The Encouragement of the Repenter to Flee from the Places and People of Sin
This narration is a clear indication of the great reward of Hijrah (emigration) from the lands of sin and transgression to the lands of Tawheed and obedience. Hijrah has a direct relation to Tawbah, as it is a means of wiping one's sins clean. The Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم stated: "Verily, Islaam wipes away what came before it, and al-Hijrah erases what preceded it; and indeed al-Hajj wipes out what came before it." 
So the scholar who advised the killer to emigrate directed him to one of the greatest paths to repentance. In the explication of the hadeeth of the one who killed one-hundred people, al-Haafidh Ibn Hajar رحمه الله says: "And in this hadeeth is the virtue of leaving the land where a person fell into sin [for fear] that he will most likely return to (wrong) there, either because it will remind him of his past actions, and the temptation found in it, or because of the presence of those who will aid him upon it and encourage him towards it; thus, the second one (i.e. the scholar) said, 'And do not return to your land because it is a land of evil,' and in [the narration] is an indication that the repenter must separate himself from the circumstances that he was accustomed to in the days of his disobedience." 
Imaam an-Nawawee رحمه الله said: "In this is the desire for the one who is repenting to remove himself from the places where he used to commit sin and separate from the people he committed sins with, and to abandon them as long as they remain in that condition and to change his companions to the righteous: the scholars, the worshippers, and those who benefit him with their companionship; and this reassures his repentance." 
This last statement from Imaam an-Nawawee رحمه الله is vital; rather, it is an essential step that the repenter must take, because if he remains with his cronies, who he used to commit sin with, then he will, in all likelihood, return to it. This is due to the fact that the human being is created weak. Allaah سبحانه و تعالى says,
"Allaah wishes to lighten (the burden) for you; and man was created weak." [Sooratun-Nisaa', 4:28]
In commanding with keeping righteous company, Allaah سبحانه و تعالى says,
"And keep yourself (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) patiently with those who call on their Lord morning and afternoon, seeking His Face, and let not your eyes overlook them, desiring the pomp and glitter of the life of the world; and obey not him whose heart We have made heedless of Our Remembrance, one who follows his own lusts and whose affair (deeds) has been lost." [Sooratul-Kahf, 18:28]
Imaam Ibn Katheer رحمه الله says in the commentary of this verse: "Sit with those who remember Allaah سبحانه و تعالى, exalt Him, praise Him, and ask of Him in the day and the night, from the worshippers of Allaah سبحانه و تعالى, whether they are from the poor, the rich, or the weak." 
Also, in the Saheehayn, on the authority of Aboo Moosaa al-Ash'aree رضي الله عنه, narrating from the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم: "Indeed the example of good company and bad company is like that of the seller of scents and the blacksmith. The seller of scents will either give you some as a gift, sell you some or at least you will find with him a pleasant smell; and the blacksmith will either burn your clothes, or you will find with him a pungent odor." 
Imaam Muslim رحمه الله collects this hadeeth in his Saheeh under the chapter: "The Desire of Sitting wit the Righteous and Avoiding Evil Companionship."
Imaam an-Nawawee رحمه الله says: "In this hadeeth is the virtue of sitting with the righteous, the people of goodness, honour, upright character, those who fear Allaah سبحانه و تعالى, the knowledgeable, and those with good conduct; and the prohibition of sitting with the people of evil, innovation, those who backbite the people, or who commit an abundance of sin, and what is similar from unpraiseworthy types." 
Imaam Shamsul-Haq Al-Adheemabaadee رحمه الله said: "This hadeeth guides to having companionship with the pious, and the scholars, and to sit with them, for indeed it will benefit him in this life and the next; and to avoid having companionship with the wicked and sinful, for indeed it harms a person religiously and in the worldly affairs." 
Consequently, a person must carefully select his companions from the righteous, as all other so-called "friends" will be enemies to one another on the Day of Judgement. Allaah سبحانه و تعالى says,
"Friends on that Day will be foes one to another except al-Muttaqeen." [Sooratuz-Zukhruf, 43:67]
Imaam al-Baghawee رحمه الله says in his commentary of this verse: "(Friends) upon sin in the worldly life (on that day) i.e. the Day of Resurrection (will be enemies to one another except for the muttaqeen) , except those who loved for the sake of Allaah, upon obedience to him. 'Alee Ibn Abee Taalib رضي الله عنه said: 'There were two believing friends, and two disbelieving friends, so one of the believing friends died and said: "O Lord! Certainly so and so used to enjoin me to obedience to You and Your Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم, and enjoined me to good and forbade me from evil, and reminded me that I was going to meet You. O Allaah! Do not send him astray after me, and guide him as You guided me, and bestow Your favour upon him as You bestowed Your favour upon me." So when his friend also dies, they are joined together and they will praise one another saying: "What an excellent brother and companion." And when one of the disbelieving friends dies, he says, "O Lord! Indeed so and so prevented me from obedience to You and Your Messenger; he commanded me to do evil and prevented me from good and told me that I would not meet You." And he will say, "What an evil brother and companion."'" 
