Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | The Sunday Guardian | February 19, 2017, p. 12
There is a hadith that appears in different books of Hadith. In the Musnad Ahmad it reads as follows: “If you do wrongful acts such that the entire space between heaven and earth gets filled with your sins, and then you ask for God’s forgiveness, God will forgive you. If you do not make mistakes, then God will bring in your place another people who make mistakes, then ask for God’s forgiveness and so God forgives them.” (hadith no. 13493).
No matter how much the extent or magnitude of one’s misdeeds, if you show sincere repentance and ask for God’s forgiveness, then there is a promise from God that He will forgive you in the Hereafter.
Why is asking for forgiveness after making a mistake so important? It is because if a person’s sensitivity remains alive, then, after making a mistake, an urge to repent wells up within him. He feels greatly ashamed of his sin. He turns with greater earnestness to God, and with a restless heart, he seeks God’s forgiveness. It is this that causes God’s mercy to rain on one who has made a mistake.
If you do not make a mistake, it is possible that you might become a victim of pride. But when a person commits a mistake and after this feels ashamed of it, he becomes more serious about things. He becomes more modest. He seeks forgiveness from God with more earnestness. In this way, the awareness of one’s misdeeds helps one develop a new character.
If before making a mistake such a person would supplicate with God in plain words, his supplication is now expressed in the language of tears. If before committing a mistake he thought he was something, after this he thinks he is nothing.
In this way, sensitivity towards one’s misdeeds plays a major role in developing a divine character, the character that one needs in order to enter Paradise.