Answered by the Noble Scholar and Muftee Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Baaz
Question and answer taken from al-Fataawaa (1/251-253)
This question is about what to do when we are constantly involved in sin and how to distance ourselves from the evil actions......
I am a young man, nineteen years of age, and have involved myself in a great deal of sin. Even to the extent that I do not pray my prayers in the mosque, and I have never completely fasted the month of Ramadaan in my entire life. Besides these, I have committed other sins as well. I have vowed to repent many times before, however, after doing so I lapse back into the same sins. The youths of my area are just as bad, as are my friends that I associate with. And Allah knows that I have transgressed against myself and that whenever I repent, I return back to the same sins. I hope that you may direct me to a path that will bring me closer to my Lord and distance me from these evil actions of mine.
Allah the Mighty and Majestic says:
Say: "O 'Ibâdî (My slaves) who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allâh, verily Allâh forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Az-Zumar 39:53)
There is a consensus from the scholars that this noble ayah was revealed for the taa'ibeen (those who repent). So whoever sincerely repents from his sins, then Allah will forgive him all his sins, as occurs in the saying of Allah the Most Perfect:
"O you who believe! Turn to Allah with sincere repentance! It may be that your Lord will remit from you your sins, and admit you into Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise) ........"[Surah at-Tahreem 66:8]
So in this ayaah, Allah has made the removal of sins and entry into paradise dependent upon sincere repentance.And sincere repentance is condition upon:
[i] Abandoning the sin and keeping away from it.
[ii] Having regret and remorse for committing the sin.
[iii] Truly intending not to commit the sin again.
[iv] Remebering the greatness of Allah and hoping for His reward, whilst fearing His punishment.
Another condition for sincere repentance is that if due to transgression, the wealth or property of someone has been stolen or usurped, then it must be returned, or forgiveness must be sought from the o¬ne whose wealth, blood or honor has been taken. However, if the honour of a person has been violated and the situation is such that it is not possible to seek that person's forgiveness, then plenty of dua (supplication) should be made for his welfare and he should be spoken good of in those places where he had previously been backbitten, since good deeds wipe away bad o¬nes. Allah the Most Perfect said:
"....And all of you beg Allah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful." [Surah an-Nur 24:31]
So in this ayaah Allah the Mighty and Majestic linked success with tawbah (repentance) and points to the fact that the repentant person will reach success and happiness, and if sucha person were to follow up his repentance with with eeman (faith) and doing righteous actions, then Allah would efface his evil actions and change them to good actions, as Allah the Most Perfect says after mentioning the sins of shirk, taking a life without just cause and fornication and adultry:
"...and whoever does this shall receive the punishment. The torment will be doubled to him o¬n the Day of Resurrection, and he will abide therein in disgrace; Except those who repent and believe (in Islamic Monotheism), and do righteous deeds, for those, Allah will change their sins into good deeds, and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." [Surah al-Furqaan 25:68-70]
And from the causes of tawbah are humility and submissiveness to Allah the Most Perfect and imploring Him for guidance - realising that acceptance of o¬ne's repentance is indeed another favor from Allah. Thus, Allah the Most Perfect said:
".....Invoke Me, [i.e. believe in My o¬neness (Islamic Monotheism)] (and ask Me for anything) I will respond to your (invocation)...." [Surah Ghaafir 40:60]
And He the Mighty and Majestic said:
"And when My slaves ask you (O Muhammad Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã) concerning Me, then (answer them), I am indeed near (to them by My Knowledge). I respond to the invocations of the supplicant when he calls o¬n Me (without any mediator or intercessor). ..." [Surah al-Baqarah 2:186]
Also, from the causes of tawbah is choosing good companionship and friendship, and following them in righteous conduct, whilst staying clear of bad companionship. It is authentically related from Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa salaam) that he said:
"A person is upon the religion of his friends, so let o¬ne of you look to whom he keeps as a friend." [Hasan: Related by Abu Dawud (no.4812) and others, from Abu Hurayrah (radi Allahu anhu). Imam an-Nawawee authenticated it in Riyaadus-Saaliheen (no.174)]
And the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa salaam) also said:
"The example of of a good companion and a bad companion is like that of a seller of musk, and the o¬ne who blows the blacksmith's bellows. As for the seller of musk, then either he will grant you some, or you will buy some from him, or at the very least you enjoy a pleasant smell from him. As for the o¬ne who blows the blacksmith's bellows, then either he will burn your clothes, or you will get an offensive smell from him." [Related by al-Bukhari (4/323) and Muslim (no.2628), from Abu Musa al-Ash'aree (radi Allahu anhu)]