Qataadah Ibn Di'aamah رحمه الله said: "By Allaah we have never seen a man keep company with a people except that he was like them, so keep company with the righteous from the worshippers of Allaah سبحانه و تعالى, that perhaps you will be like them or with them." 
Imaam Ibn 'Abdil-Barr رحمه الله narrates that it was reported to him on the authority of al-Ahnaaf Ibn al-Qays رحمه الله, that he said: "Good speech is better than remaining quiet, and remaining quiet is better than evil, vain speech; and good companionship is better than being alone, and being alone is better than evil companionship."  
We ask Allaah سبحانه و تعالى to allow us to benefit from righteous companionship in the best of gatherings. Just as we ask that He makes us from the sincere repenters. Indeed Allaah سبحانه و تعالى loves those who repent, and those who purify themselves.  
 Collected by Imaam Muslim رحمه الله in his Saheeh (no. 165) on the authority of Ibn Sahamasa Mahree رحمه الله who said: "We went to 'Amr Ibn al-'Aas رضي الله عنه and he was about to die. He wept for a long time and turned his face towards the wall. His son said: 'Did the Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم not give you glad tidings of this?' He said, 'The best thing which we can count upon is the testimony that there is none worthy of worship (in truth) but Allaah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم. Verily I have passed through three phases. [The first one] in which I found myself averse to no one more than I was averse to the Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم, and there was no other desire stronger in me than the one that I should overpower him and kill him. Had I died in that state, I would have certainly been one of the inhabitants of the Hellfire. When Allaah سبحانه و تعالى instilled the love of Islaam in my heart, I came to the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and said: "Stretch out your right hand so that I may pledge allegiance to you." He stretched out his right hand, but I withdrew my hand. He (i.e. the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: "What has happened to you, O 'Amr?" I replied: "I intend to lay down a condition." He asked: "What condition do you intend to put forward?" I said: "That I be granted pardon." The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said: "Are you not aware of the fact that Islaam wipes out all of the previous [misdeeds]? Verily, Hijrah wipes out all of the previous [misdeeds], and verily Hajj wipes out all of the previous [misdeeds]..."'"
 Fat-hul-Baaree (7/200)
 Sharh Saheeh Muslim (17/86)
 Tafseer Ibn Katheer (3/80)
 Collected by Imaam al-Bukhaaree رحمه الله in his Saheeh (no. 5229) and Imaam Muslim رحمه الله in his Saheeh (no. 4740)
This indeed reminds us of the narration of Anas Ibn Maalik رضي الله عنه who stated that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said: "There are not two people who loved each other for the sake of Allaah سبحانه و تعالى and then separated except because of some sin that one of them had committed." See Silsilatus-Saheehah of Shaykh al-Albaanee رحمه الله (no. 637)
Abu Umaamah رضي الله عنه reported: "We were sitting in the Masjid in the company of the Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم. A man came there and said, 'O Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم, I have committed an act deserving the imposition of the Hadd punishment, so impose it upon me.'
The Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم remained silent. The man repeated it and said, 'O Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم, I have committed an offense deserving the imposition of the Hadd punishment, so impose it upon me.'
The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم again kept silent, and it was at this time that the prayer was established. When the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم had concluded the prayer, the man followed the Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم."
Abu Umaamah رضي الله عنه continues, "I, too, followed the Messenger of Allaah to see how he would respond to the man. The man stuck close to the Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم and said, 'O Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم, I have committed an offense that deserves the Hadd punishment, so impose it upon me.'
The Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم said, 'Didn't you see that before leaving your house, you performed an excellent ablution?'
He replied, 'Indeed so, O Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم.'
The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم then said to him, 'Then you observed prayer along with us?'
He said, 'Yes, O Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم.'
Thereupon, the Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم said to him, 'Verily, Allaah has exempted you from the imposition of the Hadd punishment,' or he said from your sin." 
Imaam an-Nawawee رحمه الله said, "The sins mentioned here are from the minor sins, due to the fact that they were expiated by the Salaah. And if they were from the major sins, necessitating Hadd, then Salaah would not have expiated them. And the scholars have agreement upon the fact that sins necessitating Hadd are not removed by prayer, and this is the correct understanding of this hadeeth. Al-Qaadee 'Iyaad رحمه الله relates from some of the scholars that what is intended by the Hadd is well known. He said, 'He did not impose the Hadd upon the man because he did not clarify what he had fallen into, necessitating the Hadd. And the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم did not inquire about it, preferring that it be concealed. Rather, it is recommended to prompt a person to retract a confession of sin necessitating Hadd.'" 
