Is the one who says: “I ask for forgiveness from Allah the Greatest, Whom none is worshipped in truth except Him, the Ever-living, the One Who sustains and protects all that exist, and I turn in repentance to Him”– seven times; forgiven of his sins even if they are (abundant) like the foam of the ocean?
Shaykh ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz ibn Bāz:
Yes. There is a ḥadith regarding its virtue – narrated by Ḥākim and others, that encourages one to say these words:
أسْتَغْفِرُ اللهَ العَظِيمَ الَّذِي لاَ إلَهَ إلاَّ هُوَ، الحَيُّ القَيُّومُ، وَأتُوبُ إلَيهِ
“I ask for forgiveness from Allah ﷻ, The One Whom none is worshipped in truth except Him, the Ever-living, the One Who sustains and protects all that exist, and I turn in repentance to Him.”
Saying it abundantly has tremendous virtue, and is from the reasons for the forgiveness of sins for the one who is truthful in that regard, and repents to Allāh ﷻ. It is a tremendous [supplication] of forgiveness. However, this tremendous virtue only occurs for the one who repents with true repentance. For this (reason) He said:
“I ask for forgiveness from Allāh ﷻ the Ever-living, the One Who sustains and protects all that exist, and I turn in repentance to Him.”
True repentance comprises of 3 affairs:
1. Refraining from the sins and abandoning them out of obedience to Allah and glorification of Him.
2. Being remorseful, grieved and saddened over the sins that took place.
3. Having truthful determination not to return to them.
When an individual repents in this manner, Allah ﷻ expiates his sins completely, large or small.
There is a fourth condition – If the sin is related to a right of the creation (people), then it is a must that the right is returned to its owners; (i.e.) if it is a debt or misdemeanour – meaning, taking a person’s wealth or stealing or the likes of that. It is a must that the wealth is returned to whom it belongs to, or that he (the sinner) is disentangled from that. In short, from the completion of repentance from (taking) the right of the creation, is that he gives them (back) their right or he disentangles himself from them in that regard. If they pardon him, then their right is cancelled.
Therefore, repentance from the right of the creation is not complete except by giving the person his right or being disentangled from it. If he pardons him (for taking his right) and disentangles him, then there is no problem.