The second cause of forgiveness is repenting from sins even if they reach the extremities of the clouds. It was said, "Until there is no end in sight."
In another narration,
"If you committed errors until they reached from the skies to the Earth and sought the forgiveness of Allah; he would forgive you." [Tirmidhi, Ahmad and Ad-Darimi]
Forgiveness (Istighfar) is seeking absolution. Absolution from the evil of the sins with its secrets. Seeking forgiveness is mentioned many times in the Quran. Sometimes it is commanded.
Like the speech of the Exalted,
"Repent to Allah; Allah is forgiving and merciful." [Quran, 73:20]
"Repent you your Lord and return to him." [Quran, 11:3]
At times they are praised.
"Those who seek forgiveness in the night." [Quran, 3:17]
"And those who, when they do an evil thing or wrong themselves, remember Allah and plead forgiveness for their sins; who forgives sins except Allah?" [Quran, 3:135]
At times it is mentioned that Allah (the Exalted) forgives whoever seeks his forgiveness.
"Whoever does evil or wrongs their soul, then seeks the pardon of Allah, will find Allah Forgiving and Merciful." [Quran, 4:110]
Often, forgiveness (Istighfar) is compared and mentioned to repentance (tawbah). So forgiveness is, in its time, is expressed by seeking forgiveness with the tongue.
Repentance (tawbah) is expressed by uprooting the sins from the heart and limbs. Sometimes separate from forgiveness and (other times) systematic upon forgiveness as mentioned in Hadith etc.
They have even said that seeking forgiveness is combined with repentance.
It was stated that the texts of repentance are absolute unique connected to what we mentioned in the Quranic passage in The Family of Imran (surah three) without insistence.
As Allah (the Exalted) has promised forgiveness for whoever seeks forgiveness; for his sins and for whoever does not persist upon his action. The texts bear absoluteness about forgiveness and it is all in this condition.
Based on the speech, "O Allah, Forgive me," seeking forgiveness from him whilst supplicating. So its ruling is the ruling of all supplications, if Allah (the Exalted) wills he responds and forgives the requester. Especially if his heart is broken by his sins or turns in a moment that supplications are responded; just before daybreak and after the five daily prayers.
It is narrated that Luqman said to his son,
"O my son, habituate your tongue (to say) O Allah forgive me as Allah has moments in which the asker is not rejected." [Tirmidhi]
Al-Hassan al-Basri said,
"Seek forgiveness in your homes, your tables, your paths, in the markets, in your gatherings and wherever you are as you do not know when the forgiveness will descent."
Ibn Abu Dunya reports in his book Good Opinion a hadith from Abu Hurayrah, raised report,
"Amongst us was a man reclining and if he looked at the skies and to the heavens he (would) say, "I know that you have a Lord who created; O Allah forgive me." Then he is forgiven."
Muwariq said, "There is a man who does wrong actions until the night; then gathers soil and throws himself upon it and says, "Lord forgive my sins." Then he said, "Truly he knows that he has a Lord who forgives and punishes; so he is forgiven."
Mughith Ibn Sami said, "Amongst us was a despicable man who said one day, "O Allah, your forgiveness. O Allah, your forgiveness." Then he died and he was forgiven." [Hind in Az-Zuhd and Abu Na’yim in Al-Hilyah]
This is testified to in the authentic collections on the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) said,
"A servant commits a sin then says, "Lord, I have committed sins forgive me!" Then Allah (the Exalted) says, "The servant knows that there is a Lord who forgives sins and brings them forth and admonishes by them; I have forgiven my servant." Then he remains as Allah wills and then commits another sin; then mentions as he did the first time, He does it for a second and third time." [Bukhari & Muslim]
In a narration from Muslim he says about the third time,
"I have forgiven my servant so let him do as he wants." [Muslim]
Meaning as long as he continues, in this state, seeking forgiveness whenever he commits any sin. Outwardly the meaning of seeking forgiveness is combined by not repeating (the action).
Accordingly this narration is reported from Abu Bakr the Truthful (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) said,
"There is no sin upon someone who seeks forgiveness even if he repeats seventy times a day." [Abu Dawud & Tirmidhi]
Seeking forgiveness is by the tongue with insistence of the heart upon the sin; it is the base supplication. Allah (the Exalted) can answer if he wishes or refuse. This insistence prevents a response.