In response to those who erroneously believe that simply making Salaah, like two rak'ahs for Tawbah, suffices in removing major sins, Imaam Ibn 'Abdil-Barr رحمه الله has stated: "This is sheer ignorance and is also in agreement with the belief of the Murji'ah. How is it permissible for the person of intellect to understand these narrations in their generality when he hears the statement of Allaah سبحانه و تعالى:
"O you who believe! Turn to Allah with sincere repentance!" [Sooratut-Tahreem, 66:8]
And His statement:
"And turn to Allaah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed." [Sooratun-Noor, 24:31]
And in many other verses in His Book. Thus, if purification, prayer and performing righteous actions [alone] expiated major sins, while the one who has purified himself and prayed and is unmindful of his wrongdoing, lacking remorse at that time and heedless of his sin, then Allaah's command to make Tawbah would be meaningless. Also, every person who made Wudoo' and prayed would have Paradise confirmed for him after his Salaam from prayer, even if beforehand he committed whatever he pleased from the major sins. No one who has correct understanding states this. And the Muslims are in agreement that repentance is obligatory upon the one who commits a sin, and obligatory acts are not fulfilled except with a sincere intention and firm determination not to repeat [the sin]. As for [simply] performing prayer while being heedless of what has been committed from the major sins or lacking remorse, then this is inconceivable." 
Ummul Mu'mineen 'Aa'ishah رضي الله عنها related that the Quraysh were concerned with a Makhzoomee woman  who had stolen [some goods]. They said: "Who will speak to the Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم concerning her?"
They said: "No one will be courageous enough to do so besides Usaamah Ibn Zayd رضي الله عنه, the beloved of the Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم."
So Usaamah رضي الله عنه spoke to him, and the Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم said: "Will you interceded regarding a prescribed punishment from Allaah?"
He then stood and said: "Verily that which destroyed those who came before you is that when a noble person stole, they would leave him alone, but if an insignificant person stole, they would execute the prescribed punishment upon him. By Allaah, even if Faatimah, the daughter of Muhammad, stole, I would cut off her hand." 
In the wording in an-Nasaa'ee, it states: Ummul Mu'mineen 'Aa'ishah رضي الله عنها said: "He then gave the command, and her hand was cut off. Afterward, she displayed a good repentance and was married. She would come by after this, and I would raise her concerns to the Messenger of Allaah." 
It has already preceded that from the conditions of Tawbah - after remorse - is to abandon the sin and determine never to return to it. Here we find in the narration of al-Makhzoomiyyah that after receiving the prescribed punishment for theft, the amputation of her hand, she corrected her ways and returned to good conduct. Al-Haafidh Ibn Hajar رحمه الله mentions this in his seminal work Fat-hul-Baaree, stating that the point of reference in the chapter is the description of a "good repentance." For this, he states, necessitates that the person return to the good they were upon before their transgression. 
For it was only after she returned to right guidance that Ummul Mu'mineen 'Aa'ishah رضي الله عنها praised her beautiful return. This points to the truthfulness of a person's tawbah, for how lying is the one who claims repentance with his tongue, yet he remains persistent upon wrongdoing. 
Shaykhul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah رحمه الله said: "As for acknowledgement of the sin without refraining from it, then this is nothing more than [a mere statement of] istighfaar, absent of true repentance. He is like the person who asks Allaah to forgive a sin without ever repenting from it. Some of the scholars have stated: 'Seeking forgiveness while remaining persistent [upon the sin] is the repentance of the liars.'" 
 Her name was Faatimah bint al-Aswad رضي الله عنها
 Collected by Imaam Bukhaaree رحمه الله in his Saheeh (no. 3475)
 Collected by Imaam an-Nasaa'ee رحمه الله in his Sunan (no. 4903). According to Shaykh al-Albaanee رحمه الله, it is saheeh. See Saheeh Sunan an-Nasaa'ee (no. 4903)
"And Allaah would not punish them while you (Muhammad صلي الله عليه وسلم) are amongst them, nor will He punish them while they seek (Allaah's) Forgiveness." (Sooratul-Anfaal, 8:33)
Some of the salafus-saalih said, "We have two sources of security from punishment: the Prophet صلي الله عليه وسلم and the act of seeking forgiveness. Since the Prophet صلي الله عليه وسلم has passed, one source of security has gone and only one remains."
[Prophetic Grace: The Qur'anic Merits of the Prophet Muhammad صلي الله عليه وسلم, p. 25, Shaykh Ahmad Ibn Ajiba رحمة اللہ علیه]
"The Name al-Ghafoor is an emphatic noun derived from the word ghufraan (forgiveness). It is similar to the Name al-Ghaffaar; however, the Name al-Ghaffaar implies encompassment of times and individuals, whereas His Name al-Ghafoor speaks of an amplitude in His forgiveness. This means that it speaks to the frequency at which He forgives.
It is also said that al-Ghafoor is derived from the word ghafr which is a medicinal plant that heals wounds quickly when placed on the skin. So forgiveness heals the wounds of sins just as the ghafr plant heals the wounds of the body.
It is also said that al-Ghafoor is derived from the word mighfar (helmet), which is placed upon the head in battle, because forgiveness covers up sins.
He who knows that Allaah سبحانه و تعالى is al-Ghafoor (and for whom no sin is too great) will seek forgiveness abundantly. To seek forgiveness is to seek absolution from sin. If the act of seeking forgiveness is coupled with brokenness it is sound [saheeh]; if it is joined with repentance [tawbah] it is perfect [kaamil]; and if it is stripped of both brokenness and repentance it is invalid [baatil].
