Repentance -Istigfar requires five elements
01. The first and foremost is recognition of one’s sin as sin, which largely depends upon one’s intelligence and moral consciousness. Moral consciousness is formed by adhering to the tenets of deen, imbibing values cherished by our beloved Aqa Moula (TUS)etc: For an intelligent and devout mumineen, a small transgression is a sin, to those who are seeped in materialism, a sinful act in fact, may not be viewed as such. This is a subject, which requires in-depth analysis. In short, recognition of sin as sin- is the first step.
02. Remorse – it is feeling that one should have if he wants to repent. A feeling of regret, despair and anguish, for having failed to maintain one’s moral standard. An intense feeling of being alienated from Allah and His Wali and one’s own spiritual roots, a feeling of having cheated his own self.
03. Desisting from sin – now this is neither a moral or intellectual analysis nor feeling, it is ACTION (‘Just Do it’ is not the only prerogative of NIKE – it should also be a resolve of every mumineen ) How one has to achieve – by changing of the course, by desisting from the pattern of sinful action, to which one has become addicted, a concerted effort has to be made, by consciously suppressing the thoughts and fantasies about the sinful activity. Once that is achieved, to make a firm commitment never to commit the sinful act.
04. Restitution – which means making good or giving compensation from an injury or hurt inflicted by word or action. It is act of making good, as best as one can, for the damage done. If one has stolen, one must return the object or pay compensation. If one has damaged one’s reputation, one must attempt to correct the injury inflicted.
05. Confession requires uttering of specific wrong done personally to the wronged person. In other cases pleading to Allah with true fervor to forgive for the sins committed.
Sinfulness is a very deep rooted malady of human existence, and dealing with it calls upon all our spiritual, intellectual, and moral resources – desisting from sin, is the bedrock of true repentance.
Ref: Article – Repentance and Forgiveness – David R. Bumental