In Al-Musnad there is a hadith from Abdullah Ibn Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) who said,
"Woe betide those who insist over what they do (sins) and they know." [Ahmad]
Ibn Abi Dunya (may Allah show him mercy) reports a hadith from Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them),
"The repenter from his sin is like he who is without sin. The seeker of forgiveness from sin whilst he is performing it, mocks his Lord." [Baihaqi reported similar]
Al-Dahik said, "Three people have no response," he mentioned two of them. "The aroused man who commits illegal fornication thus fulfilling his desire and says, "Forgive me and what I do to so and so." The Lord says, "Move from her and I shall forgive you. As long as you are with her I shall not forgive you." A man who takes the wealth of a people and when he sees them says, "Lord forgive me of what I have consumed from so and so." The Exalted replies, "Return it to them and I shall forgive you. As long as you have it I shall not forgive you."
The words, "I seek forgiveness from Allah (Astaghfriullah)." Means I seek his forgiveness or similar to the adage, "O Allah, forgive me."
So seeking correct forgiveness necessitates the miracle (being forgiven) and that does not occur without insistence similar to Allah (the Exalted) praising his people and promising them forgiveness.
One of the Gnostics said, "Whoever does not get the fruit of his forgiveness and sound repentance; has lied when he sought forgiveness."
One of them said, "Our seeking forgiveness for this; requires forgiveness to be sought for frequently."
One of them said, "Whoever seeks forgiveness from Allah; began with virtue by taking its meaning; how I hope for a response to the supplication when I am spoiled by sins; so Allah withdraws."
The virtue of seeking forgiveness is not connected to leaving insistence; it is, in its time, hope of sincere repentance if this is articulated on the tongue, "Forgive me Allah." If this is not extrapolated from the heart then it is supplication to Allah (the Exalted) for forgiveness as if he would say, "O' Allah, forgive me." This is best and it hoped that a response (is forthcoming).
As for whoever repented untruthfully it means that he did not repent as some people believe and this is the truth; as repentance does not occur without insistence.
If he says, I seek the forgiveness of Allah (the Exalted) and I repent to him then he has two states; one is that his heart is upon wrongdoing then he is a liar when he says, "I repent to him." Because he is not repenting then it is not permissible to tell himself that he is repenting when he is not! The second is that wrongdoing is uprooted from his heart.
The people differ in the permissibility of saying, 'I repent to him'; so a group of predecessors dislike it and this is the opinion of Abu Hanifa narrated by At-Tahawi.
Ar-Rabia Ibn Khathim said, "When he says, I repent to him, he lies and sins; rather he should say, "O Allah, I seek your forgiveness; turn to me." This is for whoever does not articulate with his heart and this is a similar state.
Muhammad Ibn Sawq spoke about seeking forgiveness, "I seek the forgiveness of Allah the Greatest who there is no deity other than He; the Ever living, the Self subsistence and I request sincere repentance."
Hudhayfa narrates that, "He is taken into account for the sins that he sought forgiveness for and repeated."
Mutraf heard a man say, "I seek the forgiveness of Allah and repent to him." So he corrected him, "Perhaps it was better that you did not." (Say that).
This is clear indication that it is disliked to say 'I repent to you' because sincere repentance is to never return to that sin, ever. So if he returns then he has lied when he said, 'I repent to you.'
Similarly, Muhammad Ibn Ka'b Al-Qarzi was asked about the one who made an agreement with Allah (the Exalted) never to return to the wrongdoing ever. He said, "Who is a greater sinner than he? To swear to Allah not to implement his decree!" Abu Faraj Ibn Al-Jawzi went back on his opinion because of this.
Sufyan is narrated to have said something similar and the majority of scholars accept the permissibility of the sinner saying 'I repent to Allah' as the slave swears to his Lord to never return to the sin and when he resolute on this; it became necessary.
Therefore he said,
"He does not cease to forgive even if they return to the sin seventy times a day." [Abu Dawud & Tirmidhi]
About the returner to sin He said,
"I have forgiven my servant so let him do as he wishes." [Muslim]
In a hadith about the expiration of a gathering,
"I seek your penance, O Allah and I seek your repentance." [Ahmad, Abu Dawud & Tirmidhi]
After a thief had his hand severed, the Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) advised him to say,
"I seek the forgiveness of Allah and repent to him." He said, "I seek the forgiveness of Allah and repent to him." Then he said, "O Allah, forgive him." [Abu Dawood, Imam Ahmed, Ad-Darami, Ibn Majah, An-Nisa’i]
The Salaf used to love to gather and excessively say, "I seek the forgiveness of Allah and turn to him."
It was narrated that Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) heard a man say,
"I seek forgiveness from Allah and turn to him." He responded, "O'Crazy one, say: repentance is from he, himself, who does not possess the ability to harm or benefit oneself nor cause death, life or resurrection."
Al-'Awzai (may Allah be pleased with him) was asked about seeking forgiveness by saying, "I seek forgiveness from Allah the greatest who there is no deity except him; he is the ever living and I repent to him." He replied, "This is good but he should say, "I seek Allah's forgiveness until his forgiveness is complete."