You should cultivate this Name in your character by forgiving and pardoning transgressors, as that is the door to attaining forgiveness from Allaah Most High. He says,
"Let him pardon and forgive; would you not love that Allaah forgives you? Indeed, Allaah is All-Forgiving, Merciful" (Sooratun-Noor, 24:22)
"Say to those who have believed that they should forgive those who not hope in the Days of Allaah." (Sooratul-Jaathiyah, 45:14)
So if Allaah سبحانه و تعالى has encouraged us to forgive those who do not believe, then the encouragement to forgive those who do believe is even more emphatic!"
[Allah - An Explanation of the Divine Names and Attributes, pp. 80-81.]
A person who engages in sinful behavior is like a brand new pot beneath which a flame is lit for a duration, as a result of which its bottom blackens. If you hasten to wash it, this blackness will be washed away. But if you leave it and cook in it time and again, this blackness will settle into it to the point that it crusts and washing it will be of no use.
Repentance is what washes away the soot of the heart, such that deeds emerge carrying the scent of being accpeted by God. So constantly ask God for repentance. And if you attain thisn, you time will be well spent. For this is a gift from God that He places in whomever He pleases among His servants.
A tattered, humble servant may atttain it while his master does not; a women may attain it while her husband does not; a young person may attain it while one advanced in years does not. So it you attain it, know that God has made you the object of His Love, in accordance with His statement, "Verily God loves those who constantly repent and He loves those who purify themselves." [2:222]
Shaykh Ibn Ata'illah al-Iskandari in Taj al-Arus al-Hawi li Tahdhib al-Nufus translation done by Dr.Shermon in his Sufis for non-Sufis.
"Surely, those who persecute believing men and believing women, and do not repent, will face the torment of Hell, and the punishment of the blazing Fire." (Sooratul-Burooj, 85:10)
Imaam Ibn Katheer رحمه الله commented, "Surely, those who persecute believing men and believing women," meaning, they burned them. This was the opinion of Ibn 'Abbaas رضي الله عنهما, Mujaahid رحمه الله, Qataadah رحمه الله, ad-Dahhaak رحمه الله and Ibn Abzaa رحمه الله.
"And do not repent," meaning, they do not cease from what they are doing, and do not regret what they had done before.
"They will face the torment of Hell, and the punishment of the blazing Fire," because the recompense is according to the type of the evil deed committed. 
Imaam Ibn al-Qayyim رحمه الله said: "[Allaah سبحانه و تعالى] then informed that He has prepared a punishment of Hell and a blazing fire if they do not repent, and that if they repent after persecuting His friends and torturing them with fire, He would forgive them and not punish them. This is the ultimate in kindness and generosity... Imaam al-Hasan al-Basri رحمه الله said, 'Look at the kindness of the Lord Almighty, He invites them to repentance though they persecuted His friends and burned them with fire.'  The servant should not become despondent or give up hope in [Allaah's] forgiveness and pardon, whatever he may have done, for there is no form of enmity greater than this enmity, and no form of disbelief worse than that one who burns to death a believer who worships Allaah سبحانه و تعالى alone. In spite of that, if he repents, he will not be punished and he will be added to Allaah's [list of] friends." 
That was the case of 'Umar Ibn al-Khattaab رضي الله عنه and other Makkans who persecuted Muslims and later joined the fold of Islaam. This complete erasure of sin is based on the following prophetic principle:
Abu 'Ubaydah ibn 'Abdillaah رضي الله عنهما narrated from his father رضي الله عنه that Allaah's Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم said,
التَّائِبُ مِنْ الذَّنْبِ كَمَنْ لَا ذَنْبَ لَهُ
"One who repents from sin is like one without sin." 
To further illustrate the power of repentance, the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم related a story from the past concerning a serial killer. Abu Sa'eed al-Khudri رضي الله عنه narrated that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said,
كان فيمن كان قبلكم رجل قتل تسعة وتسعين نفساً، فسأل عن أعلم أهل الأرض، فدل على راهب، فأتاه فقال: إنه قتل تسعه وتسعين نفساً، فهل له من توبة؟ فقال: لا، فقتله فكمل به مائةً، ثم سأل عن أعلم أهل الأرض، فدل على رجل عالم فقال: إنه قتل مائة نفس فهل له من توبة؟ فقال: نعم، ومن يحول بينه وبين التوبة؟ انطلق إلى أرض كذا وكذا، فإن بها أناساً يعبدون الله تعالى فاعبد الله معهم، ولا ترجع إلى أرضك فإنها أرض سوءٍ، فانطلق حتى إذا نصف الطريق أتاه الموت، فاختصمت فيه ملائكة الرحمة وملائكة العذاب. فقالت ملائكة الرحمة: جاء تائبا مقبلا بقلبه إلى الله تعالى، وقالت ملائكة العذاب: إنه لم يعمل خيرا قط، فأتاهم ملك في صورة آدمي فجعلوه بينهم- أي حكماً- فقال: قيسوا ما بين الأرضين فإلى أيتهما كان أدنى فهو له، فقاسوا فوجدوه أدنى إلى الأرض التي أراد، فقبضته ملائكة الرحمة
"There was a man from a previous era who killed ninety-nine people. When he asked who the most knowledgeable person in the world was, he was directed to a monk. He went to him and informed him that he had killed ninety-nine people, and asked him if [it was possible] for him to repent [and be forgiven]. The monk told him it was not, so he killed him also and completed a hundred murders.  Then he again asked who was the most knowledgeable person in the world, and was directed to a very learned man. He informed him that he had killed a hundred people, and asked if it were [possible] for him to repent. The scholar replied, 'Yes. Who can stand between you and repentance? Go to such and such a land, as there are people there who worship Allaah سبحانه و تعالى. Worship Allaah سبحانه و تعالى along with them, and do not go back to your own land, for it is a place of evil.'  The man set out for the land, but halfway through his journey he died.  The angels of mercy and the angels of punishment fell into a dispute over him. The angels of mercy said, 'He came repentant with his heart turned toward Allaah.'  The angels of punishment argued, '[But,] he never did a good deed.' An angel then came to them in human form and they asked him to judge between them. He said, 'Measure the distance between the two lands, and whichever he is closest to will determine his fate.' They measured and found him closer to the land he was headed for, so the angels of mercy took him.   
