concerning which he is seeking guidance if he delays the prayer. The same applies to the prayer of repentance. If a person commits a sin, then it is obligatory to repent straight away, and it is recommended for him to pray two rak’ahs, then repent, as it says in the hadeeth of Abu Bakr al-Siddeeq. End quote from Majmoo’ al-Fataawa (23/215).
4 – Description of the prayer of repentance
This prayer is of two rakaas, as it says in the hadeeth of Abu Bakr al-Siddeeq (may Allaah be pleased with him).It is prescribed for the one who is repenting to pray alone, because it is one of the naafil prayers that it is not prescribed to offer in congregation. After that it is prescribed to ask Allaah for forgiveness, because of the hadeeth of Abu Bakr (may Allaah be pleased with him).
There is no report from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) to say that it is mustahabb to recite any particular soorahs in these two rak’ahs, so the worshipper may recite whatever he wants.
Allah says in Glorious Quran:
“And verily, I am indeed forgiving to him who repents, believes (in My Oneness, and associates none in worship with Me) and does righteous good deeds, and then remains constant in doing them (till his death)” [Ta-Ha 20:82] “If you disclose your Sadaqaat (almsgiving), it is well; but if you conceal them and give them to the poor, that is better for you. (Allaah) will expiate you some of your sins” [al-Baqarah 2:271]
And Allah knows best.
May Allah guide us and protect us.