 Tafseer Ibn Katheer, vol. 10, p. 433
 Tafseer Ibn Katheer, vol. 10, p. 433
 Muhammad, Yusri as-Sayyid. Badaa'i at-Tafseer al-Jaami' li Tafseer al-Imaam Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah رحمه الله, (Riyadh: Dar Ibn al-Jawzi, 1st ed., 1993/1414AH,) vol. 5, p. 172
 Recorded by Ibn Maajah. According to Imaam Ibn Hajar رحمه الله and Shaykh Saleem al-Hilaali حفظه الله, it is hasan. See Shu'ayb al-Arnaa'oot's رحمه الله footnotes to Imaam Ibn Rajab رحمه الله, Jaami' al-'Uloom wal-Hikam, (Beirut: Muassasat ar-Risaalah, 1991,) vol. 1, p. 414; Shaykh Sakeem al-Hilaali حفظه الله, Eeqaadh al-Himam al-Muntaqaa min Jaami' al-'Uloom wal-Hikam, (ad-Dammaam: Dar Ibn al-Jauzi, 1992,) p. 251.
 Not only was the monk ignorant about the religion, he was not wise enough to consider the consequences of enraging a serial killer.
 This is a very important piece of advice for one who wants to repent. It will be much easier to do so if he changes his environment. His old friends with whom he used to commit sins are likely to invite him to keep on sinning with them. Others who did not participate with him may be sceptical that he will really change. Their negativity will discourage him from persevering.
 Imaam al-Hasan رحمه الله said, "We were told that while he was dying he continued to crawl forward on his chest."
 This indicates that Allaah سبحانه و تعالى allows some angels knowledge about people's internal states, not just their outer actions. It is also apparent that the angels of punishment were not aware of his inner state, since they based their judgement on his deeds.
Seeking Forgiveness for all Muslims and Praying for them
Part of the completeness of one's eemaan (faith) is that a person loves for his brother what he loves for himself. The Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم said,
لا يؤمن أحدكم حتى يحب لأخيه ما يحب لنفسه
"None of you [truly] believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself." 
In other words, no one is a true and complete believer - meeting all of the requirements and necesarry components of eemaan - until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself. This is one of the necessary components of being a true and complete believer. 
Another important narration of this hadeeth may be found in the Musnad of Imaam Ahmad رحمه الله. It states,
والذي نفسي بيده لا يؤمن عبدٌ حتى يحب لأخيه ما يحب لنفسه من الخير
"By the One in Whose Hand is my soul, a servant does not [truly] believe until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself of goodness." 
Here, the last words, "of goodness" have been added. Commenting on these additional words, "of goodness," Shaykh al-Albaani رحمه الله wrote,
"Know that this addition of the words, 'of goodness,' is very important as it defines what is meant by this hadeeth in detail. This is because the word 'goodness' is a comprehensive term that covers all acts of obedience, permissible deeds of this world and the Hereafter and it excludes everything that is prohibited, because the word 'goodness' clearly does not entail them. Therefore, it is from the completeness of a Muslim's behaviour that he loves for his brother Muslim whatever goodness and good things that he loves for himself. At the same time, he hates for his brother Muslim any evil that he hates for himself. This is implied by the hadeeth, even though it is not mentioned explicitly. This is because to love one thing requires that one hates its opposite." 
There is also another narration in the Musnad of Imaam Ahmad رحمه الله with the wording,
لا يبلغ العبد حقيقة الايمان حتى يحب للناس ما يحب لنفسه من الخير
"The servant does not reach the reality of [or true] faith until he loves for the people what he loves for himself." 
Therefore, just as a person desires that he be guided to the truth, and be forgiven for his sins, so too should he desire the same for his fellow Muslims.
The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم is commanded in the Qur'aan:
"So know (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) that laa ilaaha illallaah (none has the right to be worshipped but Allaah سبحانه و تعالى), and seek forgiveness (from Allaah سبحانه و تعالى) for your sins, and the sins of the believing men and women. And Allaah knows well your moving about, and your place of rest (in your homes)." (Soorah Muhammad, 47:19)
Likewise, the Prophet Nooh (Noah) عليه السلام prayed to Allaah سبحانه و تعالى:
"Oh My Lord! Forgive me, and my parents, and whoever entered my house as a believer, and all of the believing men and women. And to the Dhaalimoon (polytheists, wrong-doers, disbelievers, etc.,) grant You no increase but destruction!" (Soorah Nooh, 71:28)
The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم also said,
من استغفر للمؤمنين والمؤمنات كتب الله له بكل مؤمن ومؤمنة حسنة
"Whoever seeks forgiveness for the believing men and women, then a good deed will be written for him for every single believing man and woman (that he prayed for)." 
So it is encouraged for the Muslim to remember all of his brothers and sisters when he is making a du'aa' (supplication), and to pray for the entire Muslim Ummah. He should also pray against the enemies of Islaam, against the tyrants and non-Muslim rulers that fight and torture the Muslims. All of this is a sign of the person's own eemaan.
Of particular importance is that a person prays for his own parents (if they are alive, of if they died as Muslims). Allaah سبحانه و تعالى specifically instructs the believers in this respect,
"And lower unto them the wings of humility and mercy, and say, 'O My Lord! Have mercy on them, even as they took care of me while I was young.'" (Soorah al-Israa', 17:24)
The du'aa' of Prophet Nooh عليه السلام has already been given above, in which he prayed for his parents, as did Prophet Ibraaheem (Abraham) عليه السلام:
"Our Lord! Forgive me and my parents, and (all) the believers on the Day when the reckoning will be established." (Soorah Ibraaheem, 14:41) 
كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ إِذَا صَلَّى عَلَى جِنَازَةٍ يَقُولُ : اللَّهُمَّ اغْفِرْ لِحَيِّنَا وَمَيِّتِنَا وَشَاهِدِنَا وَغَائِبِنَا وَصَغِيرِنَا وَكَبِيرِنَا وَذَكَرِنَا وَأُنْثَانَا
When the Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم offered the funeral prayer, he would say: "O Allaah, forgive our living and our dead, those who are present and those who are absent, our young and our old, our males and our females." 
Shaykh 'Abdur-Razzaaq al-Badr حفظه الله commented, "This tremendous supplication is for everyone – the deceased and other Muslims; whether they are alive or have passed away, young and old, males and females, those who are present and those who are absent, because all of them are in need of Allaah’s Forgiveness, Pardon and Mercy سبحانه و تعالى. The person who makes this supplication will receive a reward for each person he or she has supplicated for amongst the male and female Muslims, whether they have passed away or are still alive, because Allaah’s Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم said, 'Whoever seeks for forgiveness for the male and female believers, Allaah will write down for him a reward for every male and female believer [he has supplicated for].'"  
 This hadeeth was recorded by al-Bukhaari, Muslim, at-Tirmidhi, an-Nasaa'ee, ibn Maajah, Ahmad, ibn Hibbaan, ad-Daarimi, Abu Ya'la and numerous others.
 Shaykh Jamaluddin Zarabozo حفظه الله, Commentary on the Forty Hadith of al-Nawawi, vol. 1, pp. 190-191
 Musnad Ahmad. According to Shaykh Fauzi Ibn Muhammad حفظه الله, this is an authentic narration. See: al-Adwaa as-Samaawiyyah fee Takhreej Ahaadeeth al-Arba'een an-Nawawiyyah, pp. 110-113.
 Shaykh Muhammad Naasir ad-Deen al-Albaani رحمه الله, Silsilat al-Ahaadeeth as-Saheehah, vol. 1, hadeeth #73, p. 114.
 According to Shaykh Saleem al-Hilaali حفظه الله, the chain of this narration is also saheeh. See: Eeqaadh al-Himam min Jaami' al-'Uloom wal-Hikam, p. 182
 Recorded by at-Tabaraani in al-Kabeer, and verified to be hasan by Shaykh al-Albaani رحمه الله. See: Saheeh al-Jaami' no. 6026.
 Shaykh Dr Yasir Qadhi حفظه الله, Du'a: The Weapon of the Believer, pp. 95-96.
 Recorded by:
A) at-Tirmidhi (Vol. 2, p. 405, Chapter 38: What Is To Be Said In The Salat For The Deceased, Hadeeth #1024, and verified to be Saheeh by Haafidh Abu Taahir Zubair 'Ali Za'i رحمه الله, Darussulam Arabic/English Edition),
B) an-Nasaa'ee (Vol. 3, p. 104, Chapter 77: Supplication, Hadeeth #1988, and verified to be Saheeh by Haafidh Abu Taahir Zubair 'Ali Za'i رحمه الله, Darussalam Arabic/English Edition),
C) Abu Dawood (Vol. 3, pp. 607-608, Chapter 54, 56: The Supplication For The Deceased, Hadeeth #3201, and verified to be Hasan by Haafidh Abu Taahir Zubair 'Ali Za'i رحمه الله, Darussalam Arabic/English Edition),
D) Ibn Maajah (Vol. 2, pp. 393-394, Chapter 23: What Was Narrated Concerning Supplication During The Funeral Prayer, Hadeeth #1498, and verified to be Hasan by Haafidh Abu Taahir Zubair 'Ali Za'i رحمه الله, Darussalam Arabic/English Edition).
 Recorded by at-Tabaraani in al-Kabeer, and verified to be hasan by Shaykh al-Albaani رحمه الله. See: Saheeh al-Jaami' no. 6026.
The one who commits a sin then repents sincerely will be in a better state after repenting than he was before he committed the sin
Someone committed a major sin when he was young, and he has repented from it and hopes that his repentance was sincere and will be accepted by Allah, because of what he felt in his heart of regret and remorse. But he often wonders whether it is possible that Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, will regard him as equal to one who did not fall into major sin throughout his life, because he feels that he is of lower standing than others.
Praise be to Allah.
Allah has created people to obey Him and worship Him, and He has forbidden them to disobey Him and go against His commands. He has commanded them, if one of them falls into sin, to hasten to repent to Allah and not to despair of Allah’s mercy, and He has promised them an abundant reward for repenting.
No matter what sins a person has committed, if he then repents sincerely to Allah and begins to obey Him, Allah will turn to him in mercy, expiate his bad deeds, raise him in status and turn his bad deeds into good deeds, and his state after repenting will be better than it was before he committed the sin, because repentance erases the sins that came before it and the one who repents from sin is like one who did not commit sin at all.
Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And those who do not invoke with Allah another deity or kill the soul which Allah has forbidden [to be killed], except by right, and do not commit unlawful sexual intercourse. And whoever should do that will meet a penalty.
Multiplied for him is the punishment on the Day of Resurrection, and he will abide therein humiliated –
Except for those who repent, believe and do righteous work. For them Allah will replace their evil deeds with good. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful”
It was narrated that Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Allah rejoices more over the repentance of His slave than one of you if he wakes up and finds his camel which he had lost in the wilderness.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari (5950) and Muslim (2747).
Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
This rejoicing of Allah at the repentance of His slave – even though there is no similar report concerning any other act of obedience – is indicative of the high status of repentance and its virtue before Allah, and indicates that worshipping Allah by repenting is one of the noblest of acts of worship. It indicates that the one who does it becomes better than he was before that.
End quote from Tareeq al-Hijratayn (p. 244).
The companions of our Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), who were the most righteous of this ummah, with the deepest knowledge, the most guided, the best in status, had been followers of disbelief and shirk; some of the greatest of them had shown the greatest enmity towards the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him). Yet despite that, when Allah blessed them with faith in Him, caused them to repent to Him and to accompany His Prophet, they became the best and noblest of people, and became better than those who came after them and had never associated others with Allah (shirk).
Undoubtedly shirk and disbelief are the greatest of sins, but through repentance, faith and righteous deeds, Allah forgives sins, expiates bad deeds, and raises people in status.
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
Sins detract from faith, but if a person repents, Allah loves him and his status may rise as a result of repentance. Whoever is guided to repent will be as Sa‘eed ibn Jubayr said: A person may do a good deed and enter Hell because of it, and a person may do a bad deed and enter Paradise because of it. That is, if he does a good deed then it is always in his mind and he is filled with self-admiration as a result of it, or if he does a bad deed, then it is always on his mind [and feels remorse because of it] so he seeks Allah’s forgiveness and repents to Him from it.
End quote from Majmoo‘ al-Faatawa (10/45).
He also said:
When a person repents sincerely and Allah accepts it, He will raise him in status until he becomes greater than he was before, as one of the early generations said: If repentance were not the dearest of things to Him, He would not test with sin the dearest of people to Him.
End quote from Majmoo‘ al-Fataawa (10/293).
He also said:
Adam repented and turned to Allah, and he and his wife said: “Our Lord, we have wronged ourselves, and if You do not forgive us and have mercy upon us, we will surely be among the losers” [al-A‘raaf 7:23]. So Allah turned in mercy to him; He chose him, guided him and sent him down to earth to strive therein in obedience to Him. Thus Allah raised him in status thereby, and so his admittance to Paradise will be with a higher status than before. So whoever among the descendants of Adam commits a sin, then follows the example of his father Adam by repenting, will be blessed, and if he repents, believes and does righteous deeds, Allah will turn his bad deeds into good deeds, and after repenting he will be better than he was before he committed sin, like all the pious close friends of Allah.
End quote from Majmoo‘ al-Fataawa (7/383).
Muslim (190) narrated that Abu Dharr said: The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “I know the last of the people of Paradise to enter Paradise, and the last of the people of Hell to be brought forth from it. (It will be) a man who will be brought forth on the Day of Resurrection, and it will be said: ‘Show him his minor sins, and conceal from him his major sins.’ So his minor sins will be shown to him and it will be said: ‘You did such and such on such and such a day, you did such and such on such and such a day.’ He will say, ‘Yes,’ and he will not be able to deny it, and at the same time he will be afraid that his major sins will be shown to him. Then it will be said to him, ‘In place of every bad deed you will have a good deed.’ He will say, ‘O Lord, I did things that I do not see here.’” And I saw the Messenger of Allah (S) smiling until his molars appeared.
Shaykh al-Islam said:
When he sees his bad deeds turned into good deeds, he will ask to see the major sins that he was afraid would be shown. It is known that his state in this case, when his bad deeds have been turned into good deeds, will be greater than it would have been if he had not committed bad deeds and they had not been turned into good deeds.
End quote from Majmoo‘ al-Fataawa (10/203).
Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
I heard Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah be pleased with him) say: The correct view is that among those who repent, there are some who do not go back to the state they were in before they committed sin, and there are some who do go back to that state, and there are some who go back to a higher level and become better than they were before they committed sin.
He said: This is according to the state of the penitent after he repents, and his level of effort and resolve, his level of caution and his willingness to work hard. If that is greater than it was before he committed the sin, then he will become better than he was before, and of higher status, but if it is the same as it was before, he will go back to being the same as he was, and if it is less than that, he will not go back to the same level, and he will be of a lower status.
What he stated puts an end to any dispute concerning this matter.
End quote from Madaarij as-Saalikeen (1/302).
He also said:
After repenting sincerely, a person will be better than he was before he committed the sin.
End quote from Shifaa’ al-‘Aleel (p. 118).
Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
There is no sin greater than shirk, but when the mushrik repents, Allah turns to him in mercy and forgives him. So you must repent from what you know you did, and after repentance the matter will be settled.
End quote from Fataawa Noor ‘ala ad-Darb (4/40).
So whoever commits a major sin, then repents sincerely from it, regrets what he did, turns to Allah, gives up disobeying Allah, keeps company with righteous people, stays away from evil people, then persists in that until he dies, Allah will forgive him by His mercy and grace, and He will raise him in status and turn his bad deeds into good deeds; his state after committing sin and repenting will be better and more perfect than it was before that. He will be much better than many of those who did not commit major sin, but they did not hasten to obey Allah as this repentant person did, and his heart was not filled with all kinds of servitude to Allah as this person’s heart was filled with repentance, regret, love of obeying Allah, hatred of disobeying Him, fear of Allah and hope for His pardon and forgiveness.
*LOOK INTO YOUR LIVES, REPENT, AND AVERT CALAMITIES!*
Allah Ta'ala declares:
_"And whatever strikes you of disaster (calamities) – it is due to what YOUR own hands have earned (i.e. misdeeds); although He overlooks much." (42:30)_
_"And verily, We will make them taste of the near lighter torment prior to the greater torment (32:21)_
Ibn Abbas (radhiyallahu anhu) said,
_"The near torment means diseases and problems in this world, and the things that happen to its people as a test from Allah to His servants so that they will repent to Him."_
(Tafsir Ibn Kathir)
The verses above are general and apply to everyone, except the sinless (and virtually sinless) such as the Prophets (alayhis salaam). The trials and tribulations of Prophets, rather than cleansing their non-existent sins, serve instead to raise their ranks and also as an inspiration for their Ummah and future nations.
As for the rest of us who are sinful (i.e. virtually everyone), we should reflect on the verses above, introspect, do Tawbah, and resolve sincerely to abstain from the misdeeds which have caused trials and calamities to descend upon us.
Remember that worse than sins are justification (halaalization) of those sins, and even worse than justification of those sins is propagating your justification by which the doors are opened for others to also soothe their consciences while sinning. The trick of hiding behind scholars who legalize doubtful matters does not work with this Divine Rule of calamities.
Allah’s Punishment is commensurate with the crime.
Humble yourself, repent and turn to Allah wholeheartedly, make proper amends (e.g. rujoo'), adopt Taqwa (fear of Allah which leads one to abstain from all Haraam and Doubtful matters), and you will experience first-hand the Help of Allah and Deliverance from Calamities as guaranteed by Allah Ta’ala:
_“Whosoever adopts Taqwa of Allah, He will make a way out for him (from difficulties), and He (Allah) will provide for him from places which he (the afflicted person) could never have imagined.” (65:3)_
Shaykh Ahmed Zarruq (Allah have mercy on him) said,
‘Although the traveler (salik) must be more cautious after returning to sin he must not give up and despair. After every return, even a thousand time, he must renew his intention to repent.
If the Devil argues: “What is use of a repentance following a repetition of the sin?”, he must be answered, “Just as we made the sin’s repetition a habit, we make the repetition of repentance a habit too. ‘
Prophet (SAW) said: “If anyone constantly seeks pardon [from Allah], Allah will appoint for him a way out of every distress and a relief from every anxiety, and will provide sustenance for him where he expects not.” [Abu Dawud]
This cannot be undone and I am sure it will be greatly appreciated.
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